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joliet truck accident lawyerLarge commercial trucks can cause devastating accidents. If you or a loved one were seriously hurt in a truck accident, you may be interested in seeking compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Through an injury claim, you may be able to get compensation for the damages that you suffered including medical bills and lost income. To bring the strongest claim possible, it is crucial to work with a personal injury attorney who has experience successfully handling truck accident cases.  

Collecting Information and Preserving Evidence

When someone contacts a personal injury attorney about a possible truck accident claim, the first thing the attorney will need to do is collect information about the accident. Your lawyer will want to know the circumstances of the collision, what types of injuries you suffered, and what medical treatments you have sought for those injuries. Your attorney may also utilize evidence such as the truck’s event data recorder (EDR), traffic camera footage, the truck driver’s electronic logbook, and forensic evidence from the crash scene. In many cases, a personal injury attorney sends a “preservation letter” or spoliation letter to the trucking company which prohibits the company from destroying evidence.

Identifying the Liable Parties

Truck accident cases are often complicated. It is not always clear who is legally at fault for a truck crash. In some cases, the truck driver himself or herself is responsible for causing the accident. Distracted driving, drowsy driving, and driver intoxication are all common causes of truck collisions. In other cases, the trucking company’s failure to properly maintain the truck or correctly load truck cargo is the cause of the accident. It is also possible that defects in the truck’s brakes, tires, or cargo securement devices are a key contributor to the crash. By pinpointing the cause of the crash, your lawyer can build a more compelling claim for damages and ensure that the claim is brought against the correct party or parties.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_truck-accident_20210419-201725_1.jpgThe loss of a loved one is always a tragic affair. The loss of a loved one in an avoidable truck accident is devastating. If your loved one died in a collision caused by a negligent truck driver, you may be seeking justice. You may also be dealing with the financial burden caused by your sudden and unexpected loss. A wrongful death lawsuit may help you recover monetary compensation for your losses while simultaneously holding the at-fault parties accountable for the tragic outcome. Read on to learn about bringing an Illinois wrongful death lawsuit after losing a family member in a fatal truck crash.

Truck Collisions Caused by Negligence

Illinois law states that a wrongful death occurs when a death is caused by wrongful or negligent actions and, had the victim survived his or her injuries, he or she would have had the right to bring a legal action for damages. Negligence refers to a party’s failure to act as a reasonably prudent person would have acted in a similar situation. For example, a truck driver may act negligently by continuing to drive even though he or she is much too sleepy to drive safely. A trucking company may act negligently by allowing truck drivers to violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) rules regarding rest breaks and consecutive driving hours. Other examples of truck driver or trucking company negligence may include:

  • Failing to ensure that truck freight is loaded and secured properly

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Will County truck crash attorneysSemi-trucks and other large trucks carry everything from building supplies to groceries across the country. It is safe to say that our modern way of life would be nearly impossible without the services that trucking companies and truck drivers provide. However, large trucks can also cause horrific traffic accidents. If you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident, you may be able to recover financial compensation for damages through a personal injury claim. However, before you can successfully recover compensation, you and your attorney will need to identify the cause of the accident and determine who is liable for your damages.

Loose, Shifting, or Fallen Truck Cargo

Rigorous safety policies regulate the way that truck cargo must be loaded and secured. Truck cargo that is inside of a trailer must be loaded in such a way that the weight is evenly distributed. The cargo must be properly secured so that it does not move around the trailer during transit. When cargo is not loaded and secured correctly, it can cause the truck to become off balanced and even tip over. Cargo that is improperly loaded on a flatbed truck may fall out of the truck and onto the road. Other vehicles may collide with the fallen cargo or generate another accident trying to avoid a collision.

Driver Fatigue and Distracted Driving

Truckers often have grueling work expectations. They must drive thousands of miles a week – often on little sleep. Truck drivers are required to take breaks per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service rules and other legislation. However, some truck drivers do not take the mandatory rest breaks and falsify their logbooks to show breaks that never actually happened. Falling asleep at the wheel and drowsy driving can cause severe truck accidents. Distracted driving such as texting while driving is another common cause of truck accidents.

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Orland Park truck accident lawyersOne of the most common causes of truck accidents in the U.S. is fatigued truck drivers. Truckers are often expected to drive hundreds of miles a day and deal with a wildly inconsistent sleep schedule. Chronic sleep deprivation can have significant effects on a person’s ability to drive safely. Sleepiness can cause reduced reaction time, decreased awareness, and difficulty paying attention. It is estimated that being fatigued makes you three times more likely to be involved in a car accident. In fact, The National Safety Council states that driving 20 hours without sleeping is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. However, increased demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the FMCSA to modify the rules regulating truck driver hours of service.

Updates to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Hours of Service

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hours of service rules regulate how long commercial truck drivers may drive without taking a break to rest. Recent updates to these regulations include:

  • The short-haul exception has been increased from 100 to 150 miles and drivers’ maximum on‑duty period has been increased to 14 hours.
  • The 14-hour on-duty constraint has been extended by up to two hours in situations involving adverse driving conditions such as unusual traffic conditions, road problems, or heavy fog or snow.
  • The required 30-minute rest break after eight hours of driving may now be satisfied by on-duty/non-driving rest periods.
  • The mandatory 10-hour off-duty rest breaks may now be satisfied by rest periods of at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth and 2 consecutive hours in or out of the sleeper berth.

Advocacy Groups File Lawsuit Against FMCSA and Department of Transportation

Some people are concerned that the new hours of service rules may increase the prevalence of accidents caused by fatigued truck drivers. Several safety advocacy groups including Parents Against Tired Truckers and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways filed a lawsuit in which they requested reconsideration of the new hours of service rules. In a press release, representatives for the groups stated that the modifications will weaken hours of service regulations and increase the threat of fatigued drivers.

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Pursuing Compensation for Disabling Injuries Caused by a Truck AccidentAuto accidents happen throughout Illinois and across the United States on a daily basis. Many of the individuals involved in those accidents are able to escape with relatively minor injuries such as small cuts and bruising. They do not require significant medical treatment and are able to continue on with their lives as usual soon after the accident. However, other car accident victims are left with severe, life-altering injuries. They must endure months or years of medical treatment and are never again able to live their lives the way they could before the accident. Because commercial trucks are so massive, collisions involving semi-trucks, flatbed trucks, and other large trucks often lead to these types of catastrophic injuries.

Truck Accident Injuries Can Leave a Person Permanently Disabled

Nearly 5,000 people died in large truck accidents in the U.S. in 2017. Because the risk of death is so great, many people who wake up in the hospital after being involved in a horrific truck accident are simply grateful to be alive. However, many of these victims soon realize that the road to recovery will be long and painful. Some victims must learn to cope after losing a hand, foot, arm, or leg in an amputation. Others are left with spinal injuries that cause partial or full paralysis. They may need multiple surgeries, months of inpatient hospitalization, and expensive physical therapy. They may also need to learn how to use a wheelchair or other assistive devices and modify their home to accommodate the device.

The physical effects of a catastrophic truck accident can be devastating, but the emotional and mental consequences are often even worse. Traumatic brain injuries can cause cognitive impairment, loss of motor function, and even personality changes. Being involved in a life-threatening accident can also lead to severe anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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