Tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks are important for the economy of Illinois and the nation. But, because of their size, when tractor-trailers are involved in accidents they can cause serious damage. When “big-rig” trucks get into collisions with passenger cars and trucks, it is often the drivers and passengers in the passenger vehicles who are injured or killed.
In Illinois, there were 10,033 crashes involving tractor-trailers in the year 2011, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). Illinois truck accidents in 2011 included 81 fatal accidents and 93 deaths, or 9.7 percent of all fatal crashes and 10.1 percent of all fatalities in the state during the year. Another 1,750 truck crashes caused personal injuries in 2011.
If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a truck crash, the law firm of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. is here to help you. Our Chicago truck accident attorneys can offer legal guidance and advocacy that’s personalized to your circumstances. Call us today toll free or use our online form to get a free, no-obligation consultation.
Commercial Truck Accidents in Chicago
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said in November 2011 that there were 286,000 wrecks involving large trucks (tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, semis, big rigs, etc.) in the U.S. in 2009. These accidents resulted in 3,380 deaths and 74,000 injuries.
In Illinois in 2011, 10,033 tractor-trailer crashes included 1,750 personal injury crashes and 81 fatal truck wrecks. Twenty-eight percent of the fatal truck accidents in Illinois in 2011 occurred on urban roadways, while 72 percent occurred on rural roadways.
But, of 93 people who died in fatal truck accidents in Illinois in 2011, only 15 were truck drivers, IDOT says.
What Causes Truck Accidents in Illinois?
The causes of trucking accidents typically fall into two main categories: driver error and vehicle maintenance failure.
The FMCSA’s 2007 Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) of three years’ worth of truck accident data identified the top 10 factors for truck accidents:
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
- Prescription drug use
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Unfamiliarity with roadway
- Roadway problems
- Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance (not seeing traffic, another vehicle or obstacle)
Fatigued or “drowsy driving” among truck drivers also is a common cause of accidents. Being tired clouds a driver’s judgment. Drowsiness can lead to falling asleep at the wheel.
Another problem among truck drivers is distracted driving even though the FMCSA bans truckers from texting or using hand-held mobile phones while operating their vehicles.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distracted driving report for 2010 found that, of the large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes, 5 percent were found to have been distracted, and 9 percent of those were distracted by their cell phones.
Truck drivers’ inexperience, improper driver training and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (prescription or illegal) are known to contribute to driver error.
Other common causes of tractor-trailer accidents include:
- Overloaded trucks
- Oversized trucks
- Driving in conditions of poor visibility due to fog, snow, rain, or smoke
- Driving at high speeds beyond the road and weather conditions
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Aggressive driving behavior (speeding, tailgating, inappropriate lane changes, etc.).
Survivors of collisions with tractor-trailer trucks often require a lifetime of care. They may suffer severe injuries that include:
- Back injury
- Broken bones
- Loss of limbs
- Internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or other brain damage
- Spinal cord injury (SCI).
The medical expenses can be high. Victims who are severely injured endure pain and suffering, and they lose wages because they cannot return to work. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a truck accident attorney experienced with Chicago and Illinois courts to help obtain compensation for losses incurred in a truck accident.
Our Attorneys Can Deal With Trucking Insurance Companies
Trucking litigation involves claims against negligent truck drivers and the companies who hire them. Some legal actions involve others, as well.
Determining who is at fault in a truck accident can be complex. If a truck driver falls asleep at the wheel, then the driver is to blame. If the truck was speeding, the driver is at fault for that, too.
But the trucking company might be at fault, too, in a speeding or fatigued driving case if it sets strict or unreasonable deadlines for its drivers. If the truck crashes because it is overloaded, the driver is responsible, but the company may also be partially to blame.
And if something like a tire blowout or brake failure causes a truck accident, then a manufacturer or distributor might be held liable.
Trucking companies and insurance adjusters realize the potential for major lawsuits when a tractor-trailer causes an accident. They quickly gather evidence and experts and immediately start preparing their defense. It helps to have aggressive and dedicated lawyers by your side to stand up to these companies and their insurers with their own experts and experience.
Contact a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Truck accident cases can be complex. Proving negligence in a crash that involves a tractor-trailer takes an investment of time, experience and resources.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, semi or another large commercial truck, the Chicago truck accident lawyers of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. can help you obtain the compensation you need and deserve. Call us today toll free or complete our online form. We can give you a free, no-obligation case evaluation.