As the third-largest city in the United States and a major transportation hub for the entire Midwest, it is not surprising that Chicago’s roads and highways are filled with large commercial vehicles. Unfortunately, it is also common for these large vehicles to be involved in serious and sometimes fatal collisions with passenger vehicles, motorcycles, and pedestrians.
Commercial truck accidents are very different from an ordinary passenger vehicle collision. The sheer size and weight of the vehicles involved means that there is a greater likelihood of severe or fatal injuries. In fact, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reported that while crashes involving tractor-trailers accounted for only 3.5 percent of overall accidents, they accounted for 10.6 percent of fatal accidents.
Also, while liability for a passenger vehicle crash usually falls squarely on one or more drivers involved, there may be several other parties besides the driver that could be held liable for a victim’s injuries after a truck crash. This may include the trucking company that hired the driver, the owner of the truck, the company that loaded the truck, the shop responsible for repairs or maintenance, and others.
That’s why it is crucial to contact an experienced attorney if you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in a commercial truck accident in the greater Chicago area. An experienced attorney will know how to identify all of the liable parties and fight for all of the compensation you need and deserve.
The record of success for Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. includes over $1.5 billion in verdicts and settlements, including more than 260 multi-million dollar settlements. You can talk to our lawyers about your legal rights when you call (312) 372-1227 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
Understanding Different Types of Truck Accidents
Commercial truck crashes happen for many reasons. Operator errors or carelessness cause many collisions, but the conditions of the trucks themselves could also be to blame in some cases.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Unsafe Passing — Truck drivers may cause collisions when they attempt to pass other vehicles in dangerous circumstances. Examples of unsafe passing could include passing in a no-passing zone, in a construction zone, without using turn signals, without checking blind spots, in an intersection, or during a period of limited visibility.
- Negligent and Erratic Driving — Some crashes are the result of a truck driver’s carelessness or inattention. Failing to pay attention to the road, driving aggressively, or failing to drive with caution around other vehicles and pedestrians could lead to severe accidents.
- Blind Spots — Large commercial trucks also have very large blind spots to the sides, front, and rear of their vehicles. Truckers cannot see automobiles in these areas, and they must account for those drivers before making lane changes, or they could cause accidents.
- Wide Turns — Commonly referred to as a “squeeze play” crash, commercial trucks often have to swing out to their left to make right turns. Other vehicles can easily be struck when a truck driver makes a turn that is too wide.
- Driving Under the Influence — Commercial truck drivers are held to a much higher standard when it comes to driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. Federal law sets a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.04 for commercial drivers, only half the legal limit for traditional drivers of passenger vehicles.
- Mechanical Malfunction — Commercial trucks are made up of many complicated systems and parts that are put under tremendous stress and strain on a daily basis. Truck owners or the carrier who owns the fleet must continually inspect these parts to make sure they are safe and in proper working order. Accidents could be the result of the trucking company’s failure to maintain a vehicle, but it is also possible for a crash to be caused by a part being defective.
- Overloading Cargo — Some companies will attempt to load too much cargo on their trailers to maximize their deliveries. When this occurs, the driver may not be able to come to a complete stop, or they could be more likely to lose control of their vehicle and possibly cause a jackknife or rollover crash.
- Road Construction — Construction zones are common in Illinois, and these areas often see reduced speed limits and lane sizes. Such areas can also be more difficult for commercial trucks to navigate, and inattentive or inexperienced drivers may be more likely to cause collisions.
- Severe Weather — Rain, snow, or other inclement weather has a noticeable impact on driving, but all motorists are expected to adjust their speeds and behaviors accordingly to drive safely. A truck driver who disregards the dangers of bad weather can be more likely to cause an accident under the circumstances.
Not all causes of truck accidents are immediately evident. You will not want to delay in seeking legal representation after a commercial truck crash, so you can get the answers you need and the justice you deserve.
Who Can Be Held Responsible After a Truck Crash?
It may be possible that multiple parties could be liable for your truck accident. Depending on the specific circumstances, parties that could be held liable for a collision include:
- Truck drivers
- Truck owners
- Trucking companies
- Truck part manufacturers
- Maintenance companies
- Shipping agencies
- Cargo loading companies
- Government entities
- Other motorists
Negligent parties might try to deny liability following an accident that results in severe injuries and significant property damage. The at-fault driver, the company that employs the driver, and the company that insures the driver will often try to minimize fault and save themselves money.
Fortunately, an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney can work quickly to identify the at-fault parties and demand that they be held accountable for their actions or inaction.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
The first thing you should do if you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck is to call 911 and seek medical attention immediately. Any delay in treatment could negatively impact your health and will complicate any injury claims that you might need to file.
When possible, take photos of the scene of the crash. This includes the position of the vehicles, damage to the vehicles (including where the impact occurred), skid marks, road signs and conditions, your injuries, and anything else that might be relevant.
If any eyewitnesses are present, ask them for their names and phone numbers. Also remember to get the name of the at-fault driver, contact information, and any relevant insurance information.
When you cannot take these steps yourself, ask somebody you know to do this for you. Whatever you do, do not speak to any insurance company about your accident until you have an attorney.
How Our Chicago Truck Accident Attorneys Can Help You
Did you suffer serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a truck crash in Illinois? Our respected Chicago personal injury law firm has the experience, skill, and compassion that you need on your side. We will take the fight to commercial trucking companies and the large companies that insure them, and we’ll aggressively pursue the full compensation that you deserve.
Call (312) 372-1227 or contact us online to receive a free consultation.