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Truck Accidents and Driver Error

Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers

Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers

Help for victims of truck driver error throughout Illinois

Truck accidents are often much more fatal or more catastrophic than car accidents. 18-wheelers, semi-rigs, and other trucks are much bigger and heavier than cars or other vehicles. Trucks are harder to control because they have different sight lines and different parts. When a truck collides with a car or a motorcycle, the occupants of the smaller vehicles often suffer spinal cord damage, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, other catastrophic injuries, or even death.

At Gainsberg Law, our Chicago truck accident lawyers bring personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death claims if someone was killed through the negligence of another. Our attorneys demand that our clients be compensated for lost income, physical pain, emotional suffering, and for the reasonable expense of hospital stays, doctor visits, prosthetic devices, and medications. We bring claims in both in Illinois state courts. Our legal team also files cases in federal court because often the truck driver or owner resides in another state.

How can we help?

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How many commercial vehicles were in accidents in 2020 in Illinois?

In 2020 (latest figures available) there were 9,373 crashes involving tractor-trailers in Illinois, which accounted for 3.8% of the total number of motor vehicle crashes in the state. Fatalities in tractor-trailer crashes decreased from the previous year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but there were 9.7% fatal crashes according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

At Gainsberg Law, we hold truck drivers, truck owners, shipping companies, and any person or entity accountable if their misconduct or failure to comply with the law caused a wrongful death or any type of injury.

Why do Chicago truck accidents happen?

While there are many reasons for truck accidents, the primary cause is truck driver and trucking company negligence. Some examples of this include:

  • Driver fatigue. Truck drivers are especially likely to suffer tiredness because they often drive long hours cross-country or across several states. Trucking companies push drivers to deliver goods as promptly as possible at the expense of getting enough rest.
  • Distracted drivers. Truckers are often distracted because they are doing dangerous things to relieve the boredom of long-distance driving. Drivers who take a hand off the wheel to eat, to adjust the radio, to talk on a cellphone, or for any reason do not have good control of their truck. When you drive at 60 miles an hour, you are driving 88 feet per second. A lot can go wrong in 88 feet.
  • Drunk drivers. Drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics are especially likely to cause a deadly accident. Drunk drivers cross traffic lines, fail to react quickly, speed, drive recklessly, and operate their trucks in ways that can kill or injure anyone in their path. There is no excuse for drunk driving.
  • Reckless drivers. Truck drivers are required to obey all Illinois and federal driving laws, including rules on reckless driving and speeding. At Gainsberg Law, we hold truck drivers and owners accountable when they fail to put the safety of everyone around them first.
  • Overloaded trucks. Many truck companies and truck drivers try to load their vehicles beyond the maximum cargo limit for that truck. Overloading is usually due to a desire to make an extra profit, but profit cannot come before protecting other drivers and passengers. Overloaded trucks are dangerous because they are harder to control due to their weight and their hindrance on a driver’s ability to see. Overloaded trucks can spill their cargo, which can cause multi-vehicle collisions and deadly crashes.
  • Poor maintenance and inspection. Illinois and federal laws require that trucks be routinely inspected and that any defects or problems be repaired before the truck is placed back on the road. Our Chicago truck accident lawyers understand the relevant laws.
  • Inadequate training. Driving a truck is much different than driving a car. Drivers of large trucks are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license before they can operate the vehicle. All truck drivers should be educated by the truck companies that employ them about all aspects of truck driving, including the rules of the road, how to safely operate the truck, and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Defective truck parts. Bad brakes, faulty steering equipment, windshield wipers that don’t work, or any defective part can cause a serious accident. We hold manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of defective truck parts responsible when the part is the cause of an accident.

Our Chicago truck accident attorneys have a strong record of success in accident cases. This is because we work aggressively to determine how the accident happened and to analyze who is responsible.

What does distracted driving look like?

Driver distraction has three fundamental consequences:

  • Loss of physical control. When the driver takes his or her hands off the wheel for even a split-second, the driver loses the ability to steer, to adapt to changing traffic, to backup into loading docks safely, and to respond to emergencies.
  • Loss of visual control. In an instant, a trucker who doesn’t have his or her eyes on the road can fail to see oncoming or turning traffic and fail to gauge the speed and logistics of other vehicles.
  • Loss of mental ability. Even when drivers see and feel their truck, a moment’s distraction can mean the difference between understanding the need to make a proper lane change or slowing down, and not reacting in time.

Truck drivers can become distracted for any one of the following reasons:

  • Talking on a cellphone
  • Texting while driving
  • Using a dispatching device while driving
  • Eating
  • Reading or writing while driving
  • Looking at a map or GPS
  • Adjusting the radio station or CD player
  • Watching television or looking at the Internet
  • Reading
  • Personal grooming

Truck drivers can wait to do all these activities until they stop. Trucking and shipping companies should make sure their employees understand the dangers of driving while distracted before the driver begins any road trip. We use black box data, surveillance video, police reports, witness statements, and your medical reports to show that a truck driver did not attempt to stop or slow down in the moments before you were hit, and we may also use phone data to show a trucker was distracted.

How we handle accidents caused by drunk truck drivers

Anyone who drives with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more are presumed to have driven while drunk. However, commercial truck drivers are held to an even higher standard than .08 BAC. Commercial drivers are not supposed to drive if their BAC is .04 or more.

Breath and blood tests that are typically given by police officers when a drunk driver is arrested to test their BAC. Our Chicago truck accident attorneys use these results to help prove liability after an accident. We also work with the police to use other drunk-driving related tests, such as field sobriety tests. Our legal team speaks with passengers and witnesses to review any erratic driving that took place.

Illinois has a law called a dram shop law that allows anyone injured by someone who was intoxicated to file a claim against the person or business that sold or provided the alcohol that caused the person to become intoxicated. The amount of damages is capped and changes yearly. A Chicago truck accident attorney has the experience to thoroughly investigate whether the seller of the alcohol served liquor in violation of the dram shop law.

In addition to the seller, Gainsberg Law investigates whether other parties may be responsible. An owner or trucking company that knowingly lets a drunk driver operate a truck while intoxicated may be responsible. Trucking and shipping companies may also have a duty to monitor their drivers for intoxication.

Poor maintenance and inadequate inspection can lead to truck accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Illinois have laws that mandate how inspections are to be conducted. Truck companies and the drivers of these trucks should have a system in place that both review before any truck trip starts. The driver should also have a separate checklist for each stage of the journey. Some of the many items that need to be inspected are:

  • The steering mechanism
  • The brakes
  • Every tire
  • The lights
  • The ability of the truck to decouple
  • All electrical components
  • The energy lines
  • The cargo

Any items that would normally be inspected during a yearly inspection should also be considered for the checklist. If a truck part is defective, it must be replaced or repaired.

The burden to conduct the inspections falls primarily on the owners of the trucks. They’re the ones who place the truck on the road. The drivers can be shown to be liable by our Chicago truck accident attorneys, too, if they fail to follow the law or the instructions. Maintenance companies and repair crews can also be liable if they fail to make the necessary repairs.

The inspections and the repair work should be recorded so that it is clear what was inspected, what was fixed, and when. Truck drivers should also be trained to pull off the road if the truck isn’t working instead of soldiering through to the next stop. Operators should know how to do some basic repairs themselves such as fixing flat tires.

Truck companies must train and monitor their drivers

It is not an excuse for a truck company to say they followed the minimum that the laws require. The trucking industry has its own rules for what education is required. Truck companies have a duty to speak with other truck companies and know what safety instructions work best. After all, the safety of the truck driver, other drivers, passengers, and bystanders is paramount. Our Chicago truck accident attorneys review the following education issues whenever an accident occurs:

  • Compliance with federal law. Truck companies have a duty to regularly inspect and maintain their equipment. This duty extends to the drivers, who must understand the truck they drive, what can be fixed in an emergency, and when they should get help. Drivers should also understand when the truck should not be placed on the road because it needs repairs.
  • Commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). Federal law has specific regulations that define which vehicles qualify as commercial factors. Some of the key factors are the gross vehicle weight rating of the truck, whether hazardous materials are being transported, and if 10 or more people are being transported.
  • Getting proper rest. Truckers should be taught that there are limits on the amount of time they can drive and the amount of rest time that is required.
  • Keeping proper logs. Truckers must keep accurate logs of their driving — mileage, route, time of operation, and other details.
  • Understanding the truck. Drivers need to be trained on the specific truck they drive. Just because a driver knows how to drive a flat-bed truck doesn’t mean he or she knows how to drive a semi-rig truck.
  • Drunk driving. Truck companies should explain to their employees that driving while being intoxicated is not allowed. The drivers should know that commercial drivers are held to a much higher standard than other drivers.
  • Inclement weather. Rain, fog, snow, sun, and other elements can make driving a truck treacherous. Drivers should be prepared to handle these elements. Handling a truck in bad weather is not the same as operating a car in bad weather.

Truck companies need to train their drivers on other factors as well. Drivers should understand the dangers of driving while tired, how to handle objects in the road, and the risks of driving while distracted. They should also appreciate that cars and motorcycles will not have the same reactions as truck drivers too.

What are the most common types of truck accident injuries?

There are many different types of injuries that can result from a truck accident. At Gainsberg Law, we take on complex cases involving:

  • Spinal cord damage. Injuries to the spinal cord can cause paralysis, leaving the victim a paraplegic or a quadriplegic. Spinal cord injuries can cause long-term disabilities, including loss of bladder function, loss of sexual function, and breathing difficulties. Most patients endure long-term pain. Many patients need surgeries and injections just to be able to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are caused by a severe blow to the head. A TBI can cause the brain to move about in the skull and can cause loss of vital oxygen to the brain. Head injuries can result in death, coma, loss of cognitive abilities, many different types of emotional problems such as depression, and other severe and permanent complications. Many victims of head trauma never lead lives comparable to the lives they led before the truck accident
  • Soft tissue injury. Injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments can be hard to diagnose and even harder to cure.
  • Internal injuries. Truck accidents can cause internal bleedings to the liver, kidney, pancreas, and spleen, which can be extremely hard to manage.
  • Broken bones. Car drivers and passengers, motorcycle operators, and pedestrians often suffer broken arms, legs, ribs, and breaks to other parts of the anatomy after a truck crash. Broken bones can require an operation. The painful healing process can take months. After healing, many victims have a loss of function in the part of the body that was injured.
  • Back and neck pain. This type of pain is often debilitating. Many patients are never the same as they were before the accident and must cope with the pain for the rest of their life.

Other types of truck accident health complications include cuts, injuries to the ribs and body, and injuries complicated by seat belts and air bags such as whiplash and severe bruises. We also handle cases of disfigurement and scarring.

In addition to injury cases, we also handle cases involving wrongful death. When someone is killed through the fault of another, we represent the spouse, children, and other family members who are entitled to benefits. We demand payment for funeral bills, medical bills, and any physical pain the family member endured before he/she died. We also demand compensation for the loss of services and society the deceased would have provided family members if the death had not happened.

How long do I have to file a truck accident claim?

In the state of Illinois, you have two years after the date of the accident to file a vehicle accident claim. There are exceptions to every rule and law, however, so you should speak to your Chicago truck accident attorney.

Is there a truck accident lawyer near me?

Gainsberg Law P.C. is located at 22 W Washington Street, Suite 1512 right in downtown Chicago, across from the consulate building and about a block away from City Hall. There are two bus stops right near us if transportation is an issue.

Talk to a skilled and reliable Chicago truck accident attorney now

Delay can hurt your case. If you wait too long to speak with an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer, you may have a harder time proving your case. The physical evidence of the accident can disappear. The memories of witnesses can fade. To move your case forward with competence and to present the best case possible, please call our office as soon as you can. Gainsberg Law is ready to help you fight for justice. Call us at 312-600-9585 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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