Head On Truck Collisions and Accidents in Chicago, IL

Head on collisions are the most common tractor-trailer related accidents to happen on United States roadways (1). Unfortunately, they also the deadliest. Our firm handles head on truck accidents in Chicago, Illinois.

If you or a loved one has had an injury or passed away, you or the family may be entitled to recover compensation from a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, head-on collisions between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles lead to more casualties than any other type of truck accident.

In April of 2017, an Arkansas woman was killed on Illinois’s Interstate 57 when the driver of a tractor-trailer crossed the center median, hitting the woman’s vehicle in a head-on collision.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while only about 2 percent of crashes on United States roadways are head-on collisions, they account for more than 10 percent of the fatalities. This is because the accidents occur when speed limits are 55 miles per hour or more. The results can be devastatingly destructive, especially if one of those vehicles is a much heavier tractor-trailer, which can weight 20 times more than a passenger car.

If a head on collision with a tractor-trailer is not a fatality, the injuries sustained in the crash can be severe, and can require long-term or potentially a lifetime of care. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord or neck injuries that can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis, broken bones and internal injuries are all possible as a result of a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer.

Causes of Head On Truck Collisions

While even the most careful driver can cross the center line for just a moment, there are usually reasons behind head-on collisions that make such accidents totally avoidable.

Some of the main reasons for tractor-trailer head-on collisions include:

  • Unfamiliarity with the area. A truck driver who is not familiar with the roads he or she is traveling could make mistakes including driving the wrong way down a one-way street or attempting to enter a highway from an off-ramp, both of which are common causes of head-on collisions.
  • Driving under the influence. Drugs to keep truck drivers awake (cocaine, methamphetamine or ephedrine from a truck stop’s cache of things to help keep drivers awake and alert) or alcohol, opiates, marijuana or heroin to help drivers cope with chronic pain or stress can cause drivers to cross the center line or perform other unsafe maneuvers that can end in a head-on collision.
  • Weather conditions. Blizzards with blowing snow, heavy rain and other dangerous weather conditions can impair visibility, potentially resulting in a head-on crash. While some trucking companies will pull drivers off the road when weather is dangerous, others will not, creating the potential for a crash, especially if a driver cannot see the road and inadvertently crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.
  • Driver fatigue. Driver fatigue can contribute to any type of tractor-trailer accident, because when drivers have been on the road for long periods of time, their alertness and reaction time are both impaired, putting them at risk of making careless moves or falling asleep behind the wheel, all of which can end in a head-on crash with a passenger vehicle. Experts compare the effects of driver fatigue to those of driving under the influence.
  • Distracted driving. Eating, drinking, using a GPS system to track a location, changing the stations on a radio or switching out a CD, or talking or texting on a cell phone are all distractions that can be potentially deadly, because each requires a driver to take his or her eyes off the road for at least a second, which is enough time for an accident to happen.
  • Equipment failure. Steering components on a tractor-trailer can fail, causing a driver to lose control of his or her rig. A semi that is not under control can easily cross the center line and strike an unsuspecting vehicle head-on.

In 2014, a tractor-trailer driving eastbound on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, a portion of Illinois Route 47 near Elgin, when the vehicle crossed the median, crashing head-on into another tractor-trailer driving westbound on the road, causing the oncoming tractor-trailer to overturn.

No cause was given for the accident.

Chicago is a transportation hub, and many different interstates converge in the city. Because so much traffic is headed to Chicago, surrounding Illinois highways are also heavily trafficked.

With so many vehicles on the road, when accidents occur, they are more likely to trigger chain reactions, especially if tractor-trailers, which are less able to come to a quick stop because of their size, are involved.

Head On Collisions Can Be Devastating and Result in Severe Injury and Death

Because of the serious injuries that can occur in the event of a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer, if you or someone you love has been involved in such an accident, your best asset will be an experienced attorney who can help handle the legal aspects of your case.

An attorney who understands truck accident law will help determine the cause of the accident by gathering as much evidence as possible. The evidence gathered will come from police reports, log books, maintenance records, inspection reports and witness reports. 

The same evidence is also valuable in determining whether or not the truck driver, the trucking company or an equipment manufacturer would be at fault in the event of an accident.

An experienced lawyer will be able to recover the compensation you deserve after the head on collision, no matter how hard the opposition attempts to limit their liability in your case. If a lawsuit needs to be filed, make sure you have an attorney who will fight for you to get the accident settlement you deserve.