Almost every day in Illinois, someone is injured or killed in a tractor trailer accident.
In Chicago, a transportation hub that brings together myriad methods of transportation to one centralized, Midwest city, the risks of a tractor-trailer accident are significantly higher.
Commercial trucking is continuing to grow in Chicago, creating an atmosphere for more accidents to happen.
In summer of 2011, in southern Illinois almost across the state from Chicago, a tractor-trailer driver caused a pileup accident and numerous injuries when he failed to slow down for traffic that was stalled due to a traffic jam. Seven vehicles were involved in the crash, and three were destroyed by fire. There were no serious injuries, only because Good Samaritans pulled the victims in the burning cars to safety.
There will likely be lawsuits against both the reckless semi driver as well as the company that hired him as a driver.
What Causes Truck Accidents In Illinois?
Semis trucks are dangerous for a variety of reasons.
- Tractor-trailers are heavier and larger than other vehicles, so they have slower reaction times. It takes an 18-wheeler 40 percent more time to come to a complete stop than a smaller vehicle. Those times become even longer in adverse weather conditions, and rain, snow, and sleep become factors.
- Because trucks are so heavy, the chance of a serious accident is much more likely. The most common tractor-trailer accidents are head-on collisions.
- Trucks have a more difficult time during wintery weather. Imagine a tractor-trailer attempting to come to a stop on a snowy Illinois highway, carrying a heavy load. The trailer is likely to jackknife, and if vehicles are traveling in lanes alongside the truck, there is the potential for serious damage, both physical and material.
- Tractor-trailers may be carrying toxic loads, adding an extra element of danger and serious injury in case of a crash.
- Trucks have many blind spots. The general rule of thumb on the highway – if you can’t see a truck driver’s side window, he or she can’t see you, and you’re following too close. While that doesn’t solve every issue with blind spots, it’s safer to stay back, allowing trucks the space they need for safely sharing the road.
- Drivers are often fatigued. Legally, truck drivers are only allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours and can only work 14 hours a day. (The extra time would be spent waiting for cargo to be loaded or unloaded at the first and second site.) After that, a driver is required to take at least 10 hours off before beginning another shift.
Tractor Trailer Accident Illinois
While all drivers are required to log the hours they spend on the road, many keep two books, one with the number of hours they should have legally driven, the other showing the hours actually spent behind the wheel. Because of deadlines, many drivers push themselves too hard on the road, turning their truck into traveling time bombs, ripe for a potential accident. Some potential dangers of fatigue, aside from drivers falling asleep at the wheel, include a slower response time, which could make a driver less able to avoid an accident, impaired judgment, an increased risk of road rage, impaired vision and difficulty processing information.
- Other drivers become careless. Most tractor-trailer accidents do not occur because truckers are speeding down the interstate for the 20th hour of the day (which is not to say those aren’t possible accident scenarios) but from other drivers who don’t recognize how dangerous tractor-trailers truly are. Trucks are more difficult to handle, they cannot stop on a dime and they have tires that can either explode or lose tread, sending debris into the highway, potentially into the path of oncoming traffic.
Truck Accidents in Illinois: What You Need to Know
If you are involved in a truck accident in Illinois and the driver was at fault in the incident, juries tend to reward victims well for what are often devastating accidents that result in wrongful death suits.
In 2011, three separate settlements from a single tractor trailer accident resulted in a $23.75 million settlement, two wrongful death suits, the other medical care and pain, and suffering for extensive injuries sustained in the crash.
If you are able to do so after a tractor-trailer accident, gather as much evidence as possible in order to determine who was at fault in the accident. Take photographs, note the weather – ice and snow can be a potential factor regarding liability due to laws preventing trucks from traveling during unsafe conditions – and make sure you have the contact and company insurance information from the driver. The names and contact info for any potential witnesses and the names of responding officers so you can later obtain a crash report are also important.
Hire the Right Illinois Tractor Trailer Lawyer
You should also hire an experienced attorney. Because truck drivers are regulated by both state and federal rules, an attorney who knows the laws and has experience covering tractor-trailer accidents in Chicago or the surrounding area is vital to your case.
A good lawyer will gain access to inspection and maintenance records, and will make sure to also access the truck’s black box evidence – vital if a case goes to trial, because it tracks what the truck did in the moments before the crash – all of which is vital evidence in order to secure a fair settlement.
Were you Involved in a Tractor Trailer Accident Today or Yesterday?
The pain and suffering associated with tractor-trailer accidents can be catastrophic and chronic, completely altering the lives of victims permanently. Trucking companies are back by tough attorneys, so hiring an experienced tractor trailer attorney will ensure that your team knows exactly what to expect, and can help ensure a settlement that covers your losses fairly.