Our Peoria Truck Accident Lawyer is Here to Fight for Your Compensation
Truck accidents are among the most dangerous types of personal injury scenarios, as trucks tend to have greater mass than other vehicles and the impact force in a collision is significant. This is reflected in the statistics. According to a 2017 study conducted by the Illinois Department of Transportation, 21,055 injury crashes and 436 fatal crashes were linked to large trucks (and similar vehicles), accounting for roughly 16.7 percent of total injury crashes and approximately 27 percent of total fatal accidents, despite constituting just 16 percent of the total registered motor vehicles in the state of Illinois. Here at Parker & Parker, a Peoria truck accident lawyer can provide skilled representation to those who have been harmed in truck accidents. Contact us today to discuss the possibility of litigation, and to learn more about how you can secure compensation for your injuries.
Negligence-Related Factors Leading to Truck Accidents
To successfully bring a truck accident claim, you’ll have the show that the defendant either committed negligence or engaged in intentional misconduct. A variety of negligence-related factors contribute to truck accidents, including, but not limited to:
- Driver intoxication
- Driver fatigue
- Improper cargo loading (leading to a rollover)
- Inadequate maintenance
- Distracted driving
- And more
Potential Employer Liability
As the injured plaintiff in a truck accident case, you might be feeling somewhat concerned about the defendant driver’s ability to cover all your losses. Perhaps the defendant lacks adequate insurance coverage or has minimal personal assets.
What can you do?
Well, you may be able to sue the driver’s employer. The driver’s employer is likely to have significant insurance coverage and assets, so those “deep pockets” make for a better target in personal injury litigation. Whether your Peoria truck accident lawyer can bring an action against the employer will depend on the applicability of two different legal theories.
In Illinois, employers can be held liable for the negligence of their employees, including truck driver employees. Importantly, however, you — the plaintiff — must be able to show that the employee actually committed negligence (reckless and intentional misconduct does not qualify for the application of vicarious liability) and that this negligence occurred within the course and scope of their employment.
For example, if a truck driver injures you while heading home in their personal vehicle (after clocking-out from work), then that is likely not “within the course and scope of employment.”
Employers can also be held liable for their own negligent acts. Employer negligence in the truck accident context may include the improper scheduling drivers in a way that gives them minimal rest time (leading to driver fatigue), or negligently hiring truck drivers who have a history of alcoholism, or who have a poor driving record.
Accidents between two motor vehicles are inherently dangerous. When one of the motor vehicles is a large commercial truck, the danger increases substantially, especially for the typical passenger vehicle and its passengers. After all, large commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 lbs., while a typical passenger vehicle weighs closer to 4,000 lbs. The sheer force of impact, which is significant even at relatively low speeds, is absorbed by the passenger vehicle.
Identifying Fault in a Truck Accident
The causes of truck accidents can be difficult to identify because of all the variables, making identifying the fault exceptionally difficult. In one sense, finding fault in a truck accident is similar to finding fault in a car accident: There must be some kind of negligence found (intentional acts are rare except in cases of road rage). The victim must show:
- The driver owed a duty to drive as a reasonable truck driver would,
- The driver breached that duty in any number of ways; e.g., running a red light, violating federal or state regulations, driving more than the legally-specified amount allowed, etc.
- The breach caused the accident that injured the victim, and
- The accident and resulting injury caused the victim to suffer damages, e.g., hospital bills.
The breach is the most difficult element to find. Some common large commercial truck duty breaches, also referred to as fault, include:
- Mechanical failures. Large commercial trucks are designed to travel long distances and drivers spend thousands of hours traveling hundreds of thousands of miles on the roads. The constant need for regular maintenance and repair has caused federal and state regulations to be implemented. Trucking companies may cut corners trying to keep up with fleet maintenance in an attempt to reduce overhead or simply out of carelessness. Even a well-maintained truck starts, stops, and turns much more slowly than a passenger vehicle.
- Lack of driver training or experience. Driving a large commercial truck requires a unique skill set, which can only be achieved through intensive training and experience.
- Inadequate supervision. Trucking companies are required by law to ensure proper maintenance, manage their drivers to ensure they are driving safely, and follow many other safety-related rules. Companies must hire drivers with the appropriate amount of training and experience, along with a clean driving record.
- Dangerous corporate culture. In some cases, trucking companies may encourage and even require drivers to engage in unsafe behavior.
- Aggressive driving. Tailgating, merging without enough room, running red lights and stop signs, and other forms of aggressive driving are common factors in truck accidents. While these driving behaviors are dangerous with any type of vehicle, they are especially dangerous with a truck that weighs thousands of pounds.
- Driving while drowsy. Truck drivers are under intense pressure to make deliveries on time and spend long hours behind the wheel to meet those deadlines. This causes fatigued driving, affecting their reaction time and ability to respond quickly to hazards.
- Driving while distracted. Distracted driving is also especially dangerous when the driver is behind the wheel of a large commercial truck. Truck drivers tend to spend the long hours on the road texting, using social media, and even watching movies for entertainment.
- Driving under the influence. This is unacceptable behavior for all drivers but is compounded by the damage a truck can do.
- Overloading. Exceeding a truck’s towing capacity or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) can significantly increase the risk of an accident.
- Failing to secure the truck’s cargo. Failure to secure a truck’s cargo causes the truck to sway, increasing the chances of an accident.
A Peoria truck accident lawyer at Parker & Parker can sort through the various federal and state laws governing large commercial trucks and determine if the trucker’s duty of care has been breached.
Who Will Your Peoria Truck Accident Lawyer Establish as a Liable Party?
Another difficulty when finding fault in a truck accident is identifying all parties that may share the fault. Large commercial trucks, unlike personal vehicles, are generally part of a corporate enterprise, and anybody within that commercial enterprise may share fault. Some examples include:
- The truck driver
- The truck owner
- The trucking company
- The truck maintenance company
- The truck manufacturer
- Whoever leased the truck, if the truck was leased
- The leasing company
- The shipping or loading company
- Various types of third-party independent contractors
A Peoria truck accident lawyer at Parker & Parker can help you sort through this difficult process and recover all the financial compensation you’re entitled to from any party who shares liability.
Common Types of Accidents Involving Trucks
Due to their unique structure, there are many types of commercial big truck accidents. Some of the most common include:
When the trailer of a large commercial truck pushes the front towing vehicle to one side or all the way around, it faces backward, creating a shape that resembles a pocket knife, or “jackknife.” Jackknife accidents are particularly dangerous because a jackknifed big truck suddenly occupies all of the lanes on a freeway, leaving no room for other vehicles to maneuver. Your best hope is to stop safely, hopefully on the shoulder.
Rear-End Truck Accidents.
Large commercial trucks take much longer to stop than most other motor vehicles. Therefore, they need to keep much more distance between themselves and the motor vehicle in front of them, even if other vehicles cut in front of them. The FMCSA-recommended following distances provide useful guidance.
Large commercial trucks have a much higher center of gravity than standard passenger vehicles. Rollovers commonly happen when the truck driver takes a turn too fast, swerves, or is improperly loaded.
These accidents are perhaps the most damaging of all. A standard passenger vehicle is no match for the large commercial truck and typically absorbs most of the tremendous force generated. Fatigue, impairment, and loss of concentration contribute to these accidents, and mechanical failures account for their share as well. Whatever the reason(s) may be, these accidents often lead to severe injuries or death of those inside of the passenger vehicle.
Next to head-on collisions, these accidents are the most dangerous, at least when the truck hits the car. These accidents usually occur when a truck runs a red light or doesn’t stop for a stop sign.
Wide Turn Accidents.
Large commercial trucks have to take very wide trunks because of their length. Passenger vehicles should stay far back enough to give turning trucks the space they need or risk an accident.
Contact a Peoria Truck Accident Lawyer at Parker & Parker Today
Injured in a truck accident? Illinois law may give you a right of action to sue and recover damages.
Here at Parker & Parker, our team of experienced Peoria truck accident attorneys is standing by to provide the legal assistance necessary to evaluate the underlying case, develop and execute a winning litigation strategy and secure maximum compensation. Unlike many of our competitors, we believe that client-centered advocacy is the key to effective litigation — by establishing a collaborative partnership with the injured client, we gain valuable insight into their case.