Any motor vehicle accident can potentially cause devastating injuries. But accidents involving a semi-truck, tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler are likely to be particularly severe, due to the vehicle's large size and heavyweight.
Truck accident injuries may include broken bones, burns, brain injuries or neck, back or spinal cord injuries. Truck accident deaths are also not uncommon.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, an experienced truck injury attorney can help you receive the compensation you deserve. The attorneys of Benassi & Benassi have significant experience helping people in Central Illinois receive just and fair compensation for their injuries.
Illinois Truck Accidents
Both Illinois state law and federal law have strict standards for the operation of large trucks. For example, the Illinois Vehicle Code specifies the maximum weight and speed for various types of large trucks operating on different types of roads. U.S. federal law requires that drivers follow hours of service regulations that limit the number of driving hours and require periodic rest breaks.
Despite these strict regulations, there were 11,769 accidents involving large trucks in Illinois in 2015, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Of those truck accidents, nearly 3,000 resulted in injury or death.
In accidents involving large trucks, the occupant of a passenger vehicle is much more likely to be injured or killed than the truck driver:
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in fatal crashes involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle, only 3% of deaths were of truck occupants. 97% of the truck accident deaths nation-wide were passengers in other vehicles.
- In Illinois crashes involving a large truck and another vehicle, occupants of the other vehicle are nearly four times more likely to be injured and nearly ten times as likely to be killed compared to truck occupants.
What Causes Truck Accidents in Illinois?
Truck accidents can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Driver fatigue. A truck driver might not follow the "hours of service" requirements and therefore could fall asleep at the wheel. Nodding off for even a second while driving a large truck can have disastrous consequences.
- Distracted, unsafe or reckless driving. Just like a regular driver, a truck driver may take their eyes off the road to look at their phone, drink coffee or take a bite of food. The driver could be traveling at an unsafe speed because he or she is in in a hurry to reach their destination. Or the truck driver might hit another car because he or she didn't check all the mirrors before making a turn.
- Carrying too much weight or improperly storing cargo. If a truck exceeds legal weight limits, it may affect the driver's ability to brake and come to a stop. Therefore, the driver might not be able to stop in time to prevent an accident. If the truck's cargo was not loaded or stored properly, the load could shift during transit or even fall from the truck, causing a serious accident.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A truck driver may have taken over-the-counter, prescription or illegal stimulants to keep awake on long drives.
- Poorly-maintained vehicle. If a truck has been poorly maintained, many things can go wrong. The truck's brakes may fail, its tires could rupture, or cargo could fall from the truck.
- Defective truck or truck parts. If the truck itself or any of its parts were manufactured incorrectly, those parts could fail and contribute to causing an accident.
Truck drivers can make any of the same mistakes as a regular driver, but the consequences may be much more severe due to the size of the truck itself and the weight of its cargo. The long distances truck drivers travel and the heavy loads they carry create additional accident, injury, and death hazards.
Illinois Truck Injury Lawsuits
Most injury lawsuits are based on a claim of "negligence." Under Illinois law, the plaintiff (the person who files a lawsuit) must be able to prove that the defendant (the person or company the lawsuit is filed against) owed a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant breached their duty, and the breach caused the defendant's injury.
It can be very difficult to determine what caused a truck accident and whether negligence contributed to the accident. For example, if you were injured when a semi-truck hit your car, the truck driver might have been driving too fast and not operating the truck with reasonable care. It's also possible that the truck's brakes could have failed due to improper maintenance. Or the truck could have been loaded with too much cargo, which meant the truck was unable to come to a stop before hitting your car.
Similarly, there are many different people and companies who could have contributed to a truck accident. The truck driver, truck owner, the driver's employer, those who loaded the truck, those who maintained and serviced the truck or even the truck or truck parts manufacturer (or some combination thereof) could contribute to causing a truck accident.
Getting the Help You Need After a Truck Accident
It is important to hire an experienced auto accident attorney quickly after being injured in a truck crash.
Truck accident injuries are likely to be unusually severe and may require extensive, long-term medical care. You may be unable to work during that time, and you and your family may be scared, stressed or anxious about the financial burden of medical expenses. Meanwhile, insurance companies will be working hard to limit the amount you can recover for your injuries.
The experienced accident attorneys at Benassi & Benassi seek compensation for our client's current and long-term needs. The severe injuries that can result from a truck accident may require long-term care and may result in financial and emotional (as well as physical) injuries.
If you have been injured or you have lost a family member in a truck accident, contact Benassi & Benassi. We are committed to helping Central Illinois truck accident victims get the compensation they deserve.