Truck Driver Injury Lawyer
Are you a truck accident victim, or did you lose a loved one caused by the negligent actions of others? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys resolve truck accident claims to ensure our clients receive maximum compensation.
Call our experienced Chicago truck crash attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Every day, competent and highly skilled truck drivers move products and equipment needed by the nation along roadways, freeways, and highways in the Chicago area and throughout the State of Illinois.
The job opportunities for driving commercial trucks come at a high price. The drivers spend long days and weeks on the roadways, increasing their fatigue, distraction, and exhaustion.
The hectic lifestyle with tight deadlines leads to an increased risk of catastrophic trucking accidents requiring the hiring of truck accident lawyers for injured truck drivers and shippers.
Our law firm represents injured truckers involved in single-vehicle crashes, passenger car/commercial vehicle accidents, and head-on collisions.
Truck Driver Negligence
Who will get the blame for trucking accidents involving trucks? In most cases, the trucking companies and their employees are held accountable as independent contractors that operate their tractor-trailers.
In some cases, truck drivers may cause an accident for reasons beyond their control. For example, losing a vehicle control could be due to weather conditions like ice or snow, where slippery roads could make it impossible to stop when necessary, on wet pavement.
There are also instances where other motorists are responsible for catastrophic accidents.
Truck Driver Negligence in Chicago
City officials have attempted to add more regulations for truck drivers in the past. There has been an effort to lower the number of accidents and fatalities related to commercial vehicles operating within city limits.
On November 2, 2013, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel disclosed the need to change the laws in Chicago requiring all truck drivers to be tested for drugs and alcohol at least twice a year. The mayor's effort came after learning of an accident that happened a month before.
One driver in that crash had been drinking and did not have a valid license at the time. A spokesperson for the mayor added that this is one way to help lower the number of accidents involving trucks in the city.
When Is A Truck Driver to Blame for Your Accident?
A truck accident attorney may be necessary at the accident's scene when a commercial vehicle driver causes an injury to another person or causes property damage. The incident might be due to the truck driver's negligence while driving.
Examples of truck drivers' negligence include:
- Phone use distracted the driver
- Driving while drunk or under a drug influence.
- Failing to use their turn signal, which is a safety requirement if turning or changing lanes
- Failing to give way
- Not fastening the load properly on the trailer resulting in an accident
- Driving too fast for weather conditions such as ice or snow
Severe Injuries in Truck Accidents
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) statistics show 3,784 truck crashes in Illinois from January 1 to September 30, 2012. Unfortunately, many of these truck accidents resulted in severe injuries and wrongful deaths.
In most tractor-trailer accident cases involving death or injury, the trucking industry is a common culprit. However, the independent operators often take the blame for negligence resulting in accidents.
The statistics of truck accidents reported by FMCSA in 2010 showed 109,450 crashes across the country. These accidents resulted in 10,954 fatalities and 97,000 injuries. In addition, many people sustained severe and life-changing injuries such as brain trauma, spinal cord injury, amputations, and paralysis from a tractor-trailer accident.
Truck Driver Fatigue and Dangerous Driving Practices and Dangers on the Roadways
Many times, commercial truck drivers find themselves in accidents because of fatigue. Data from the National Sleep Foundation shows that 40% of long-haul commercial truckers get less than six hours of sleep a day, putting them at significant risk for an accident.
Worrying about running late or missing deadlines can be stressful for any driver on the road, especially if the truck driver is in a dangerous location or is in poor weather conditions.
In 2013, more than 4,000 commercial vehicle accidents happened. According to the NHTSA, nearly half of those crashes involved drivers falling asleep at the wheel. The drivers fall asleep while driving, resulting in collisions with other cars on the road, pedestrians on sidewalks, or even bicyclists.
The truck drivers can be responsible for damages if proven that; they caused any injuries to themselves or hurt others in hit-and-run accidents due to their reckless driving.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration recommends taking the following precautions after being awake for 17 hours:
- Be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep before driving.
- Get off the road if you feel drowsy. Instead, pull over to a safe place, rest for 10 minutes to 20 minutes, and take a 20-minute nap.
- If you find yourself yawning or having trouble concentrating, try drinking non-caffeinated beverages and eating healthy snacks such as cheese, crackers, and fresh fruits.
- Do not drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages as these stimulants can make you feel more alert for a short period but make it harder to concentrate later.
Highway safety is a responsibility shared by everyone on the road, including truck drivers and their companies. Suppose a driver is found to be doing something that contributed to causing an accident. In that case, they may be held accountable for the damages in court.
Truck Driving Federal Regulations
In the United States, Federal regulations govern the drivers. Federal rules stipulate rest breaks and driving hours on the road. There is an exhaustive list of illegal activities while driving in this country, resulting in heavy fines or jail time. Examples are not following CFR guidelines about drug usage or speeding.
Truck drivers need to follow the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to keep themselves and their vehicles safe. The following list entails some CFRs relevant to what all drivers should know:
- Keep an accurate logbook documenting time worked to comply with federal rest periods requirements
- Adhere strictly to maintenance requirements outlined by law, including keeping logs that show when inspections were completed and ensure your vehicle is safe before operating it commercially.
- Ensure proper cargo loading when traveling as per the hazardous materials regulations or prescriptions for specific loads such as livestock carriers that require special precautions when transporting animals on long trips; these include:
- double-checking floors, ramps, and gates
- Proper ventilation depending on the type of animal on transit
- Temperature control systems are necessary during hot summer days.
Workers' Compensation Claims & Third-Party Lawsuits From Accidents
The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent commercial vehicle operators suffering severe injuries resulting from truck accident cases on Cook County and Illinois state roads. Regardless of who is responsible for causing the truck accident, drivers are eligible for financial compensation from the employer or the insurance company.
Commercial truck operator employees are typically covered by workers' compensation, even if at fault for the truck accident (although an independent contractor may not be).
Some of the benefits for common truck accident injuries include:
- Ongoing medical care coverage along with prescription medications until the injuries heal
- Disability benefits for the time the driver is unable to work or only working part-time as a result of injuries resulting from the trucking accident
- Vocational training if the injuries preclude the drivers from returning to their position
When injuries from the truck accident are due to the negligent actions of a third party (individuals not working for the commercial truck operator employer), the injured operator can file a personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit will be against the responsible individual or trucking company who breached the duty of care.
This lawsuit can hold the third party accountable through an insurance company. The insurance company then pays monetary compensation for damages, medical bills, pain, suffering, or injury not covered under worker's compensation.
The truckers' family members can pursue benefits under the workers' compensation act or in a separate injury case against the responsible parties under certain circumstances.
An attorney representing the surviving family members could build the cases. For example, the attorney can argue that the truck drivers were killed in crashes or other accidents directly related to their work.
Temporary or Permanent Disability After a Significant Chicago Truck Accident
Many truck accidents cause catastrophic results. The injuries are so horrific that the operator cannot work or is invalid for days, weeks, months, or years.
Disabilities lasting a year or longer often require additional benefits. Your attorney will lobby your employer and the insurance companies to release your compensation or go to trial if they do not comply.
Commercial truck operators that have suffered a severe injury might be entitled to receive SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) claim benefits. However, the process of making a claim can be complicated and often requires knowledgeable assistance from a skilled personal injury lawyer to avoid denial of the claim.
The attorney knows how to navigate when dealing with the victim's employer and the insurance company. A skilled truck accident attorney ensures the injured truck operator details any occupational illness or chronic injury to support their claim with the Social Security Administration.
Common Injuries Sustained by Truckers and Shippers Around Chicago
A trucker might suffer severe injuries in a car/trucking accident while operating a semi-tractor trailer, LCV (long combination vehicle), or other commercial trucks.
Some of these injuries could include:
- Back and neck injury (see here)
- Brain injury and trauma (see here)
- Spinal cord injury (see here)
- Loss of limb (see here)
- Wrongful death
Injured Truck Driver Statistics and General Information
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation, nearly 50,000 truck drivers are injured in the workplace every year while on the road or in warehouses.
Many injured truckers remain in their trucking job while receiving workers' compensation benefits through their truck company employers:
- Thousands of truck drivers and shippers die each year due to work-related accidents.
- The most common states for truck driver fatalities include Florida, California, Texas, and Illinois.
- Both fatalities and injuries have declined across the trucking industry over the last twenty years.
The top three causes of trucker injuries around the Chicago area are head-on collisions, rear-end collisions and rollovers.
The leading causes of truck crashes include:
- Tired drivers
- Distracted drivers
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Collisions with horses, deer, and other animals
- Poorly loaded cargo
- Careless truck drivers failing to pay attention to road hazards like rain or snow
Most commercial trucks are hit from the rear in a typical crash due to the distracted driving habits of 18-wheelers and other vehicles on the road. Therefore, all drivers need to pay attention when traveling behind these vehicles.
The lack of the necessary hitching rail in the rear of truck cabins is an increasing cause of severe injuries to drivers and passengers, especially when the trucks get hit from behind.
How to Ensure a Successful Workers' Compensation Claim After an Illinois Truck Crash
Worker's compensation provides benefits for injured truckers who work in or around Chicago that receive job-related injuries. These commercial truck operators might have insurance through their employer or the government. Either way, they will need to follow specific steps to ensure that their claims are successful.
Filing claims through workers' compensation benefits help ensure that injured truck drivers receive the benefits they deserve and prevent them from working while recovering from their injuries.
A Chicago personal injury lawyer can guide truckers through this process. The lawyer ensures that all truckers' issues get proper resolution, preventing further harm to the driver or others.
Truck drivers injured on the job need representation from a Chicago truck accident lawyer. The lawyer ensures the clients' side of the story count and gets all the compensation owed under Illinois law.
Hiring an Attorney to Prosecute Claims Under Workers Compensation & Truck Accident Lawsuits
Truck accident lawyers representing injured truck drivers handle truck accident victims' claims. Mainly in various on-the-job situations when there are mitigative circumstances in the accident case.
Some of the situations handled by a trucking accident lawyer could include:
- The trucking company breached its duty of care and failed to maintain the commercial truck's fuel system or braking system properly, which led to the Illinois truck accident
- Another individual working at a loading / unloading facility sustains truck injuries. Injuries could include being struck by objects including pallet jacks, winch bars, lift gates, chains, binders, cartons, or boxes
- A dangerous fall from elevations, including falling from the truck, falling through the workplace openings, making deliveries at higher elevations, stepping/falling into the holes, or when exiting the semi-truck, back or knee sprains, occurs
- Being involved in a forklift accident while loading/unloading the cargo
- An improperly balanced cargo load resulting in a truck accident
- Sustaining an injury on the road in a collision with a negligent, reckless motorist
- A truck accident could be due to a failure to properly operate the commercial truck because of a manufacturer's defect, like a burst tire, failing brake pads, or defective part or component
- A truck accident could occur when the trailer is faulty, including a material defect, manufacturing defect, or design flaw. In this situation, the injured trucker would need to prove that part of the cargo that caused the Illinois truck accident was defective and dangerous
- The injuries sustained from an Illinois truck accident are often severe. Compensation should include:
- Medical bills
- Income loss or reduction in earning capacity
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of consortium to a spouse or children.
The Illinois truck accident victim could also be eligible for punitive damages if the negligence is egregious. That is, the trucker's health and safety are grossly disregarded.
Injured Truck Drivers FAQs
Our law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions about dealing directly with insurance companies over their tractor-trailer accidents. A truck accident lawyer has answered some of those questions below.
For additional information about truck accident cases, call our law office at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form.
What Percentage of Accidents Are Caused by Trucks?
According to the American Trucking Association, drivers in passenger vehicles cause over 80% of car/truck accidents. Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration studies show that passenger vehicle drivers cause 85% of fatal car/truck accidents, on average, each year.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies show that passenger vehicle drivers cause over 91% of all head-on collisions and 71% of rear-end crashes.
What Is the Average Life Expectancy of a Truck Driver?
The average lifespan of a commercial trucker is sixty-one years, falling significantly short of the seventy-eight-year average lifespan of males in the United States.
However, the diminished life expectancy of seventeen years is associated more with the harmful consequences of being on the road every week. The long hours of sitting in a semi-truck cab can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions.
How Many Truck Accidents Can a CDL Driver Have?
Federal trucking regulations stipulate when a trucker's CDL license can be suspended due to their offenses. The law states that truckers facing two serious traffic violations in different events get a sixty-day disqualification over three years.
Truck drivers with serious traffic violations have their licenses suspended for 120 days during the same three-year period. Major offenses under federal law include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Driving while intoxicated
- Truck drivers leaving the truck accident scenes if they were involved in truck accidents
- Committing a felony while using the vehicle
- Committing felonies while using their vehicle for manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing controlled substances
Trucking companies can be civilly liable for negligent hiring and retention. Due to that, personal injury attorneys fighting for their clients will review the trucker's employment history. They will determine if the trucker was adequately trained and had sufficient experience in operating a semi-tractor trailer.
What Is the Death Rate of Truck Drivers?
The fatality rate for truck drivers is significantly higher than all other modes of roadway transport. For example, truckers face an 8.0 per 10,000 registered vehicle fatality rate six times higher than drivers' 1.5-rate per 10,000 fatality rate in all other registered vehicles.
The American Trucking Association reports that approximately 3% of all truck accidents result in a fatality.
In 2013, there were almost 4,000 motorists' fatalities in the United States. Approximately 1,800 deaths occurred due to a tractor-trailer accident involving a commercial bus or passenger car.
What Causes Most Truck Accidents?
Statistics from the NHTSA indicate that most truck accidents result from mechanical failures, typically involving defective brakes or faulty tires.
Other causes of truck accidents include:
- Drivers' fatigue
- Drivers' lack of attention while driving
- Aggressive driving
- Tight schedules
- Lack of sleep
- Route misinformation
How Many Truck Accidents Happen Annually?
On average, there are about 500,000 truck crashes every year nationwide. While some truck accidents cause fatalities and severe injury, most commercial vehicle crashes involve property damage only.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 70% of all truck accidents are rear-ended collisions, typically involving a passenger vehicle failing to stop on time.
Illinois Lawyers for Injured Truck Drivers
A trucker injured at work can face lifelong problems, emotional trauma, and financial stress. Skilled Chicago truck accident lawyers work aggressively on your behalf. They help you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve to maintain the accustomed lifestyle and your family.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is committed to protecting the rights of injured truck drivers in Illinois through aggressive strategies. Our law office helps clients recover adequate financial compensation in an amount enough to cover any unpaid medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
Call our personal injury attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or fill out our online contact form to schedule a no-obligation, free consultation to discuss a personal injury claim. Our law firm also provides legal advice and represents family members who have lost a loved one through a truck crash wrongful death.
Our law firm accepts all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This promise ensures you pay nothing until we resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury trial verdict.