Rockford Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accidents are often more serious than other motor vehicle accidents because of the size and weight of semi-tractor trailers. The damage that results from these crashes can be life-changing for those involved.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys serve clients with catastrophic injuries and will aggressively fight until justice has been served for your devastating harm. You have the right to seek financial compensation through the legal process for your injuries and damages in a truck accident that was not your fault.
Call a Rockford personal injury lawyer today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation to pursue compensation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your experienced attorney remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Large truck accidents are some of the most serious highway accidents because truckers are often required to be attentive when driving, leading to inattentiveness at times. This inattention is a leading cause of large truck accidents.
Rockford, IL, is an industrial city with deep connections to the freight and transport industries. In addition, its location along critical railroads and highways makes it an integral cog in the transportation hub throughout the State of Illinois.
Interstate 90 connects the city with both Madison and Chicago. Moreover, the I-39 connection provides an alternate route to Chicago and a link to I-80 and I-88, which provide routes to major interstates in the Midwest.
The high volume of trucking traffic coming in and out of Rockford increases the risk of accidents. The Rockford truck accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC specialize in protecting truck accident victims of negligence.
Transportation is a Vital Part of Rockford's Economy
The City of Rockford has always been highly vested in the trucking industry, and freight transport goes hand in hand with producing goods and materials. The United Parcel Service, Union Pacific, Canadian National, and the Illinois Railway represent some of Rockford's larger employers.
The city acts as a hub between Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay to the north and Chicago to the south, one of the country's largest transportation hubs.
The Chicago Rockford International Airport is home to the United Parcel Service's second-largest air hub globally. The freight received there is transported to its ultimate destinations via semi-trucks once it has been accepted.
Concerns have arisen in recent years due to drastic increases in fatal truck accidents reported throughout Illinois. Many of the serious injuries and deaths that have resulted from these crashes have been linked to negligent actions of truckers or poor policy decisions by trucking companies, which ultimately resulted in avoidable auto accidents.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Severe Truck Accidents
A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study shows that large trucks are involved in about one-third of all fatal car accidents. This alarming statistic reveals that trucks only account for 10% of vehicles on the road but are involved in more than their share of traffic deaths.
Another interesting finding from this report is how many injuries result from truck accidents. Severe injuries sustained due to a truck crash accounted for more than 95% of those recorded in these incidents and were often severe or even life-threatening.
These findings have been published to help raise awareness and reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from large vehicle collisions with smaller passenger cars.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations
Injured victims should know that resources are available if they are involved in a truck accident. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has regulations that govern how long drivers can work before taking breaks and what hours they can be on the road.
Additionally, should the trucking company fail to adhere to these regulations or violate other regulations (such as driving with an invalid license or using illegal substances while on the job), they can be held liable for damages that result.
These regulations include:
- Hours of Service (HOS): A driver of a commercial vehicle is limited to 11 hours of driving in each 24 hours
- Driving Time: A driver must rest for ten consecutive hours every 24 hours, allowing them to take two additional "rest periods" of at least 8 hours each within that time frame
- Sleeper Berth Provision: This provides drivers with the option to take a break in their driving hours by getting into a "sleeper berth," allowing them to log the off-duty time that is considered part of the ten consecutive hours
- Safety Violations: A driver cannot commit three serious traffic violations in one year or four in two years, including speeding 15 mph or more over the posted speed limit, reckless driving, and failing to obey traffic signs
Drivers in violation of HOS regulations can have their commercial driver's license (CDL) revoked which is good news for victims who may be able to seek compensation from their trucking company.
Company Drivers vs. Owner-Operators
Another necessary distinction when pursuing legal action is whether the truck was driven by a company driver or an independent owner-operator. The difference between the two can have a significant impact on liability.
A trucking company driver has been hired by a transportation company, which may also help pay for fuel, insurance, and other vehicle-related expenses. If this is the case, the truck accident would be classified as a work-related injury and typically falls under workers' compensation insurance coverage.
On the other hand, an owner-operator is self-employed and considered an independent contractor. Because of this designation, they are not usually entitled to worker's comp benefits.
However, this means they are held fully liable for their actions, good or bad, and victims would seek financial compensation through the courts.
Why Truck Accidents are Different
Truck accidents can result in serious injuries because of the size of these big rigs. Still, the main difference between car crashes and truck accidents is how quickly they happen.
Because of their large size, trucks cannot slow down or stop as quickly as smaller cars, making them more difficult to avoid by the average driver behind the wheel of a passenger vehicle.
If you are in a truck accident and sustain harm, contact a Rockford truck accident attorney immediately.
Deadly and Dangerous Rockford Trucking Accidents
Recent accidents in the Rockford, Illinois, area show how hazardous the roads and interstates are for residents and visitors. Some of those accidents include:
- In March 2020, local Illinois law enforcement responded to a rollover truck accident involving a semi-tractor trailer that blocked an offramp from US Highway 21 onto Interstate 39 due to road debris. Unfortunately, the Winnebago County coroner announced that the seventy-two-year-old trucker died from his truck crash-related injuries.
- In December 2019, a twenty-three-year-old man died from truck accident-related injuries in a passenger vehicle collision with a semi-tractor-trailer. The coroner for Winnebago County announced that the motorist succumbed to blunt force trauma to the head after rear-ending a semi-tractor trailer operated by a fifty-seven-year-old trucker.
- A Rockford-based truck driver failed to reduce his speed when approaching a farm tractor on Rt. 154, and the resulting truck accident threw the victim from the tractor-trailer. The victim, Alan Ray Bowers, was hurried to the hospital but died from his truck accident-related injuries.
The Illinois State Police are currently investigating the cause of the wrongful death accident and whether the driver was distracted or tired at the time of the motor vehicle incident. Truckers are often driven to violate their hours-of-service limits because of strict deadlines and unrealistic expectations from their employers.
This truck accident exhibits how the slightest delay in reaction time can result in disaster. The semi-truck driver did not notice Bowers traveling slowly on the road's right shoulder. Delayed reaction time by the trucker can be caused by distracted driving, the influence of drugs and alcohol, or immense fatigue.
In 2018, the Illinois Department of Transportation identified 4,223 accidents within Rockford, Illinois, resulting in sixteen deaths and 1,262 injuries. By far, rear-end collisions (1263), turning accidents (884), and hitting a vehicle at an angle (719), topped the list of leading factors in crashes in the city.
The sixteen deaths involved six pedestrians, three victims in truck accidents who were hit at an angle, two victims struck by a fixed object, and one pedal cyclist.
The Severity of Truck Accident Injuries
Catastrophic truck crashes often result in debilitating and life-changing injuries where the victim is physically maimed and unable to support themselves without ongoing medical bills. These truck accident-related injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries (quadriplegia, paraplegia)
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Fractured or broken bones in legs, arms, and spinal column
- Lacerations requiring stitches
- Burn injuries
- Emotional trauma
Injuries from a truck accident can be expensive to treat because of medical supplies and hospitalization. In addition, treatment may require ongoing therapy with one or more specialists.
Often there are no standard fee schedules for this type of insurance coverage, so doctors charge patients according to rates. Unfortunately, it is up to the victim to negotiate with their healthcare provider for a lower rate.
Trucking accidents involving commercial vehicles can also cause victims to be unable to return to work in their pre-accident occupation, leaving them unable to support themselves and dependent on family members or government welfare programs.
When filing a truck accident injury claim with an insurance company, gather as much information about the crash as possible, including:
- Witness statements
- Police reports
- Medical bills
- Loss of income records
- Any other evidence that will help to demonstrate the severity of injuries
The trucking company, trucker, and insurer will likely promptly send insurance adjusters to the truck accident scene to gather evidence favoring the defense's side. Any evidence that could prove equipment failure, faulty parts, bald tires, or defective brakes might never be obtained to use in court or negotiate a fair settlement with the trucking company through vicarious liability and the truck operator who caused the accident.
Truck Driver Negligence is Common in Semi-Truck Accident Cases
The majority of semi-truck accidents are caused by driver negligence. Truck drivers often attempt to falsify their hours or logbooks when tired and cannot legally drive, a dangerous practice that can lead to death or severe injury for other motorists on the road.
- Falsifying truck logbooks and driving beyond legal limits: Truck drivers must keep accurate records of duty status and maintain certain hours before driving again so that truckers do not drive when they are tired and endangering their lives and other motorists. In addition, when a truck accident occurs and it is determined that a trucker was fatigued or speeding, this evidence may be used against them in court or their insurance company to prove liability.
- Failure to obey traffic control devices: Truck accidents frequently fail to adhere to traffic signs and signals, potentially dangerous for other motorists on the road and causing accidents.
- Following too closely: The semi-truck driver is expected to maintain a safe distance between their truck and other passenger vehicles on the road. Any motorist getting too close to a semi will create dangerous situations for all drivers involved.
In 2017, Congress increased penalties for truck carriers that violated federal safety regulations resulting in a fatality or if the truck crash occurred within 30 days after the carrier committed a serious violation to reduce the number of trucking accidents and truck driver negligence.
The new laws also included stricter rules for electronic logs and more stringent limits on when and where commercial vans can drive.
Investigations should begin immediately to preserve evidence and witnesses.
- The trucking company may have insurance coverage, but this does not mean they will handle your claim fairly. Insurance companies often prioritize the financial interest of the trucking company over their victims, meaning the injured party might not recover all of the damages they need to support themselves after a truck crash occurs.
- Unfortunately, many insurance companies will try to deny claims and avoid paying out any damages to save money. Insurance companies will use various tactics to avoid paying damages for injuries and property damage, such as hiring a private detective to investigate the victim's background or assess whether their injury claim is worth it.
- After a truck crash, dealing with an insurance company can be traumatizing, so victims must work with an attorney specializing in personal injury claims.
Trucking Companies are as Complicit as Drivers
While it is unacceptable for commercial truckers to skirt the rules, they often do so at the behest of employers to reduce travel times and delays. Employers will even delay inspections or repairs to keep semi-tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles on the road rather than in the shop.
Such acts result in catastrophic injuries through trucking company negligence that can leave truck accident victims maimed, suffering from a spinal cord or brain injury, or, worst cases, cost them their lives.
Hiring Rockford Truck Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a collision with a truck in Rockford, Illinois, contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC. Schedule a free consultation with one of our Rockford truck accident lawyers.
Our legal team has helped thousands of injured clients recover the compensation needed to pay for their medical costs, out-of-pocket expenses, ongoing care, and pain and suffering from vehicle accidents.
Our services will be free if we cannot pursue compensation on your behalf. In addition to providing free initial consultation, our personal injury lawyers work through contingency fee arrangements. This agreement postpones the payment of our legal representation until we have secured financial compensation on your behalf.
Contact a Rockford truck accident lawyer today for a free, no-obligation consultation and more information on dealing with trucking companies and insurers, obtaining legal advice, and handling truck accident cases - or visit that link and view our practice areas.