Illinois Truck Accident Law

What You Need to Know About Truck Accidents in Illinois

Mr. Steven B. Levy IL Truck Accident Lawyer
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Mr. Steven B. Levy, Illinois Lawyer

Naperville, Illinois 60540
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Steven B. Levy: 40 years of legal skill, legal experience handling a wide range of Illinois personal injury, bodily injury, serious negligence such as the following: cab, truck, motorcycle semi tractor trailer car wrecks, business delivery van car crashes, business van commercial truck pedestrian collisions, tow trucks, big rig trucks, tractor trailers,18 wheelers, flatbeds, dump, gravel, garbage trucks.
Truck accidents in Illinois are governed by state and federal laws. It is important to understand the evidence in these cases and how to respond to a commercial truck accident in Illinois. Below, learn about how truck accidents in Illinois are handled.

More Dangerous Factors in Illinois

Truck accidents on busy roads in Illinois usually can result in more serious injuries and fatalities because of the heavier vehicles involved in the accident. Additional factors that make truck accidents more dangerous include:

  • High speeds
  • Fatigued drivers who do not respond quickly
  • Drivers asleep at the wheel
  • Unbalanced cargo
  • Objects falling off the vehicle
  • Impaired driving
Because freeway accidents may occur far from a hospital or police and fire stations, first responders and other medical assistance may not be readily available. Trucking accidents also can result in secondary accidents when other drivers are distracted by the initial accident.

Render Aid to Others in Illinois Trucking Accidents

As with many other states, someone involved in an Illinois truck accident must take certain steps while at the scene. The first step is to stop and render any assistance to someone affected by the collision. This usually starts with giving aid to an injured person or calling for emergency assistance.

Requirement to Exchange Information

Illinois drivers who are a party to the accident must remain at the scene of the accident and exchange information with each other. This information generally, should include:

  • Name
  • Contact information
  • Information about the year, make and model of their vehicle
  • Insurance information
  • Driver's license information

Failing to stop and provide this information can result in a misdemeanor charge in Illinois.

What to Do after a Truck Accident in Illinois

If you are involved in a truck accident in Illinois, it is important that you check yourself for injuries as well as others involved in the accident. Call for an ambulance if anyone is injured. Contact the local law enforcement agency to report the accident.

Then, exchange information with the other driver. If you are a car driver or a driver of another truck, you should get information specific about the truck itself, including:

  • The driver's name
  • The driver's license information
  • The trucking company's name and contact information
  • License plate information
  • The truck's DOT number
  • What was being hauled
  • Truck driver's insurance information
  • The make, model and year of the truck

Also, if any witnesses are present at the accident, get their contact information. Take pictures of the scene of the accident, including the following:

  • Pictures of the vehicle damage
  • Pictures of any roadside debris that may have contributed to the accident, such as tire treads
  • Photos of any other property damage
  • Pictures of skid marks
  • Photos of any road signs that may have been relevant to the accident
  • Pictures from different angles of the accident scene

The responding officer may complete a preliminary investigation which may reach a conclusion as to fault. The commercial driver may be given a citation. Ask for a copy of the police report once it is prepared.

Types of Truck Accidents in Illinois

Truck accidents can occur anywhere in Illinois from highways and big city streets to rural roads and parking lots. Common types of truck accidents include:

  • Rear-end accidents
  • Collisions at intersections
  • Left-hand turn wrecks
  • Head-on collisions

Each truck accident is unique and may involve different factors and conditions, so it is important to work with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can gather the necessary evidence and establish negligence.

Negligence in Commercial Truck Accidents in Illinois

Generally, truck accidents stem from negligence which can occur in different ways. The driver may fall asleep, suffer from fatigue, be distracted with a cell phone, speed, break other traffic laws, make poor decisions, or drive under the influence. When a trucking company is involved in these accidents, the injured party's personal injury lawyer will investigate the case to determine how the truck driver or trucking company was negligent. In some trucking accidents, indirect factors may cause the accident. For example, mechanical issues, lack of proper maintenance or defects in the truck or its components may have caused or contributed to the truck accident.

Possible Responsible Parties in Truck Accidents in Illinois

One of the factors that make trucking accidents more complex than other types of motor vehicle collisions is the possible involvement of multiple parties. The trucking industry uses a variety of people and companies to complete its operations. Therefore, when a truck accident occurs, a variety of parties ultimately may be held responsible for the accident, including the following:

  • Truck driver - The first person who may be considered liable for the accident is the driver. The driver may have violated traffic rules or drove in a negligent manner.
  • Trucking company - The trucking company that hires the truck driver is typically held responsible for the driver's actions through the legal principle of vicarious liability. Employers are generally held responsible for their employees' conduct. However, many truck drivers are independent contractors, so this may be more complicated in truck accident cases.
  • Owner of the truck - The owner of the truck (who may or may not be the truck driver) may be held responsible for the accident. This may occur when the truck is not kept in a safe condition.
  • Truck manufacturer - If a truck defect was involved in the accident, the truck manufacturer may be to blame for the accident.
  • Part manufacturer - Commercial trucks involve thousands of different parts. If a defective part caused the vehicle to be unsafe - such as tires that blew out, brakes that did not stop properly, gas pedals that automatically accelerate, or a suspension system that made the driver lose control - the manufacturer of the defective part may be held responsible for the accident.
  • Cargo company - Improper loading of cargo may result in that cargo shifting or falling off the truck should it jackknife or otherwise be involved in an accident. In this event, the cargo company may be held legally responsible for damages and injuries.

Because establishing negligence in a truck accident case is often a complex process, it is important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side who can complete a thorough investigation to determine who was responsible for the accident.

Trucking Regulation Violations in Illinois

Throughout the United States, truck drivers must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules and regulations. Trucking guidelines govern required rest breaks and place a cap on how many hours the trucker must rest between shifts and how many hours a driver can log on a workday. Other regulations are in place in Illinois regarding inspections, maintenance of vehicles, and requirements for drug testing.

A qualified personal injury lawyer can help investigate the accident and determine the underlying causes. Violations of trucking regulations may involve the number of hours the driver traveled within the week or two weeks preceding the accident, a possible influence of drugs or alcohol consumption or a previous bad driving record. Other violations can include a failure to inspect or maintain the vehicle, or the level of training the driver acquired before getting on the road alone. The trucking agency usually governs these matters and can become liable if the trucker did not receive the proper training or the necessary amount of rest.

Contributing Factors in the Accident in Illinois

A truck driver can increase the chances of an accident on freeways, highways or roads in Illinois by letting distractions affect his or her time behind the wheel and their safe operation of the truck. Consuming drugs or alcohol can also increase the possibility of making poor decisions that can lead to a collision. Some contributing factors are not fully understood at the time such as medical conditions or issues with health like sleep apnea, which can cause the driver to have bouts of insomnia and fall asleep at different intervals while driving. Problems with eyesight or hearing can also contribute to a collision.

Mitigating Factors in the Accident in Illinois

Some factors that may decrease the chances of being found liable for the damages caused in a truck accident include:

  • Adhering to traffic laws
  • Acquiring additional training or driving skills
  • Taking action to prevent a collision

It is also possible that a third party might have caused the accident, not the trucker. If the accident was caused by a defect, the manufacturer of the truck or the automotive part may be to blame for the accident, not the truck driver.

Comparative Negligence in Illinois

Illinois uses comparative negligence principles to apportion fault between two or more parties whose negligence contributed to the accident. If the victim is 50 percent or more at fault for the accident, he or she is barred from bringing a claim against the other negligent party or parties. However, the damages award that he or she receives is reduced by the degree of fault that he or she contributed to the accident. So, if the victim suffered $100,000 in damages and was 40 percent at fault, his or her award would be reduced by 90 percent, or $40,000.

Possible Damages in an Illinois Trucking Accident

Damages in an Illinois trucking accident include the full extent of damages stemming from this accident. These damages may include:

  • Past and current medical expenses - Accident victims can receive compensation for emergency room treatment, follow-up care, prescriptions, mileage to and from doctor's appointments, physical therapy and psychology sessions stemming from trauma due to the accident.
  • Future medical expenses - The cost of reasonably anticipated future medical expenses is also compensable.
  • Lost wages - Accident victims must often attend doctor's visits after an accident and may have to miss work to recover from their injuries. These losses are usually compensable.
  • Lost earning capacity - In some accidents, the victim's injuries are so extensive that he or she cannot return to the same type of work. The victim can receive compensation for the difference between the earnings that he or she was projected to make for the remainder of his or her work expectancy and what he or she is now believed to be able to earn up to this point.
  • Decrease in quality of life - Truck accident victims may become disabled and not be able to enjoy some of their previous hobbies or things that brought them joy. They may be able to receive compensation for these losses.
  • Disability - Additional compensation may be provided to accident victims who suffer disability.

Wrongful Death Cases in Illinois Truck Accidents

In Illinois, if a case that would have otherwise resulted in the grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit caused a person's death, the deceased's personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative may be a close family member of the victim, such as his or her spouse, parent or adult child. If the deceased did not name a personal representative in his or her will, the court can appoint one.

Illinois law permits any damages which are deemed to be fair and just compensation may be paid to the surviving spouse and next of kin of the victim, depending on the extent of their financial dependency on the victim. These damages may include:

  • Burial and funeral expenses - The jury can award the reasonable burial and funeral costs
  • Final medical expenses - The family may receive compensation for the final medical expenses of the deceased.
  • Greif, sorrow and mental suffering - The family can also recover damages for the grief and emotional distress of losing their loved one.
  • Loss of care or companionship - The family can also recover damages for the loss of care or the companionship of the decedent.

Trucking Accident Statute of Limitations in Illinois

For personal injury claims in Illinois, the victim has two years to initiate the claim unless special circumstances exist. For property damage only claims, the person has up to five years to start the claim. If this time limit passes and no lawsuit has been filed, the victim can forever lose his or her right to make a claim or collect compensation for the damages that he or she sustained.

The Lawyer's Role in Illinois Trucking Accidents

Truck accident cases are often complex. Victims who are injured in these accidents often turn to an experienced personal injury lawyer for assistance. A lawyer can explain the options and help the victim decide whether settlement negotiations or trial will be their best option. The truck accident lawyer usually investigates the cause of the accident, determines all responsible parties and prepares a demand package to each one, asking for the full extent of compensation. If the insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation, the truck accident lawyer may file a lawsuit and take the case to trial. He or she may hire expert witnesses, such as those who can use software to reconstruct the accident.

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer in Illinois Trucking Accidents

After a truck accident occurs, it is important to contact legal support immediately to determine what your next steps should be. A variety of legal options may be available, including mediation, arbitration, insurance settlement negotiations or litigation. Your lawyer can explain each of these options and their advantages and disadvantages.

Your lawyer will begin the case by investigating the incident to determine how it was caused and to identify the parties responsible. He or she will seek full compensation for the damages that you sustained. Personal injury lawyers generally work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that you do not have to pay them upfront. Their payment for their services is contingent on you winning the case and their fee is taken out of any insurance settlement or award you receive.

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