Chicago is a massive commercial and transportation hub with streets that never stop buzzing from the activity. As a result, Chicago drivers share the roads not only with other residents, but also with thousands of large trucks, tractor-trailers, and other commercial vehicles. While this is a boost for the economy, it can make the roads more hazardous.
In Illinois, truck accidents accounted for approximately 3.6 percent of all traffic incidents in 2013 and involved thousands of injuries, including fatalities. The sheer size and weight to trucks compared to the standard passenger vehicle mean accidents involving these large motor vehicles nearly always leads to severe injuries.
Being in a trucking accident can be far more frightening than a regular car crash. Dealing with the aftermath presents further complications, especially with handling trucking companies and their insurance agents.
Leading Causes of Truck Accidents
While truck accidents may occur for a number of reasons, most are due to driver errors. Here are some of the most common reasons for truck accidents.
- Reckless driving – Similar to other motorists, truck drivers may be reckless with their driving. Driving at unsafe speeds is one of the most common reckless behaviors. Distracted driving, including speaking or texting on mobile devices, is also a prominent.
- Fatigued truck drivers – Truck drivers spend many hours on the road, often more than advisable, when they are trying to keep up with their delivery schedule. Various transportation regulations attempt to curtail this, but there are still many truckers who fail to take adequate rest breaks.
- Inadequately trained or inexperienced truck drivers – Even the most experienced drivers can be in accidents, but the problem is worsened when the trucking industry fails to fully train new employees and inexperienced drivers end up on the road.
- Unsafe loads – Although there are strict regulations in place for what constitutes a safe load amount in Illinois, they are not always followed.
- Mechanical faults – Even though trucking companies are required to inspect their equipment, many fail to do so. This leads to many trucks out on the road with mechanical faults including worn out tires, poorly maintained brakes, and many other issues.
- Poor weather/road conditions – Especially in Chicago where the winter weather takes a heavy toll on the roads, poor conditions can be major contributors to accidents. Elements such as snow or rain may reduce visibility for the driver drastically and make maneuvering heavy trucks on the roads more difficult.
Common Injuries in Truck Accidents
Trucks are roughly 20 times the size and weight of a normal passenger vehicle. For this reason, many of the injuries sustained in trucking accidents are quite significant. In fact, a full 19 percent of truck accident injuries in Illinois were incapacitating injuries which prevented victims from performing normal activities.
Legal Questions Regarding Truck Accident Damages
Dealing with the aftermath of a significant accident can be difficult, especially if you have extensive injuries or serious damage. Because truck accidents often involve powerful companies, trying to obtain compensation can be complicated.
When driving in Chicago, truck drivers must not only obey the federal regulations for the transportation industry, but also additional standards set by Illinois laws. Whether any of these rules were broken will affect liability in the case. In trucking accidents, the liability might fall on any of the following parties:
- Truck driver – If the accident was caused by an error on the part of the truck driver, the driver would be considered the at-fault driver in the accident.
- The owner of the truck – It is not uncommon for the owner/company of the truck to be held responsible for an accident caused using their vehicle.
- The party that leased the truck
- An equipment manufacturer – If a mechanical fault, such as poor tires, contributed to or worsened the severity of the accident, the manufacturer may be partially liable for the accident.
- The shipper or loader – Improper loads affect the way a truck maneuvers. When truck accidents are caused or exacerbated by incorrect loads, the shipper or loader could be held liable.
It is fairly common for several of these potentially liable parties to argue extensively over where fault lies. The insurance companies of each will work their hardest to minimize the damage to themselves, particularly since trucking accidents are often worth substantial settlement amounts.