Unlike other vehicles on the road, 18-wheeler trucks are massive, powerful modes of transport. These are significantly larger than everything else on the roadway.
Given their immense size and force, when an 18-wheeler accident occurs the results are often devastating for the victims. This type of accident often causes catastrophic injury and death to victims in the other vehicles on the road.
If you or a loved one was injured by an 18-wheeler in Illinois or Iowa, our team of highly skilled accident attorneys can help.
At VanDerGinst Law, we advocate for the compensation you deserve after an accident.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
There are many different reasons for 18-wheeler accidents, all of which can be devastating for the victims.
The most common cause is driver error, which can include a number of different actions. Distracted driving causes many 18-wheeler accidents. When drivers are texting, playing with the radio, or otherwise engaged instead of focusing on the road they cause accidents.
With strict deadlines and long hours, drowsy driving is a cause for many 18-wheeler accidents on the road today. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, failing to obey traffic laws and traffic signals also contributes to a number of accidents every year.
Loading the truck too heavily or unbalanced can cause an 18-wheeler to flip or greatly increase the braking distance for the truck. Failure to properly secure goods in the trailer can cause products to shift, which makes it more likely for the truck to lose control. A broken truck can also lead to terrible accidents on the roadway.
Injuries Caused by 18-Wheelers
Because 18-wheelers are so much larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road, the force of impact by these large trucks often causes devastating injuries for the victims. Oftentimes, these injuries become permanent or require a lifetime of additional care.
18-wheeler accidents cause common injuries like:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Facial injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Amputated body parts
- Crushing injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Internal organ damage
Many injuries are extremely serious and require significant care after an accident. It is critical that those responsible for the harm are accountable and compensate you for your injuries.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to hold all parties responsible liable for the injuries caused by this traumatic accident.
Who is Responsible for an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, there are many parties that may be ultimately liable for an 18-wheeler crash.
The most obvious and common liable party is the driver of the truck if their actions caused the crash. However, if the driver engaged in those actions at the behest of their employer, for example speeding or driving drowsy in order to make a delivery by a certain time, the employer may also be found liable for the accident.
The employer may also be found liable if the driver was not qualified to operate the 18-wheeler. They could also be liable if the employer knew they were historically a poor driver.
If the accident are from equipment failure or malfunction of the vehicle itself, the manufacturer of that part of the truck is possibly held liable for your injuries after an accident. If the accident was by a brake failure, tire blowout, or some other mechanical failure, the manufacturer could be liable for the harm caused by the failed part.
Finally, commercial truck operations are governed by a complex set of regulations. These require both drivers and carriers (the companies that employ drivers and operate trucks) to observe and comply with extensive safety and reporting requirements.
Violation of these regulations creates additional opportunities to hold the driver and the carrier responsible for injuries.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can review the facts of your case to determine all parties responsible for the accident.
Compensation for Injuries
Compensation for 18-wheeler accidents in Illinois and Iowa include damages for economic and noneconomic harm inflicted on the victim. Economic damages include all out of pocket expenses caused by the crash. This includes payment for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and also the loss of future income and benefits.
Noneconomic damages pay a victim for all of the intangible harms caused by the crash.
In the worst cases of a truck accident, where the victim dies as a result of their injuries, the family of the victim can also seek compensation for wrongful death. Damages for wrongful death include compensation for final medical bills, reasonable funeral and burial expenses, grief, sorrow, emotional distress, and the loss of love, security, and companionship.
It is important to note that both Illinois and Iowa operate as pure comparative negligence states. The court determines the degree of fault for every party involved and reduces the overall compensation by that percentage. However, if a party is found more than 50% at fault for the accident they are barred completely from recovery.
For example, if the victim in an 18-wheeler accident suffered $100,000 in damages and was found 10% at fault, the overall award would be reduced to $90,000.
In the same example, if the driver of the truck had $10,000 in damages and was also found 90% at fault, he would be completely barred from recovering anything for his damages.
Learn More About 18-Wheeler Accidents
Full Episode Transcript
Welcome to Legal Squeaks. I’m Dennis VanDerGinst. If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to subscribe to Legal Squeaks on your favorite podcast platform.
Today I’m going to talk to you about commercial truck accidents. From a lay perspective, it may not seem important to distinguish these type of accidents from other traffic accidents, but they are very different and distinct from accidents that only involve passenger vehicles. So this is a topic that’s definitely worthy of its own discussion.
And I have a special passion about this topic because I have served on the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice for many years, and I currently serve on the National Advisory Council for the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America.
As an attorney, I’ve handled numerous cases involving big rigs and other large commercial trucks. And on a personal level, I’ve had loved ones who have been involved in these accidents. So I, I know firsthand the devastation that these types of accidents can cause.
So the term commercial vehicle usually indicates any motor vehicle that’s used to transport goods or paying passengers, but when I use the term commercial trucks, I mean the types of vehicles that can really create havoc and serious accidents on the roadways. For instance, the vehicles that are sometimes referred to as big rigs or tractor trailers, semis, 18 wheelers.
Similar concerns would exist for tanker trucks, busses, box trucks, any large truck of that nature. These vehicles are held to a heightened safety standard due to that size and power.
Drivers are required to undergo specific training to operate them, and the vehicles themselves are subject to regular inspections. Accident cases involving those types of vehicles can be considerably more complex than a regular car accident might have been. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, between 2000 and 2018, nearly 90,000 people died in the United States because of crashes involving large trucks and busses. During that same period of time, over 1.8 million people were injured in accidents involving big trucks and busses.
Now, obviously, people can be injured or killed in regular traffic accidents as well. You know, it doesn’t have to involve a commercial truck, but the risk of death or serious injury resulting from these accidents is much higher due to the size and weight of these types of commercial vehicles. Don’t get me wrong, the overwhelming majority of truck drivers are safe and thoughtful drivers. In fact, I’ve got several family members who either are currently or have in the past been over the road truck drivers. In addition, most trucking companies adhere to the applicable state and national regulations regarding training and supervision of drivers and the inspection and maintenance of vehicles.
And accidents involving large trucks are often, you know, not their fault, often it’s the fault of people driving smaller cars around them who fail to take into account the size of the trucks, the lack of maneuverability, or the large blind spots that some, sometimes exist with trucks, especially older trucks. But having said that, large truck drivers do cause their fair share of accidents as well. And one of the main concerns with this type of vehicle is that given the fact that it has extremely high inertia, it means that it takes longer for it to stop.
And if a driver doesn’t leave adequate room between that commercial vehicle and the car in front of it, he or she might end up rear ending someone with disastrous consequences. So, like I mentioned, regular maintenance of big rigs and other large commercial vehicles is extremely important, and that’s because commercial vehicles are required to adhere to certain safety standards for their air brakes. Large commercial vehicles are notorious for brake problems, and inspecting the vehicle after an accident can reveal important information about the state of its braking system, including brake lining adjustments and durability tests.
Equipment malfunction is often a contributing factor in these types of accidents. Trucking companies have to keep a record of the vehicle maintenance, but they’re allowed to discard those records after a certain period of time, you know, and it’s very, very common that those records are crucial to evaluating accident cases. So it’s really important to gain access to them right away before all the relevant maintenance records are either destroyed or discarded somehow.
Another source of negligence might be the company who loaded and secured the cargo in the tractor trailer. Sometimes loads are too heavy or they’re not properly secured so that they shift when the vehicle is moving or making turns. And that causes the vehicle to become unstable and perhaps tip over or again, get the momentum going in such a fashion that they cannot, the driver loses control of the vehicle causing an accident.
Speaking of the driver losing control, driver error may be a cause, obviously, of big rig accidents as well. Truck drivers have the same distractions as other drivers on the roadways, including sometimes being distracted due to texting or phone usage. But in addition to those other typical distractions that we all face when we’re driving, truckers can have long hours on the road, which can cause fatigue, which often, often is going to contribute to accidents.
In addition, there’s there’s the stress of constantly rushing to meet deadlines with respect to deliveries, and that can play an adverse impact on physical and mental health. Intoxication can be a part of the puzzle. It’s always good to do an extensive search into the driving histories in order to determine what the exact nature of the delivery was, and that can be useful for building a case.
If an operator, for instance, has a poor driving record, it’s much more likely that the accident was a result of his or her human error. Speaking of drivers, a commercial driver’s license, CDL, is the driver’s license required to operate large, heavy or placarded hazardous material vehicles and commerce. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act established the minimum requirement that must be met when a state issues a CDL. And there are different classes of licensure and endorsements which are going to determine what types of vehicles a person is allowed to operate.
Sometimes there are other outside factors that contributed, that may contribute to these types of accidents, including weather conditions, road conditions, road work, dangerous roadways. These are all factors that need to be evaluated to see what impact they may have had on any given scenario when we’re talking about an accident involving a large truck, or a big rig or, you know, a tanker truck, for instance. Speaking of injuries from a commercial vehicle accident can also be complicated.
Obviously, there’s the risk of serious bodily injury or death, but if the vehicle was carrying a harmful substance such as chemicals, then the victims are at risk for suffering a myriad of other medical problems.
In the worst case scenario, sometimes the cargo might even increase the risk of cancer or respiratory problems, which could affect the person’s quality of life and employment opportunities for the rest of his or her her life. So there are a number of things that are pertinent to large truck accident cases that just don’t usually arise in your typical passenger vehicle car accidents.
That’s why it’s important that if you’ve had an accident that involves this type of consideration, that you have an attorney helping you, that is familiar with the rules and regulations that impact these types of accidents, I hope this information has been useful. And I also hope you never have to use it.
If you have any questions, VanDerGinst Law is always honored to help.
Again, please be sure to subscribe and review Legal Squeaks as well as our other podcast, Uncommon Convos.
Also, check out legalsqueaks.com, where you can suggest topics for upcoming podcasts.
So please have a great day. Stay safe. And I love you all.
Call or Contact Us Today
Accidents involving 18-wheeler trucks are often severe, traumatic, and devastating for both victims and their loved ones. Focus on what is most important – your recovery. We handle the rest.
Call the office or contact us today at VanDerGinst Law to schedule your free case consultation.
We will evaluate your claim and help you learn about about your legal options after an 18-wheeler accident.