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IL accident lawyerIt is an unfortunate reality that many people choose to drive under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, putting themselves and others at risk of serious injury or death. While this problem is more prevalent among drivers of passenger vehicles on their personal time, some commercial truck drivers also operate under the influence while they are on the job. Accidents involving drunk truck drivers can have especially dire consequences, as their large vehicles are capable of causing extensive damage. If you or a loved one was injured by an intoxicated truck driver, it is important to ensure that you are compensated fairly.

Gathering Evidence of a Truck Driver’s Negligence

Truck driver intoxication can happen due to alcohol consumption, the use of illegal drugs, or the abuse of prescription medication. In many cases, it is possible for accident victims to access evidence establishing these various forms of intoxication in order to bolster their claim for compensation. However, it is important to act quickly.

You should call the police immediately after a crash so that they can create an accident report. If law enforcement suspects that the truck driver is intoxicated, they may also ask the driver to submit to a preliminary breath test at the scene of the accident, which can detect the presence of alcohol in their bloodstream. An officer may also arrest a truck driver on DUI charges, after which the driver is required to submit to chemical testing which can detect other controlled substances. An experienced attorney can help you work with law enforcement to access police reports and test results to use as evidence to demonstrate negligence in your personal injury case.

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IL injury lawyerTruckers have a job that requires them to drive for long periods of time and cope with unpredictable sleep schedules. Trucking companies are under intense pressure to get truck shipments transported as quickly as possible. The combination of these factors can sometimes be disastrous. Truck drivers who are sleepy may make dangerous mistakes behind the wheel or even fall asleep while driving. If you or a loved one were hurt in a truck accident and you suspect that a fatigued truck driver may have been to blame, it is important to know your rights.

Truck Drivers Are Required to Follow Rules Regarding Drive Time and Rest Breaks

Sleepiness may seem like no big deal. However, when you are operating a massive vehicle like a semi-truck, being sleepy can lead to catastrophe. When a driver is sleep-deprived, he or she takes longer to respond to a sudden emergency such as a stalled vehicle or other object in the road. Sleepy drivers may also make mistakes like forgetting to check their blind spots before changing lanes.

For these reasons, federal law places limits on the number of hours that a truck driver can drive the vehicle without stopping for a break. For property-carrying trucks, there is an 11-hour driving limit after 10 hours off duty. Drivers must not drive more than 14 consecutive hours after 10 hours off duty. Drivers are expected to keep track of the number of hours that they have driven in an electronic logbook. However, some drivers lie on their logbooks and drive beyond the limitations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. There have even been instances of trucking companies coercing drivers to violate drive time and rest break rules by threatening to fire them for taking the legally-required breaks. This issue has been so widespread that the FMCSA now explicitly prohibits coercion and has instituted reporting procedures for drivers who have been forced to drive longer than they are supposed to.

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Posted on in Truck Accidents

IL truck accident lawyerIf you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident, a personal injury claim may allow you to recover financial compensation for your vehicle damage, medical bills, disability, pain and suffering, and other losses. However, it is not always easy to identify the party who is “liable” or legally responsible for a truck accident. Many people assume that the truck driver is automatically at-fault for a serious truck accident, however, the trucking company, a manufacturing company, or even a government entity such as a state may be liable for a truck accident.

Truck Accidents Caused By Truck Driver Negligence

A large percentage of truck accidents are caused by negligent driving. Distracted driving is a particular concern. Because of their massive size, commercial trucks take a long time to stop. If a truck driver is looking down at his or her radio, GPS, or cellphone when a stopped vehicle or other obstacle appears in front of him or her, the results can be catastrophic. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is another issue that may lead to horrific truck accidents. Truck driver fatigue and violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) rules regarding rest breaks and drive time may also be the cause of a major truck accident.

Trucking Company Liability for Truck Accidents

In many truck accident cases, the fault for the accident lies with the trucking company. Some truck companies cut corners and hire drivers who are under-qualified to drive a commercial big rig. Other trucking companies fail to keep their trucks adequately maintained. Mistakes in the loading and securement of truck cargo may also be caused by trucking company negligence.

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IL injury lawyerDriving a truck can be a grueling occupation. Truck drivers must spend long periods of time behind the wheel and away from their loved ones. Sleep deprivation and drowsy driving are major concerns in the trucking industry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that drivers who do not get enough rest are less attentive to their surroundings, slower to react, and have greater difficulty making decisions.

In order to reduce the frequency of truck accidents and bus accidents caused by fatigued drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has instituted rules that limit the number of hours truck drivers and bus drivers can drive consecutively. Modifications to these regulations go into effect on September 29, 2020.

Changes to Rules Regulating Commercial Driver Rest Breaks

The FMCSA states the changes to the Hours of Service rules are intended to provide drivers with greater flexibility without sacrificing safety. Modifications to the Hours of Service Rules include:

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IL accident lawyerMany drivers feel uneasy when they are behind a tractor-trailer or flatbed truck transporting cargo. While most truck freight is transported without incident in the U.S., accidents caused by improperly secured cargo do happen. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident involving improperly secured freight on an 18-wheeler or other large truck, you may wonder who is to blame for the accident. The answer to this question is often difficult to determine and fault may lie with more than one party.

Determining Blame for Improperly Secured Truck Cargo

There are undoubtedly instances in which a truck driver is at fault for an auto accident. If the accident was caused by a driver who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example, the truck driver may be liable for the damages caused. The driver may also be an at-fault party if he or she failed to complete a required inspection to ensure that the cargo was properly loaded and ready to haul. However, there are also many truck accidents that are not the fault of the driver. If the party who secured the truck cargo took shortcuts or failed to meet the securement standards required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the company that loaded the truck may be at fault. The trucking company may also be liable for damages caused by improperly secured cargo – especially if the company knew about or encouraged the shipping shortcuts that led to the accident. In other cases, the fault may lie with the company that designed or manufactured the equipment used to secure the cargo. For example, if defective tie-downs, straps, ropes, chains, cables, synthetic webbing, or other items used for securement were the cause of the cargo becoming loose or falling out of the truck, the manufacturer or designer of the items may be liable.

Seeking Compensation for a Truck Accident Through a Personal Injury Claim

Truck accidents involving loose cargo can cause catastrophic auto accidents. If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed in a truck accident, a personal injury claim may help you recover damages. You could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, ongoing medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, a wrongful death claim may help you recover compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses and funeral and burial costs as well as the loss of the deceased person’s financial support and more.

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