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Winnebago County Personal Injury LawyerAccidents involving large commercial trucks often result in severe or fatal injuries, usually to people other than the truck driver. In Illinois, nearly 100 people were killed and more than 300 were catastrophically injured by semi-trucks in 2019. In these cases, injury victims and their families need all the help they can get to recover from their substantial losses. Fortunately, it is often possible to pursue compensation from a trucking company in addition to the individual who was operating the truck.

Trucking Companies Are Subject to Federal Regulations

Trucking companies throughout the United States are governed by safety regulations maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Some regulations that often come into play in personal injury cases include:

  • Hours of service - Trucking companies must monitor and limit the hours of service for their drivers on a daily and weekly basis, often managed through regularly updated driving logs. Drivers who exceed their allowed hours of service are at risk of fatigue, which can impair their driving abilities.

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Rockford truck crash lawyersThere are many reasons why a semi-truck driver could lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident. Many of these reasons are related to the driver’s negligence, including in cases involving speeding, distracted driving, driver fatigue, and drunk or impaired driving. However, sometimes the root cause of a truck accident is something that happens before the truck enters the roadway. One common factor in many semi-truck crashes is improper loading of the truck’s cargo.

Cargo Loading and Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces strict regulations for cargo loading and securement in commercial trucks. If these regulations are violated in any way, the risk of an accident tends to increase. Some cargo-related causes of truck accidents include:

  • Overloading - In general, heavier cargo makes it more difficult for a truck to accelerate, decelerate, or change directions. Many states, including Illinois, have a gross weight limit of 80,000 pounds for commercial trucks, and vehicles that exceed these limits can cause accidents due to the difficulty of reacting in time to avoid a collision.
  • Unbalanced loading - States also typically have per-axle weight limits for trucks, in part to ensure that cargo weight is evenly distributed. An unbalanced truck is more likely to roll over, especially when making a turn at higher speeds.
  • Shifting cargo - Cargo that is not firmly secured with the proper equipment can move while the truck is in motion, quickly turning a balanced truck into an unbalanced truck. Sometimes, cargo even falls off of the truck and onto the road, creating an additional accident hazard for nearby vehicles.

Liability in Truck Cargo Accidents

Truck drivers are typically required to thoroughly inspect their cargo to make sure it is safely loaded and secured. If there is evidence that the driver failed to perform the required inspections, they may be considered negligent and liable for damages to accident victims. However, it is common for other parties to share liability in an accident involving improperly loaded cargo. These can include the employees responsible for loading the truck, or the company that employs the driver or loading crew.

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Rockford truck accident lawyerDrowsy driving is a common issue across America. In a society where people want what they want when they want it, trucks - the way most consumer goods are transported across the country - run nonstop, causing many people not to get the sleep they need. Unfortunately, this has shown to be dangerous. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were an estimated 499,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks in 2018, which is the latest information available. Of those, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there were around 785 fatalities from drowsy truck drivers in 2018. Drowsy driving can be difficult to prove, but an Illinois truck accident injury lawyer can help.

Truck Drivers Must Abide By Rules

Even though you are just sitting in a seat, it can be exhausting to keep your attention on the road for hours at a time. If you drive for too long, it can dull your senses and almost lull you to sleep at times. This is why the FMCSA put rules into place that strictly govern the hours that a truck driver is allowed to drive. If a truck driver is only carrying cargo, they must adhere to rules including:

  • Only driving up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty;

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Rockford truck accident lawyersCommercial trucks often measure up to 70 feet in length. Consequently, truck drivers must rely on mirrors and assistive technology like back-up sensors to see around the vehicle. Even with this equipment, it is hard for truck drivers to see vehicles or other objects in the truck’s “blind spots.” Blind spot truck accidents often lead to severe injuries and costly property damage. A personal injury claim may allow an injured person to recover compensation for these damages. However, determining liability for a blind spot truck accident is often a difficult task.  

Understanding Blind Spot Accidents

Truck blind spots are areas around the truck that the driver cannot see. If a car, motorcycle, pedestrian, or cyclist is in the truck’s blind spot, the driver may not even know that the person or vehicle is there. This can have disastrous consequences. Most driver education programs include information about truck blind spots or “no zones” and instruct drivers to stay out of truck’s blind spots if possible. Truck blind spots typically include the areas:

  • Directly in front of the truck
  • From the back of the truck to about 30 feet behind the truck
  • Behind the driver’s side window to approximately the middle of the trailer
  • On the passenger side of the truck including the two lanes to the right of the truck

Blind Spot Truck Accidents Often Involve Shared Fault

While it is hard for drivers to see objects in their blind spots, a truck driver is not automatically cleared of fault for an accident just because the other vehicle was in the blind spot. Truck drivers are expected to pay close attention to their surroundings, check mirrors before turning or changing lanes, and make adequate use of rear cameras, back-up sensors, and other technology.

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