When it comes to avoiding accidents caused by truck drivers, safety advocates are getting back to the basics.
The American Trucking Association contends that there is an immediate need to hire another 50,000 drivers to keep the nation's freight moving. However, a number of independent trucker groups argue that freight companies are hiring novice, inexperienced drivers rather than paying experienced drivers a living wage.
Common Causes of Illinois Tractor-Trailer Accidents
Big Truck Driver Resources outlines a number of tips for drivers of large tractor-trailers, including:
- Conduct proper vehicle maintenance and safety inspections
- Take frequent breaks
- Slow down
- Maintain a safe travel distance from other vehicles
- Use good judgement
- Apply brakes slowly and appropriately
- Load cargo carefully
- Be cautious of blind spots
- Avoid drinking and distracted driving
- Get plenty of rest
While it may seem like such a common-sense list should be unnecessary, the fact is that preaching the basics can have a significant impact on road safety. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports the most common causes of trucking accidents include mechanical problems, traffic congestion, traveling too fast during hazardous conditions, drug use, distraction and fatigue.
Liability in Chicago Truck Accidents
Commercial truck accidents are complex cases best handled by an injury law firm experienced in handling litigation against commercial freight companies and their insurers. Such cases often involve out-of-state truck drivers, trucking companies and freight carriers.
In Illinois, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a principal can be held liable for the wrongful conduct of an agent when such conduct is committed within the scope of the relationship. (Lang v. Silva, 306 Ill. App. 3d 960 (1999)).
What that means in plain English is that employers can often be held responsible for injuries or damages caused by employees. Trucking companies often attempt to skirt such liability by classifying drivers as independent contractors or establishing multiple limited liability corporations. However, there is an exception for employer liability for actions by independent contractors when the employer maintains some element of control. This is typically the case when defining the relationships between freight companies and commercial drivers.
Such liability is typically established by showing that an employee failed to uphold a duty of care owed to the accident victim. Such common causes as listed above often illustrate failure to exercise such due care.
Thus, determining all causes of a serious or fatal trucking collision is critical. Driver compliance with hours-of-service regulations and distracted driving laws; a driver's safety record; maintenance logs for the truck and trailer, cell phone records and data from on-board recorders may all assist experienced plaintiff attorneys in building a strong case.
In the event of a truck accident, you should seek the legal advocacy of an experienced Chicago attorney at Coplan + Crane.