In the early morning hours of June 19, a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel on the Stevenson Expressway. The truck entered a construction zone, causing a chain-reaction crash involving 12 vehicles. Fortunately there were no fatalities, but this accident brings to light the laws and regulations surrounding trucks and crash claims. Our team of trucking accident attorneys details this crash and the aspects of trucking injury claims.
The Stevenson Expressway accident involved a 2016 Freightliner driven by a 52-year-old man from Tennessee. The man told Illinois State Police that he fell asleep just before the crash and he was brought to Cook County Jail, where his bond was set for $50,000. He was ultimately charged with driving while fatigued, 14-hour rule violation, failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, and other trucking-related violations.
Five people were sent to nearby hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
The trucking industry is regulated by state and federal laws. These laws dictate the length of time drivers can work without rest, vehicle manufacturing and repairs, quality control, licensing, hazardous waste and many other facets of the industry.
Accidents involving commercial trucks are often quite severe. Victims may spend considerable time in the hospital, suffering life-changing or fatal injuries. Anyone who was severely injured in a trucking accident may be able to recover damages for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, or loss of a loved one.
Truck accident lawsuits are filed against the people or companies responsible for the crash. This can include the driver, the trucking company, a maintenance team, or a company that manufactured a defective vehicle product.
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In this case, the driver and the company that employed him would be liable for driving beyond the 14-hour limit. Under federal law, commercial truck drivers may not drive for more than 14 consecutive hours. Drivers are required to keep logs to track the amount of time they spend on the road and at rest. Drivers must be allowed at least eight hours of sleep each day.
An estimated 40% of serious auto accidents are caused by fatigue. Commercial truck companies impose grueling schedules on their drivers and often offer incentive programs for earlier deliveries. This makes for fatigued, overworked drivers driving across the country without the power to speak up for themselves. Unfortunately, drivers and companies habitually break the laws in place to prevent driver fatigue to increase profits and secure their jobs.
Why Hire an Attorney?
Many in the industry are calling to change regulations to provide drivers more power and more reasonable schedules. In the meantime, injury lawsuits are the most effective and efficient way to hold companies responsible for prioritizing profits over safety.
Only through injury lawsuits can victims be awarded money for both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are measurable costs the victim suffered from the accident, such as medical bills, funeral expenses and time away from work. Punitive damages are meant to punish the responsible parties so they are deterred from future similar behavior. This, ideally, would help spare future victims and ensure companies change their practices.
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This is where hiring an experienced trucking accident attorney comes into play. Only a skilled legal team can guarantee that the victims will receive fair compensation and a fair trial. The team of trucking accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm has been working on these cases for 30 years, and provides free legal help to injured victims nationwide.