Truck accidents can be devastating for individuals in a smaller vehicle. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you might be able to recover monetary damages. Our Schaumburg and Wheaton truck accident lawyers are devoted to helping accident victims explore each and every potential legal avenue for compensation after a crash. This often includes suing trucking companies as well as at-fault drivers, based on a theory of vicarious liability.Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck drivers in Illinois are required to adhere to state laws as well as federal trucking regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations cover a number of different aspects of truck driving and are intended to minimize the risk of accidents on the road. Unfortunately, many accidents are results of truck drivers and trucking companies violating trucking regulations. Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Negligent hiring: When trucking companies fail to perform certain pre-employment background checks or hire an individual with a history of drug or alcohol abuse or traffic violations, that employer may be held accountable for an accident caused by the driver.
- Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks: The FMCSA has strict weight limits for commercial trucks. When these weight limits are ignored or disregarded, a serious accident can result.
- Failure to perform safety inspections and maintain the truck: Trucking companies are required to make sure that all trucks are routinely inspected and maintained to be in safe working order. This includes, among other things, checking the tire pressure, checking the brakes, and making sure that there is a windshield wiper and that the lights and emergency flashers are working.
- Hours of service violations: The FMCSA dictates the number of consecutive hours that a truck driver can spend behind the wheel. Specifically, truck drivers must take breaks every eight hours and drive no more than 11 hours in every 24 hours. Violating these hours of service rules can lead to drowsy drivers and serious collisions.
- Drunk driving: The FMCSA sets the legal limit for alcohol for commercial drivers, which is half the legal limit for other drivers. Due to the extreme danger of driving a commercial truck under the influence of alcohol or drugs, trucking companies are required to conduct random drug and alcohol tests.
Trucking companies have an obligation to hire safe, licensed commercial truck drivers who will not be a danger to others on the road. Trucking company liability may involve both direct and vicarious liability. Direct liability claims stem from the actions or inaction of the trucking company, whereas vicarious liability claims stem from the actions or inaction of the trucking company's employees. For example, when a trucking company fails to perform routine maintenance or hires untrained or unlicensed truck drivers, that trucking company can be held directly liable for an accident and any resulting harm.
Vicarious liability, on the other hand, is a legal theory that holds employers legally responsible for the conduct of their employees. This rule essentially says that employers are liable for the negligent actions of their employees when those actions take place within the course and scope of employment. For example, if a truck driver causes an accident in Schaumburg or Wheaton due to excessive speeding, the trucking company will likely be held "vicariously" liable for the trucker’s negligence as long as it took place while the trucker was on the job (i.e., making a delivery for the employer).
The reason why an accident victim and their attorney should pursue a vicarious liability claim when possible is that the trucking company, as the employer, maintains a commercial insurance policy. Thus, seeking damages from the trucking company as opposed to only the truck driver generally results in higher compensation for the accident victim. In other words, since trucking companies are required to carry a higher amount of insurance, these companies are typically able to compensate the victim adequately for his or her losses.Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers Today
Trucking accidents can have catastrophic, even deadly consequences for everyone involved. If you have been injured in a truck accident that was not your fault, our attorneys can help. At Therman Law Offices, we understand the seriousness of these types of accidents. You can rest assured that we are prepared to do the hard work to build the strongest possible legal case on your behalf. We assist clients in cities such as Wheaton, Schaumburg, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Lombard, Villa Park, Addison, Elmhurst, West Chicago, and Lemont. For a free consultation, call us at 312-588-1900 or contact us online.