Steering clear of colliding with a big rig truck is always the objective. Maintaining a generous following distance might be the best way to avoid a big rig accident. The minimum safe following distance behind a large truck is recommended to be about eight seconds. Bad weather, like ice, rain, or snow, should double that figure. If you follow more closely, the truck driver may not be able to see you.
Taking care of yourself and your vehicle is another good way to avoid accidents. Do not drive if you are sleepy or if you have been drinking. Also, promptly address equipment problems, like bad brakes or bald tires.
However, drivers do not have the power to prevent all large truck accidents or even most of them. In Illinois, truck drivers have a much greater safety responsibility than noncommercial operators. So, a big rig accident is usually the truck driver’s responsibility, at least from a legal perspective. Some of the more common liability scenarios are discussed below.
If a truck driver was responsible for a large truck crash, a Rockford truck accident attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in court. This compensation can include money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) intentionally disregarded a known risk.
First Party Liability
A few big rig accidents, mostly operational error wrecks, like excessive speed, involve the negligence per se shortcut. Tortfeasors are liable for damages as a matter of law if they violate a safety law, like the HOS (Hours of Service) drowsy truck driver limits, and that violation substantially causes an injury.
However, as the coronavirus crisis lingers on, Illinois and federal bureaucrats have rolled back many safety rules, like HOS restrictions and weight limits. Additionally, many emergency responders view big rig accidents as civil disputes between insurance companies. Since they don’t want to get involved in these disputes, they frequently don’t issue citations.
So, to establish first-party liability, Rockford truck accident attorneys usually rely on the ordinary negligence doctrine. Basically, negligence is a lack of care. Even if the behavior is legal, it could still be negligent, especially because of the aforementioned high level of safety responsibility.
HOS compliance is a good example. In most cases, it’s technically legal for truckers to be behind the wheel after they have been awake for eighteen consecutive hours. But people who have been awake that long are very drowsy. In fact, driving after eighteen consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial operators in Illinois.
A large truck’s Electronic Logging Device, a computer that’s connected to the ignition, typically provides conclusive HOS proof.
Truck drivers are legally and personally responsible for the wrecks they cause. The shipping, transportation, or other company that owned the truck is often financially responsible for the damages these wrecks trigger.
A legal principle called respondeat superior (let the master answer) holds employers responsible for their employees’ negligent actions or inactions if the employee was acting within the course and scope of employment.
Most truck drivers are “employees” for negligence purposes, even if they are independent contractors or even unpaid volunteers for tax or other purposes. Also, driving a truck is clearly within the course and scope of employment, even if the trailer was empty or the driver was on an unscheduled detour.
Rely On an Experienced Winnebago County Truck Accident Attorney
Truck accident victims could be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced truck accident attorney in Rockford, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. by calling 815-315-0574. Virtual, home and hospital visits are available.