Articles Posted in Truck accidents

Working as a truck driver is difficult and dangerous job.  The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries reveals that between 2015 and 2016 all fatal work injuries in the United States jumped by 7%.  Reviewing the Census, the Chicago truck accident attorneys at Zneimer & Zneimer noted that driving a truck is a dangerous jobs, with increasing numbers of fatal injuries.  In 2016, for example, in transportation and material moving occupations fatalities increased by 7 percent from the year before.  The 2016 count is highest since 2007 and accounts for more than one-quarter of all work-related fatalities in the United States.  There were 24.7 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2016.  The industry employs approximately 3 million drivers, the most jobs in this very dangerous field.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s research a number of factors contribute  to  fatal  highway  crashes  of truckdrivers, including:  the type of truck, whether it was maintained, the time of day, and the weather conditions.  According to the DOL, two-thirds of truck driver fatalities involved a driver behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer truck.  Incidents involved brake failure, road, and weather conditions.

Important factor contributing to truck driver fatalities is driver fatigue.  Data shows that approximately one-third of the fatalities occurred between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. when the body naturally wants to rest, and almost half occurred during standard work hours, between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  On average approximately 200 truckdrivers were fatally struck by vehicles while out of their trucks; half of these occurred during hours of twilight or darkness, 4 p.m. to  8  a.m., but  almost  half  were  fatally  struck  during  the day.

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A company’s thirst for profits with little regard for the employee’s welfare has always been problematic. Scores of extremely fatigued employees work daily for companies that only care for their bottom lines. This poses a danger not only to the employees’ well-being but to the general populace, as well. Trucking companies, for one, are notorious for dispatching drivers to work unreasonable hours without enough sleep. The result: hundreds of impaired drivers on the streets and senseless deaths.

Personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer finds it alarming that despite federal safety regulations in place to prohibit trucking companies from pushing drivers to work without adequate sleep, a significant number of accidents still occur because of this foul practice.  USA Today conducted an investigation on several trucking companies and the investigation unearthed dreadful data proving just how much trucking companies take advantage of their employees for their own gains. Their research showed that 470 trucks serving the ports in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas operated nonstop without the requisite and federally-mandated full 10-hour break. The harmful effects of sleep deprivation go beyond bleary-eyed days and irritability—it costs lives. One such incident that occurred in August 2013 cost the life of a teenager and injured seven people.

A Mr. Jose Juan Rodriguez who used to work for Morgan Southern for five years would be on the road for 16-hour shifts, with a bucket of ice by his seat to splash on his face whenever he felt himself slipping away behind the wheel. Extreme cases of sleep deprivation cause cognitive impairments, affecting the memory, performance and alertness. It is crippling when you have to commute to work but to be the operator of a vehicle working 15 hours straight is reckless. The reality is most of these truck drivers are under pressure to meet deadlines and/or to pay their debts to their own employers under their lease-to-own programs. Many of them are trapped and are forced to work unforgiving shifts.  The lawyers of Zneimer and Zneimer, P.C. applaud the fact that Electronic log devices are now required to be installed in commercial trucks to prevent violations of federal rules but it is uncertain how many trucking companies have complied since the enforcement in December 2017.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that Chicago Mayor Emanuel’s plan to make city trucks safer has been advanced in the Chicago City Council.  Chicago lawyer, Peter Zneimer observes that many fatal bike accidents that have occurred in the last few years in Chicago have involved trucks.  Visibility for bicyclist riding in traffic is always a major problem even for people driving automobiles.  The visibility of bicyclists is a much greater problem for truckers.  Almost all of the bicyclist accident cases handled by the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer involve a motorist not seeing the bicyclist  prior to the crash either due to distraction, lack of attention or the bicyclist was in a blind spot.  Guarded bike lanes are the best solution but they are cost prohibitive to construct everywhere.

The Mayor’s proposes to require city trucks to install side guards, which cover the area between the front and rear wheels of a truck to make it harder for pedestrians or bicyclists to be caught under the wheels of the truck after a crash.  The ordinance would also require trucks to have additional convex mirrors.  The law would also mandate additional training for city employee truck drivers and contractors to improve safety awareness.

The one downside of the proposed law is that the ordinance would give the city almost ten years to make the changes on city trucks.  Contractors who do business with the city would get four years to make the safety changes on their trucks.

The Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of two lawsuits filed in connection with last month’s truck crash that took the lives of three pedestrians—30-year-old Elizabeth Peralta-Luna, and her two children, 4-year-old Dylan Peralta and 9-year-old Elizabeth Peralta—as they were attempting to cross a busy intersection on Chicago’s South Side.

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The Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of some justice handed down by the court in the state’s case against a trucker charged with several felonies in connection with a January 2014 crash that killed an Illinois Tollway worker, and severely injured a State Trooper. We must emphasize the word ‘some,’ in terms of justice though, given the quite disturbing circumstances surrounding this horrific wreck, and the inexcusable actions of the truck driver.

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The Chicago Trucking Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the ongoing debate over Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) Hour-of-Service regulations. In understanding where we stand now, it may be helpful to first understand a bit regarding the origination of these rules, and how they have developed over the past 8 decades.

In recognizing the correlation between driver fatigue and accident causation, the federal government first began limiting the number of daily and week hours, as well as rest period requirements in the 1930s. Over the next several decades, some revisions were made to the hours-of-service regulations, but many argued that such changes were ineffective in combating the issue of fatigued driving. It was not until recently—first in 2003, and then again in 2005—that any substantial changes to HOS rules were made.

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The Chicago Trucking Accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a recent incident between a semi-tractor trailer and a passenger vehicle. According to reports, a minivan became embedded behind a semi-truck, and was subsequently dragged for miles, apparently due to the trucker’s complete and utter obliviousness of the fact that a collision had occurred.

As depicted in a highly disturbing 911 call, a minivan struck the rear-end of a semi-truck, as both vehicles northbound in white-out conditions, along I-75 in Michigan. In the van was a family of four—the husband-driver, his wife, and their two small children. In calls to 911, the wife states “We ran into the back of a semi-truck and he’s not stoppin’, and our car is embedded underneath of it,” followed by the husband stating “If the van breaks out from underneath him, I don’t have any control of this thing.”

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Statistical data demonstrates that the drivers of passenger cars and other motor vehicles, as opposed to truck drivers, are more commonly identified as the cause of trucking collisions. In addition, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, passenger car occupants are nearly four times more likely than truckers to suffer fatality in such collisions. Consequently, the Truck Accident Injury & Fatality Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. find it beneficial to remind motorists of the dangers of sharing roadways with semi-tractor trailers, and more importantly the appropriate safety precautions to take.

While ideally it would be best if motorists could completely steer clear of big-rigs, we know this is nearly impossible. However, by understanding the manners in which truck accidents often occur, motorists are that share the roadway with these massive vehicles are better able to protect themselves from accident, injury, and fatality.

Tip #1 — Beware of Truckers that are Tailgating

The Trucking Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of a recent investigation, as provided in a broadcast on ABC’s 20/20 regarding the deadly consequences of fatigued drivers, and the manner in which trucking companies contribute to these dangers through their negligent and unlawful practices.

As ABC’s Matt Gutman points out, “In 2012 alone there were over 300,000 large-truck crashed, with over 4,000 fatalities…the industry points out that truckers are not usually at fault in these accidents-but police do warn of a particular danger-tired truckers. While in some cases, it is the truck driver’s themselves that engage in risky behaviors, such as driving while fatigued, speeding or tailgating-in other cases, it is the trucker’s employer/trucking companies that are encouraging/supporting such recklessness. Consider both Truck Driver Negligence as well as Employer/Truck Industry Actions, as you view the following clip from the above-referenced ABC special:

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/fatigued-truckers-deadly-consequences-25639370

As Trucking Accident Attorneys, we are well aware of the hazards faced by motorists who are forced to share our roadways with truck drivers that operate semi-tractor trailers. Big-rigs are massive, heavy, dangerous vehicles, capable of mass destruction, as was demonstrated by a tragic accident last month that took the lives of five innocent victims. Zneimer & Zneimer P.C., along with the victim’s family, and residents of our community are pleased to see justice being carried out, at least in the criminal sense, following reports of the truck driver’s indictment for reckless homicide.

As provided by the Chicago Tribune, the crash occurred on the afternoon of July 21, 2014, along Interstate 55, south of Arsenal Road, near Elwood. According to authorities, 51-year-old Francisco Espinal Quiroz was operating a semi-truck, when he crashed into three stopped vehicles. Heartbreakingly, four people were killed immediately due to the crash, and fifth victim died later at the hospital.

Amongst the victims killed as a result of the truck driver’s negligence was an 11-year-old child, Piper Britton, of Urbana. The remaining victims, all adults, were 43-year-ol Kimberly Britton, of Urbana; 54-year-old Vicky Palacios, of Coal City; 48-year-old Ulrike Blopleh, of Channahon; and 64-year-old Timothy Osburn, also of Channahon. In addition to the five fatalities, four other victims were hospitalized due to injuries sustained in the crash.