Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Chicago

In a heavy-traffic city like Chicago, accidents are inevitable. Even though we tend to hold commercial vehicle drivers to higher standards, that doesn’t mean they won’t contribute to an accident. If you’re a victim of one of these accidents, you need the Curcio Law Offices on your side. Since 1957, our skilled attorneys have made us a highly sought after personal injury firm in downtown Chicago. In this post, we’ll explain the ins and outs of commercial vehicle accidents, and how you can get the compensation you deserve.

A commercial vehicle is one which serves the purpose of transporting goods, property, or passengers. If a vehicle’s design allows it to carry 15 or more people, it is automatically a commercial vehicle. Operators of commercial vehicles do so for business-related purposes. For example, buses and semi trucks are commercial vehicles. Operators of these vehicles are subject to much stricter safety regulations than the average driver. These regulations are so important because the drivers operate large, dangerous vehicles. Additionally, they represent the companies they drive for.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set safety standards and regulations for commercial vehicles and their drivers. These standards are strict, and govern every commercial vehicle and commercial driver. Individual states also put into place their own safety regulations regarding commercial vehicles and drivers.

Illinois requires commercial vehicles to meet specific minimum standards while operating on Illinois interstates and highways. The Illinois Department of Transportation issues commercial vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, and certain permits to ensure the safety of all individuals on the roadways. This also protects our highway infrastructure, and contributes to the effectiveness of Illinois’ interstate commerce. Illinois’ standards for commercial vehicles involve regulations on the following:

  • Registration
  • Legal weights and dimensions
  • Oversize and overweight permits
  • Safety
  • Transportation of people
  • Hazardous materials transportation

These rules and regulations are extremely important. Commercial vehicles like buses and semi-trucks, because of their size and weight, are very dangerous. Every single vehicle operator owes a responsibility of safety and accountability to others on the road, especially commercial drivers.

Commercial vehicles are crucial to the economy of Illinois for a number of reasons. Illinois is heavily dependent on interstate commerce. Also, the demand for product delivery has risen dramatically because of COVID-19. The increasing demand for commercial vehicle drivers means that the demand for proper training increases, as well.

Training is essential for commercial drivers, but it cannot prepare them for everything. Drivers are still subject to faulty judgment, as well as vehicle malfunctions. Driver faults include fatigue, distraction, or impaired driving.

Driver Fault
While drivers of commercial vehicles receive extensive training, they are not always prepared for the unexpected. Driver negligence sources span across both commercial and personal vehicle accidents in Chicago

  • Fatigue: Commercial drivers often have extreme schedules, including long hours and late night or early mornings. These schedules often contribute to a driver feeling fatigued, which decreases their alertness and attention, as well as lengthens their reaction time.
    Distraction: Even commercial drivers get distracted. Objects along the roadway, texting while driving in a busy city like Chicago is a recipe for disaster.
  • Impaired driving: Even though the demand for commercial drivers is high, not everyone is cut out for the job. Sometimes, difficult lifestyles accompany these jobs. Commercial drivers are often alone, sedentary, and have little room for healthy diets or exercise. Driving dangerous vehicles for long periods of time can also lead to boredom, or even stress. Unfortunately, some may be drawn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate these negative feelings, and this can lead to impaired driving. Driving while impaired in Chicago significantly increases one’s chances of causing an accident.

Vehicle Malfunction or Company Fault
Commercial vehicle accidents differ from regular car accidents in that they potentially involve parties beyond who was physically involved in the accident. Potentially liable parties include mechanics, manufacturers, and even the company itself. At Curcio Law Offices, we take into consideration all of the following factors while evaluating a case:

  • Mechanics: Companies are responsible for hiring qualified mechanics to work on their vehicles. Mechanics themselves are equally responsible for performing adequate work on the vehicles. If any work performed on the vehicle by the mechanics is found to be the cause of the accident, they could be held liable for your injuries.
  • Manufacturers: If the manufacturers of the vehicle do not provide the company with a safely-constructed vehicle, they could be held liable. These are complicated machines, and much care must be taken while constructing them to ensure safety. Flaws in the design or construction are very serious, and could lead to serious problems.
  • Companies: The company is responsible for hiring qualified, experienced drivers. These new hires must meet the requirements, and withstand the high demands of the job. If a company hires an inexperienced driver just to save money, they are liable if that driver makes a mistake. Additionally, the company is responsible for enforcement and adherence to state and federal laws regarding vehicle safety. Failure to meet the above requirements will result in the company’s liability.

Commercial vehicle accidents are extremely dangerous, and can cause terrible damages. If you or someone you know was hurt in one of these accidents, you have the right to seek damages for your losses. Our commercial vehicle accident attorneys at Curcio Law Offices will fight to recover damages for the following losses:

  • Lost wages (includes future lost wages)
  • Medical expenses (includes future expenses)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Other losses resulting from the accident

Anytime an employee is on the job when a serious accident occurs, the employer will likely be liable for the injuries and damages. Even if the employee used his or her personal vehicle, as long as he or she was acting in the scope of the employee’s employment at the time of the accident, the employer will be held responsible.

Vehicles not owned by the company (non-owned autos) that employees use for business purposes are commonly used. If the employee driving the vehicle is injured in an accident, they can file for workers’ compensation. In short, it is in the company’s best interest to adhere strictly to safety requirements, and to closely monitor the performance of their employees.

Your actions in the hours following your accident are critical to filing a successful claim.

  1. Seek medical attention right away. Your health comes first, so getting treatment for injuries you may or may not feel is imperative.
  2. Document the scene. Take photos of every detail, including all vehicles, damages, positions, and even your visible injuries.
  3. Avoid speaking with anyone other than your Chicago commercial vehicle accident lawyer. Any companies involved in the crash will send claims adjusters who act in their own interests, not yours. Anything you say will be used against you. Save statements for either the police or your own attorney.
  4. Call a commercial vehicle accident lawyer. Do not let the responsible company discourage you from hiring representation. Curcio Law Offices has extensive experience in dealing with large vehicle companies, so we know how to get the necessary compensation to cover your expenses.

Do I Need a Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer in Chicago?

Yes! If a commercial vehicle hit you, and you’re unsure about how to proceed, call Curcio Law Offices today. You may be entitled to compensation, and we have the skills it takes to put you in the best position for a favorable outcome. Our attorneys are dedicated to personal injury cases, so we can take some of the stress of legal issues off your shoulders.

Curcio Law Offices has represented personal injury cases in Chicago since 1957, so we know how insurance and commercial vehicle companies work. We excel at personal injury litigation, and we’d love to represent your case. Contact us today at 312-321-1111 for a free consultation, or fill out the form below.