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The Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C.

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6/8/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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How a Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer Benefits Your Claim

With the guidance of a Chicago truck accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. you can stop worrying about your claim paperwork and settlement offers and focus on recovery from your Illinois truck accident. Contact us today for a free case evaluation – 312-263-1080.

Category: Trucking Accidents

6/8/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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The 3 Basic Parts of an Illinois Truck Accident Claim

You should know what to expect in your Illinois truck accident claim when you begin the process. A Chicago truck accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. will be able to help you make sure your claim is being handled fairly and to your greatest benefit. Contact us today for a free case evaluation – 312-263-1080.

Category: Trucking Accidents

5/27/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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Making Insurance Claims against a Commercial Trucking Company

If you have been injured in a Chicago truck accident, it is important that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. An experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation. – 312-263-1080.

Category: Trucking Accidents

5/27/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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Understanding Insurance Claims Involving Commercial Trucks

Commercial trucks are required by federal law to carry more insurance coverage than the typical automobile. This will have a significant impact on your truck accident claim. An experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation. – 312-263-1080

Category: Trucking Accidents

5/26/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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The Wedge Effect; Truck Guards are Not All They Should Be

Truck guards were created to prevent underride collisions, but they are not only failing to prevent accidents, they are making these collisions worse. If you have questions about filing a truck accident claim, an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation – 312-263-1080.

Category: Trucking Accidents

5/26/2010
Barry G. Doyle
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Underride Collisions: Light, Shadow and Other Highway Traps

We all know the relative dangers of night driving, but invisible semi trailers are something more frightening. If you have questions, an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Barry G. Doyle, P.C. can provide you with a free case evaluation. – 312-263-1080

Category: Trucking Accidents

4/6/2010
Barry Doyle
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Two weeks ago in Kansas a one year old boy was killed in a truck accident when the vehicle in which he was a passenger was hit by a tractor-trailer.  The boy's mother was driving east, intending to make a left hand turn to go north.  At the same time a westbound truck came to the intersection and slowed to make a left hand turn to go south.  Thinking that the intersection was clear, the boy's mother began to make her left hand turn when their vehicle was hit by a second tractor trailer that came up behind the turning tractor trailer and tried to pass the turning tractor trailer on the shoulder of the road.  The passing tractor trailer hit the boy's vehicle, killing him and injuring his mother and sister.

Professional truck drivers should know that they should not switch lanes without knowing that the lane ahead of them and behind them is clear and that they can switch lanes and still proceed ahead safely.  This wrongful death truck accident occurred because the passing truck driver switched lanes when he could not have known that the shoulder would remain clear as he approached the intersection.  It was simply a dangerous maneuver.

The safer course of action for him would have been to wait for the truck ahead of him to complete his turn and then proceed on his way.  It would have taken less than a minute in all likelihood and had he done so, that one year old boy would be alive today.



Category: Trucking Accidents

3/20/2010
Barry Doyle
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A Nevada truck driver is dead after another truck spilled its load of hay into the path of his vehicle, causing him to lose control of his vehicle and drive into a ditch, where he suffered injuries which resulted in his wrongful death.

As an experienced Chicago personal injury lawyer, there were a few things that came to mind when reading this news story:

1.  Because the truck driver who was killed was working at the time of the fatal accident, his family would be entitled to pursue worker's compensation benefits.

2.  His family would also be entitled to pursue a third party liability suit against the truck driver whose load spilled.  In that suit they would be able to seek compensation for a wider range of damages than would be available to them in connection with a worker's compensation claim.

3.  Truck drivers are responsible for making sure that their loads are secured before going out onto the road, unless they are pulling a sealed load, in which case it is the responsibility of the shipper to ensure that the load is secured properly and will not shift or come out of the trailer when en route.  This places the responsibility for this wrongful death truck accident on the driver whose load came loose and caused the accident.

Category: Trucking Accidents

3/18/2010
Barry Doyle
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Debra Hersman, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, addressed the National Sleep Foundation last week and encouraged them to continue to research causes and cures of fatigue, including sleep apnea.  It is well established that fatigue is a major cause of accidents in the transportation industry and has been a cause of many serious truck accidents in recent years.

Currently, federal regulations limit the number of hours a driver can be working and actually operating a tractor trailer due to the adverse effects that fatigue has on driver performance.  However, more recent studies have shown that sleep apnea is a widespread problem with truck drivers and is largely untreated.  This means that even when a truck driver limits his hours in service to that which is allowed under the regulations, he may still be suffering the effects of fatigue due to poor quality rest.  There are no regulations at present addressing this emerging issue in the trucking industry.



Category: Trucking Accidents

2/18/2010
Barry Doyle
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Last week near Columbus, Ohio, one man was killed and another seriously injured when a tractor trailer jackknifed and struck them as they sat parked on the side of the highway.  The two men were traveling in separate vehicles when one went off the road.  The other pulled to the side of the road and called for help.  The two men were sitting in the undamaged vehicle when they were hit by a tractor trailer.

The semi was pulling an empty trailer, and when the driver went to change lanes, the trailer jackknifed and he lost control of his vehicle, striking the car on the shoulder of the road that the two men were sitting in.  According to investigating officers, high winds may have been a factor in causing the wrongful death truck accident.

When people think of trucking accidents, the image that comes to mind is of the 80,000 pound, fully loaded trailer bearing down on the victim.  In fact, empty trailers also pose a serious problem for drivers.  When trailers are empty, the loss of weight from the cargo actually means that there is less friction between the tires and the road to help the driver slow down when he is trying to stop. 

In windy conditions such as those present at the time of this accident also make it hard to operate a tractor trailer safety.  When the trailer is empty, it does not have much weight, but it does have a sides which can act as a sail when they catch the wind and can pull the trailer out of alignment -- leading to jackknife truck accidents such as this.

The bottom line on accidents such as this:  1) it is the truck driver's duty to keep his rig under control, and 2) if the weather conditions are such that he cannot do this, then he needs to get off the road.

Category: Trucking Accidents

2/14/2010
Barry Doyle
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With the heavy snow that pummeled the mid-Atlantic states last week, there were a number of news stories about tractor trailers which were involved in pile-ups in the bad weather.  One report came from Maryland where a tractor trailer hit one vehicle that slowed for another car ahead of him and was rear-ended by a tractor trailer.  The three-vehicle pile-up turned into a nine-car pile up as following vehicles, including another tractor-trailer, slammed into the pile-up.  Five people had to be taken to the hospital.

One of the things that stood out to me about this story was the description of the poor weather conditions, including snowy and icy roads and blowing snow.  The other thing that stood out to me was that there were two tractor trailers involved in the accident.

The reason that this stood out to me is that neither of the tractor trailers should have been on the road.  49 CFR Part 392.14 requires truck drivers to slow their vehicles and to exercise extreme caution when hazardous conditions such as snow, ice, fog, or smoke are present and if conditions are sufficiently dangerous, to cease operations and pull to the side of the road or exit the road. 

When there are slick, icy, snow-covered roads with blowing snow that further restricts visibility, the trucks should be getting off the road.  Why?  Because poor road conditions make it harder to stop and the enormous weight of the tractor-trailer make it likely that an accident will produce serious injuries.

Category: Trucking Accidents

2/11/2010
Barry Doyle
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Three occupants of a car had to be cut out of their vehicle after it was hit by a semi which was changing lanes.  The impact from the collision knocked the car off the road and down an embankment.  At least one occupant of the car was at least partially ejected from the vehicle and was in critical condition.

A few points came to mind from a legal perspective after reading about this trucking accident:

1.  The responsibility for this accident lies squarely on the truck driver.  Truck drivers are trained to check before moving into another lane.  This includes being aware of their "blind spots" where they cannot see another car.  They need to make sure that the blind spots are clear before starting to change lanes.  Saying "I never saw them" is simply not acceptable.

2.  The fact that there was some indication that one of the passengers of the car was partially ejected raises a question in my mind as to whether there may be a reasonable basis for looking into a automotive product liability case against the manufacturer of the vehicle.  Cars should be designed and manufactured to keep passengers inside the vehicle in the event of an accident, even a roll-over accident.  The starting point for any product liability case is to preserve the remains of the vehicle.

Each of these kinds of cases are highly complex and require a great deal of up-front investigation to determine what happened.  These are also cases which will be staunchly defended by deep-pocketed corporations and their insurers which will have a great deal of resources to bring to bear on the case.  Anyone contemplating a suit like this should retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist them with the case.

Category: Trucking Accidents

2/5/2010
Barry Doyle
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A New Jersey truck driver was sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years probation for gross negligence in operating a tractor trailer, resulting in an April, 2008 truck accident which killed three.  The driver was hauling an improperly secured load of paper.  As he proceeded downhill on an exit ramp at an excessive speed, the trailer tipped over landing on top of two cars.  The occupants of one car was killed instantly, while the driver of the other car died due to his injuries five months later.

Truck drivers are responsible for the securement of their loaded unless they are hauling a sealed container.  A sealed container is one which is locked by the shipper and cannot be opened by the truck driver.  Otherwise, the driver is responsible for making sure that the weight is distributed on the trailer and the load is secured into place so that when the truck turns, the center of gravity for the load does not shift and turn the trailer over.

Besides making sure that the load is properly secured, the truck driver is responsible for the safe operation of the tractor-trailer.  This means that the speed of the truck should be reduced when making truns to make sure that the load and that the center of gravity of the load does nto shift so far over during teh trun that the trailer turns over.  There was evidence as to this wrongful death truck accident that had the truck driveeer shifted into a lower gear, the truck would have slowed and this truck accident would have been prevented.

Any time you see that a trailer has turned over, the two immediate causes that come to mind are improper loading and improper operation of the tractor trailer.  These are factors that are in the control of the truck driver for which he bears responsibility.

Category: Trucking Accidents

2/1/2010
Barry Doyle
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Driver claims mechanical problem led to fatal crash

When a serious truck accident has occurred, one step that should be taken immediately after is to issue a preservation letter to the trucking company and its insurance company to preserve the remains of the vehicle so that it can be inspected for mechanical defects such as the one that this truck driver is claiming was the cause of a wrongful death truck accident in Ohio.

Category: Trucking Accidents

1/28/2010
Barry Doyle
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It turns out the December 12 wrongful death truck accident which we blogged about a few weeks ago did involve a situation where the driver was distracted by an on-board lap top.  However, it was not quite what we suspected -- that the driver was getting re-routed, checking traffic, get load information, etc.  The driver was watching porn on his lap top while driving.  Yes, porn.

Topping it all off, he was driving over hours.  According to authorities, he had been driving for the last 27 hours with very little sleep.  Every truck driver knows that there are limits to the number of hours that he could be on the road.  They have to keep a log book which shows the number of hours on the road and the number of hours resting.

There are several studies that show that driving while fatigued drops the safety performance of drivers.  Similarly there are lots of studies which show that distracted driving also reduces the safety performance of truck drivers.  Having both at the same time makes safe driving nearly impossible, regardless of what he was watching.

The sad thing about this accident is the result of the truck driver making choices to do things that he knew were unsafe.  There is no real doubt that he knew that he shouldn't be watching porn (or anything else for that matter) on his lap top while he was driving.  He knew that he shouldn't be driving with no rest like he was doing. 

The choices he made certainly justify the second degree manslaughter charges the truck driver is facing.

Category: Trucking Accidents

1/14/2010
Barry Doyle
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An Aurora man was injured last week when a piece of ice came through his windshield as he drove on Butterfield Road.  The ice was knocked off the top of a semi-trailer ahead of him as the trailer passed beneath an overpass.  He suffered facial fractures and eye injuries as a result of being struck by the piece of ice.  The truck driver did not stop, and the best description that witnesses could offer regarding the truck was that the trailer was white.

In response to press inquiries, a spokesman for the trucking industry agreed that ice coming off trailers was a safety hazard, but stated that trucking companies could not be expected to remove ice from the top of trailers because there are no tools for doing so and it is too risky to trucking company employees to get up on top of the trailer to clear them.

At present, New Jersey is the only state that requires tops of trailers to be free of snow and ice.  There are no federal regulations which address the issue.

No one believes that it is acceptable for pieces of equipment such as wheels to come off tractor-trailers and injure the public, nor do people believe that it is acceptable for portions of the load to come off the trailer and injure a member of the motoring public, so why should it be acceptable for drivers to knock blocks of ice off the tops of their trailers onto trailing vehicles?  Drivers are required to know the clearance height of their vehicles, and if their trailers are higher than usual because of snow and ice piled on top, that is their business to know.

The real answer why the trucking industry is not doing anything about snow and ice on top of trailers is that there is no accountability.  The truck driver whose trailer dropped the block of ice on the man from Aurora kept driving, probably completely unaware of what happened.  My guess is that in most cases, the driver has no idea and leaves the scene.  The result: no claims for and no impetus for putting people ahead of profits.

Category: Trucking Accidents

1/10/2010
Barry Doyle
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A truck driver from Chicago was involved in a head-on crash near Springfield, OH with a bus carrying residents of a center for the developmentally disabled.  The crash killed 4, including the van driver, and injured 6 passengers of the bus.  The truck accident happened when the eastbound truck truck crossed over into the westbound lanes of traffic and struck the bus head-on.  Road conditions were slippery, and authorities are investigating whether weather conditions played a role in causing the wrongful death accident.

As an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer, there are a few thoughts that come to mind regarding this accident:

1.  Federal regulations require truck drivers to reduce speed in adverse weather conditions, and the commercial driver's license manuals in most states call for reducing speed by a third in slick weather conditions.  This means that even if the truck driver was driving at the speed limit, he was driving too fast for conditions and faster than most prudent truck drivers should. 

2.  Since speed will be a crucial issue in the case, steps should be taken to preserve crucial records regarding the actions of the truck driver, including the on-board data recorder (if one was in use) and his log books, which should reflect where and when he last stopped before the accident.  This information will be helpful in determining whether the truck driver was going too fast for conditions at or near the time of the truck crash.  Steps should be taken to preserve the trucking company's records immediately.

3.  There are 10 victims of this accident -- the four people killed and the six people injured.  When people are brought together in a tragedy like this, there is a certain instinct to band together, and in some instances, hire the same lawyer to work on the case. 

This can be a mistake where there are a large number of claims and potentially inadequate insurance coverage.  When there is an inadequate amount of insurance coverage, your lawyer is required to push for you to receive the largest share possible. 

Where he representing two claimants in the same accident, he has a conflict of interest because advocating for one client diminishes the total amount of money available to compensate his other client.  This is why victims in mass tragedies such as this are all best served by hiring their own lawyers.

Category: Trucking Accidents

12/30/2009
Barry Doyle
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State police in New York are looking into whether a wrongful death truck accident on December 12 was caused by the driver's attention being diverted by an on-board lap top computer.  They have seized the driver's lap top for further analysis.

Increasing numbers of trucking companies are equipping their trucks with laptop computers.  There are a number of good business reasons for this.  They allow better communication with the drivers, allow better tracking of shipments and expenses, allow electronic tracking of hours of service, and help drivers better plan routes so as to avoid road construction or bad traffic so as to minimize travel time and fuel costs.

However, trucking companies need to be aware of the risks that are associated with providing drivers with on-board lap tops.  I am not aware of any studies that directly address the extent to which lap top use while driving increases accident risk, but a study from Virginia Tech showed that truck drivers who texted while driving were approximately 23 times more likely to get into an accident.

Trucking companies which provide lap tops to drivers should equip them with an interlock which prevents their use while the truck is in gear.  The other alternative to this is to develop and rigorously enforce a policy which prohibits the use of lap tops while driving.  Without such limitations on usage, distracted driving truck accidents are likely to increase due to lap top usage.



Category: Trucking Accidents

12/3/2009
Barry Doyle
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A trucking accident in Tennessee claimed the life of one teenager and injured three more.  The teens were driving in a car on Interstate 40 in the right hand lane when a truck moved to switch lanes from the left lane to the right lane.  The car occupied by the teens was apparently in the truck driver's blind spot, and he continued to merge into the right lane even though the driver of the car was honking his horn.  To avoid a collision with the truck, the driver of the car went onto the shoulder of the road, but lost control and struck a guard rail and bounced back onto the highway, directly into the path of another tractor trailer which was behind the car.  The impact caused one teen sitting in the back seat to be ejected from the vehicle onto the highway where she sustained injuries which caused her wrongful death.  The first truck kept going an did not stop after the accident occurred.

In cases such as this, there is some degree of fault to be assessed on the part of all of the drivers involved.  The driver of the first truck bears some fault for not make sure that his blind spot was clear before changing lanes.  Every truck driver is aware of his blind spots are, and it is part of his job to make sure that they are clear before changing lanes.  The driver of the second truck also bears some fault in that there was clearly a dangerous situation developing ahead of him with the other truck merging into the same lanes as the car.  This called for slowing and changing lanes.  Had this been done, the fatal injuries probably would not have occurred.  Finally, the driver of  the car bears some fault for this as well based upon his driving his car in the blind spot of the truck and failing to react properly to the intrusion into his lane by the tractor trailer.

Because there is a certain amount of fault on the part of each of the drivers involved in this accident, it will probably require a truck accident suit to resolve the claims, and each of the passengers would do well to hire their own experienced truck accident lawyer to make sure that their interests are properly protected.

Category: Trucking Accidents

12/1/2009
Barry Doyle
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A female passenger of a pick-up truck is dead after a pile-up in Nevada which led to her vehicle being rear-ended by a truck driver from Chicago.  News reports indicate that at the time of the wrongful death truck accident, high winds caused blowing sand and dust which reduced visibility to near zero in the area of the truck accident.

49 CFR Part 392.14 requires truck drivers to slow their vehicles and to exercise extreme caution when hazardous conditions such as snow, ice, fog, or smoke are present and if conditions are sufficiently dangerous, to cease operations and pull to the side of the road or exit the road.  Wind-induced dust storms are not explicitly mentioned, but clearly they caused hazardous conditions at the time of the accident which should have resulted in this truck driver getting off the highway instead of continuing on in conditions when he could not see the vehicles ahead of him well enough to stop before killing someone.


Category: Trucking Accidents

11/28/2009
Barry Doyle
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A trucking accident in West Virginia that claimed the life of a teenager has resulted in DUI charges against the truck driver involved in the wrongful death accident.

After the death of the teenager, charges against the truck driver were upgraded to include DUI causing death and fleeing the scene of an accident.  Three other passengers in  the teen's vehicle were also injured.

In keeping with the dangers brought on by the great size and power of tractor trailers, federal regulations limit  the amount of alcohol that a driver can have when reporting to duty to .02, which is a quarter of what is allowed in most states for the operation of private motor vehicles.  Once the driver is involved in critical safety functions such as the pre-trip inspection and the actual operation of the vehicle, then he is prohibited from consuming any alcohol at all.

The limits that truck drivers must adhere to are much stricter than those applicable to people driving passenger vehicles, but this is a limitation which makes a great deal of sense given the size and power of tractor trailers and the amount of time that truck drivers spend behind the wheel.

Category: Trucking Accidents

11/12/2009
Barry Doyle
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A Buffalo-area man was killed Tuesday in an intersection collision with a tractor-trailer.  The truck accident happened when the tractor trailer ran a stop sign at the intersection and hit the man's pick-up truck.  The tractor trailer driver told authorities that he simply did not see the stop sign and entered the intersection, resulting in the wrongful death truck accident.

In many truck accidents, we tend to look for the extraordinary causes of trucking accidents: driving a truck while on a cell phone, systemic poor maintenance resulting in mechanically unfit trucks being out on the road, unfit or intoxicated truck drivers, truck drivers who fall asleep at the wheel, truck drivers who drove too many hours on falsified log books.  However, some truck accidents are due to simple causes such as the driver not being familiar with the route and missing a stop sign.  Truck drivers, like everyone else, must follow the rules of the road (in addition to all of the rules and regulations that apply to them), and this includes stopping at stop signs.

The great size and power of tractor trailers make it absolutely critical that drivers obey stop signs.  This probably would have been a serious but not fatal accident in private passenger vehicles.  The fact that there was a tractor trailer involved made this a fatal accident.

Category: Trucking Accidents

9/11/2009
Barry Doyle
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In a St. Louis federal court, an $18 million verdict was returned against a trucking company and its driver for a truck accident which occurred when the driver reached for his cell phone while coming up on a line of cars which were stopped in traffic.  The crash resulted in injuries to the victim which left him completely unable to walk or talk and in need of constant care in a nursing home.

Distracted driving, in particular cell phone usage, is a cause of a large (and ever increasing) number of serious motor vehicle accidents.  Many studies have established that cell phone usage has nearly the same deleterious effects on driving abilities as being intoxicated. 

Federal regulations impose many requirements which are intended to improve the safe driving performance of truck drivers.  This is necessary in light of the great weight and power of tractor trailers.  Despite the well-known adverse effects of cell phone usage on safe driving many trucking companies not only permit drivers to use them while behind the wheel, but require drivers to have them to communicate with the dispatch.

These practices need rethinking in light of accidents such as this.



Category: Trucking Accidents

8/18/2009
Barry Doyle
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Last week in Connecticut a motorcylist was injured in a truck accident when a tractor-trailer made a left hand in front of the oncoming motorcyclist.  Surprisingly, the motorcyclist was not killed, as is so often the case in the wrongful death motorcycle accidents that we have covered in several of our other motorcycle accident blog postings.  However, he did suffer several serious injuries including broken bones, which the news story states were not life threatening and that he is expected to recover from.

While it is a good thing that this accident did not end up a fatality like so many others, the news story is probably selling short the long-term impact that this accident will have on this injured motorcyclist.  The story states that he was thrown from his bike after being hit by the tractor trailer.  It is a pretty safe bet that as in so many other man-meets-pavement accidents, he has some significant fractures.

As experienced Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers, one thing that we are careful to recognize in every case is the long-term effects that any injury is likely to produce:

  • Is the victim more susceptible to developing arthritis or have ongoing disability from the injury?
  • Will it require future medical care, such as a joint replacement in the future?  What are the medical costs associated with that?
  • Will this injury have a negative impact for the client's ability to pursue work in his ior her chosen line of work?  Will it shorten work life expectancy?

These are imoprtant questions which deserve careful consideration in any Chicago motorcycle accident suit.



Category: Trucking Accidents

8/16/2009
Barry Doyle
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There was a 4 vehicle chain collision on Route 53 this past Monday near the I-90 overpass.  The crash happened when a tractor trailer rear ended an SUV that was stopped for traffic ahead.  The impact pushed the SUV into two vehicles ahead, including a pickup truck that rolled over.

Chain collisions involving tractor trailers are usually due to inattentive or distracted driving on the part of the truck driver.  Truck drivers have some advantages over other motorists, mainly that they are  sitting up higher and should have a better view of traffic conditions ahead.  They also have the benefit of knowing road and traffic conditions ahead of them from dispatch and other communications.

When we see an accident such as this where a tractor trailer plows into a line of stopped vehicles, one of the key issues that we look into is the issue of driver fatigue.  Multiple studies have shown that fatigue can have the same effect on the ability of a truck driver to operate his vehicle safely as being intoxicated.  Due to this, federal regulations restrict the number of hours that a driver can be on duty before having to rest.  This information is recorded in a drivers log book which must be preserved for 6 months. 

One step that we take early on in an Illinois truck accident suit is to require the trucking company to preserve the drivers log book.  As experienced Chicago truck accident lawyers, we know that this is often crucial evidence for why one of these kind of truck accidents occurs.

Category: Trucking Accidents