Injured Truck Passengers

Attorneys for Tractor-Trailer Accident Victims in Chicago

Usually commercial truck drivers aren't supposed let people ride in the truck unless they are also performing job duties for the trucking company. However, there are situations in which a truck driver might allow a spouse, friend, or hitchhiker to ride along, and the passenger may become injured. How much liability the trucking company will assume in those situations depends on the particular circumstances, and an experienced Chicago truck accident lawyer can help you determine what compensation can be recovered for your injuries. Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck helps injured truck passengers seek justice after serious accidents.

Injured Truck Passengers

Injured truck passengers who are employees of the commercial trucking company whose truck got into an accident may be limited to workers' compensation benefits. You could also look to third parties for damages. If you are not the trucking company's employee, Illinois law allows you to recover damages as an injured truck passenger by proving negligence by either the truck driver or another driver. You'll need to show: (1) that the defendant owed you a duty, (2) breach of duty, (3) causation, and (4) actual damages.

An interstate truck driver may breach this duty by violating an FMCSA regulation such as by failing to abide by hours of service rules, driving while under the influence, speeding, taking turns too fast, failing to correct the truck when there's a risk of jackknifing, failing to check blind spots or failing to do a daily inspection to make sure the truck is safe to drive. Another driver may breach the duty to use reasonable care by cutting a truck driver off, weaving, or speeding. It is unlikely that the passenger would be at all at fault for a truck accident. However, sometimes both the truck driver and another driver are at fault for an accident. Suppose, for example, the driver of a passenger car cut in front of the truck driver in whose truck you were riding, and the truck driver instinctively swerved, but also lost control of the vehicle and drove into a building. The jury might look at whether both the passenger car driver and the truck driver were at fault.

Vicarious Liability

Sometimes a truck company can be held accountable to a non-employee truck passenger. It may be vicariously liable for its employee driver's negligence. It is important to explore whether it may be directly liable, as well, and a knowledgeable injury lawyer can assist you in making this assessment. A trucking company can be held directly liable for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent training. For example, if a trucking company fails to conduct a background check that would have revealed a truck's driver's excessive number of prior truck accidents based on fatigued driving, and the truck driver gets into another accident based on fatigued driving, it may be possible to hold the trucking company liable for negligent hiring.

In some situations, a truck accident is caused by mechanical malfunction. If you suspect that's the case as an injured truck passenger, it is crucial to get an accident reconstruction expert out to look at the truck. Common defects include faulty cargo restraints, brake failures, defective tires, defective hydraulics, defective hitches, a defective anti-lock braking system, steering defects, and broken headlights or brake lights or turn signals. Even if you're an injured truck passenger who is an employee limited to workers' compensation benefits from a trucking company, it may be possible to bring a product liability lawsuit against the truck manufacturer or the manufacturer of a truck component.

Lawyers Helping Chicago Area Residents Hurt in Truck Accidents

If you are an injured truck passenger hurt in Chicago, an experienced personal injury attorney at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck can potentially assist you. We represent accident victims in areas including Champaign, Aurora, Quincy, Rockford, and Springfield, as well as Cook, Adams, Champaign, Sangamon, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. Please call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.