Pedestrians and Cyclists Hit by Trucks

Chicago Lawyers Assisting Tractor-Trailer Crash Victims

Due to their size and weight, truck collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists usually cause catastrophic injuries. Often, these injuries are very expensive. Most accident victims find the experience of being hit by a truck painful and also stressful. It may be possible to recover compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against any parties responsible for the truck accident. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist hit by a truck, call the experienced Chicago truck accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck.

Pedestrians and Cyclists Hit By Trucks

Commercial trucking is heavily regulated by both Illinois and federal regulations. The Illinois Commerce Commission regulates intrastate motor carriers and freight brokers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) promulgates regulations that cover interstate motor carriers and freight brokers. The FMCSA regulations have almost entirely been adopted in Illinois as state safety laws.

A truck driver or trucking company's violation of a safety statute raises a presumption of negligence. State and federal regulations cover qualifications of drivers, background checks and reference checks, drug and alcohol testing, disqualification of truck drivers for getting caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, monitoring of driving records on a yearly basis, trucking companies' overseeing of hours of service, the use of amphetamines, driving while fatigued, and scheduling of loads with sufficient time to make a safe delivery.

In many cases, a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a truck due to the truck driver's negligence. Generally, to establish a truck driver's negligence, you must prove that the truck driver owed a duty of care, there was a breach of duty, and causation and damages are present. A breach of duty could include speeding, running a red light, checking a text while driving, or failing to use turn signals. As noted above, when a safety statute is violated, there is a presumption of negligence.

Generally, trucking cases can be more challenging than other types of cases because evidence is perishable, and much evidence may be permanently lost if you do not have an aggressive attorney who is specifically knowledgeable about truck accidents. For example, big trucking companies often use on-board computers and satellite communication systems. These create data that can support claims of negligence by, for example, saying how a truck was traveling prior to hitting a cyclist. Additionally, engine control modules generate black box data that is important to investigating truck performance.

However, the companies that service the trucks purge this data within 14 days to a month. Trucking companies generally purge records in six months, as permitted by the FMCSA regulations. This makes it very important to send a spoliation of evidence letter to the trucking company.

Sometimes it is possible to hold a trucking company vicariously or directly liable for a truck accident. For example, there would be a presumption of negligence if a trucking company fails to conduct the appropriate background checks and drug tests for a truck driver who, while on amphetamines, hits a pedestrian who was crossing in the crosswalk.

In many cases, the truck driver or trucking company will look for ways in which you, as a pedestrian or cyclist, may have been to blame for the accident, even when the driver or company's liability appears clear. In Illinois, courts use a modified comparative negligence rule. If you are found more than 50% responsible for your accident, you will be barred from recovering damages. If you are found less than 50% responsible, your damages will be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault.

Explore Your Options with a Truck Collision Attorney in the Chicago Area

If you are a pedestrian or cyclist hit by a truck in Chicago, you should consult an experienced injury lawyer. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we also represent people in Aurora, Springfield, Champaign, Rockford, and Quincy, as well as other areas of Cook, Kane, Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, and Adams Counties. Contact us online or call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.