Because of their weight and size, commercial trucks such as big rigs or semis get more momentum than other vehicles with which they share the road. It is harder for truck drivers to bring a commercial truck to a stop, especially if they need to do so quickly or over a short distance. Failing to adjust how one drives a commercial truck to account for the greater distance needed to stop is a common cause of truck accidents. If you believe that failing to leave a sufficient stopping distance was a contributing cause of a truck accident in which you were injured, you should consult the Chicago truck accident lawyers at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca.Claims Based on Inadequate Stopping Distance
A critical difference between a passenger car and a commercial truck is the truck's stopping distance. Generally, tractor-trailers need about 40% more distance to stop than a passenger car does. When the weather is poor, or the truck has defective brakes, even more distance may be needed. When traveling at 50 mph, an 18-wheeler may keep moving 450 feet after the brakes are applied before coming to a total stop. Surprisingly, a loaded truck will stop more quickly than an empty truck because the load gives the tires more traction.
If proper precautions are not taken by a truck driver to avoid an accident, or a truck driver's actions result in an accident, it may be possible to hold the truck driver accountable in a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, your attorney will need to establish the truck driver's negligence by proving that the truck driver owed you a duty of care, and they caused the accident by breaching the duty of care. In most cases, a truck driver's failure to leave a safe distance to stop without colliding with another car will be found to be a breach of the truck driver's duty to use reasonable care. A truck driver's failure to leave a sufficient stopping distance can result in catastrophic injuries not only to people in the passenger car in front of him or her, but also to any people in cars in front of the passenger car that the passenger car hits as it is plowed forward by the truck.
After a truck accident, it is crucial to retain an experienced attorney who has relationships with credible accident reconstruction experts. Often, an accident reconstruction expert must calculate the actual stopping distance by calculating the weight of the truck, the road surface conditions, and other factors, like how long it took for the truck driver to hit the brakes.
While a truck driver may be at fault, there may be other parties that are responsible for an accident based on inadequate stopping distance. A truck driver's employer may be held vicariously liable for a truck driver's negligence in the course and scope of employment. A trucking company may also bear direct liability for its own actions or omissions. It may be possible to bring the trucking company into a lawsuit for its negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent training. Moreover, a truck manufacturer or brakes manufacturer could be held liable in a product liability lawsuit if there is a design or manufacturing defect in the brakes that results in the stopping distance being greater than normal, and an accident results.
However, in some cases, a passenger car pulls in front of a semi or tractor-trailer in order to advance through traffic. The passenger car's driver may not understand how much space a truck driver needs to stop the commercial truck. Cutting in front of a big rig can be extremely dangerous. Traffic could stop suddenly, and catastrophic injuries or death are likely if an 80,000-pound vehicle is right behind you. The commercial truck driver, when sued, is likely to allege comparative negligence. This means that they will need to prove the same elements of negligence. The jury will look at the evidence and arguments and assign each party a percentage of fault. Your damages will be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault, if any.Hire a Chicago Attorney Following a Commercial Vehicle Crash
If you are injured as a result of a truck driver's failure to leave a proper stopping distance, you should consult an experienced truck accident lawyer about your claim. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent accident victims in Chicago, Quincy, Rockford, Champaign, Springfield, and Aurora, as well as other areas of Adams, Winnebago, Champaign, Sangamon, Kane, and Cook Counties. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.