By Dan Noll on April 10th, 2023 in Semi-Truck Accidents
Distracted Driving is Dangerous Driving. If You Were Injured by a Distracted Truck Driver Causing a Trucking Accident in Illinois, Call the Noll Law Office
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. According to national statistics, over 3,500 are killed in traffic accidents involving a distracted driver. Although most people think of distracted drivers as younger drivers or those in passenger vehicles, a growing number of distracted drivers are actually truck drivers in larger, commercial vehicles. In fact, one study found that 71% of all large truck accidents were caused by a distracted truck driver. Another study found that there are roughly 11,000 trucking accidents caused by a distracted truck driver each year in the United States. The experienced trucking accident lawyers in Springfield at the Noll Law Office can help victims who were injured by a distracted truck driver causing a trucking accident in Illinois.
That’s because the Noll Law Office has experience handling all types of serious or catastrophic motor vehicle wrecks in Illinois, including those caused by large commercial vehicles. Their compassionate and experienced legal team can help victims and their families recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages caused by a negligent truck driver or trucking company. This is particularly true in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted truck driver causing a trucking accident in Illinois. If you or a loved one were seriously injured, or if a loved one was wrongfully killed, in any type of commercial trucking accident in Illinois, please call the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Noll Law Office.
Causes of a Distracted Truck Driver Accident
Truck drivers, like all drivers, are suspectable to being distracted while driving. They must operate their commercial vehicles in a manner which avoids distractions that could result in a serious or fatal truck wreck. Here are some common ways that truck drivers can cause distracted driving accidents:
- Cell Phones – One of the most common distractions for truck drivers is the use of mobile cell phones while driving. This includes texting, talking on the phone, using social media, reading emails, using maps, or browsing the internet. Using a cell phone while driving takes a driver’s eyes, hand, and attention off the road, all which can lead to a serious motor vehicle accident.
- Eating or drinking – Another common distraction for truck drivers is eating or drinking while driving. This can cause the driver to take their hands off the steering wheel, which can lead to accidents. Although it is completely normal for all drivers to take a sip of water or to eat something small, the trucking industry is a “time is money” industry. That means some truckers may opt to eat full meals in their trucks and while driving instead of taking a time for a break.
- Drowsy driving – Although most people may not consider this, driving while drowsy is a major distraction that can be extremely dangerous. Truck drivers often work long hours and may be tempted to continue driving even when they are tired in order to earn more money. However, driving while drowsy can impair a driver’s judgment and reaction time, increasing the risk of a trucking accident in Illinois.
- External distractions – Like mentioned above, external distractions are a major cause of distracted truck driver accidents. External distractions include billboards, signage, accidents/rubbernecking, construction, advertising, other vehicles, or roadside attractions, can also cause distractions for truck drivers that draw their eyes and attention off the road. It is important for truck drivers to stay focused on the road and avoid looking at anything that could take their attention away from driving. This can especially occur on interstates, particularly causing I-72 truck accidents and I-55 vehicle wrecks, and the interstate exchange right in Springfield.
- Radio and Music – Truck drivers also may become distracted by changing radio stations, connecting their Bluetooth, or otherwise changing with their radio and music while driving. This takes a hand, eyes, and attention off of the act of driving a vehicle, all which are very serious distractions.
- Hand-held Radio – Truckers have a unique distraction which is a handheld radio. Many still use this type of radio to communicate with other truckers nearby, or back to their hub. Hand-held radios are dangerous because they require a hand off of the wheel, which this distraction is like a cell phone because it takes a hand away from the wheel and a driver’s attention off of driving.
- GPS – Distractions caused by a trucker programming or using a GPS are a very serious and potentially devastating cause of trucking accidents. GPS units, whether it is a standalone, in the truck, or through a trucker’s cell phone, can all take away a driver’s eyes, hand, and attention away from driving a commercial truck.
- Reading Paper Maps, Delivery Instructions, Dockets – Particularly when a driver is leaving or about to arrive at his or her destination, far too many truckers will read paper maps, delivery instructions, bill of ladening or dockets, and other written documents. These are very serious distractions and present significant hazards.
There are many other hazards which may also result in a distracted truck driver that may cause a serious or fatal accident in Illinois. If you believe that a truck driver was distracted and caused your accident, call the experienced trucking accident lawyers in Springfield at the Noll Law Office for help.
How Does Liability Work Against a Distracted Truck Driver Causing a Trucking Accident in Illinois?
There are three common ways that an experienced personal injury lawyer can help prove liability against a distracted truck driver causing a trucking accident in Illinois. Each way may be plead in a lawsuit, and sometimes all three may be proven; although it is not required that all three are proven in order to recover compensation.
The common law is a body of law that is created through judicial decision writing, and is a reflection of an interpretation of the statutory law or the common sentiments of society. One of the largest bodies of law within the common law is “negligence.” This is the main concept that applies to all personal injury actions.
Under Illinois law, all motorists most exercise reasonable care in the use or operation of their motor vehicle. That means that motorists must not drive recklessly or careless, and must follow the rules of the road. A motorist who is not driving reasonably, such as a truck driver who is driving a commercial vehicle while distracted, may be found liable for a crash with a victim based on his or her negligence.
Liability is premised on the duty (to drive with reasonable care) and the breach of that duty (distracted driving). A victim must also establish that the breach of this duty caused the victim’s damages, or harms like personal injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.
Where a truck driver violates a statute and causes a trucking accident, he or she may be found negligent per se. This doctrine takes a statutory law (or a legislatively-made law), and uses the violation of that statute as a way of automatically establishing a duty and a breach of that duty. A victim will still need to establish causation and damages, but this is a “legal shortcut” to proving liability and a personal injury case.
As relevant to distracted driving, Illinois prohibits texting while driving under 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2. Any truck driver who is texting while operating a commercial vehicle is likely violating this law. It does not matter where the truck driver is from, licensed in, or traveling to. Anytime a truck driver is in Illinois and is texting, this statute is being violated. Therefore, a personal injury victim will have automatically established liability against a truck driver who violates this statute.
In addition to the common law and statutory law of the applicable state that the truck driver is in, there are also federal regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) application to every truck driver in every state. These are mostly safety regulations and equipment rules. But there are also cell phone and distracted driving prohibitions, particularly after research that found that truck drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to be involved in an accident or near accident.
Notably, 49 CFR section 392.80 prohibits a driver from texting while operating a commercial vehicle in any state. It also prohibits a trucking company from allowing or requiring drivers to text while driving a commercial vehicle. A truck driver who texts while driving and causes a trucking accident will likely violate this regulation and could be liable to a victim.
Although the doctrine of negligence per se applies, unlike a statutory law violation which allows for an automatic finding of liability, that is not true for a regulation. This is because regulations are agency made, meaning that they do not go through the same formal rule-making process. As a result, under Illinois law a violation of a regulation is “evidence of negligence” and not an outright finding of negligence. This is a critical distinction because it means victims will still need an experienced trucking accident lawyer in Springfield to prove their case by establishing a duty, breach of that duty, and that such breach caused the victim’s damages.
Were You Injured in a Distracted Truck Driving Accident in Illinois? Call Our Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyers in Illinois for Help
If you or your family were injured by a distracted truck driver in Illinois, call the experienced trucking accident lawyers in Springfield at the Noll Law Office. Their family is the fifth generation of lawyers who have served this community and this great State, and can help you and your family recover the compensation that you deserve for your personal injuries. Although the law is clear that distracted driving is negligent and dangerous driving, all too often defense lawyers and insurance adjusters will refuse to fairly compensate you.
Don’t let that happen to you. If you were injured in any type motor vehicle crash, especially by a distracted truck driver in a trucking accident in Illinois, contact the Noll Law Office for help today. Their compassionate legal team offers free case evaluations. Call their family today to start protecting your family now.