Articles Posted in Tractor/Trailer Accident

Isaac Espinoza was helping a friend with his broken down car on a stretch of highway I-81 just outside Chambersburg, Pennsylvania when he was hit by a truck driver with a blood alcohol level more than 4x the legal limit. The driver, Ricky Hatfield, ran from the scene of the accident and was later found and arrested by Pennsylvania State Police. His employer, J.B. Hunt, a major transportation logistics company headquartered in Lowell, Arkansas, failed to screen Hatfield’s employment and driving records, which included a previous DUI arrest while operating a tractor-trailer, 2 charges for reckless driving, speeding in a construction zone while driving a tractor-trailer, and job termination for failure of a drug and alcohol test and attempting to bribe the test administrator. These charges and Mr. Hatfield’s firing from a previous employer all occurred within the past 5 years.

Jury Finds Both Driver and Employer Negligent

Ricky Hatfield was considered an independent operator, a trucker who ran his own company but contracted with J.B. Hunt under an Outsource Carriage Agreement. The agreement requires the contracted employee to self-certify their driving record, with the logical expectation that J.B. Hunt would conduct a background check to verify the information. The company never checked Hatfield’s record, arguing that Mr. Hatfield was technically self-employed and had a duty to screen his own record. The company also attempted to argue that Ricky Hatfield personally made the decision to become intoxicated and that he was technically driving on his day off. Mr. Espinoza’s attorneys quickly refuted these claims, proving that Hatfield had been contracted to drive for J.B. Hunt and was operating the tractor-trailer and not his personal vehicle because he was out on dispatch for the company.

The results of truck-related accidents can be life altering. Fatalities often occur. Earlier this month, for instance, in southern Illinois, an automobile carrying three young girls was involved in a fatal accident with a tractor-trailer. Two of the girls died and is currently in critical condition at a Peoria hospital. This accident took place on Interstate 55 in Logan County.

If you are involved in such an accident, it is nearly inevitable that you will incur significant expenses and will perhaps miss work for several days. If the accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to major compensation. It is imperative that you hire an attorney for your case. This post is aimed at explaining why hiring an attorney in a truck-related accident case is in your best interest.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney for my Case?

Our attorneys cannot stress enough that railroad tracks and train crossings are places in which we should never cease to be vigilant and safe. These are never locations where our attention can slip or where we can bend the rules. When motorists and pedestrians act negligently near railroad tracks or crossings they endanger the lives of themselves and others around them and serious accidents can occur. Trains always have the right of way at these designated crossings and cannot stop quickly, even in the case of an emergency, because they travel at high speeds. If lights are flashing and gates are down, this means a train is near and motorists should use caution.

Even through frequent safety campaigns, warning signs posted, and laws on the books, train accidents unfortunately still frequently happen when people are negligent and ignore the rules. In a recent article by the Chicago Tribune, a semitrailer blocked railroad tracks and was struck by an oncoming Chicago bound Amtrak train in southwest Wilmington, located 14 miles south of the Joliet train station. As a result of the collision, 10 people were taken to area hospitals, according to Wilmington police. Due to the impact of the collision, the train’s cargo of 70,000 pounds of bacon was strewn across the ground near the tracks. The truck’s cab also separated from the trailer and ended up on the other side of the train. Twenty minutes after the accident occurred, passengers were told to leave the train and learned about the accident.
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It seems that not a news day goes by without hearing about a truck accident along Midwest highways. As our readers know, these crashes involving semis are extremely dangerous and often result in life-altering and permanent personal injuries or even death. This is due to the combination of a truck’s large size and weight and that they are traveling at high speeds on the interstates.

According to news from, a fatal semi-truck accident occurred on I-75 this past Tuesday. The highway patrol reported a car was following closely behind a semi-truck when it crashed into the back of the tractor trailer. The driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other two passengers in the car remain in critical condition. The driver of the semi was not injured.

It is crucial to practice safe driving on all roads, but especially on interstates. When driving at such high speeds it can be very difficult to swerve away from a potential collision or to stop in time to avoid a rear-end accident. For that reason, it is important to maintain a lengthier following distance than when driving on regular city roads so that you can make a quick stop to avoid a collision if need be.

It is unfortunate to hear new reports of emergency responders suffering injuries as a result of a truck driver’s failure to abide by move over laws. This past month we told readers about the tragic collision that injured one and killed another emergency responder off of I-88 in Aurora, Illinois. Now, it is with sadness that we report to another story of a negligent driver whose recklessness injured a state trooper on duty.

According to reports by the Indy Star, a semi-truck crashed into the rear of an Indiana State Police Trooper’s car on I-865. Similarly to the I-88 accident, this officer was also pulled over to the side of the road assisting another driver. The crash pushed the officer’s car into the back of the motorist’s car. As a result of the collision, both the officer and the motorist suffered personal injuries to the neck and head. The semi-truck driver was ticketed for speeding in winter weather conditions and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

It is the law in all 50 states to yield to emergency vehicles that are stationary on the shoulders of the road. According to, after Hawaii adopted its move over law in 2012, every state had a program to protect officers and other emergency responders on our roads. These laws aim to protect our emergency workers who sacrifice their own safety to help others. These laws require drivers slow down and move over for stationary emergency vehicles or to pull over to the side of the road when an emergency vehicle is flashing its light to come through. The fact that every state in the union has adopted a “move over law” shows how important it is that drivers and law-makers work together to protect the lives of our emergency responders.

Our Chicago accident attorneys empathize and advocate for families who have lost loved ones in motor vehicle and trucking accidents. It is unfortunately all too common that young lives with a lot of potential are cut short. In some instances what is even worse is knowing that a death could have easily been preventable had it not been for the negligence of another individual, such as a distracted or reckless driver on the road.

The lives of two Northeastern Illinois fraternity brothers were cut short this past week, according to the Chicago Tribune. A vehicle carrying five crashed into an 18-wheeler truck, trapping the victims inside the crushed car. Early reports note that the driver, who was also one of the fatally injured victims, may have fallen asleep at the wheel which resulted in the crash. He and one other died in the crash and three others were taken to local hospitals for medical care.

Readers may see this news story and wonder what the family of the deceased passenger can do? What is interesting here is the consideration of the legal steps a victim’s family can take where the arguably negligent individual has also died. In Illinois, the family of the deceased passenger could make a legal claim against the estate of the deceased driver for his negligence in falling asleep behind the wheel and breaching a duty of care to the passengers. According to Illinois Statute, 755 ILCS 5,/18-1 (a), a claim can be made against the estate of a decedent or ward, based upon tort (such as personal injury or wrongful death). From this statute, the family of the deceased passenger would be able to make a legal claim against the estate of the deceased negligent driver.

Car accidents with semi-trucks are especially dangerous and prone to cause serious personal injuries or fatalities. This is in part due to the sheer size and magnitude of semi-trucks, which can make them have a bigger impact in collisions than other vehicles. That is why it is important when semis and cars share the roads and highways with one another that everyone drive with responsibility and caution for one another.

A recent example in the news shows the gravity of semi-truck collisions. According to, a driver was killed in a collision with a semi-truck. The victim ran a stop sign on the highway, which caused his car to collide with a semi-truck. The car was then dragged several hundred feet before the vehicles were able to come to a complete stop. The driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Authorities have stated that alcohol was not a factor in this crash.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration defines a large truck as one that has a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds. Fatal crashes with large trucks are unfortunately common. From 2005 to 2009, there were 19,846 national fatal crashes involving large trucks.

Poor weather conditions are reported to be a cause of a sudden semi-trailer accident on Interstate 55 this week. Illinois Pantagraph recently released that the semitrailer truck crashed and burned on the interstate during a severe rainstorm in Normal. The 45-year old driver was traveling north near mile-marker 161 around 2:40pm when he abruptly lost control of his vehicle. Illinois State Police say the truck jackknifed, struck the center median barrier, and then caught on fire.

Wreckage from the truck was scattered across the highway, according to the report, and flames destroyed the truck’s cab. Motorists could see a huge column of smoke from miles away and were at a standstill for almost an hour as firefighters worked to contain the fire. Firefighters from Bloomington and Normal and an Illinois Department of Transportation crew responded to the accident and helped to clear the scene. The driver was treated at a nearby medical center for what authorities say were moderate injuries, and he was later charged with driving too fast for conditions.

From the perspective of our truck accident law firm, while negligent motorists are commonly the cause of accidents and personal injury on Illinois roadways, hundreds of accidents each year are due to the uncontrollable and often times unpredictable onset of rain and poor weather conditions. These conditions certainly do not make the physical aspect of driving any easier, and also affect the manner in which we drive, whether that is excessively timid or dangerously reckless. Therefore, we would like to offer all motorists some information about how rain can affect driving conditions and what steps you can take to remain safe behind the wheel when they occur.

A truck accident lawyer at our firm recently read a report from The Belleville News Democrat that details a serious semi-tractor trailer collision on Interstate 55. According to an Illinois State Spokesman, two semi-trailers were southbound on the interstate near the Livingston exit when they approached a construction zone that reduced the interstate to one lane. Although the first semi truck was stopped in the right lane of traffic, the second truck driver failed to notice that it was completely stopped and then struck it from behind.

The second semi trailer’s cab was completely crushed from the impact. Emergency personnel had to cut the driver from the vehicle and later airlifted him to a nearby hospital. He remains in serious condition, while the driver of the truck that was hit suffered minor injuries. Southbound lanes of the interstate were closed for several hours while the Illinois State Police Certified Truck Inspection Team inspected the trucks for safety violations.

Road construction is nothing out of the ordinary for the Chicagoland area. Bright orange cones, flashing signs, construction vehicles, and ongoing road maintenance are common sights for Illinois drivers, but they also may cause changes in traffic flow and speed limits that can be very dangerous for drivers and road construction crews. According to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, 1,525 drivers were injured and 24 were killed in work zone accidents in 2011.

ABC Local released an accident report last Thursday that authorities and witnesses are declaring nothing less than a tragedy. A family of seven, including three adults and four children, was traveling home on Interstate 65 around 10pm when traffic had slowed for construction. An inattentive semi truck driver suddenly rear-ended the jeep. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the impact pushed the jeep into another semi truck in front of it.

When state police arrived at the scene, a sergeant stated, “The Jeep was burned, for the most part, beyond recognition.” Because of the damage the vehicle sustained and the compaction of the vehicle after impact, authorities initially estimated that only two people were trapped inside. After looking more closely, they discovered that seven individuals had been killed: a 27-year-old mom with her 5 and 3-year-old daughters, the woman’s sister and her two young children, and the children’s uncle. The semi truck driver remained uninjured, and no citations or charges have been filed in the case so far.

Our wrongful death lawyers and many others were saddened by the number of individuals killed in this accident, in addition to the fact that four of those people were children under the age of 8 years old. Though details are continuing to be released about the collision, police say, “The cause of the crash was due to inattentive driving and negligence on the semi-tractor trailer driver’s part.” The report states that the driver has been ticketed for speeding at least five times since 2006 and has also been cited for failing to submit to a required truck weigh-in, both possibly contributing to the accident. A witness from a nearby day care center said, “There’s no reason for a family to be missing seven family members today due to somebody not paying attention.”

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