Truck Accidents: Criminal Charges Help Yield Big Verdicts
The Cicero and Chicago Truck Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe are disappointed to report that the number of truck accidents continues to increase on our nation’s highways despite stricter regulation and enforcement and court cases expanding the scope of liability for negligence (see myaccidentlaw.com, September 19, 2011).
Unfortunately, it is a simple matter of size and volume. More trucks enter the roadway each year to provide food and materials to our expanding population. The legal weight for an 18-wheeler truck is 80,000 pounds not including an oversize of overweight permit -over 16 times the weight of the average automobile and many more times the weight of a motorcycle. The length of the average truck is up to 12 times that of an auto and the time to make a complete stop is 40 percent greater than a car.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has promulgated safety guidelines to address stricter safety measures and liability guidelines for motor carriers and drivers. State and Federal Penal codes address the criminal charges which may be brought and which are most often pursued in the event that a victim of a truck accident is seriously injured or killed. Plaintiff’s attorneys should pay special attention to the charges and prosecution thereof when preparing civil claims. Civil actions including wrongful death actions brought by the victim or estate of the victim will often result in multi-million dollar verdicts where there has been a successful criminal prosecution.
In the case of a death, Voluntary or Involuntary Manslaughter or Second Degree Murder charges(depending on he state penal code) are most commonly brought against the driver or motor carrier. In certain fact patterns the shipping company or even the manufacturer of the truck or truck parts may be charges. These charges may relate to fraudulent vehicle safety inspections, falsified driver logs, unknown or unacknowledged medical conditions of the driver, drug or alcohol intoxication, or even road rage.
Defenses abound for the above charges but first and foremost, defense attorneys will look for a mechanical defect to absolve or mitigate the driver of responsibility. Unfortunately for defendants, the contributing negligence of the victim is rarely admissible into evidence.
Plaintiff’s lawyers should follow the criminal court proceedings whenever there is a criminal prosecution associated with their client’s accident. Intervening early and/ or spotting a basis for criminal prosecution may yield better and fairer settlements for the victims and their loved ones.
Please feel free to consult your Chicago and Cicero Truck Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe with any questions regarding the prosecution of truck accident lawsuits. Consultations are always free and the experience Chicago Accident Lawyers at G and V love to talk law!