An Illinois truck accident involving violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations where I represented the estates of a 77 year old man and his 73 year old wife settled last week for $950,000. On March 7, 2007, at 3:45 AM the 77 year old driver hit the side of the semi tractor trailer that was backing onto a rural highway In Will County. Both the driver and his wife were killed instantly!
The central issue in the case was why the 77 year old driver failed to detect, identify, and respond prior to slamming into the side of the trailer as it was backing across the rural highway. Attorneys for the trucking company and its driver retained the services of an ophthalmologist, human factors expert, and an certified accident reconstruction specialist. The 77 year old driver had corrective eye surgery a few months before this fatal accident.
Essentially defendants’ experts opined that the 77 year old driver: 1) should not have been driving at night as his nighttime vision was limited; 2) since trailer was equipped with retroreflective tape and side marker lights a reasonably alert driver should have been able to detect, identify, and respond to the trailer by slowing to avoid a collision.
Expert witnesses I retained on behalf of the family of the victims included a transportation safety consultant (trucking practices expert) and a certified accident reconstruction specialist. Essentially plaintiffs’ experts opined: 1) truck driver violated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, sec. 392.2, which holds that a violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code is also a violation of the FMCSR. Failure to yield right of way while backing is also a violation of FMCSR; 2) truck driver should have known that his maneuver of backing his truck across a highway violated the reasonable expectation of an average motorist; 3) this was a preventable accident– use of flairs or a spotter would have prevented this tragedy. Violations of FMCSR are essential in holding trucking companies and their drivers responsible for the carnage they cause on our highways and every effort must be undertaken to identify and prove these violations. Drivers logs, GPS readings, fuel receipts, and toll receipts are some of the discovery that must be sought and obtained to secure favorable results for the victims.
Violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code is also a violation of FMCSR and was a key in securing a favorable result in this case. The decedents were survived by three adult children who rarely saw the decedents and who lived in Alaska, Tennessee, and New York. The case was settled before Judge Ronald Guzman in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.