Articles Posted in Trucking Accidents

Robert Jones was injured while he was delivering supplies to a Pizza Hut restaurant in South Elgin, Ill. Jones was struck by the pizza delivery car driven by defendant Bibiana Bojorge in the parking lot of the pizza restaurant. Jones injured his knee. The jury’s verdict of $489,364.05, which was reduced by 5% for contributory negligence of Mr. Jones, was appealed by the defendants Bojorge and Pizza Hut.

The issue on appeal was whether the trial judge was in error in admitting into evidence the plaintiff’s prior consistent statement to his wife that he was hit by defendant’s car. The defendant had made  Jones’s credibility the centerpiece of their defense at trial. The plaintiff’s prior consistent statement was admissible to rebut the charge that plaintiff’s prior testimony was a fabrication, especially when the evidence included defendant’s written statement in which she admitted that she “hit the delivery guy.”  The appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s order and the jury verdict stands.

The facts were that the plaintiff  Jones, a delivery truck driver working at a Pizza Hut location, claimed that the defendant Bojorge, a pizza delivery driver, struck him with a car as he was moving boxes of dough on his dolly, injuring his knee. 

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The Illinois Appellate Court has affirmed a decision by a Cook County trial judge. Krysztof Emiljanowicz, a truck driver, agreed to act as a contractor for SSTS, Inc. On May 12, 2004, Krysztof signed an agreement in which he agreed to transport freight for SSTS in his semitrailer. 

SSTS said that its policy required truck contractors to have their equipment inspected, to carry only SSTS freight while under contract with SSTS and to place decals on their vehicles showing that they were authorized to operate. 

Later that same day, Krysztof was on his way to pick up a friend; they planned to ride together in Krysztof’s truck to a mechanic for a check-up. Before starting the new job, and on the way to the mechanic, Krysztof crashed into a vehicle driven by Barbara Kawacki-Horowitz.

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a division of the United States Department of Transportation, has requested that “black boxes,” electronic data recorders or electronic on-board recording devices found in trucks and cars, should have the capacity to monitor a truck driver’s hours behind the wheel.

The purpose of the black box device is to record data in case of a crash. The data found on the black box allows experts to review the events leading up to a crash and use that data in evaluating future safety issues.

Today cars have these “black boxes” to record events leading up to an automobile accident. The boxes record vehicle speed before the crash, deceleration rates and vehicle angles before and during the crash. They also detect whether seatbelts were used.

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In October 2004, the plaintiff truck driver was hauling a pre-loaded 2,000-pound bundle of steel rebar. When the plaintiff reached his destination and loosened the cargo straps, the bundle of rebar rolled off the flatbed of the trailer and severely injured the truck driver by falling on his leg.

The plaintiff, age 31, sustained a tibial fracture. He was out of work for six months after surgery to repair the fracture. It was argued at the jury trial that the defendant company, Menard Inc., was negligent in preparing the pre-loaded cargo and securing the bundle of rebar. Menard maintained that the truck driver was negligent in loosening the cargo strap causing his own injuries.

The Whiteside County, Ill., jury found in favor of the plaintiff truck driver and awarded him $615,451 in the following manner:

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Although a truck vastly outweighs a bicycle, accidents can occur in which the bike rider is at fault. A Cook County jury ruled that this was the case in a collision involving a rider named Kim Assaley and the driver of a Dreyer’s ice cream truck in the early-morning hours of October 2007.

In this accident, Ms. Assaley, 41, was riding her bicycle to work northbound on Western Avenue. She was hit by the defendant’s northbound truck as it made a right turn onto Madison Street just after the traffic light turned green.

Ms. Assaley suffered an injury to her left foot and incurred $61,000 in medical expenses as well as more than $21,000 in time lost from her work. The pre-dawn incident occurred at 6:40 a.m., when sunrise was at 7:04 a.m. that day.

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Robin R. Foreman v. Gunite Corporation, 2012 IL App. (1st) 091644U.

Robin Foreman was a truck driver employed by Distribution Services, Inc. (DSI). He had a regular truck route transferring material from Gunite Corporation‘s Illinois facility to its Indiana location.

Foreman was traveling eastbound on I-290 near its intersection with the Tri-State Tollway when the load in his trailer shifted, causing the truck to roll over.

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An Illinois District judge denied the U.S. government’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that the government had failed to establish that the plaintiff’s claim was not valid in James D. Fowler v. The United States of America, 08-CV-2785. The U.S. government had attempted to prove that the plaintiff was barred from receiving compensation from the post office because he had already received workers’ compensation directly from his employer. However, the district court disagreed with the U.S.’s classification of the plaintiff as a “borrowed employee,” thereby denying its motion for summary judgment.

The claims in Fowler arose out of an injury that James Fowler sustained at a while delivering mail to a Libertyville Post Office. Fowler was an employee of Eagle Express, a company which regularly contracted with the U.S. Postal Service to move mail between its various facilities. Under these “highway contract routes” (HCR) agreements, Eagle Express was responsible for covering all of the costs and duties associated with delivering mail on its required routes, including the payment and insuring of Eagle Express employees.

So even though Fowler was injured at the Libertyville Post Office while engaged in work for the U.S. Postal Service, his workers’ compensation claim was covered by Eagle Express. However, he sought to recovery additional damages from the U.S. Post Office based on the negligence of its employees in causing his injury based on the Federal Tort Claims Act. The FTCA allows parties to sue the U.S. for personal injury “caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission” of any federal government employee “while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred.” 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)(1).

However, the U.S. argued that it was not liable for Fowler’s injuries because he was a borrowed employee. Because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is an exclusive remedy, an employee’s employer and any borrowing employer are immune from tort liability arising from an injury. Jorden v. U.S., Dist. Court, ND Illinois 2011. U.S. argued that just as Fowler was barred from pursuing a lawsuit against Eagle Express because he had already recovered workers’ compensation, so was Fowler barred from suing the U.S. Post Services based on his status as a borrowed employee.

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You don’t have to be a commercial truck driver to know about driver fatigue. We’ve all been there, whether driving home from work, or the long trip home from school – when your eyes become heavy and that cup of coffee doesn’t seem to be doing the trick. Under these conditions, drivers are much less aware and highway accidents are much more likely to occur.

While casual drivers might have the luxury of switching drivers, or pulling off the road when driver fatigue sets in, commercial drivers are not so lucky. Which is why the federal government is working to create new regulations that work towards preventing driver fatigue for commercial truck drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced new rules limiting the amount of daily and weekly hours truck drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel.

According to the 2011 HOS RIA -Main Document.pdf, truck drivers may be on the road for up to 11 hours per day. In addition, after every eight hours shift, truck drivers are required to take a minimum 30 minute break before they are able to get back on the road. And while the 11 hour daily limit may seem high, the FMCSA did reduce the maximum hours a truck driver can be on the road for the whole week by 12 hours from prior rules, setting the new weekly limit at 70 hours.

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An Indiana jury found entered a $4.25 million verdict against a truck driver and his employer for the wrongful death of 28 year-old Hawa Sissoko in Estate of Hawa Sissoko, deceased v. Roadway Express, Inc., YRC Worldwide, Inc., et al., 09 L 2542.

Sissoko’s vehicle was stopped on an Indiana tollway; Sissoko’s 2007 Dodge Intrepid was not pulled to the side of the road, but was in fact sitting in the right lane of traffic. According to eyewitness reports, Sissoko was standing behind her car when she was struck by a semi truck driven by Alfred Baggiani. Sissoko was pinned between the truck and her car, which then caught on firing; Sissoko died immediately as a result of the highway accident.

Sissoko was survived by her parents and eight siblings, all of whom lived in Mali, West Africa. And while Sissoko’s parents had not seen her since 2000, they maintained regular contact by telephone. A lawsuit was brought by Sissoko’s surviving family members against Baggiani according to the Illinois Wrongful Death Act. Sissoko’s estate also brought a claim against Roadway Express, Inc., the trucking company Baggiani worked for, and its parent company, YRC Worldwide, Inc. The wrongful death claims sought damages for the loss of Sissoko’s society that her family had allegedly suffered as a result of the defendants’ negligence.

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Driver fatigue is a leading cause of roadway accidents which could have been easily avoided if the driver had only gotten enough sleep. For this reason, all commercially licensed truck and bus drivers are required to log both their driving hours and their breaks. If a driver adheres to these logbook requirements they should be able to avoid driver fatigue. However, if a truck or bus driver fails to follow these requirements it could lead to potentially fatal accidents.

Take for instance a 2005 highway crash that occurred in New York. A young bus driver had falsified his log book and was reportedly driving erratically. The bus driver ended up slamming into a truck that was parked on the side of the highway. Nineteen passengers were injured in the bus crash; three passengers and the truck driver were killed.

The Canadian bus had been chartered by a women’s youth hockey team, the Windsor Wildcats, and was on its way to a ski resort at the time of the highway accident. The bus was driven by a 24 year-old bus driver who had only been working for Coach Canada for two months. According to eyewitness reports, he was driving erratically before the accident occurred and swerved directly into the parked tracker-trailer to cause the highway crash.

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