Wisner Baum attorneys recently successfully negotiated a $3.5 million truck accident settlement for the wrongful death of a young man who was killed in a crash involving a commercial truck that attorneys say was illegally parked on the shoulder of Interstate 70 in Illinois.
The allegations in the complaint stemmed from a 2021 truck accident in Illinois. The decedent was a passenger in a pickup truck that was traveling westbound on I-70 in the morning when the pickup truck collided with a commercial truck that attorneys say was negligently parked on the shoulder. Both the driver and the passenger in the pickup truck were killed in the crash.
According to the complaint, the trucking company and its driver failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances to protect the safety of other highway travelers. The lawsuit further alleges the trucking company and its driver:
- Illegally, negligently, and dangerously parked on the shoulder of I-70, where parking or standing was prohibited.
- Failed to properly train and supervise its agents, servants and employees, including but not limited to the truck driver.
Had it not been for these and other negligent acts, the decedent would not have suffered severe personal injuries that resulted in death, per the complaint. Earlier this year, the defendants in the lawsuit agreed to settle the allegations for our client for a total of $3.5 million to prevent the case from proceeding into litigation.
“A big rig parked on the shoulder of the road is inherently dangerous,” says attorney Matthew French, who helped negotiate the truck accident settlement. “These types of crashes involving trucks illegally parked on the side of the road are tragically far more common than people realize.” According to the most recent data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 300 people died in crashes involving parked commercial trucks. “The crash that brought about this case and hundreds of others like it make clear that this is a significant safety issue that needs be addressed.”
The Dangers of Illegally Parked Commercial Trucks
Between 2018 and 2020, 762 people were killed in accidents involving “parked or working trucks,” according to NHTSA data.
Fatal Crashes Involving Parked or Working Large Trucks
Parked or Working Large Trucks Involved in Fatal Crashes
Fatalities in Crashes Involving Parked or Working Large Trucks
Safety experts say that a national truck parking shortage is one of the reasons why these accidents continue to happen so frequently. Under most circumstances, it is illegal for truckers to park along the shoulder of the highway unless there is an emergency. However, many truck drivers still do this for a variety of reasons.
For example, a truck drivers may pull over and park on the shoulder of the highway because they have reached their maximum allowable driving time under the federal Hours of Service (HOS) requirements, and they cannot find a rest stop or another safe place to park. Others may simply pull off the highway to rest, or to stop and check their phones.
In these examples, the trucker’s intentions are correct; they are supposed to get off the road if they are in violation of HOS requirements or to avoid driving drowsy or while distraction from a mobile device. However, the law makes clear that trucks are only supposed to stop on the shoulder of the highway in an emergency. If this happens, truckers have a duty to turn on hazard lights and lay down triangles or flares to warn approaching drivers that a truck is parked on the side of the road.
Federal law requires the following warnings for trucks stopped in the side of the highway:
- Warning signal ten feet from the vehicle in the direction of oncoming traffic.
- Warning signal 100 feet from the vehicle in the center of the shoulder (or lane).
- Warning signal 100 to 500 feet from the vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic if the truck is stopped within 500 feet of a hill, curve in the road, or other obstruction.
Legislation to Address Truck Parking Shortage
While legislators have been trying for years to address the issue of truck parking, there is some optimism that change might be coming. This summer, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved an updated version of the bipartisan Truck Parking Safety Improvement Act, which would address the nationwide commercial vehicle parking issue.
If passed, the bill would give the transportation secretary the ability to issue grants for projects that provide truck parking, including $175 million for fiscal year 2023 and a combined $580 million over the next three fiscal years.
“Often, truck drivers have been unable to find safe places to park their vehicles and are forced to use sides of the roads and off-ramps,” said Representative Mike Bost (R-IL), the bill’s sponsor. “This leads to accidents when other motorists don’t expect the truck to be parked on the side of the road.”
The bill moved to the House for a vote, which has not yet been scheduled.
Wisner Baum Truck Accident Lawyers
The Wisner Baum law firm has a proven track record of success in truck accident cases nationwide. In addition to our successful resolution in this case, our truck accident attorneys have earned the following results (among many others):
- $20 million wrongful death verdict in truck accident lawsuit against Ride the Ducks International
- $15 million recovered for a pedestrian catastrophically injured in a semi-truck accident
- $8.5 million wrongful death verdict in truck accident lawsuit against Tyson Foods
Our success is not measured exclusively by results in the courtroom. Our attorneys are dedicated safety advocates committed to reducing the number of preventable truck crashes every year. Through litigation and advocacy, Wisner Baum goes the extra mile to shine a light on the negligence and wrongdoing in the trucking industry. We hope that our efforts will raise awareness and influence public policy to make the roads safer.