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State trooper files $1 million Cook County claim against trucker

Responsibility for a traffic accident can seem straightforward, but most Chicago crashes are not as clear-cut as they seem. Complications are magnified when an auto accident involves multiple drivers, victims and vehicles, especially commercial trucks.

A car accident claim may state a tractor-trailer caused a collision, but who is the true defendant in a civil lawsuit? The driver of the truck may not be the vehicle owner. The employer, a leasing company, the cargo's owner or even the big rig manufacturer could be at fault – in some cases, they're all charged in the same complaint.

A personal injury lawsuit recently filed in a Cook County court named a truck driver and his employer. The defendants are charged with negligence for an accident that took the life of an Illinois Tollway employee and severely injured a police officer in January. The plaintiffs are the state trooper and his wife.

The surviving victim has undergone multiple surgeries since the crash late last month on Interstate 88. The trooper remains hospitalized in intensive care with serious burns, several fractures and lacerations. Doctors have kept the father of two heavily sedated.

Criminal charges were brought against the truck driver, who authorities said fell asleep before crashing into a group of vehicles, including the trooper's patrol car. The police officer and the Tollway employee were helping a disabled semi-truck driver at the time of the crash. Emergency lights were activated on the service vehicles.

Officials learned the trucker had been driving for over 36 hours before the accident, which the $1 million civil claim blames on both defendants. The complaint said DND International Inc. neglected to follow safety rules and monitor the trucker's actions.

Vehicle operators may not be the only ones liable for a motor vehicle crash. It often requires an attorney's help to identify defendants and collect supporting evidence for a personal injury claim.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Lawsuit filed by trooper hurt in crash that killed worker" Meredith Rodriguez, Feb. 11, 2014

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