Committed to Helping Accident Victims Nationwide Fight for Total and Fair Compensation.
When it comes to truck accidents, an attorney needs special legal know-how and dedication to successfully handle these claims. Accidents involving trucks often leave victims with substantial medical bills and life-altering injuries or death. Taking on a large trucking company can be intimidating, especially when you’re already experiencing financial stress. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation for associated damages, whether for pain and suffering, past and present medical bills, past and future lost wages, property damage, or wrongful death.
At the Simon Law Firm, P.C., we know what it takes to help your clients win, and we have the results history to prove it. Our St. Louis trucking accident attorneys have helped victims locally and nationwide receive millions in compensation by taking on the large trucking companies and holding them liable for accidents they’ve caused.
When you work with us, you can benefit from the following:
- A methodical review of driver logs and company records
- Knowledge of the wide variety of truck accident causes
- Expert knowledge of both federal and state regulations
- Investigation into hidden causes of truck crashes
- Our work with expert investigators and accident reconstructionists
Trucking Accident Lawsuit Results and Resources
$10 Million Recovered in Walsh v. Mid-South Transport, Inc.
In January 2001, an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer drifted out of its lane and hit a van head-on. The crash killed two grandparents who had been on their way to a doctor’s appointment. The family of the deceased hired our firm to help fight for justice. We thoroughly investigated and uncovered that the trucker had 230 violations of federal regulations during his 10-month stint working for the trucking company. At one of our firm’s depositions, the employer admitted that the information they had would have justified firing the driver six months before the accident occurred. With the help of our truck accident attorneys, the case ended up settling for $10 million.
What to Know About Trucking Accidents
Despite occurring on the road with other vehicles, truck accidents are quite different than a typical car crash. Put simply, trucks are just more dangerous. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh over 80,000 pounds. By contrast, typical passenger vehicles weigh around 4,000 pounds. A collision between the two will automatically be more damaging to the passenger vehicle and result in more serious harm.
Additionally, trucking companies will often have higher insurance limits than private drivers, increasing the amount of potentially collected compensation. Some companies may also hold multiple insurance policies, and if you don’t know what to look for, you may be missing some compensation you are entitled to. A good truck accident attorney will seek out all of the company’s available insurance coverage to maximize compensation.
Overall, trucking accidents can quickly become a complicated event. Understanding the nuances of these types of cases and your rights as an accident victim can help you seek the compensation you deserve.
A commercial truck drives much differently than a passenger vehicle, and when it comes to accidents, has its own types of accidents that are unique to driving such a large vehicle. Here are some of the most common types of trucking accidents that may occur:
- Rollover:Due to a higher center of gravity than standard vehicles, trucks making tight turns or sudden swerves are susceptible to a rollover. A flipped trailer or a truck rolled on its side creates a dangerous hazard for everyone on the road, particularly if the load spills across several lanes. Rollover accidents can also occur due to reckless or negligent driving such as speeding, distracted driving, driving while tired, or driving under the influence. Sometimes, a rollover accident can happen even when the truck driver is acting responsibly and is out of their control. These may be due to a tire blowout or overloaded or improperly loaded cargo by a different crew.
- Rear-End Collisions:Because trucks are much larger and heavier than standard vehicles, they require a much longer stopping distance. When a truck driver is distracted, speeding, or tailgating, they put the vehicles ahead of them at high risk of being victims in a rear-end collision and, if they were driving at a high rate of speed, may end up being the cause of a very serious or fatal multi-vehicle accident.
- Head-On Collisions:Anytime a truck driver is reckless, negligent, or loses control of the vehicle, they may drift into oncoming traffic and cause a head-on collision. One of the biggest causes of head-on collisions is fatigued driving, although any number of causes – whether due to the truck driver or an unexpected issue – can result in the truck veering into the opposite lanes.
- Platooning: Platooning is a special vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology in autonomous trucks that utilizes radar, GPS, and Wi-Fi to link up electronically, or “platoon,” two or more large commercial trucks together. One lead vehicle controls the speed and direction and all following trucks respond to the lead vehicle’s movements. Long platoons of trucks can prevent other vehicles on the road from performing maneuvers safely, such as changing lanes or passing. It is also more likely to cause a multi-vehicle accident since the following trucks most likely won’t have time to stop due to close proximity.
- Jackknife Accidents: Large trucks often have articulated joints between the tractor and the attached trailer. If the driver makes an improper turn or braking maneuver, the resulting force may cause the trailer to swing widely around the pivot point, creating a jackknife shape. A jackknife accident most commonly occurs when braking too quickly or too hard, especially during poor weather conditions, and the tractor slows down faster than the trailer being towed. These accidents are incredibly dangerous as the skidding trailer can hit vehicles nearby and carry them forward as the trailer continues to skid.
- T-Bone Accidents: Also known as side-impact or broadside crashes, a T-bone accident occurs most frequently at intersections. If the truck is traveling through an intersection and runs the red light, stop sign, or disregards proper right-of-way, they can crash directly into the side of another vehicle traveling perpendicular to the truck. In other cases, a truck driver’s poor judgment can put them across one or more lanes of traffic, leading to other vehicles hitting the side of the cab or trailer.
- Sideswipe Accidents: These accidents generally occur when passenger vehicles and trucks travel side-by-side in the same direction. Most commonly, a sideswipe accident happens because the commercial truck driver fails to adequately check their blind spots before changing lanes or merging into traffic. Other times, they can be caused by the truck driver losing control due to a variety of factors. In any case, sideswipe accidents are dangerous as they may force the other vehicle into other lanes of traffic, causing a larger, multi-car incident.
- Wide Turn Accidents: For trucks, right-hand turns are much tighter than left, requiring them to be maneuvered with more caution. Drivers may try to first swing the cab wide to the left then circle through a right-hand turn in order to make enough space. However, this is dangerous for nearby vehicles as it could result in a collision with the trailer or being caught beneath the trailer as it moves. Drivers should follow recommendations to travel straight to the furthest lane before turning, which isn’t a failsafe, but is much safer.
- No-Contact Accidents:No-contact accidents occur when the actions of another vehicle force a driver to crash their vehicle. Despite not making any physical contact, those who cause the accident are still at fault. Truck drivers are commonly the cause of no-contact accidents because of their size. For example, if a truck changes lanes while a vehicle is in its blind spot, the passenger vehicle may be forced off the road or into another driver in an effort not to be smashed by the truck.
Understanding the common causes of truck accidents is crucial for all drivers as it could help to avoid these situations. Below are some of the primary causes contributing to truck accidents:
- Distracted Driving: From checking messages and emails to making phone calls, eating a meal, and more, distractions while behind the wheel can lead to catastrophic consequences. Truck drivers spend so much time on the road, they are often distracted with other tasks, putting others on the road at risk.
- Vehicles in a Truck’s Blind Spot: Trucks have several blind spots that make it difficult to see other drivers on the road. Drivers of trucks and passenger vehicles should be aware of where these blind spots are located to avoid an accident. Passenger vehicles should make an effort to stay visible to trucks, and truck drivers should be sure to stay very aware of these areas before changing lanes or performing other maneuvers.
- Drowsy Driving: Driving drowsy is dangerous in any case, but it’s even worse when there’s a large truck involved. Truck drivers may often put themselves in a situation to drive while fatigued in order to meet a delivery deadline, but being tired can lead to lowered reaction times, loss of control, and more.
- Brake Failure: Truck accidents can often be caused by brake failures, and there are several factors that could result in this happening. Sometimes, a brake failure may be due to a faulty part, putting part of the liability on the manufacturer. In other cases, it can be caused by a lack of maintenance or an overloaded trailer, putting the driver or trucking company at fault.
- Misloaded Cargo: A truck’s cargo needs to be loaded correctly for the best safety. However, for various reasons, cargo can be misloaded, throwing off the balance or pushing past the truck’s limitations, leading to a dangerous situation for everyone on the road. Misloaded cargo could mean the truck is overloaded past its weight limit, the weight is poorly distributed, or the cargo is improperly secured, all of which create dangerous situations.
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim after a trucking accident is five years. Some circumstances could extend this deadline, though, so if you’ve been injured in a truck accident, consult with an experienced attorney to understand your rights.
Trucking accident cases can often be complex when determining who was at fault. An experienced trucking accident attorney at Simon Law will be able to properly determine who was at fault in the accident through thorough investigation and discussions with various expert witnesses, such as forensic specialists and accident reconstructionists. These expert witnesses play a pivotal role in helping to clarify complex technical details, prove negligence, or quantify the damages to pursue fair compensation.
The fault percentage in truck accidents is typically determined through a legal process that involves investigating accident circumstances and considering various factors. Generally, the fault percentage is made by insurance adjusters, attorneys, or a judge or jury if the case goes to court. The calculated percentage may also be adjusted, and the final payment can be based on factors such as:
- The accident investigation
- Contributory negligence
- Apportioning liability
- Impact on damages
The actual process of determining the fault percentage can be quite complex and involve specific legal considerations, making it essential to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney.
Liability in a trucking accident is determined by establishing which party made actions that constitute negligence. If the truck driver was found to be negligent, the trucking company may also be liable for the driver’s conduct, even if the company itself was not negligent. Trucking companies could be held liable if they are found to not follow the strict state and federal laws governing:
- Hours of service
- Vehicle inspection
- Truck driver screening
- Driver training
- Weight limits
- Requiring no more than 11 hours per shift for drivers, and ensuring drivers take 30-minute, uninterrupted breaks every 8-hour driving period
- Proper insurance coverage
In addition to the driver and trucking company, other parties could be held liable, including:
- Cargo loaders
- Trucks and truck part manufacturers
- Maintenance companies
When it comes to determining liability, Missouri follows a “pure comparative fault” rule, meaning state courts can find every driver involved in an accident partially liable for the crash. The total amount of damages a plaintiff recovers can be docked based on their percentage of responsibility in the accident.
These partial liabilities aren’t always due to illegal actions. Some legal actions that may affect accident fault percentages include:
- Eating while driving
- Talking to a passenger while driving
- Driving drowsy
- Using a hands-free device while driving
Consult with an experienced Simon Law truck accident attorney to get a better idea of any comparative fault you may be responsible for.
Get the Help You Need from Our St. Louis Trucking Accident Lawyers
The Simon Law Firm, P.C. has the resources and expertise to handle your truck accident case without sacrificing the personalized counsel and support you deserve. Complete and submit the contact form below, call our office, or reach out directly to one of our personal injury attorneys today.