Finney Injury Law serves those in Columbia, Missouri who have suffered an injury as a result of a commercial truck accident. Semi-trucks—particularly when loaded and even more when loaded with hazardous cargo—are simply much more likely to cause death or catastrophic injuries than passenger vehicles. Because of this risk, truck drivers and the companies that hire them have a higher duty of care to other drivers on the road. Trucks must be properly maintained, properly loaded, and the truck driver must be trained and experienced. Finney Injury Law can handle all the legalities associated with your truck accident case, allowing you to recover physically and emotionally.
There are many different factors in truck accidents. Like any driver, truck drivers can be distracted by their phone, changing the GPS, talking to a passenger, eating a meal while driving, or any number of other things. These distractions can cause an accident in an instant. Truck drivers may also be driving while impaired or driving while they are overly fatigued. Even though there are regulations in place, drivers are still allowed to drive eleven hours at a stretch. If they did not get plenty of sleep prior to starting an 11-hour shift, the fatigue can be just as dangerous as if the driver were impaired.
Trucking companies may not have ensured the driver was properly trained before sending him or her out on the road or may have neglected to complete a thorough background check on the driver. In some cases, improperly loaded cargo can shift, causing an accident, or faulty brakes or tires can be the cause of the accident. Cargo may also exceed the weight limits, causing the truck to be overly top-heavy while shifting cargo can cause a rollover accident. When you have been involved in a Columbia truck accident you have a right to fair compensation when another party’s negligence caused the accident. Your Columbia truck accident attorney from Finney Injury Law can discuss your legal options with you, helping you determine your best course of action.
Columbia, MO Truck Accident Facts
According to modot.org, there were 5 Columbia truck accidents between 2016 and 2018 that resulted in fatalities, and 19 Columbia truck accidents that resulted in serious injury. Across the United States, 74 percent of all fatal passenger vehicle cases include a large truck. Most truck accidents occur during the day, between noon and 3 p.m. If you have been involved in a truck accident in the city of Columbia, MO, it is important to speak to a highly experienced Columbia truck accident attorney as quickly as possible.
How Are Commercial Trucks Defined?
Commercial vehicles weigh more than 10,000 pounds, either carry eight passengers for compensation or 16 or more for no compensation or are carrying hazardous materials. There are different types of commercial vehicles, including:
- Flatbed trucks
- Box trucks
- Garbage trucks
- Tow trucks
- Mass transit buses
- Government vehicles
- Tour buses
- Recreational RVs
Who’s Responsible for Your Truck Accident?
Truck accidents are very complex because there can be more than one liable party. The truck driver may be liable if he or she was overly fatigued, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, distracted, or driving recklessly. The trucking company can be held liable if they failed to properly train the driver or did not conduct a thorough background check. If the truck accident was caused by improperly loaded cargo, then the loading company could be held liable.
If your truck accident was the result of tire or brake malfunction, then the maintenance company may be responsible for the accident. A truck part may have been defective, leading to an accident. At Finney Injury Law, we know how to identify all those responsible for your truck accident and hold them responsible for your damages. We are also experienced in product liability claims, so we know how to handle a claim involving defective truck parts—such as a defective rear underride guard.
Types of Semi-Truck Accidents
- Rear-end collision truck accidents can occur because of the much longer braking time and the weight of the truck and loaded trailer. Not only can a truck rear-end and crush a smaller vehicle in front of it, that vehicle can be forced into another car (and another and another), causing a massive chain reaction, and leading to significant injuries and property damage. Excessive speed can cause a rear-end collision, as can impaired, distracted, or drowsy driving.
- Blindspot truck accidents occur when the truck driver cannot see a vehicle directly in front, directly behind, or in certain spots on either side of the truck. The truck driver may change lanes or merge into traffic, driving into the smaller vehicle. A truck that merges left colliding with other cars can send those vehicles into an oncoming lane of traffic, causing a head-on accident. Blindspot truck accidents are more likely when the truck is lacking appropriate mirrors, or the driver lacks sufficient training and experience.
- Jackknife accidents occur when the front of the vehicle and the trailer stop moving in unison and the trailer begins going in a different direction. The jackknife accident may have been caused by a driver who slammed on the truck brakes, causing them to lock up, or from slippery roadways caused by rain, snow, or ice. Excess speed can also cause a jackknife accident, as can a too-quick turn by the truck driver. An empty trailer is more likely to jackknife than a loaded trailer, since heavier trailers create more road friction.
- Head-on collisions are dangerous regardless of what vehicles are involved but are likely to be deadly when a large truck strikes a smaller vehicle head-on. Head-one collisions happen quickly, typically not allowing the oncoming vehicle time to maneuver out of the way of the truck. Head-on collisions may be caused by an impaired or distracted truck driver, a drowsy or overly fatigued truck driver, a tire blowout, or a skid on a slick surface.
- Underride accidents are especially devastating as the much smaller vehicle slides underneath the truck trailer, either from the rear or the side. As the car slides underneath, the top of the vehicle is sheared away. A side underride collision occurs when a truck driver is crossing or turning onto a street and an oncoming vehicle slams into the side of the truck. A rear underride collision occurs when a car comes up onto a truck that is traveling slower than the driver realized and the passenger vehicle driver is unable to come to a stop. Rear underride collisions often occur at night when visibility is poor.
- Rollover accidents occur when the truck turns over or rolls over multiple times. Truck rollover accidents often occur on freeways, ramps, and other high-speed roads. Abrupt counter-steering, swerving or turning at too high a speed, improperly loaded cargo, under-inflated tires, and poorly maintained brakes are all causes of rollover accidents.
- Lost load accidents result when cargo is not properly secured. Unsecured cargo can loosen and spill onto the roadway, or even if it does not spill off the truck, it can hinder the driver’s ability to maintain control of the truck. Truck drivers must comply with all trucking safety regulations, weigh trucks prior to transport, ensure loads do not exceed gross vehicle weight, and perform routine maintenance and inspections to ensure all mechanisms used to secure cargo are in good working order.
- T-bone accidents are also known as side-impact accidents. Those in a smaller passenger vehicle who are t-boned by a semi-truck have very little protection and are therefore likely to be seriously injured. The truck driver may have poorly maintained brakes or tires or may have failed to account for poor weather or slippery roads. Excessive speed and improper turns can also lead to T-bone accidents.
- Wide-turn accidents—are relatively common, since the sheer size of a semi-truck dictates extremely wide turns. In order to make a 90-degree right turn, a semi-truck must start from the second lane to the left, rather than staying in the right turn lane. “Squeeze play” accidents occur when a truck attempts to make a wide right turn, leaving too much space between the right curb and the truck, enabling a vehicle to drive between the truck and the curb. When the truck then makes the right-hand turn, it pushes the smaller vehicle into the curb—or under the trailer of the truck.
What Are the Common Damages That Can Be Collected Following a Columbia Truck Accident?
Your exact damages will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident. You may be entitled to general damages as well as special damages. Special damages are those that are easy to quantify—that is, there are specific amounts assigned to them and are not the least bit subjective. As an example, medical expenses fall under special damages. Medical expenses can be for previous expenses related to the injury and current injury expenses.
If your injuries are expected to require medical treatment for months or years in the future, then your Columbia truck accident attorney will determine an estimated amount you are entitled to receive for future medical treatments in a life care plan. Medical expenses can include surgical expenses, hospital expenses, transportation in an ambulance, ER treatment, physician and specialist treatment expenses, prescription drug costs, or expenses related to rehabilitative therapies.
General damages are not easy to quantify. They are subjective by their very nature, like pain and suffering. This includes physical pain as well as emotional pain and trauma. Since you can rarely prove just how much physical and emotional pain you are suffering as a result of the truck accident, then you must be able to show how the pain has changed your normal day-to-day activities and relationships.
What Are the Rules and Regulations Associated with Commercial Truck Accidents?
Both the Federal Motor Carrier Services Association (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have rules and regulations for commercial truck drivers. These rules include:
- The truck driver may only drive 11 hours at a stretch, with a 30-minute break at eight hours.
- Semi-truck drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days.
- A driver is allowed to restart his or her 7/8 consecutive day period once 34 or more consecutive hours have been taken off.
Drivers may exceed the 11-hour maximum by up to 2 hours when adverse driving conditions are encountered. Short-haul drivers—those who operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location—are exempt from the above requirements as long as the driver does not exceed a maximum driving time of 14 hours.
Truck drivers in the United States must have a state-issued driver’s license and a CDL license and must meet all health requirements such as 20/40 vision (or proper lens to correct to 20/40), good hearing, and general good health. Drivers must also have sufficient command of the English language to allow them to fill out reports and documents, read road signs, and communicate with others. Those with a drug or alcohol-related felony or a motor vehicle felony cannot obtain a CDL license.
What Are Some Causes of Truck Accidents?
- Severe weather, in the form or rain, snow, or ice can cause extremely slick surfaces that can cause a large truck to skid, particularly when the brakes are suddenly applied.
- Poor road conditions can include uncovered water drains, downed utility poles, or large potholes that come up unexpectedly and can cause the driver to suddenly swerve, or suddenly apply the brakes.
- Road construction can be hazardous for all vehicles, particularly large commercial trucks. When lanes are significantly narrowed, and there are cement barriers used, a large commercial truck can have difficulty maneuvering through the construction zone.
- Inadequate or improper training of truck drivers—Although CDL driver training is usually 20 days or longer, some truck driving schools graduate students in as little as 15 days prior to sending them out on the roadways. This results in inadequately trained truck drivers.
- Driver unfamiliarity or inexperience—While all truck drivers will be inexperienced in the beginning, if they are properly trained and have spent the requisite hours on the roadways, they are less likely to encounter issues related to their experience. Road familiarity grows with time for all truck drivers; when a driver is unfamiliar with a road and inexperienced, an accident can occur.
- Overloaded cargo—Overweight trucks automatically speed up when going downhill, making it difficult for the truck driver to slow the truck, and hard on the brakes. Overweight cargo has a tendency to shift to the rear, making steering safely more challenging as well.
- Mechanical malfunction due to poor maintenance—While the number of trucking accidents caused by mechanical malfunction is difficult to quantify by some estimates, as many as 10 percent of all truck accidents are the result of truck mechanical failures or malfunction.
- Negligent driving on the part of the truck driver can result in serious accidents. When a truck driver fails to obey the rules of the road, smaller vehicles can pay a price. Truck drivers may tailgate smaller vehicles, finding themselves unable to come to a stop in an emergency situation, improper lane changes, excessive speed, tailgating, aggressive driving, distracted driving behaviors or impaired driving can all lead to truck accidents.
What Are the Most Common Injuries Associated with Truck Accidents?
Injuries associated with truck accidents are likely to be severe, even catastrophic. Many of those involved in a truck accident are never able to return to work and will spend the rest of their lives dealing with a traumatic brain injury or spinal cord injury. These injuries can cost more than a million dollars over the course of time, so obtaining a fair settlement that fully covers medical expenses and pain and suffering is essential. Other typical injuries associated with truck accidents include burns, broken bones, amputated limbs, internal injuries, facial lacerations and resulting disfigurement, and neck and back injuries.
What Should You Do Following Your Columbia Truck Accident?
Many of those involved in a truck accident have suffered such severe injuries that they are unable to do anything following the accident other than being transported to a hospital for medical attention. If you are physically able following your Columbia truck accident, call 911, and make sure you get a copy of the police report later on. Take photographs of the scene of the accident and if there were any witnesses to the accident, ask for their contact information.
Once you are home, write down every single detail you can remember about your truck accident. Even the smallest detail could end up being extremely important. Contact your own insurance company and let them know about the accident. Most importantly, contact an experienced Columbia truck accident attorney as quickly as possible so your rights and your future are properly protected. It is important that you do not give a statement to the opposing insurance company until you have spoken with an experienced attorney.
Are There Deadlines for Filing a Columbia Truck Accident Claim?
The statutes of limitations govern the amount of time you have in which to file a claim for damages, following a personal injury. Each state sets its own statutes and in the state of Missouri, the statute of limitations for a truck accident or other personal injury is five years from the time of the accident, while the statute for a wrongful death claim is three years. There are certain exceptions to these statutes, so be sure and ask your Columbia truck accident attorney how long you have to file your claim. In any case, you will likely want to file as quickly as possible after your accident so you can collect a settlement for your damages.
Why Should You Hire a Columbia Truck Accident Attorney from Finney Injury Law?
Finney Injury Law has been helping people just like you for many years. We understand how traumatic a truck accident can be, as well as the serious nature of the injuries you receive in the accident. We also know how difficult it can be to deal with an insurance company that has no interest in ensuring you are paid a fair settlement for your injuries when you are struggling to get by every single day. We are trial lawyers, not afraid to go to trial and fight for your rights. Let us help you fight the insurance companies and recover what has been taken from you.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may find yourself unable to work, unable to perform your normal day-to-day tasks—in short, unable to return to the life you had prior to the truck accident. This is extremely daunting for most people. We simply do not expect our lives to change so dramatically in a few seconds, particularly when the accident is the result of negligence on the part of the truck driver, the trucking company, the maintenance company, the loading company, or a truck part manufacturer.
We can empathize with the situation you now find yourself in, but even more importantly, we know the law and know how to get you the settlement you need and deserve. We want you to have the time you need to heal and get back on your feet while we handle all the legal aspects of your claim. When you have a trusted Columbia truck accident attorney from Finney Injury Law in your corner who will advocate on your behalf, it can truly make a significant difference in the outcome of your truck accident case.
At Finney Injury Law we:
- Always offer a free consultation and you pay nothing to hire an accident attorney
- Have more than 100 positive reviews from satisfied clients
- Are deeply involved with our community
- Have both English and Spanish speaking staff
- Can come to you if you are too injured to travel
- Are an award-winning trial law firm
- Are available 24/7 for your convenience
Who can I sue when I’ve been in a truck accident?
Your attorney will determine who the liable party or parties are, then negotiate a settlement or file a lawsuit. If the driver that hit you was overly fatigued from exceeding his or her hours, then your attorney may sue both the driver and the trucking company who allowed the driver to exceed the rules and regulations concerning driving time. If your accident was the result of defective brakes, then your attorney will file a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the brakes. The loading company and maintenance company may also share liability. Your Columbia truck accident attorney from Finney Injury Law can accurately assess liability, ensuring you receive a fair settlement for your injuries.
How are truck accident claims won?
Truck accident claims are usually multi-layered processes involving gathering evidence to prove negligence, investigating your accident to determine the cause, identifying a liable party for your accident or injuries, filing an injury demand letter when working towards a settlement with the defendant, and negotiating with the liable party’s insurance to reach a settlement offer. The claims process and litigation can take a while, so the sooner you contact a Columbia truck accident attorney, the better for your future.
What Are the Benefits of Choosing a Truck Accident Attorney from Finney Injury Law?
When you have been involved in a truck accident, it is essential that you have a strong legal representative working for you from beginning to the time you receive a fair settlement offer. The Columbia truck accident attorneys from Finney Injury Law serve those injured in both Missouri and Illinois and will handle all the legal aspects of your truck accident claim—while ensuring you receive the medical treatments you need. This allows you to heal from your injuries and get your life back on track. Being involved in a truck accident caused by negligence can cause major changes in your life. At Finney Injury Law we want to minimize those changes. Contact Finney Injury Law today for a free consultation. We are here for you when you need it most.