Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer Serving St. Louis, Missouri
Since a large commercial truck can weigh 30 times as much as a passenger vehicle, those in the passenger vehicle are much more likely to die following a truck accident than the driver of the truck. Semi-trucks require considerably more stopping distance than a passenger vehicle and more reaction time is necessary to avoid a crash. In fact, the weight and stopping distance of a semi-truck—as well as the potential blind spots a truck driver faces—are issues others on the roadways must always keep in mind.
Those involved in a truck accident are far more likely to have life-altering injuries—or to be killed—than those in an accident involving only passenger vehicles, due to the sheer size and weight of the commercial truck. Additionally, trucks often carry heavy loads, some of them toxic. This means hazardous materials could potentially leak dangerous chemicals, explode, or create a fire. Large commercial trucks can also jackknife on a crowded roadway or freeway, endangering the lives of all other roadway passengers. In some cases, a truck accident is due to improperly secured cargo that can slide off the truck or a truck driver can make an improper left turn or have a tire blowout. The laws which govern truck accidents are fairly complex and there can be multiple defendants, meaning victims of a truck accident need strong legal representation immediately.
St. Louis Truck Accident Facts
According to modot.org, between the years 2016 and 2018, there were 19 fatalities resulting from St. Louis truck accidents, and 36 truck crashes in St. Louis that caused serious injuries. Across the United States, there were 4,102 deaths attributed to truck accidents in 2017—a 52 percent increase since 2009. Mechanical defects—mostly related to brakes and tires—are the number one cause of truck accidents across the nation. If you have been involved in a St. Louis truck accident, it is imperative that you speak to a knowledgeable St. Louis truck accident attorney as quickly as possible.
Why Should You Choose a St. Louis Truck Accident Attorney from Finney Injury Law?
When you have suffered serious injury due to a truck accident, or a loved one has died following a St. Louis truck accident, you need a highly experienced St. Louis truck accident attorney from Finney Injury Law on your side. We have handled truck accident lawsuits for many years and are well-versed in dealing with multiple defendants—a common occurrence in a truck accident. We know how to target the right defendant or defendants, proving their liability beyond a doubt.
The aftermath of a St. Louis truck accident can alter your life for months, years, or even forever. You should have the time to heal from your injuries without also having to deal with the legal aspects of your truck accident. Finney Injury Law will help you receive the compensation you need and deserve following your truck accident.
When you choose Finney Injury Law, you will receive the following:
- Our law firm has more than 100 positive reviews from past clients
- Our process will be easy, starting with our free consultation
- 24/7 availability
- If you are too injured to travel, we will come to you
- We have both English and Spanish speaking staff
- Our lawyers and staff are deeply involved with our community
- We are an award-winning trial law firm
Do not try to handle your St. Louis truck accident on your own. Legal professionals with experience, knowledge, and skills can help you get back on your feet following your truck accident.
Who’s Responsible for Your Truck Accident?
Determining who the defendant will be in your truck accident case takes particular experience; perhaps the truck driver was negligent or distracted and is responsible, perhaps a part of the truck malfunctioned or was defective, or perhaps the trucking company who employed the driver is ultimately responsible for your injuries. The trucking company may have failed to perform a thorough background check on the truck driver or may have failed to ensure the driver was properly trained. The loading company could be at fault if the cargo was not properly secured, or the truck maintenance company could be at fault if the truck was not properly maintained. The truck driver might even have been impaired at the time of the accident or could have been driving carelessly.
Without knowledgeable representation, it can be difficult to determine who the responsible party is, and in trucking accidents, there is often more than one defendant. What is always true is that the consequences of a truck collision can be so devastating that medical treatments could take months or even years. Not only will the victim deal with the injuries from the trucking accident, but they may also be unable to return to their prior job—for a short period of time, or even forever, depending on the severity of the injuries. Brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, and amputations are common injuries from a trucking accident.
All of these, as well as the more minor injuries, can lead to multiple and ongoing medical procedures, therapy, rehabilitation, and reconstructive surgeries. Trucking accidents also cause severe emotional trauma in addition to the physical injuries and without solid legal representation, victims could end up paying out of their own pocket for medical expenses and may not be compensated for loss for present and future loss of income. In short, an accident involving a large semi-truck is almost always a life-changing experience that benefits greatly from the presence of a highly experienced legal professional.
What Are the Common Damages That Can Be Collected Following a St. Louis Truck Accident?
While your exact damages will vary according to the facts and circumstances surrounding your St. Louis truck accident, in general, you are entitled to receive the following damages for your truck accident:
- Medical expenses—This includes expenses associated with your ambulance ride to the hospital, your ER expenses, your regular physician expenses, prescription drug costs, surgical costs, costs for rehabilitative expenses, and mental health counseling.
- Pain and suffering—Pain and suffering damages are for actual physical pain, as well as for emotional pain and trauma, which can include depression, anxiety, and PTSD, general quality of life, among others.
- Punitive damages—Punitive damages are rarely awarded unless the defendant in your case acted maliciously or willfully. Punitive damages both punish the defendant and also deter others from committing the same act.
What Are the Rules and Regulations Associated with Commercial Truck Accidents?
DOT, Department of Transportation, regulations are a set of rules that help ensure the safety of truck drivers and others on the roadways. DOT primarily governs the number of hours a truck driver can be on duty during a specific time period. As an example, under DOT rules, drivers must take a 30-minute break on the 8th hour of being on duty and may not exceed 11 hours of driving time within a single workday. There are certain exceptions to this rule that will extend the time when it is required to complete a run safely. There is a limit of 60 work hours per week, however, these 60 hours can be reset with 34 consecutive hours off-duty every 168 hours. These are federal DOT guidelines, but each state DOT may have additional restrictions for truck drivers as well.
Additionally, under DOT rules and regulations, drivers who drive large commercial trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds must have a CDL license and must meet the health requirements. Drivers must have 20/40 vision or lenses that correct the vision to 20/40, and must pass a hearing test. Truck drivers must also have a command of the English language so they can read road signs, fill out documents and reports, and communicate with others. Those with a drug-related felony, an alcohol-related felony, or a motor vehicle felony offense may not be issued a CDL license.
How Can a St. Louis Truck Accident Attorney Help You with the Legal Process?
A truck accident can leave you with a damaged or destroyed vehicle, along with severe, even life-threatening injuries. Proving liability can be complex unless you have a truck accident attorney ensuring your interests are properly protected. The insurance company is not interested in anything other than their annual financial bottom line and is certainly not interested in your future. Once you file a truck accident claim for damages, the process becomes adversarial, pitting you against an insurance company that will go to serious lengths to avoid paying you what your claim is worth. The insurance company is unconcerned about your ongoing medical expenses—they simply want to pay you the minimum amount they can get away with.
Having an assertive, experienced truck accident attorney by your side who will aggressively defend your future is imperative. Your truck accident attorney will hold those responsible for your accident liable. If the driver was distracted, fatigued, impaired, or driving recklessly, or the trucking company put a poorly trained driver on the road or failed to complete a proper background check, then your attorney will ensure they are held liable for your injuries. Likewise, if the loading company sent the truck driver out with poorly loaded cargo, the maintenance company did not properly maintain the truck, or if a defective truck part was responsible for the accident, those parties will also be held responsible for your injuries.
Your St. Louis truck accident attorney will gather evidence relative to your accident, consult with experts when necessary, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. We want you to be able to focus on healing and on your future, not worrying about whether the insurance will pay you what your claim is worth. When necessary, your truck accident attorney will litigate your case, although most truck accident claim settlements are negotiated. Going through all physical evidence, your attorney will also review police reports, hire accident reconstruction experts and private investigators, request any video evidence, locate witnesses, and review electronic vehicle data while building your case. It is important to have an attorney who can handle the expenses and has the experience necessary to do this.
What Are the Most Common Injuries Associated with Truck Accidents?
Truck accident injuries are similar to car accident injuries, however, truck accident injuries are often much more severe due to the size difference between a semi-truck (particularly when fully loaded) and a passenger vehicle. Truck accident victims may experience head and brain injuries, back and neck injuries, broken bones, spinal cord injuries, cuts, scrapes, and bruises, burns, internal injuries, and wrongful death.
Head and brain injuries—particularly traumatic brain injuries—are commonly seen injuries following a large truck crash. Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, blunt head trauma, and lacerations to the face or scalp frequently occur during a truck accident. A traumatic brain injury is a physical injury to the brain. In some cases, tiny lesions to the brain may barely be perceptible in a regular CT scan or x-ray. Special brain imaging tests are used to detect injuries and changes in a person’s brain. Symptoms of TBI can include chronic, severe headaches, cognitive issues, emotional and mood problems, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty with normal, everyday tasks. The victim of a TBI can be unable to ever return to work or a normal life. The family of TBI victims can also be significantly affected.
Back and neck injuries can include damage to the soft tissues of the back and neck. The discs in the back—the rigid cartilage cushions with a gel-like substance inside—are the shock absorbers in the spinal column that allow us to have flexibility and ease of motion. When the discs are injured, they can leak the cushioning gel substance, bulge, or become fully herniated (collapse). Nerves in the back and neck can be pinched, leading to painful, debilitating symptoms. Broken bones are also common following a truck accident, requiring expensive surgery or surgeries to repair the damage. Rods, pins, and screws might have to be inserted into the body to hold the bones together, or amputation of a limb could occur.
While all lacerations can be serious, facial lacerations can cause permanent disfigurement and resulting emotional trauma. When a truck accident results in a fire or explosion, severe burns can result. Burns can be difficult to treat, requiring surgical procedures and leading to complications, such as infection. Spinal cord injury is one of the most severe injuries a person can suffer when the spinal cord is damaged or severed in some way. Total or partial paralysis can occur when the messages that normally are transmitted through the spinal column are unable to complete the process—all communication is cut off past the point of injury. A wrongful death claim occurs when the accident victim dies as a result of his or her injuries.
What Should You Do Following Your St. Louis Truck Accident?
Dialing 911 and receiving medical attention are, of course, the first two tasks that must immediately be taken care of. Since truck vs. car accidents typically result in extremely serious injuries, the victims may not be able to take care of these tasks, and others may be responsible. Even in rare cases, when a victim of a truck accident believes he or she is “fine,” it is still smart to have a medical professional take a look. Following an accident, the body is often so pumped full of adrenaline that the victim is unaware of injuries, which manifest hours or days later.
Hours, days, or even weeks later, the realization strikes that chronic pain or other symptoms are the direct results of the truck accident. Your claim could end up being denied can result in a claim being denied if no medical treatment was sought immediately following the truck accident, so it is never a good idea to skip this step. A police report is also a good piece of information to have should a claim be filed later.
If the victim is able, he or she should also obtain contact information from the truck driver as well as any bystanders who witnessed the accident. While this information could seem unnecessary at the time, it could prove invaluable later on. After receiving medical attention, making sure a police report is in the works, and obtaining witness statements, the victim of a truck accident should contact his or her insurance company and an experienced truck accident attorney. The victim should not talk with the opposing insurance company until they have spoken with a St. Louis attorney.
Are There Deadlines for Filing a Truck Accident Claim in Missouri?
In the state of Missouri, the statute of limitations—the time allowed for filing a personal injury claim—is 5 years, beginning on the date of the accident. If the claim is not filed within this five-year period, the court will refuse to hear the case. For a wrongful death claim resulting from a truck accident, the statute of limitations is three years. Following a truck accident, it is particularly important to file your claim as quickly as possible for a variety of reasons.
Commercial trucking companies, while required under the law to keep records of safety inspections and logbooks of driver’s hours, are only required to keep such records for 6 months, and after that time the records can be destroyed. This means that critical evidence in a truck accident case could be lost or destroyed if an experienced truck accident attorney is not consulted. Many trucks are now equipped with a “black box” which will show how the truck was being driven at the time of the accident as well as a complete history of the truck driver’s driving habits.
This could be of critical importance as the black box can tell the speed the truck driver was traveling, whether or not the brakes were applied, idle hours, fluid temperatures, and maximum rpm meaning the black box information could provide a good idea of the cause of the accident. Unfortunately, unless the black box is subpoenaed, this information might not be available, and could even be destroyed prior to a settlement negotiation or trial.
How do you select the best St. Louis truck accident attorney?
Choosing a truck accident lawyer requires knowing what to look for. Successful St. Louis truck accident attorneys possess certain qualities you should keep in mind when you are choosing your attorney. While experience and success rate are certainly important, there are other, equally important qualities you will look for. Your truck accident attorney must be willing to fight for a fair settlement on your behalf—he or she must be a highly skilled negotiator, as well as an aggressive litigator. While most truck accident claims are settled before they reach the trial stage, your attorney must always be willing and able to go to trial if necessary. While you want your St. Louis truck accident attorney to have a moderate caseload, you want to ensure he or she has the necessary time for your case, along with the energy and resources necessary. While your truck accident attorney does not need to be your best friend, you do want to ensure you are compatible and able to communicate well with one another. You might also look at reviews or law firm testimonials when choosing your truck accident attorney.
How is fault determined in a truck accident?
Fault can be a complex issue in truck accident litigation since there can be more than one party at fault. All liable parties must be properly identified, via a comprehensive investigation. Your truck accident may be investigated by local police, state agencies, and, in some cases, the National Transportation Safety Board. Common defendants in a truck accident claim include the truck driver, the trucking company that employs the driver, the loading company, the maintenance company, and the manufacturer that made a defective truck part.
What Are the Benefits of Choosing a Truck Accident Attorney from Finney Injury Law?
Contacting a truck accident attorney from Finney Injury Law who is accustomed to handling lawsuits with multiple defendants is the right course of action following a truck accident. Your St. Louis, Missouri truck accident attorney will know whether to target the person responsible for maintenance and repairs, the driver, the trucking company, the loading company, or even the manufacturer of the truck or truck part. If defective trucking parts are at least one part of the problem, then you need an attorney who is also skilled in product liability law—as the attorneys at Finney Injury Law are.
The aftermath of a trucking accident is not something anyone should attempt to handle on their own. This is a time when you should be looking to your future and dealing with the injuries, pain and emotional trauma which resulted from your trucking accident. Having a trusted legal representative from Finney Injury Law in your corner who will advocate tirelessly and aggressively on your behalf can make all the difference in the final outcome of your truck accident. Contact an attorney at Finney Injury Law today for a free consultation with an experienced St. Louis truck accident attorney. We are ready to help you right now.