While trucks are essential for transporting goods across the country, these massive vehicles can cause devastating injuries in an accident. When negligence plays a role in a collision, the person who was wrongfully injured can seek financial compensation. If this has happened to you, it’s important to have a St. Louis truck accident lawyer from Thomas Law Offices on your side. We have experience in advocating for our clients and getting them the justice they deserve. We’re ready to do the same for you.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Severe?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Missouri’s truck accident statistics show that in 2018, there were 129 fatalities in crashes that involved a large truck. 14 of those fatalities occurred in St. Louis City.
A collision with an 18-wheeler or big rig has the potential to cause severe injuries because they are significantly larger and heavier than other vehicles. Unfortunately, this typically means the driver and any occupants in the car the truck collides with can sustain life-threatening injuries.
The injuries may be catastrophic—they can cause permanent damage and disability that will affect the victim for the rest of their life. Some of those injuries can be:
- Traumatic Brain Injuries. The impact of a semitruck collision can cause significant trauma to the brain. If it begins to bleed, swell, or someone sustained a heavy blow to their skull, they could potentially have permanent complications. This can affect communication, memory, and other brain functions.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. A spinal cord injury can cause partial or complete paralysis below the injury site. Partial paralysis refers to some function and feeling and complete means a loss of all function and feeling. This could result in someone needing a wheelchair or other medical equipment for the rest of their life.
- Internal Organ Damage. If there is internal organ damage, internal bleeding could result. If an organ is destroyed, immediate surgery may be necessary.
- Amputation. A limb could be lost in the accident itself or there could be so much nerve damage that the limb needs to be removed.
- Disfigurement. Burning and scarring can cause permanent disfigurement.
These types injuries can take a long time to heal—and they likely will not heal completely. The effects of catastrophic injuries take a major toll on someone’s life. A catastrophic injury can prevent someone from returning to their job or stop them from being able to work at all. When they’re supposed to be focusing on recovery, they may worry about getting the care they need and how they’re going to support themselves.
When you have medical bills and aren’t able to work because of an accident that wasn’t your fault, that’s where our lawyers step in. We’ll review the medical costs of the accident and see the treatment you’ll need to afford. We’ll also calculate the work you’ve missed in addition to how the injury has affected your ability to work. If you can still work but have to take a job with less responsibility and lower pay, we’ll take the diminished earning capacity into account. If you cannot work at all, loss of earnings may apply to your case.
In addition to the monetary costs of a severe truck collision, there are emotional consequences as well. The trauma of a semitrailer accident, whether it’s from the accident, the resulting injuries, or both, can take a major toll on a person’s mental wellbeing. They may also need professional help to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, or other issues that arose because of the accident.
If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you deserve to have access to the care you need. A St. Louis truck accident lawyer from Thomas Offices will fight for you to get the compensation you need so you can recover from this accident. We’ll also fight for your compensation to help you move forward, like including future medical expenses.
When we investigate your case, we’ll need to look into how the accident occurred. Let’s take a look at how a semitruck collision can happen.
How Does Negligence Cause Truck Accidents?
As the injured party, you may believe the person responsible for your injuries was the truck driver. However, there are some other parties whose negligence could have caused your accident. Determining liability can be a complicated task, but our lawyers have experience in assessing accident scenes and finding out who was responsible for what happened.
The trucking company may be liable if they put an unsafe vehicle on the road. This could be from neglecting to maintain the truck or from improper loading techniques. If the trailer is overweight or loaded improperly, the truck is at risk of rolling over or jackknifing, where the trailer swings forward and make an L shape. Once the vehicle is in one of these situations, there’s little the truck driver can do to prevent it.
There’s also a chance the truck had a defective auto part. If there was a mechanical issue, the brakes failed, or a tire blew out, the company that made the auto part may be at fault for issuing a defective device.
If the truck driver acted negligently, your St. Louis truck accident attorney will find out how. The truck driver may have been:
- Distracted Driving. If the truck driver was looking at their phone for directions, answering texts, or making a phone call, their eyes were likely off the road and a hand may have been off the wheel. This greatly reduces their control of a large vehicle. They may also have been trying to eat while driving if they’ve been on the road for a while. When a driver is distracted, they could be involved in an accident without looking back up at the road or they could look up at the last second and not have enough time to react.
- Driving While Intoxicated. If the truck driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they’re not going to be able to react to situations on the road, track moving objects, and may also swerve out of their lane. While most truck drivers are responsible and wouldn’t get behind the wheel while they’re intoxicated, they also need to be wary of over the counter medicine that can cause drowsiness and affect their ability to drive safely.
- Inexperienced. An inexperience driver may not be used to maneuvering a large truck. Big rigs take longer to get up to speed, slow down, and drivers need to leave plenty of room to safely turn and make lane changes.
- Fatigued. When drivers have been on the road for a long time, they may try to push through exhaustion with caffeine or loud music. However, their fatigue can still impair their ability to make decisions and remain alert. A fatigued driver can have slower reaction times or may fall asleep at the wheel.
- Driving Too Fast for Conditions. If the roads are icy, wet, or there is poor visibility, a truck driver needs to adjust for the road conditions they have. Going the normal speed limit on a slippery road can increase their chances of an accident.
- Speeding. A truck driver may make the negligent decision to exceed the speed limit. They have less control of the vehicle and less time to react to traffic. If a truck needs to slow down quickly and can’t, they could cause an override collision and driver over the back of the vehicle in front of them. The opposite of this is when a car goes under the truck either from the side or in the back of the truck. In these situations, the car is stuck, and vehicle occupants are at risk of severe injuries.
Reviewing evidence from the scene and from the police report will help us determine how the accident occurred and who was responsible. We’ll also see if they were breaking any regulations that led to the accident.
There are many regulations in place to keep truck drivers and others on the road safe. A truck driver’s hours of operation are regulated to make sure they’re getting enough rest. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has the following rules for truck drivers:
- 11 Hour Driving Limit. This is following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
- 14 Hour Driving Limit. Truck drivers cannot go past 14 hours of driving after 10 hours off duty. The time spent off duty doesn’t make the 14-hour window longer.
- Rest Breaks. A truck driver can drive if 8 hours or less have passed since the end of their last off duty or half hour sleeper berth period. However, this doesn’t apply to drivers using short-haul exceptions.
- 60/70 Hour Driving Limit. Over a period of 7/8 days, a truck driver cannot exceed 60/70 hours on duty. They can restart the 7/8 period after being off duty for 34 or more consecutive hours.
- Sleeper Berth Provision. If the driver uses the sleeper berth provision, they need to take a break of at least 8 consecutive hours, in addition to 2 other consecutive hours either in the berth, off duty, or both.
There are also weight limits that the truck will have to follow for certain roads. For example, the weight limit for a single axle on the interstate system is 20,000 lbs. and 22,000 lbs. on other highways. A tandem axle has a weight limit of 34,000 lbs. for the interstate and 36,000 lbs. for other highways. There are ways to calculate the weight limit depending on the truck’s axles and the distance between them, but the gross maximum weight for highways other than the interstate is 80,000 lbs.
If the truck didn’t exceed the weight limits and the accident happened because of another form of negligence, that weight limit can still result in terrible injuries. Our lawyers are here for you.
Tips to Safely Share the Road with Trucks
If you are driving and see a large truck on the road, there are some safety precautions you can take to reduce the chances of an accident occurring.
- Avoid Blind Spots. Trucks have much bigger blind spots than the average car. Allow plenty of space in front of and behind a truck and don’t drive in a truck’s blind spot in the lane next to them. If you’re able to see the driver in their mirror, they can likely see you. However, don’t assume the truck driver knows you’re there.
- Give Trucks Room. When a truck is turning or changing lanes, they need more room to safely make these changes. It’s important to give trucks plenty of space to maneuver.
- Pass with Care. Use the passing lane to pass a truck and always use caution when doing so.
While your actions can help increase your safety around large trucks, the negligence of others can still cause an accident that harms you or a loved one. Having a St. Louis truck accident attorney as representation can help you get the recovery you deserve.
What You Can Expect When You Work With Thomas Law Offices
After a truck accident, it’s important to have skilled representation on your side. At Thomas Law Offices, we fiercely advocate for our clients to get full and fair compensation.
When we’re representing you, we’ll build a strong case that will identify the negligent party, show how they acted negligently, and then connect their negligence to the accident that caused your injuries and damages. Whether the party responsible for the truck collision was a trucking company, manufacturing company, or truck driver, our lawyers are ready to hold them accountable.
We’ll look out for your best interests so you can focus on your recovery. When you meet with our lawyers in a free consultation, we’ll go over what happened to you, how you were hurt, and how the injuries will continue to affect you in the future. A St. Louis car accident lawyer will go over your legal options so you can decide the best way to proceed. Call our offices today.