If you or a loved one has been in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the St. Louis truck accident attorneys of OnderLaw, LLC today to schedule your FREE initial case review.
Truck accidents are different than regular passenger vehicle accidents for several reasons. Trucks are significantly larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, meaning any injury or vehicle damage is likely to be more severe. Additionally, because trucks are almost always commercially operated, they are held to a variety of state and federal regulations.
If any of those regulations are not followed, and this violation contributed to the accident, you could be entitled to more money than you initially realize.
Getting hit by a truck is one of the most terrifying things that can happen on the road. After an accident, you are likely feeling stressed and overwhelmed about your next steps, all while attempting to rest and recover.
A knowledgeable truck accident attorney, like those at OnderLaw, LLC, will support you throughout this process and fight tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at (314) 963-9000 for a free consultation about your car accident case.
Why Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
After a truck accident, you need to focus on healing and recovering, not fighting insurance companies and navigating the legal system. A skilled truck accident lawyer has specialized knowledge about trucking industry laws and will be able to determine if any were broken and led to your accident.
Furthermore, a highly-qualified truck accident attorney will know what kind of compensation you can expect to receive based on the unique circumstances of your accident. They will know when to accept a settlement from an insurance company and when to keep negotiating. If negotiations are unsuccessful, they will be able to take your case to court.
Insurance companies often try to pressure injured, overwhelmed truck accident victims into accepting settlements that are significantly lower than what they deserve. To be sure that you get the compensation you’re entitled to, you should consult a dedicated truck accident attorney before accepting any offer from an insurance company.
Why Choose OnderLaw, LLC for a Truck Accident Case?
At OnderLaw, LLC, we are a team of highly experienced, award-winning lawyers ready to fight for you. We strongly believe in developing personal relationships with every client and treating you like a person, not a number.
OnderLaw, LLC has won a total of over $3 billion for our clients, which include some of the largest car settlements ever won in several different Missouri counties.
In recognition of our hard work and success, OnderLaw, LLC consistently receives awards from some of the most prestigious legal organizations in the country. While other top personal injury law firms in the area often have one or two award-winning lawyers, OnderLaw, LLC is unique in that most of our lawyers have received multiple legal awards.
Our initial consultation is free, so you can decide if you would like to work with us without any financial pressure. Get in touch with us today at (314) 963-9000 to tell us about your car accident case.
Truck Accidents Versus Passenger Vehicle Accidents
The sheer size and weight of trucks means that truck accidents are almost always more serious than passenger vehicle accidents. Trucks are 20 to 30 times heavier than the average passenger vehicle, and they take longer to slow down while braking. These factors combine to increase the force of impact during a truck accident.
Because trucks are more dangerous than passenger vehicles, they are heavily regulated by state and federal governments to ensure that they can be operated safely. These regulations concern a variety of different parties, including the truck driver, trucking company, and truck manufacturer.
Rules prescribing how much weight a truck can haul, how trucking companies can hire drivers, and how often trucks need to be inspected are just a few of the areas that are regulated.
If you are in an accident with a truck and you are not at fault, it is very likely that the truck driver or trucking company has broken one or more regulations. There are very few genuine “accidents” on the road – one or more parties are almost always determined to be at fault.
For example, consider a truck driver who is driving safely until they hit a patch of invisible black ice, making them lose control and slide into your car. The insurance company representing the trucking company may try to argue that the accident was not the driver’s fault since the black ice was impossible to avoid.
However, upon further investigation, OnderLaw, LLC discovers that the truck was carrying 10,000 pounds more than was legally allowed. This reduced its braking ability and made it more challenging to slow down on the black ice.
The insurance company will count on you not knowing the detailed regulations regarding how much weight trucks can carry and will offer you a settlement far lower than you deserve. An experienced truck accident attorney knows what to look for and will investigate every aspect of a case to ensure we have a full picture of what occurred.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in St. Louis
There are thousands of trucking rules and regulations. Breaking any of them could be a factor in an accident. These are some of the most common truck accident causes:
- Driver error – These can include speeding, failing to signal, making an illegal U-turn, or leaving insufficient stopping distance. For example, the speed limit for trucks is usually 10 to 20 miles per hour lower than regular speed limits.
- Fatigue – Some trucking companies compensate truck drivers based on how many miles they cover. This can encourage truck drivers to skip mandatory rest breaks and work illegal overtime. A truck driver who has been on the road for 12 hours without a break is a very dangerous one.
- Unqualified/untrained drivers – Operating a truck requires highly specialized knowledge of truck mechanics. Truck drivers who lack this knowledge or were not sufficiently trained put everyone on the road at risk.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – While no one should ever operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription or over-the-counter medication, it is particularly important that truck drivers remain sober and alert while behind the wheel. This issue is so serious that the acceptable blood alcohol content (BAC) limits for commercial drivers are much lower at .04% BAC versus .08% for non-commercial drivers. If a truck driver chooses to drive under the influence and causes a crash, they could be held accountable for the harm they cause to others.
- Aggressive driving – Commercial truck drivers need to remain patient, calm, and alert behind the wheel. If a driver chooses to speed or tailgate, they could be a danger to others. If they become frustrated due to traffic conditions, strict delivery schedules, or the behavior of other drivers, they could drive more aggressively, and could cause a serious injury crash.
- Technical issues – Trucks must be maintained on strict schedules to ensure they function safely. If, for example, a trucking company fails to conduct a monthly brake test and the truck’s brakes suddenly fail, the company could be held liable for the accident.
- Speeding or driving too fast for road conditions – When a truck driver is up against a deadline, they might speed or drive too fast for the conditions of the road, creating a hazard for other drivers. Accidents caused by speeding truck drivers often result in serious injuries and fatalities.
- Driver with a history of dangerous or reckless driving – Any action behind the wheel that shows a lack of regard for the safety of others falls under the category of reckless driving. The injuries caused by reckless truck drivers are often severe or permanent. And truck drivers that are reckless typically have caused more than one accident during their driving career.
- Rollover accidents – Trucks such as 18-wheelers have a high center of gravity, which makes them prone to rolling over when a truck driver drives recklessly, such as taking a turn too fast or abruptly changing lanes, or when cargo is improperly loaded. Rollover truck accidents leave severe injuries in their wake, and can sometimes be fatal.
- Jackknife accidents – Jackknifing is when the cab and trailer of a truck fold together to create a 90° angle, causing it to sweep across lanes of traffic into other vehicles in its path. These accidents are extremely dangerous, usually involving several vehicles and causing multiple injuries.
- Oversized or overloaded vehicles – When a truck is loaded improperly, or a truck driver or trucking company ignores federal and state safety regulations, other drivers on the road pay the price. Accidents involving oversized or overloaded commercial vehicles are unfortunately all too common, and they often result in serious injuries or fatalities.
- Underride accidents – Underride accidents are one of the most dangerous types of vehicle accidents because the roof of the car is often ripped off, and the results are often fatal. When a victim does survive an underride accident, the resulting injuries are often severe and life-altering.
Common Types of Large Trucks
Because of the sheer size and weight of trucks, any accident involving one of these vehicles will likely be devastating. There are many different types of trucks, however, and each poses its own set of unique risks and difficulties in a crash and when seeking legal compensation.
- Dump/Garbage Trucks – An article in Trucking Watchdog reports that, in 2019, the number of garbage truck crashes increased dramatically. The same report also lists three major factors that contribute to the danger of garbage truck accidents: they often operate when it is still dark, they start and stop often, and some drivers will cut corners and stop in the center of the road to pick up the trash, rather than pulling over as they are meant to.
- Tractor-Trailers – The sheer size and high center of gravity of a tractor-trailer make it a dangerous adversary in a crash, but there are also blind spot and maneuverability issues that put it at high risk. It takes a long time for one of these vehicles to come to a complete stop, and because of their height from the road, passenger cars can easily slide underneath. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that around 68% of the deaths in tractor-trailer accidents are of people in regular passenger vehicles.
- Tanker Trucks – Tanker trucks cause some of the most devastating accidents because of the hazardous cargo they carry. Their tanks are often filled with flammable liquid. Combine that liquid with the heat or spark generated by a crash, and you have a potentially explosive situation. As well as fires, this liquid can also cause injuries such as chemical burns for anyone unlucky enough to collide with the tanker truck, and may also produce toxic fumes that can damage lungs.
- Flatbed Trucks – Flatbed trucks are used to transport very large, unusually-shaped, or heavy items. In a collision, these items can shift or be dislodged, adding to the damage and devastation of a crash. Loose cargo could fall off the truck bed and onto the following vehicle—or onto the highway, where it would present dangerous obstacles for traffic. Cargo that hasn’t been secured properly can also make an accident more likely, as the shifting weight can affect the truck’s braking or make the vehicle unstable, causing the driver to lose control.
- Tow Trucks – If the car being towed by a tow truck is not well-secured, it can come loose and strike another vehicle. If the car being towed is raised on a platform, it can slide off and hit a passenger vehicle, causing severe damage.
- Buses – Similarly to garbage and dump trucks, buses stop and start frequently. This increases the risk of accidents with other vehicles on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data analyzed by the National Safety Council (NSC), school bus crashes killed 117 people nationwide in 2018.
- Construction Vehicles – Construction vehicle accidents commonly occur in road construction areas, where such vehicles are parked or moving about on the edges of highways. They can be caused by the driver being distracted by the construction, by missing or badly positioned safety signs, or by errors on the part of the construction vehicle operators. The Federal Highway Administration reports that from 1982 to 2017, 27,037 motorists (about 773 per year) lost their lives in work zone crashes. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has very strict rules for work sites that must be followed. If you experience an accident involving a construction vehicle, you may be able to claim compensation from the construction company.
- Delivery Trucks – Demand for delivery vehicles is ever-increasing as the nation orders more products online. To meet these demands, delivery companies sometimes employ inexperienced drivers and fail to train them properly before putting them on the roads. In a delivery truck accident, the company that employed the driver will usually be liable for any negligence or fault on their part. Some companies outsource their deliveries, however, which can complicate the issue. Your legal team will be able to untangle this web to determine who exactly is to blame.
How Much Money is My Accident Case Worth?
The amount of money you will be able to recover depends on the unique circumstances of your truck accident. OnderLaw, LLC has an excellent track record of achieving some of the largest settlements in the history of many Missouri counties. We recently won a $6,000,000 settlement for a woman who was partially paralyzed after being struck by a tractor-trailer, which was the largest truck accident injury settlement ever awarded in Perry County, Missouri.
In general, there are two categories of damages that you may be entitled to: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those for which money is a direct replacement, such as your current and estimated future medical bills, vehicle damage, and any wages lost because of injuries you sustained in the accident. If your loved one has died as a result of the accident, you can also be entitled to funeral and burial costs.
You should have comprehensive medical documentation of your injuries, so it’s crucial that you go to the hospital as soon as you can following your accident. If you wait too long, the insurance company representing the trucker may try to argue that your injuries were caused by something other than the accident.
Be sure to keep track of any medical documents with information about diagnoses and billing. Additionally, keep records of the cost of any repairs or replacements you made to your vehicle or other property.
Non-economic damages are those for which money is not a direct replacement, but rather a substitute. Most people know these as damages for “pain and suffering.”
For example, if you become paralyzed as a result of your accident, economic damages would pay for your medical bills. In contrast, non-economic damages would be compensation for the mental trauma and diminished life enjoyment that paralysis may cause.
An excellent way to make a case for non-economic damages is to keep a journal documenting when and how your injuries prevent you from living life the way you did prior to the accident.
In rare cases, the state of Missouri allows punitive damages, which are damages designed to punish the at-fault driver for extraordinarily reckless or dangerous behavior, such as drunk driving. A judge must give special permission for juries to be able to consider punitive damages. If punitive damages are awarded, the at-fault party must give 50% to the state of Missouri.
Truck accidents are terrifying and can lead to lifelong injuries and steep medical bills. The stress and confusion of navigating the legal system after an accident can be daunting.
OnderLaw, LLC is here to help you carry that burden. You deserve compensation for your losses, and we will do everything in our power to win your case. Call us today at (314) 963-9000 to schedule a confidential consultation.