Helping Victims of 18-Wheeler Accidents
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 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.
Call us today at (314) 963-9000 for a free consultation about your truck accident case.
Table of Contents
- Why Choose OnderLaw, LLC?
- Take Legal Action After a Truck Accident to Protect Your Rights to Compensation
- Steps Involved in an Accident Investigation
- Compensation You Might Be Entitled To After A Truck Accident
- Common Causes of Truck Accidents in St. Louis
- Common Types of Large Trucks
- Common Injuries Associated with Accidents Involving Large Trucks
- How Much Does a St. Louis Truck Accident Attorney Charge?
- Missouri Laws and Statutes You Must Follow During A Truck Accident Case
- Pursuing Compensation from An Insurance Claim
- Truck Accident Lawsuits in St. Louis
- Contact Us
Why Choose OnderLaw, LLC?
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 country’s most prestigious legal organizations. 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 truck accident case.
Take Legal Action After a Truck Accident to Protect Your Rights to Compensation
What you do and don’t do after a truck accident could have a significant impact on your case. There are certain steps you can take to help protect your right to the maximum available compensation.
If you sustained injuries, you should call 911 and wait for an officer to arrive. If the ambulance doesn’t take you to the hospital, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident and then follow their treatment plan in the coming days, weeks, or months. It’s vital that you follow their instructions and show up for regularly scheduled appointments. Insurance companies often look at gaps in treatment as evidence that you weren’t hurt in the accident and shouldn’t receive a settlement.
Maintain records of every document associated with your case. That includes your medical records and medical bills. This is crucial evidence insurance companies look for during their investigation into the accident. If you can provide documentation of your injury and a timeline of the treatment you needed to recover, you might have a better chance of winning a higher financial award.
You should also keep track of your physical pain and emotional trauma in a daily pain journal. This will help you build a case for the pain and suffering you’ve endured as a result of the accident.
Finally, you should hire an experienced St. Louis truck accident lawyer to assist you with your case. We can handle every step of the injury claims process while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
There are some things you shouldn’t do after a truck accident:
- Don’t speak to the truck driver’s insurance company. Their goal will be to intimidate you into accepting a lowball offer. If they contact you, give them our phone number, so we can handle the communication throughout your insurance claim.
- Don’t wait too long before seeing a doctor. You need to show the insurance company that you sustained injuries that require treatment. Ongoing physical therapy, chiropractic care, and other types of treatment are evidence of your injury and how serious it is.
- Don’t pursue a legal case without hiring a St. Louis truck accident lawyer. You might think you can handle a claim or lawsuit without representation. However, you might encounter obstacles that you don’t know how to overcome or miss an important deadline that gets your case dismissed.
- Don’t post anything on social media. Insurance companies perform an independent investigation of all claims they receive. That means they could check the internet for evidence that contradicts the severity of your injuries. Even a seemingly unrelated post could potentially be used against you.
Steps Involved in an Accident Investigation
OnderLaw, LLC has the experience and resources to investigate a truck accident meticulously to determine the cause and who should be held liable for your resulting expenses. We will work to obtain relevant evidence to show that you sustained an injury and should receive compensation for your suffering. Examples of this evidence include:
- Crash reports
- Copies of your medical records and medical bills
- Truck driver’s employment history and driving records
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- Video surveillance of the accident
- Truck driver’s insurance policy
- Truck maintenance and repair records from the trucking company
- Repair estimates for damages to all vehicles involved in the crash
- Accident scene photos
While you’re attending your doctor’s appointments, we’ll handle the legal aspects of your case. Once we obtain all the evidence we need, we can move forward and file an insurance claim or lawsuit. The path we take will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Compensation You Might Be Entitled To After A Truck Accident
The amount of money you will be able to recover depends on the unique circumstances of the truck accident. You may have suffered financial, emotional, and physical losses due to your injury. There are different types of compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries and losses, such as:
- Medical bills
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Out of pocket expenses
Every client we work with has a unique case with varying factors that contribute to the compensation they need and deserve. The monetary award you receive could depend on some of the factors below:
- Type and severity of the injury
- Duration of required medical care
- Estimated costs of future treatment necessary for permanent injury, disability, or impairment
- Total expenses incurred from the accident
- Impact of the crash on daily life and routine
- Availability of evidence to prove the truck driver or trucking company was liable for your injuries
- The time it takes to recover or reach maximum medical improvement, a plateau where further medical treatment won’t improve the condition
- Hours and wages missed from work
If you suffered severe or life-threatening injuries resulting in a permanent disability, you would likely receive higher compensation than if your injury is minor. The St. Louis truck accident lawyers of OnderLaw, LLC know how to maximize the value of a client’s case to receive the compensation necessary to cover past and future losses.
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 dangerous.
- 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, 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 another driver’s behavior, they could drive more aggressively, and could cause a serious injury crash.
- Technical issues – Trucking companies must maintain their truck fleet on strict schedules to ensure their vehicles 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 road conditions, 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. Additionally, reckless truck drivers typically have caused more than one accident during their driving career.
- Rollover accidents – Trucks such as 18-wheelers have a high center of gravity, making them prone to rolling over when a truck driver drives recklessly, such as taking a turn too fast, abruptly changing lanes, or loading cargo improperly. 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 a 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 a truck’s sheer size and weight, any accident involving one of these vehicles will likely be devastating. There are many different types of trucks, 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 spots 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 people in 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 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 a following vehicle—or onto the highway, where it would present dangerous obstacles. 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 towed car 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, missing or badly positioned safety signs, or 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 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.
Common Injuries Associated with Accidents Involving Large Trucks
Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000-pounds and transport various types of cargo throughout the country. When one of these trucks crashes into a smaller car, weighing only 3,000 pounds, the results can be disastrous. The occupants of the smaller vehicle typically end up with more serious injuries than the truck driver.
Some accident victims heal after a couple of short months, while others suffer lingering pain and physical or mental impairments long after their legal case resolves. Below are some of the most common injuries truck accidents cause:
- Loss of limb
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- Traumatic brain injury
- Crush injuries
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue damage
- Head, neck, and spinal cord injuries
Debilitating injuries require extensive treatment. Besides an ER visit, you might need physical therapy, pain management treatment, prescription medication, and surgery. If you become disabled due to the traumatic effects of the injury, you might require assistance with daily tasks, such as getting dressed, driving, and taking care of your family. You deserve full and fair compensation for the pain you’ve endured as a result of the truck driver’s negligent or reckless actions.
How Much Does a St. Louis Truck Accident Attorney Charge?
OnderLaw, LLC understands that you might be facing economic struggles after the truck accident. Large trucks can cause significant property damage and severe injuries. Medical bills are expensive and become a strain on your finances. We don’t want to add more burden to your life, which is why we take truck accident cases on contingency.
We also offer an initial confidential consultation for free. You shouldn’t have to pay for legal advice. OnderLaw, LLC is happy to meet with you to discuss the details of your case and determine the available options for pursuing compensation and holding the truck driver accountable for their actions. There’s no obligation to retain our legal services. If you decide you’re not ready to seek legal action or want to go with another firm, you don’t have to pay us for our time.
Missouri Laws and Statutes You Must Follow During A Truck Accident Case
After the accident, you should immediately check the insurance policy to determine if they require you to file your claim by a specific date. Some insurance companies state in their policies that you should file your claim “promptly,” while others list specific timeframes. To be safe, it’s best if you initiate a claim immediately after the accident occurs.
Lawsuits are a different story. Under Missouri statute 516.120, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Missouri is five years. This is a strict deadline, meaning you must sue the truck driver or trucking company within five years of the accident date. If five years pass and you haven’t filed suit, you will most likely lose your right to hold the at-fault party financially responsible for the losses you suffered.
It’s also important that you refrain from discussing or admitting fault for the accident that injured you. For one, truck accidents are extremely complex, so it’s important to let the investigators determine fault. In addition, admitting fault could negatively impact the compensation you’re entitled to receive. In Missouri, juries use the pure comparative negligence rule when determining how much money the accident victim should receive.
To give you an example, let’s say you were in a truck accident, and the jury determined the truck driver was 90% at fault and you were 10% at fault. If your losses totaled $100,000, you could only pursue a maximum of $90,000 in compensation instead of the full $100,000.
In Missouri, you can still pursue recovery even if you are predominately responsible for the accident. If you are 90% responsible for the accident, you could still recover 10% of your losses.
Pursuing Compensation from An Insurance Claim
When you pursue a truck accident injury claim, OnderLaw, LLC will aggressively fight for the maximum available settlement you need to compensate you for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the accident.
We will handle the following steps on your behalf:
Request insurance policies. We’ll request a copy of all available insurance policies from the truck driver’s insurance company. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all trucking companies to provide their drivers with liability insurance.
File insurance claim. Once we determine how much coverage there is from the truck driver, we’ll file the claim.
Gather evidence. We’ll obtain all the necessary evidence that proves the truck driver and/or their employer was at fault for the accident and should be liable for your injuries. We’ll submit it to the insurance company for review and follow up with them regularly to find out if they approve the claim or provide a settlement offer.
Negotiate a settlement. If the insurance company approves your claim, we’ll begin negotiations. We’ll attempt to reach a settlement that will cover your past and future losses, so you don’t have to pay for anything out of pocket. If the insurance company refuses to settle for a fair amount, we’ll be fully prepared to move forward with a lawsuit.
Truck Accident Lawsuits in St. Louis
Sometimes, it’s necessary to file a lawsuit to fight for the compensation you’re owed for your losses and injured. The St. Louis truck accident trial attorneys of OnderLaw, LLC have the experience and resources needed to pursue your case as far as it needs to go to secure a positive outcome on your behalf.
When you hire us, we’ll walk you through the entire legal process, including the steps below:
Step 1 – Prepare documents. Before we can file your lawsuit, we must draft a complaint and summons. The complaint lays out all the elements of the case, and a summons notifies the defendant that they’re required to appear in court on a specific date. After preparing these documents, we’ll file them with the appropriate civil court.
Step 2 – Serve the complaint and summons. We’ll hire a process server to hand the documents to the defendant.
Step 3 – Discovery. After the defendant files their answer to our complaint, we’ll begin discovery. This is a lengthy process where your attorney and the defendant’s attorney request copies of evidence found by the other side. We’ll also file various documents asking each party to answer questions associated with the case and submit certain documents necessary to investigate the accident.
Step 3 – Depositions. During discovery, we can schedule a deposition to ask the defendant questions about the case under oath. It is conducted in front of the defendant’s attorney and recorded by a court reporter. The defense attorney might request a deposition with you to answer questions under oath as well.
Step 4 – Mediation. At some point, we might schedule a mediation. We would meet with the defendant, their attorney, and a mediator to try to reach a settlement agreement during mediation. If we agree to compensation you believe is fair, we can avoid going to trial.
Step 5 – Trial preparation. If we’re unable to settle during mediation, we will begin preparing for trial. This will involve the continued gathering of evidence, locating witnesses to testify, and preparing our arguments for court.
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.