Posted on August 14th, 2020 by Zane Cagle
In reality, the number of truck crashes with large semi-trucks should not be common due to truck driver error. Truck drivers are trained professional drivers tasked with the responsibility of safely transporting goods and sometimes hazardous materials across the country. Many of us know truck drivers personally and know the great care and pride they take in having a very clean driving record. In fact, transportation companies have a duty to carefully vet their drivers and make sure they are safe. At the same time, it is not just careful driving that should reduce the number of crashes. Drivers and transportation companies are responsible for the safe maintenance of their vehicles. Drivers and maintenance staff are required to do daily checks and evaluations. When drivers do their pre-trip evaluations and daily checks before they drive, they can detect problems with tires, secure loads and braking issues. Because transportation companies use the roadway to move commerce, they have a responsibility to be safe. When they are not safe, it is catastrophic for other motorists and the truck drivers alike.
Two commercial vehicle crashes in two days claimed the lives of two Missouri men. While passenger vehicle drivers can make errors that result in injury, it is rare to have two fatal crashes in two days. In both of the fatalities described by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, both of these crashes appear to have been preventable. Crashes and loss are always devastating. When it is determined that a death or serious injury may have been preventable, the loss is even more tragic.
Commercial Vehicle Crashes
Lafayette County-On westbound I-70 at the 33.8 mile maker, a Kenworth semi overtook and struck the rear of a Land Rover driven by a 50 year-old Lexington, MO man. The Land Rover then traveled off the north side of the roadway, impacted an embankment and overturned. The driver of the semi was a Lenexa, KS man, age 50. The crash occurred at 12:30 p.m.on August 1, 2020
Caldwell County– A 72 year-old Hamilton, MO man was killed when the Ford Mustang he was driving was struck head-on by tires from a tractor trailer on August 4, 2020 around 2:20 p.m. on US-36 westbound, 1.5 miles east of Cameron, MO. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Kenworth was eastbound on US 35 and a Ford Mustang was westbound on the same highway. The Kenworth lost the dual tires off of the #3 axle. The tires traveled across the median of US 36 into the westbound lanes an struck the Mustang head on. The Mustang then traveled off the roadway and came to rest down an embankment.
Devastating Nature of Commercial Crashes
Drivers of commercial vehicles are held to a higher standard due to the large vehicles they drive. Federal guidelines and rules for commercial carriers are more stringent than general passenger vehicle drivers simply due to the responsibility that comes with driving a vehicle potentially weighing 80,000 pounds. When a semi-truck rear-ends or impacts a passenger vehicle, the passenger vehicle is at a clear disadvantage. The sheer weight deferential between a semi and a passenger vehicle creates a clear disadvantage for the occupants of a passenger vehicle.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
While neither of the fatal crashes were specific in causes of the collisions, there are several factors that often contribute to truck crashes:
Driver fatigue is a common problem amount over the road truck drivers. In a federal study of the Large Truck Crash Causation Study, driver fatigue is a contributing factor to more than one out of every seven crashes involving large truck, semi, semi-trailer or 18 wheeler. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations regulate the hours of service or time that a driver may spend behind the wheel or be on duty. The design of the regulations is to force transportation companies to not over work their drivers or make unreasonable demands on hours of service that result in drivers being fatigued and dangerous on the roadway. However, there are times that transportation companies make unreasonable demands on truck drivers and the result can be deadly. After many hours behind the wheel, any driver becomes exhausted and less alert to traffic changes and road conditions. The result of a driver making an error when he or she is driving a vehicle that may weigh up to 80,000 pounds can be catastrophic
Truck Equipment Failure often result when a driver or transportation company fail to maintain the commercial vehicles. Drivers and maintenance personnel are required to do multiple checks of tires and other equipment before, during and after a trip. Unsecured loads or faulty tires can result in catastrophic results for other motorists. As well, brake failure is common if the air brakes are not regularly adjusted and properly maintained. If large vehicles are properly maintained and checked, these truck equipment failures are preventable.
Failure to Stop or Failure to Yield. When a commercial driver fails to stop at lights and crosswalks, serious injuries can result. While it is imperative that every vehicle obey the rules of the road, we see a greater fatality rate when large trucks fail to stop or yield appropriately. Trucks require much longer distances in order to stop. Again, truck drivers are professionally trained and they know the reduced speed required and stopping distance for their vehicles. Truck drivers often driver unfamiliar routes, thus it is their job to note road signs, speed limits and basic rules of the road.
Recovering from a Commercial Crash
Victims of trucking accidents either have months of recovery. In the worse case scenarios, victims are fatally injured. If you or a loved one has been injured or you have lost a loved one due to a commercial crash, you will need an attorney. Transportation company adjusters are not your typical auto insurance adjuster simply because of the severity of the injury and coverage. One, if you or a family member has suffered the trauma of such crash, you absolutely should not be communicating with any insurance company. Two, often if you are communicating with an adjuster from a commercial policy, the adjuster may be an attorney or have legal experience. In the state of mind that most people find themselves after such loss, it is not ideal to be negotiating on your own. Do not be pressured into having those conversations with any insurance carrier until you have time to think and evaluate!
Recovering from a commercial crash may be twofold. One, you may be recovering physically and there may be months or years of physical recovery in the process. The second type of recovery is compensation. Most people have little choice other than to make a claim for compensation due to the overwhelming medical bills and loss. It can feel overwhelming when an insurance company attempts to put a price to your injury or your loss. You should not consider the “amount” of your loss until you have sought advice from an attorney. Since we make these claims and represent our injured clients frequently, we know the things that each person must consider. Medical bills may just be one factor in considering compensation and loss. Because we have handled many commercial cases, there are things that you simply might not be able to think of at such a terrible time. Our goal is to help each and every client recover the highest level of compensation that fairly represents their injury and losses.
We assist folks in difficult times after serious injury and death. Having a professional handle your claim is critical at this time when keeping sanity can feel like a challenge.
Call our attorneys toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681