Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on March 18th, 2014,
by Zane Cagle

Fatal Accident Shuts Down I-64 Near Mascoutah, Illinois

Posted on March 18th, 2014 by Zane Cagle

According to the Illinois State Police, all lanes of eastbound Interstate 64 near Mascoutah were closed after a fatal car accident early Monday evening.  The accident occurred near Illinois Route 4 around 6:15 p.m. and involved two passenger vehicles and a semi-truck.

St. Clair County Coroner confirmed that the wreck resulted in one death. The details of the crash and extent of the other injuries have not yet been released.

Fatal semi-truck and car accidents can occur very easily on fast moving interstates involving passenger cars if for no other reason than the size deferential.  Loaded semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds in contrast to a passenger vehicle that weighs around 3,000 pounds. While the details on the above crash have not been released, there are some common causes of semi-truck accidents involving passenger cars.

Common Factors in Semi-Truck Accidents

Factors such as fatigue, distracted driving, impairment, and improper maintenance can all contribute to semi-truck accidents. The greater St. Louis area is a major hub for interstates as interstates from Illinois and Missouri intersect around the city.  Interstate 70, Interstate 64/40, Interstate 55 and Interstate 44 all converge in the greater St. Louis area and linking St. Louis to other major metro areas such as Chicago, Memphis and Kansas City.  Truck drivers driving cross country will often go through an interstate in the St. Louis area on its way to make commercial deliveries to other metropolitan areas including greater St. Louis.  Many factors can play a role in causing serious truck accidents resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. Causes Common causes of truck accidents include truck brake and equipment failure, driver’s failure to stop, driver fatigue, and driver impairment.

Fatigue

Truck drivers are like many of us–they get paid by the amount of successfully completed tasks.  Truck drivers are trying to make delivery deadlines and often are on tight schedules.  When drivers are fatigued, they do not drive as well as when they are rested. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)  institutes driving regulations so drivers may only drive for a certain amount of time before resting. Truck drivers are required to keep Hours of Service logs that are supposed to be monitored in accordance with the FMCSA standards. Like all of us, drivers sometimes do not sleep well or push themselves too far.  Unfortunately, there are some jobs that you just cannot do well when you are fatigued.  Surgeons, pilots, and truck drivers all receive negative attention when they try to perform when fatigued and then make an error.  This seems very unfair–but the truth is, if a truck driver, makes a driving error out of fatigue, it can easily cost a life or cause serious injuries if the error results in an accident. Likewise, we don’t want a surgeon operating on us if he/she is fatigued nor do we want to get on a plane if the pilot is fatigued.  Unlike a surgeon or a pilot, there is not generally backup for a truck driver.  Surgeons have surgical nurses and attending doctors to assist and commercial pilots generally have a co-pilot, however, most truck drivers are on their own.  The truck driver is usually alone in the truck, facing a deadline delivery and working hard to make the delivery. When a truck driver becomes fatigued, sometimes they make poor driving decisions, have slower reaction times or may become distracted more easily.

Failure to Yield

Failing to yield is dangerous in any vehicle and especially at intersections. Trucks usually require much more stopping distance and if they do not see a “yield” sign soon enough, they may fail to stop or slow down at an intersection. Obviously, this is problematic if there is traffic at an intersection.  A semi-truck t-boning a passenger car usually results in very serious injuries if not death.

Speeding or Reckless Driving

Speeding and reckless driving by any driver is dangerous.  Speeding drivers have far less reaction time and require more stopping distance. Add another 50,000-70,000 pounds to your vehicle and the stopping distance increases proportionately.  Any truck driver that speeds or drives recklessly is a dangerous liability on our roadways.

Factors Making Truck Accidents Different from Car Accidents

There are several key differences between tractor-trailer accidents and passenger car accidents, some of the key differences vary in law, causes and extent of injuries.

Laws– There are quite a few safety laws that apply to commercial vehicles such as tractor trailers that do not apply to drivers of passenger vehicles.  Federal regulations include strict maintenance and truck drivers are limited to the amount of time they can be behind the wheel.  Truck drivers also have more stringent laws against driving while impaired and trucks are subject to more strict inspection rules than passenger cars.

Causes: While factors like distracted driving, speeding, failing to yield and speeding are also common factors for car accidents, additional causes include higher likeliness of a truck rolling due to its higher center of gravity. Semi-trucks have larger “blind spots” than passenger vehicles.  As well, tractor trailers are more prone to jackknife, when the trailer slides out of alignment with the truck.  Truck drivers who are not paying attention are more prone to rear end another vehicle because of the increased stopping distance that trucks require.

Injuries: If you are hit by a semi-truck, generally injuries are serious if not fatal.  It is not just the size of the truck that make injuries more likely, but also because the bumpers and frames of trucks and trailers are much higher than those of a passenger car. And under-ride accident happens when a car goes underneath a truck during a collision. The size and structure of heavy trucks make truck accidents more likely to lead to serious injuries such as paralysis, brain injuries, fractured bones, organ damage, permanent scarring, spinal cord injuries and death.

Another major difference between truck accidents and passenger vehicle accidents

One of the main differences between passenger vehicle accidents and commercial truck accidents is that often there is more than one party in a trucking accident that can be held legally liable in a truck accident.  When you are involved in a car accident, typically the other driver is the party you are going to file a claim unless it involves a defect in the automobile or the road.  However, in a truck accident, the truck driver might not be the only one liable depending on the facts of the accident. The trucking company may be liable for the damages depending on such factors as the proper maintenance of the truck, proper hiring practices of the trucking company and the trucking company’s monitoring of their employees driving. Also, if the trucking company was making unrealistic delivery demands on the truck driver that were in conflict with federal regulations, you may need to file a claim against the transportation company.  Each accident is different. The causes and contributing causes of the truck accident dictate who is legally liable.

Discovering who could possibly be liable is not always easy for truck accident victims because they are usually seriously injured and not able to spend the time and energy on a fact-finding mission. Our attorneys are skilled in investigation and determining who is legally liable for injuries or wrongful deaths resulting from a truck accident.  Expert trucking accident attorneys know the federal regulations and safety requirements for commercial trucking companies.  Consultations are always free at The Cagle Law Firm and we are available seven days a week to discuss the particulars of your case.  If you have been hurt or your family member has been injured in an accident in Missouri or Illinois, it only makes sense to ask questions.

Call us for a confidential evaluation, locally 314.276.1681 or toll free 1.800.685.3302.