Due to their massive size, a traffic collision involving a large commercial truck is likely to have disastrous consequences resulting in serious, often fatal, injuries. A fully-loaded commercial truck can weigh more than 80,000 pounds, while an average passenger automobile weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Types of commercial trucks, include:
- Tractor Trailers
- Big Rigs
- Cargo Trucks
- Dump Trucks
- Garbage Trucks
- School Buses
- Concrete Mixers
- Hazardous Material Shippers and Carriers
Truck driver fatigue is the most common cause of commercial trucking accidents. However, collisions with large trucks can also be the result of other factors, including speed, illegal operating procedures, inadequate truck maintenance, improper training, defective equipment or unsuitable loads.
Employers often push drivers to deliver loads quickly, leading them to violate general traffic laws and regulations issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) regulate all aspects of truck driving. For example, FMCSR require truck drivers to comply with an hours of service rule; a truck driver can only drive a certain number of hours per day and per week and the driver must keep track of those hours by maintaining driving logs. When a trucking company or driver violates a regulation or is negligent, they could face civil liability and be held financially responsible for the damages caused by their actions.
Immediately following a trucking collision, trucking company lawyers and investigators are on the scene working on ways to minimize their liability. As a result, it is very important to contact an experienced truck accident attorney who has handled trucking cases. Once hired, the attorney can be a liaison with the trucking and insurance companies and investigate the case. Additionally, there are statutes of limitations, or filing deadlines, that make it necessary to file in a timely fashion.
Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum has a team of experienced St. Louis truck accident attorneys with a proven track record of seeking the highest compensation possible for our clients. View our notable trucking accident case settlements and verdicts below. Then, contact us for a free case evaluation.
Notable Trucking Accidents Cases
For a 21-year old woman who was permanently paralyzed when a tractor trailer rear ended the pick-up truck in which she was a passenger while on Interstate 44 in the City of Pacific, Franklin County, Missouri. The collision caused the pick-up truck to flip over and partially eject her. Unfortunately, she fractured her neck and was placed on life support and in a coma for several months. Then, she was transferred to a rehab hospital where she remained for approximately six months.
For serious orthopedic injuries were sustained in a tractor trailer accident.
For a Jefferson County family rear-ended by a tractor trailer in Madison County, Illinois, causing a brain injury and severe orthopedic injuries.
Can I file a claim?
Anyone injured during a collision with a commercial truck can file a claim, regardless of whether they are the driver, passenger or a pedestrian. If the injured person is a minor, a parent or legal guardian can file a claim on the minor’s behalf. If an accident with a truck causes a fatal injury, the authorized individuals under Missouri or Illinois law can bring a case for wrongful death.
Who is liable if I’m injured in a collision with a commercial truck?
Parties that can be held liable for damages caused by a truck accident are the trucking company, the truck driver and, on occasion, a broker or shipper who hired a dangerous and unsafe trucking company. Depending on the details of the case, an injured person might be able to bring a lawsuit against multiple parties. The trucking company can be held liable for the negligent actions of the truck driver that caused the crash, as well as its own negligence in failing to select a qualified truck driver or to properly train and educate the truck driver to avoid a collision. A broker or shipper who hires a trucking company to transport a load can be held liable if they do not use due diligence and hire a trucking company that has a track record for being unsafe and causing crashes.
What are the steps in filing a claim after a trucking accident?
The first step is to determine if a client has a case by investigating who was at fault for the accident and gather evidence for the suit. At Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum, we work with numerous trucking industry experts to complete investigations, such as Missouri State Highway Patrolmen, safety directors for trucking companies, physics professors, former Missouri State Highway Patrol accident reconstructionist and commercial vehicle enforcement officers.
A lawsuit begins with filing a petition with the court and serving the responsible parties with a copy of the petition. The case then proceeds into the discovery phase, during which time the defendants are served with interrogatories and requests to answer questions under oath and produce documents that allow further investigation of the case. After responses have been completed by both sides, depositions are conducted of fact witnesses, expert witnesses, law enforcement officers and all parties involved in the crash. Following discovery, most cases are required by the court to proceed through a mediation.
Mediation is a settlement process where both parties appear along with the insurance representatives and a third-party mediator, oftentimes a retired judge or experienced attorney. If the case can’t be resolved through mediation, it will go to a jury trial.
Will my truck accident case settle or go to trial?
Whether a trucking case settles or proceeds to trial depends on the strength of the case and the nature and extent of the client’s injuries. Most of the trucking cases we handle settle prior to trial due to the fact that we do an excellent job in using our expert witnesses to convince the trucking company and its insurance company that they do not want to risk proceeding to trial. If a trucking case needs to be tried, our law firm is adequately prepared to do so and has had excellent results in trying lawsuits all over Missouri and Illinois.
What am I required to attend if I file a claim for a truck accident?
Parties filing a claim are required by law to attend depositions, mediations and trial. It is important to know that before our clients appear in any aspect of their case, we thoroughly prepare them for what to expect so that they feel comfortable with the process.
Are there documents I should keep after a collision with a commercial truck?
Every case is different and an experienced truck accident lawyer can best advise on what to keep after hearing the specific facts of a case. Generally, anything related to the collision or medical treatment should be saved and could provide useful information during the investigation, settlement or trial. Examples include photographs of the vehicles and injuries after the crash, photographs of scarring following surgery, communication from insurance companies and medical bills.
What type of compensation can I recover?
The amount of recovery from an injury caused by trucking company negligence depends on many factors, most importantly are the nature and extent of the client’s injuries and damages. Damages include compensation for fractures, traumatic brain injuries, disfigurement, lost wages, medical expenses and loss of quality of life. Another factor that determines the amount of any settlement is whether or not the trucking company is completely at fault or if the client has some fault in causing the crash.
Should I talk to the insurance company if they contact me?
Do not talk to the opposing insurance company following a motor vehicle collision involving a commercial truck. The goal of the insurance company is to take a recorded statement and use it against the injured person during the handling of the claim. Instead, provide the insurance company with the contact information of an attorney. If an attorney has not yet been retained for the case, contact one immediately.
How much does it cost to file a trucking accident lawsuit?
Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum works with its clients under a contingency fee contract. As a result, our clients do not spend any money for attorneys’ fees or costs unless we recover damages for their case. Additionally, we pay the upfront cost of litigation to investigate and pursue the lawsuit. When the case is completed, fees are then based on an agreed upon percentage of the judgment or settlement, and the the attorney is reimbursed for litigation costs. If you or a loved one are the victim of a truck accident injury, contact an attorney at Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum for a free and confidential consultation.