18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer


The Missouri trucking industry injures or kills countless motorists each year, and it shows no sign of slowing down. The National Transportation Research Group estimates that by 2050, we will see a 61 percent increase in 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles on our roads. More 18-wheelers will invariably cause more accidents – and more tragic catastrophic injuries. If you have experienced an 18-wheeler accident, you may be struggling with a range of life-altering consequences. Perhaps a disability has ended your career. Maybe your hospital bills are starting to rack up. Perhaps years have passed, and you’re still reeling from the psychological trauma of your semi-truck accident. Whatever the case may be, you deserve to pursue compensation for these consequences. Get in touch with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer in Missouri, and you can confidently explore your legal options.

Although legal action might seem like a daunting prospect, Sotiriou Wilmowski can address your concerns during an initial consultation. Reach out today to take your first steps toward compensation and justice.

Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents

The term “accident” is misleading in the context of 18-wheeler crashes, as many of these incidents are caused by willful negligence. Human error, mechanical issues, and systemic issues within the trucking industry all contribute to truck crashes.

Intoxicated Truckers

Intoxication is relatively common among truckers in Missouri, and many consume a wide range of substances behind the wheel. An obvious example is alcohol consumption, which has the potential to affect judgment, reflexes, vision, and coordination. While normal motorists can legally drive with a BAC level of 0.08 percent, commercial drivers face a lower threshold of 0.04 percent. A trucker can be guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) after even a single drink.

Drug use is also a persistent issue in the trucking industry, and truckers routinely consume a wide range of substances behind the wheel. Some favor stimulants to combat fatigue, while others prefer recreational drugs to fight off boredom. Even legal prescription drugs can cause unacceptable levels of impairment.

Fortunately, drug tests accurately determine trucker intoxication after accidents. Injured plaintiffs may refer to these test results as they prove negligence and pursue compensation.

Distracted Truckers

Aside from drug use, truckers attempt to combat boredom with various distractions. Some text, watch videos, play games, or surf the web on their smartphones. Others become distracted by food, drinks, or passengers. There are many other potential examples, and accidents may occur even if truckers take their eyes off the road for a brief second.

An experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer can determine whether a trucker was distracted prior to the collision. Many trucking companies mandate driver-facing cameras, which record everything that happens inside cabs. Cellphone data can also help determine whether the trucker was using their device moments before the collision.

Reckless Truckers

Truckers may engage in reckless behavior, and this can easily cause crashes. The trucking industry incentivizes these drivers to complete their hauls as quickly as possible. This inevitably encourages speeding, various traffic violations, and aggressive driving.

Mechanical Issues

18-wheelers are complex, heavy, and cumbersome vehicles. Even when properly maintained, they have extremely poor braking distances and maneuverability. While a small sportscar traveling at 60 mph can stop within 100 feet, a typical 18-wheeler may struggle to halt within 500 feet. Mechanical issues exacerbate these issues, and faulty brakes make accidents inevitable. Tire blowouts, suspension problems, and oil leaks all cause similar safety concerns. Many trucking companies contribute to accidents by failing to properly maintain their fleets of 18-wheelers.

Cargo Issues

Even if the 18-wheeler and its driver are safe, cargo can still pose numerous hazards. Unbalanced loads are extremely common, and this increases the risk of rollover crashes. Companies must properly load 18-wheelers by distributing weight evenly across trailers. An unbalanced load can cause a big rig to roll over during even the slowest, most gradual turns.

Many trucks also carry dangerous cargo, including flammable, explosive, toxic, or even radioactive materials. This cargo can make a relatively minor accident much more dangerous due to secondary fires, explosions, and leaks. 18-wheelers also carry high-capacity fuel tanks, increasing the chances of serious explosions after crashes.

Failing to Drive Based on Current Conditions

Missouri motorists experience a wide range of weather conditions throughout the seasons. These include tornadoes, snow, ice, fog, and rain. Truckers must drive based on the current conditions, and not necessarily the posted speed limit. When facing extreme weather, truckers have a legal responsibility to slow down, pull over, and wait for conditions to improve. Failing to drive more defensively in adverse conditions is negligent – and it can easily lead to crashes.

Poor Training or Hiring Processes

Like many other states, Missouri is struggling with a trucker shortage. This leads to more relaxed hiring processes as companies desperately try to find anyone willing to drive their 18-wheelers. A recent change makes it legal to hire truckers as young as 18. Some trucking companies overlook glaring issues among applicants – including prior driving convictions, medical problems, and drug use. Inexperienced or unqualified truckers inevitably cause more accidents, and trucking companies should be held accountable for hiring them.

Steps to Take After an 18-Wheeler Accident

If you have experienced an 18-wheeler accident, you can pursue positive outcomes by following a few basic steps. if you fail to follow some of these steps, you may struggle to pursue compensation.

Immediately Seek Medical Attention

Medical treatment should be your top priority after an 18-wheeler accident. Not only does this ensure positive health outcomes, but it also creates medical records that prove the existence of your personal injury. You can use these records to pursue compensation for all of your medical costs.

Document Everything

Local authorities usually investigate 18-wheeler accidents, and they may uncover various evidence in the process. You can also gather your own evidence in the aftermath of the crash. Photograph the scene, obtain contact information from eyewitnesses, and keep copies of all medical receipts. Communicate with the insurance company in writing, and make copies of any letters you receive. You may start collecting evidence of your missed income, such as pay stubs or tax returns.

Contact an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer

After you receive treatment and your condition stabilizes, call an 18-wheeler accident lawyer for further guidance. Most experienced truck accident lawyers in Missouri offer free consultations, so you can receive targeted legal advice with no risk or obligation. In addition, a contingency fee system means that you will only pay if you win your lawsuit.

18-Wheeler Truck Accident Liability

You can hold numerous parties liable for your 18-wheeler accident. Each accident is slightly different, and your lawyer can help you determine who to sue based on your specific circumstances.

Trucker Liability

Perhaps the most obvious negligent party in an 18-wheeler accident is the trucker. This individual may have caused the accident due to intoxication, distraction, recklessness, or similarly negligent behavior.

Trucking Company Liability

While you can name the trucker as a defendant in your lawsuit, you should also sue the trucking company if possible. These companies typically have access to numerous assets, and they should have comprehensive insurance coverage for 18-wheeler accidents. In contrast, an individual trucker may only have limited funds – and they may be unable to cover your full range of damages.

Comparative Negligence in an 18-Wheeler Accident

You can hold numerous parties liable for a single 18-wheeler accident – including private motorists who may have contributed to the crash. For example, a reckless driver might have improperly merged onto a highway, causing a distracted driver of a large truck to swerve into your lane. After a collision of this nature, you could potentially sue the reckless driver, the trucker, and the trucking company. Each defendant may be responsible for paying a portion of your settlement based on their level of fault. Suing numerous defendants generally increases your chances of fair compensation.

Perhaps most notably, you can file an 18-wheeler accident lawsuit even if you partially contributed to the collision. Missouri follows a doctrine of “pure comparative negligence,” which means you can sue even if you were 99% responsible for your own 18-wheeler crash. A more realistic scenario, however, would involve 50% fault. For example, you might have improperly merged onto a highway before striking a distracted trucker. In this scenario, your compensation decreases based on your level of fault. If you were 50% to blame, you would receive 50% of the normal settlement. If you were 75% at fault, you would receive just 25% of your normal compensation.

Potential Damages

Your level of compensation depends on your various losses after an 18-wheeler accident. These losses are called “damages” in the legal world, and they take various forms.

Economic Damages After an 18-Wheeler Accident

Economic damages represent your financial losses after an 18-wheeler accident. Examples include medical expenses, missed wages, and property damage. Any expenses you incur as a direct result of your 18-wheeler accident should be compensated by the negligent parties. For example, you might have incurred $50,000 of medical expenses after suffering a fractured shoulder – and this injury may have caused you to lose $25,000 in wages. If you suffered a permanent disability, you may receive compensation for a lifetime of missed wages – and this sum can be quite significant.

If you have lost a loved one to a fatal 18-wheeler accident, you may also pursue compensation for funeral expenses. When you sue on behalf of a deceased child, spouse, or parent, it is called a “wrongful death lawsuit.”

Non-Economic Damages After an 18-Wheeler Accident

Non-economic damages represent your emotional or psychological losses. These are abstract in nature and often difficult to evaluate. Unlike economic losses, you cannot simply point to a medical receipt or pay stub to “put a price” on your emotional distress. Instead, you must carefully consider complex issues regarding mental health disorders, grief, disfigurement, pain, humiliation, and similar problems.

Contact an Experienced 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer in Missouri

There are many things to consider during a commercial truck accident lawsuit, but there is no need to approach this process alone. After your first consultation, you can delegate complex legal tasks to an experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer while you focus on recovery. Research is an important first step, but an online article will only get you so far. Reach out to Sotiriou Wilmowski – and get started with real legal action. With our help, you can pursue crucial compensation for missed wages, medical expenses, emotional distress, and anything else you were forced to endure. Contact us today and learn more about your legal options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Injured motorists tend to ask similar questions after 18-wheeler accidents. Here are some of the most common queries:

What are the benefits of hiring a law firm in an 18-wheeler accident?

An 18-wheeler accident lawyer will guide you toward fair compensation. Without a lawyer at your side, insurers may convince you to accept a low settlement offer that does not cover your total damages. A lawyer negotiates for more appropriate compensation, gathers evidence on your behalf, and represents you during a trial if necessary.

What are some of the causes of 18-wheeler accidents?

Many 18-wheeler accidents are caused by human error. Examples include distraction, intoxication, recklessness, and basic traffic violations. Other accidents are caused by mechanical failures or unsafe cargo.

What steps should I take after an 18-wheeler accident?

Your first step after an 18-wheeler accident should be to seek medical attention. Accept treatment at the scene and get to the emergency room as quickly as possible. From there, follow up with your doctors and follow their recommendations closely. When your condition stabilizes, contact an 18-wheeler accident lawyer and start pursuing compensation.

Who is liable for an 18-wheeler accident?

You can hold negligent parties liable if they caused your 18-wheeler accident. The obvious example is a truck driver, but you may also hold the trucking company liable.

What types of evidence are used to prove fault in an 18-wheeler accident?

A wide range of evidence may prove useful in an 18-wheeler lawsuit. Examples include surveillance or dashcam footage, eyewitness testimony, photographs of the crash scene, Breathalyzer results, medical records, and income documents.

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