Truck Accident Lawyer

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If you suffered serious injuries in a truck accident, you may be feeling overwhelmed by your physical recovery, financial losses, and legal options. injured in a truck accident? Fortunately, you don’t have to do it all alone. Contact Sotiriou Wilmowski to schedule a free consultation.

Out of all the things that can go wrong on the highway, getting hit by an 18-wheeler is probably the worst-case scenario. According to the US Department of Transportation, about 72% of truck accident deaths were the occupants of other cars (not truck drivers), and that number is only rising.

Many motorists hope that they will never fall victim to a trucking accident, but as our firm has seen firsthand, 3.5% of all highway accidents (and nearly 10% of fatal highway accidents) were due to some type of negligence by a truck driver. While many laws are in place to protect all motorists, many truck accident victims struggle to navigate their legal options after being involved in a truck crash.

If you’re reeling from the immense pain of surviving a truck accident or the loss of a loved one in a large truck accident, you need to understand your legal options. Although securing compensation can’t undo the damage caused by the incident, it can be an invaluable resource in your journey toward recovery.

This article will explain everything you need to know about truck accident cases in Missouri, including common causes, possible damages, types of truck accident lawsuits, and more.

Sotiriou Wilmowski has unique experience in helping the victims of trucking accidents get the outcomes they deserve in court. Call or text our law firm at 314-925-1000 or reach out through our online contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.

Types of Truck Accident Lawsuits

Like car accidents, there is an endless variety when it comes to the different types of truck accident lawsuits pursued on a day-to-day basis. In the fifteen years that our team of personal injury lawyers has served, we’ve seen countless examples. Below are a few of the more common situations we’ve seen play out in court.

Driver Negligence

Truck accidents often stem from driver negligence, where the actions or inactions of the truck driver directly contribute to the collision. Cases of negligence may include instances of speeding, where drivers exceed safe limits, compromising their ability to stop or maneuver effectively.

Additionally, distracted driving poses a significant risk, especially with the prevalence of smartphones and other electronic devices inside the cabin. Moreover, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs judgment and reaction time, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Proving driver negligence requires a thorough investigation, including witness statements, police reports, and potentially even data from onboard systems like electronic logging devices.

Employer Liability

Beyond the actions of individual drivers, trucking companies may also bear liability for accidents through employer liability laws. These laws hold companies responsible for their hiring practices, ensuring they employ drivers with proper qualifications and clear driving records. Negligent hiring may occur when companies fail to conduct adequate background checks or overlook past infractions during the hiring process.

Furthermore, insufficient training programs can leave drivers ill-prepared to handle challenging situations on the road, increasing the risk of accidents. Maintenance of vehicles is another crucial aspect of employer responsibility, and failure to keep trucks in safe working condition can lead to catastrophic failures while in transit.

Manufacturer Liability

In cases where accidents result from mechanical failures or defects in the truck itself, legal action may be pursued against the seller or manufacturer. Manufacturers have a responsibility to design, produce, and maintain trucks to meet safety standards and operate reliably under normal conditions. However, defects in critical components like brakes, tires, or steering systems can lead to loss of control and devastating accidents.

Identifying manufacturer liability requires in-depth analysis by experts familiar with engineering principles and product design. Plaintiffs must demonstrate that the defect directly contributed to the accident and resulting injuries, often through examination of the vehicle’s maintenance records and expert testimony.

Third-Party Liability

In complex truck accident cases, liability may extend beyond the driver and trucking company to involve third parties associated with the operation and maintenance of the vehicle. For instance, maintenance contractors responsible for servicing the truck may face liability if their negligence contributes to a mechanical failure.

Similarly, cargo loaders who improperly load or secure freight could be held accountable if shifting cargo causes the truck to lose control. Determining third-party liability requires a comprehensive understanding of the relationships and contractual agreements involved in the trucking operation. In these cases, our legal team will meticulously examine documentation and contracts to identify potential sources of liability and pursue appropriate legal action on behalf of the injured parties.

Common Causes of Truck Accident Injuries

Now that we’ve addressed a few common types of lawsuits surrounding trucking accidents, let’s take a look at a few common causes. If you have any questions about these scenarios and how they apply to your specific circumstances, it’s a good idea to reach out to an experienced truck accident injury attorney for guidance.

Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers face immense pressure to meet tight deadlines, often resulting in grueling schedules and extended hours behind the wheel. Driver fatigue is a common and significant risk factor in commercial truck accidents, impairing cognitive functions and reaction times, not unlike driving under the influence. Violations of hours-of-service regulations, which mandate rest periods and limit driving hours, can exacerbate the risk of fatigue-related accidents. Instances where drivers falsify logbooks or push themselves beyond legal limits heighten the likelihood of crashes, resulting in devastating injuries or death.

Distracted Driving

For many truckers, driving can be a very stressful activity simply due to the number of things that can go wrong. Weather conditions, text messages, GPS notifications, and reckless drivers on the highway can all contribute to the way a truck driver performs their job. Moreover, driving a tractor-trailer involves a much higher level of concentration than driving a car, due in part to the complex braking and gear-shifting systems, not to mention the difficulty that comes with navigating a massive vehicle with limited vision.

If the truck driver fails to maintain concentration, accidents are bound to happen. In these scenarios, our law firm can try to provide context to the specific circumstances surrounding the accident and point to any evidence of distracted driving on the part of the truck driver.

Driving Under the Influence

While trucking companies have come a long way over the last few decades in terms of mitigating intoxicated driving incidents, accidents involving an intoxicated truck driver unfortunately still happen regularly. Because trucking accidents are likely to result in more extensive damage than crashes involving other motor vehicles, special laws are in place to further limit drunk driving by truck drivers. While non-commercial driver’s license holders can legally blow a 0.08% BAC, CDL holders in Missouri must remain below a 0.04% BAC or face serious consequences – up to one year in jail, thousands of dollars in fines, and losing their license for one year.

If a truck driver was driving under the influence at the time of your accident, a clear case can be made for the truck driver’s liability in the accident. Additionally, if the truck driver is driving on a suspended license or has a history of drunk driving, it may point to a pattern of irresponsible driving, which could strengthen your truck accident claim.

Speeding

The allure of faster delivery times coupled with tight schedules often prompts truck drivers to disregard speed limits, jeopardizing their safety and that of others on the road. Excessive speeding reduces the margin for error, impeding a driver’s ability to react promptly to changing road conditions or unexpected obstacles. Moreover, high speeds magnify the force of impact during collisions, amplifying the severity of injuries and property damage. If our law firm can point to a history of speeding on the truck driver’s driving record, a case could be made for truck driver negligence, resulting in damages paid by the at-fault party.

Improper Loading

The safe transport of cargo hinges upon proper loading practices, and our firm has often seen lapses in securing and distributing weight in commercial deliveries. This can spell disaster on the road, as trucks with improperly secured or unbalanced cargo are prone to instability, increasing the likelihood of rollovers, jackknifes, and loss-of-control incidents.

Overloading exacerbates these risks, placing undue stress on vehicle components and compromising handling characteristics. If a truck driver fails to adhere to loading guidelines and best practices for cargo securement, this can easily create a scenario where a truck driver becomes liable for serious injuries in the event of a vehicle accident.

Proving Negligence in Truck Accident Lawsuits

While some truck accident cases are open and shut, the overwhelming majority are much more complicated. The ability to prove negligence in a truck accident depends on your ability to demonstrate three important factors:

  • Duty of care. The plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to others on the road. In truck accident cases, this duty typically involves adhering to traffic laws, maintaining a safe driving environment, and complying with industry regulations.
  • Breach of duty. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care through negligent actions or omissions. This could include violating traffic regulations, driving recklessly, or failing to maintain the truck properly.
  • Causation. There must be a direct link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the plaintiff’s injuries or damages. Establishing causation requires evidence demonstrating that the defendant’s actions were a substantial factor in causing the accident and resulting harm

If these factors are present and can be verified by third-party witnesses and police reports, the next step will be to assess the damage and calculate how much should be realistically owed. Calculating damages and determining a fair settlement is a difficult process that typically requires assistance from an experienced semi-truck accident injury lawyer.

 

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As former insurance defense lawyers, personal injury attorneys Deme Sotiriou and Tom Wilmowski of Sotiriou Wilmowski pride themselves on using their inside knowledge of the insurance industry to obtain maximum value — and often more — for their clients.

Damages in Truck Accident Cases

Typically, damages in auto accident cases encompass both economic and non-economic losses incurred by the victim. Determining the dollar amount that can be reasonably pursued depends on specific witness testimony, police reports, and evaluations made by insurance adjusters. Let’s take a look at a few typical economic damages our firm can pursue in court:

  • Medical bills and expenses. This includes costs incurred by the injured party for medical treatment, including hospitalization, surgery, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, rehabilitation therapy, assistive devices, and any other necessary medical services. These expenses are typically quantifiable and documented through bills, receipts, and medical records. In a personal injury case, the at-fault party may be liable for reimbursing the injured party for all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the accident.
  • Property damage. Plaintiffs can seek damages for the costs associated with repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed property. In a truck driving accident, property damage may include damage to vehicles involved in the collision, as well as any other personal property, such as belongings inside the vehicles or structures impacted by the accident. Property damage claims seek compensation for the fair market value of the damaged property or the cost of repairs, whichever is lower.
  • Lost wages. Injury victims can seek compensation for the income and earnings they were unable to collect as a result of the accident. This includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, and any other forms of compensation that the injured party would have earned had they not been injured. Lost wages may also include sick leave, vacation time, and other employment benefits that the injured party is unable to utilize due to their injury-induced absence from work.
  • Future earning capacity. Future earning capacity pertains to the potential income and earnings that the injured party is unable to realize in the future as a result of the accident-related injuries. This includes any reduction in the injured party’s ability to work, advance in their career, pursue higher-paying opportunities, or engage in gainful employment due to permanent disabilities, limitations, or impairments resulting from the accident. Future earning capacity damages aim to compensate the injured party for the financial losses they are likely to incur over their lifetime due to diminished earning potential.

These damages are relatively straightforward to calculate as they involve tangible costs that can be documented through bills, receipts, and employment records. On the other hand, non-economic damages are more subjective and challenging to assess. These damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering. This refers to the physical and emotional distress experienced by the injured party as a result of the accident. It encompasses the actual physical pain caused by the injuries, as well as the mental anguish and emotional turmoil endured during the recovery process. Pain and suffering damages are subjective and can vary widely depending on the severity of the injuries, the duration of the recovery period, and the impact on the individual’s daily life and activities.
  • Emotional distress. This can include feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health issues stemming from the traumatic event. Emotional distress damages compensate for the emotional toll inflicted by the accident, such as sleep disturbances, nightmares, flashbacks, and difficulty coping with daily stressors.
  • Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium pertains to the deprivation of the benefits and companionship that the injured person’s family members, typically spouses, would have otherwise enjoyed if the accident had not occurred. This includes the loss of love, companionship, affection, sexual relations, and support that may result from the injuries sustained by the victim. Loss of consortium damages recognizes the impact of the injury on the dynamics and intimacy of the familial relationship.
  • Diminished quality of life. Diminished quality of life refers to the reduction in the injured party’s overall well-being and ability to engage in activities they enjoyed before the accident. This may include limitations on physical mobility, chronic pain, disfigurement, disabilities, and restrictions on participating in hobbies, recreational pursuits, and social interactions. Diminished quality of life damages seek to compensate for the loss of enjoyment, independence, and fulfillment resulting from the injuries sustained in the accident.

Unlike economic damages, non-economic losses are not easily quantifiable and may vary significantly from one individual to another. Determining the appropriate compensation for non-economic damages often requires the expertise of legal professionals who can evaluate the unique circumstances of the case and advocate for fair restitution on behalf of the injured party.

What to Do After a Truck Accident

The first thing all motorists should do in the event of a trucking accident is seek immediate medical attention. This is the most essential action a victim can take, regardless of whether they have a minor injury, such as cuts and scrapes, or a major injury, such as broken bones or a concussion. Symptoms of concussions and many types of spine injuries often surface many days or weeks after the accident.

Seeking a medical professional is also important to the truck accident claim process. Your doctor will fill out the necessary paperwork documenting the details of the incident and the extent of your injuries. This will become important later when e who was responsible for the accident and how much should be owed to you for damages.

If you’re able to do so at the time of the accident, you should document the damages to your vehicle and your injuries through pictures, witness testimony, and police reports. Do not under any circumstances accept payment from the other driver at the accident scene; doing so could harm your case and hurt your chances for securing more compensation in the future.

Get Help Securing Damages from a Truck Accident Lawyer

Once you’ve addressed all medical concerns and alerted the police, the next step should be to call a truck accident attorney. A truck accident attorney can help you understand your rights, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, collect vital evidence pertinent to your case, calculate damages, and much, much more. Most importantly, your lawyer will serve as an essential guide through an often daunting legal process, providing you and your family with support every step of the way.

Deme Sotiriou and Tom Wilmowski of Sotiriou Wilmowski have provided top-tier legal guidance to Missouri and Illinois communities for 20 years. They have also spent time on the other side of personal injury suits, representing insurance carriers in the litigation process. They have unique insight into the meticulous truck driver guidelines and insurance proceedings.

Today, the use their of the insurance system and commercial vehicle laws to benefit injury victims who have been harmed in truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and other highway tragedies. Ready to get started? Fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with compassionate and knowledgable attorneys today.

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