What to do after a Missouri semi-truck accident: Tips & info for drivers

October 24, 2014

i-haul-299523-m.jpgAs Missouri auto accident lawyers, we know that being involved in any kind of auto accident can be a traumatic experience. When a crash involves a large semi-truck, however, the outcome can be catastrophic. Because of their sheer size and weight, it's common for semi-trucks to cause serious, life threatening injuries to the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles.

Statistics show that passenger vehicle occupants are extremely vulnerable to injury when they're involved in collisions with semis. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,514 people died in 2012 auto accidents involving semi-trucks. Of those deaths, 74% were the occupants of the semi-trucks; 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists; and 67% were the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles. In two vehicle accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck, 96% of fatal injury victims were passenger vehicle occupants.

All too often, the victims of these crashes - and their loved ones - find their lives are turned upside down in a split second. Would you know what to do if it happened to you? Below, our truck accident lawyers offer a few tips to help you be prepared, just in case the unthinkable happens.

I've been injured in a semi-truck crash: what should I do?

1. Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. First and foremost, you need to ensure you are evaluated by a medical professional. Sometimes, serious injuries - like broken bones - are easy to see, but in other cases, you may not know how badly you're hurt. Symptoms of certain internal injuries (like spinal cord damage and brain injuries) may not present themselves right away - it could be hours or even days before you realize you're hurt. The sooner you're seen by a doctor, the better.

2. Preserve important evidence. If possible, you'll want to photograph the scene of the crash. Also, be sure to save any paperwork you receive in connection with the accident, including the police report/witness statements, medical bills/reports, letters from insurance companies/trucking companies, etc. Keep all these materials in a binder to ensure nothing is misplaced.

3. Contact an experienced attorney. Certain complications can arise when filing a personal injury claim following a semi-truck crash. In addition to the truck driver, you'll likely be dealing with a trucking company and the company's insurer. An experienced personal injury lawyer can communicate with these parties on your behalf, allowing you to focus on recovery. An attorney can also help determine the scope of your expenses, both in the present and long term.

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Whiplash & other soft tissue injuries are common in Missouri semi-truck accidents

September 19, 2014

semi-truck-2-232052-m (1).jpgSemi-trucks are considerably larger and heavier than passenger vehicles - in fact, a fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh 20 to 30 times as much as the average car or truck. When these large trucks collide with passenger vehicles, the result is often serious injury, usually to the passenger vehicle occupants. In 2012 fatal two-vehicle crashes involving a semi and a smaller vehicle, 96% of fatality vehicles were passenger vehicle occupants. In this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers discuss one common injury often caused by semi-truck/passenger vehicle crashes: whiplash.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash is a non-medical term referring to soft-tissue damage in the neck, often caused by the sudden jerking motion that occurs during rear-end or front-end collisions. According to WebMD, whiplash "is characterized by a collection of symptoms that occur following damage to the neck. In whiplash, the intervertebral joints (located between vertebrae), discs, and ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots may become damaged."

Whiplash: A few facts and statistics

• Annually, approximately 120,000 people suffer from whiplash throughout the U.S.

• Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries can occur at speeds as low as five miles per hour.

• About half of all soft tissue injuries in the neck can be attributed to auto accidents, many of them low-speed rear-end collisions.

What are the main symptoms of whiplash?

Symptoms of whiplash may not appear immediately - in fact, they sometimes don't show up until hours (or even days) after an accident occurs. These symptoms may include:

• Pain or stiffness in the neck, lower back, shoulders, or between the shoulder blades
• Reduced range of motion
• Headaches that recur or escalate in intensity
• Pain or numbness in the arms or hands
• Burning, prickling, tingling, or other unusual sensations in the arms or hands
• Dizziness or blurred vision
• Difficulty sleeping, fatigue, or irritability

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Unsafe driving practices contribute to Missouri semi-truck accidents

semi-truck-2-232052-m.jpgHave you ever had the life scared out of you by a large commercial truck or semi-tractor trailer while you were trying to merge onto the highway? Have you been so sure a big rig was going to rear end you that you braced for impact? Or worse, have you or a loved one been the victim of a commercial truck accident? Our Missouri truck accident lawyers know all too well the how damaging tractor-trailer and commercial truck accidents can be. What's more, many of these accidents are 100% preventable: in fact, many are caused by irresponsible truck driving practices.

Key factors contributing to unsafe truck driving practices in Missouri:

• Some trucking companies fail to utilize the pre-employment screening program provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
• Some employees do not receive adequate training.
• Logs and other programs for safe driving quality assurance are sometimes not properly monitored.
• Some truck drivers avoid medical examinations, or provide false medical documents, meaning unsafe drivers are still being hired.
• Some drivers who should be suspended are able to obtain special permits or probationary licenses for drivers.

Unfortunately, many truck drivers are between a rock and a hard place at present. As trucking companies work to make a profit, truckers feel more pressure to drive longer hours at faster speeds, and to bend or even break federal regulatory rules and state laws. If they don't, they may find themselves jobless. This pressure creates the potential for reckless driving behaviors, which can lead to devastating accidents involving Missouri motorists who are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

What can Missouri truck accident lawyers do to hold the trucking industry accountable for these unsafe practices?

Aggressive and unlawful truck drivers make it even harder for the responsible truck drivers who follow the laws and drive safely. After a truck accident has occurred and negligence or wrongdoing has been discovered, a personal injury case or wrongful death suit can be an effective way to get a trucking company or unsafe driver to address dangerous practices - and to ensure accident victims are fairly compensated.

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Accidents involving semi-trucks and Missouri pedestrians can have catastrophic consequences

lonely-walk-951147-m.jpgOur Missouri truck accident attorneys urge you to be ever-cautious of big rigs, whether you're in a passenger vehicle, on a motorcycle, or on foot. Even though you'd like to believe that you won't get in an accident with a semi (because you'd obviously see it coming), the fact remains that large trucks are responsible for about 1 in 10 fatal accidents nationwide.

Collisions between semi-trucks and pedestrians are not as uncommon as you might think. Because of their massive size and weight, large trucks are often unable to react quickly enough when a pedestrian (or another vehicle) suddenly appears in front of them.

In many cases, highway pedestrians are motorists who break down and wind up stranded. It is not uncommon for drivers with disabled vehicles to become victims of fatal traffic accidents, even though they're not even driving.

Staying safe in traffic - as a driver or a pedestrian - requires that you keep track of what's happening around you. In the event of a highway break down, there are a number of safety precautions you can take to ensure that you and your passengers stay safe while you wait for help.

Being safe when you're stranded: A few safety tips:

* Always keep a cell phone with you for emergency situations.

* If your car breaks down, make sure you pull off the roadway to the right (as far as possible).

* Activate your emergency flashers to warn other vehicles and law enforcement of the location of your disabled vehicle.

* Call law enforcement, a friend, a family member or roadside assistance for help.

* Be patient when you're waiting for assistance to arrive. Remember that it may take them a while to navigate through any traffic delay that your disabled vehicle may have caused.

* Keep emergency equipment in your vehicle, including a flashlight, emergency flares and basic tools that may help to fix minor problems with your car.

* If your car has broken down and cannot be moved, be sure to keep everyone inside the car with seat belts on. Turn on your car's hazard lights and stay there until help arrives.

* Set up roadside flares, cones and emergency warning signs if possible.

* Don't get into the car with someone you don't know. This goes for emergency responders as well. Always ask for identification first.

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Preventing semi-truck accidents in Missouri: How drivers can be proactive


299523_i_haul_.jpgMissouri semi-truck accidents can result in serious, life-threatening injuries, especially when they involve smaller passenger vehicles that are no match for these large trucks. The good news: when drivers are attentive and proactive, many of these dangerous crashes can be prevented. In this post, our Springfield personal injury lawyers discuss the importance of responsible, defensive driving, especially when sharing the road with a semi.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has identified several behaviors in passenger vehicle drivers that commonly contribute to collisions involving semi-trucks. According to FMCSA officials, these behaviors fit into four key categories:

• Errors in judgment. FMCSA officials say inattention is the leading contributing factor in semi-truck/ passenger vehicle accidents. Regardless of the source, driver distraction inevitably leads to lapses in judgment - and when you're traveling near a semi, running a red light or stop sign can be a deadly mistake. The best way to avoid a collision is to stay completely focused on the task of driving.

• Speed-related behaviors. The faster you're going, the less time you have to react when unexpected situations present themselves - and compared to passenger vehicles, loaded semi-trucks can require 20 to 40% farther to stop. Speed also affects an accident's severity because it increases crash energy - in other words, accidents are more likely to result in serious injuries when they occur at high speeds. It's essential that drivers adjust their speed for roadway conditions. Slow down when you're traveling in inclement weather, passing through a construction zone, or dealing with heavy traffic, and allow plenty of extra space, particularly when following a semi.

• Right-of-way or headway-related behaviors. Failing to yield the right-of-way to a large truck can be extremely dangerous. Never cut off or pull out in front of a semi, because it may not be possible for a trucker to slow down or stop in time to avoid hitting you. Assessing headway (the distance between one vehicle and another approaching vehicle) can also be difficult when it comes to large trucks. Because of their size, semi-trucks can appear to be moving slower than they actually are. Always err on the side of caution when passing, turning and crossing the roadway in front of an oncoming semi.

• Lane change or position problems. FMCSA officials cite several risky behaviors that fall into this category, including merging improperly and changing lanes abruptly in front of a large truck. Remember that trucks handle very differently than passenger vehicles, and they're often unable to execute sudden maneuvers. You'll also want to avoid lingering in a semi's oversized blind spots - remember, if you can't see a truck's side mirrors, the driver can't see you.

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Sharing the road safely: Tips to help you avoid Missouri semi-truck accidents

file8531247160523.jpgSharing the road with semi-trucks is an inevitable part of roadway travel in Missouri. In order to travel safely, drivers of smaller passenger vehicles must be mindful of large trucks' physical capabilities and limitations. In this post, our auto accident lawyers share some basic safety tips to help you avoid accidents involving semis and arrive safely at your destination.

Make yourself visible to truck drivers. Because of their size and height, semi-trucks have much larger blind spots than passenger vehicles. Remember, semi-trucks don't have rearview mirrors: if you can't see a trucker's side mirrors, he can't see you. Avoid lingering in a semi-truck's blind spots, which exist along the front end of the truck and down the sides of the truck's trailer.

Allow extra space between your vehicle and a semi-truck. Following a semi too closely can be incredibly dangerous. If a trucker attempts to perform an emergency maneuver and you rear-end the trailer, you can suffer serious, even life threatening injuries. Safety advocates say you should leave about 20 to 25 car lengths between your vehicle and a semi traveling in front of you. In inclement weather or in poor roadway conditions, you'll want to leave even more space.

Never cut off or cut in front of a semi-truck. Semi-trucks can't execute emergency maneuvers as quickly or as efficiently as passenger vehicles, because they're simply too large and too heavy. Cutting in front of a semi could be a deadly mistake, as the trucker may be unable to slow down in time to avoid a collision. On average, a fully loaded semi requires approximately 20 to 40% farther to stop, compared to most passenger vehicles.

Be cautious when passing a semi-truck. When passing a semi, do so quickly while maintaining a consistent speed and stay toward the outside of your lane. Never pass a large truck on the right - a trucker's blind spots are even larger on that side of the vehicle. After passing, be sure to wait until you can see the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror to shift back into the right lane.

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5 FAQs answered for Missouri semi-truck accident victims

540394_car_accident.jpgIn this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers answer five questions we frequently hear from the victims of semi-truck crashes.

Missouri semi-truck accidents: Five frequently asked questions

1. What is a commercial truck?
A commercial truck is a large vehicle weighing more than 10,000 pounds that is used in the transportation of goods or related business. These trucks typically consist of a single-unit truck or tractor and one or more trailers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets a commercial vehicle maximum weight of 80,000 pounds. This means that commercial trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times as much as the average passenger vehicle, and they typically require 20 to 40% farther to come to a complete stop.

2. Are semi-truck accidents more dangerous than collisions involving other kinds of vehicles?
Yes, especially for the occupants of passenger cars and trucks. In collisions involving semis and smaller vehicles, occupants of the small vehicles are considerably more vulnerable to serious, life threatening injury. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,413 people were killed in U.S. crashes involving commercial trucks. Of those fatalities, only 14% were the occupants of the commercial trucks. By comparison, 72% of those killed were occupants of passenger vehicles, and 13% were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.

3. What factors commonly contribute to collisions between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles?
There are several factors that often play a role in semi-truck accidents, including the following: driver error; fatigue; distraction; speeding; truck limits (such as braking distance and visibility); equipment failure; and improperly loaded trailers.

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What causes Missouri semi-truck accidents? Three common contributing factors

531576_truck_wheels.jpgAs Missouri personal injury lawyers, we know that accidents involving large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles often have disastrous consequences. More often than not, it's passenger vehicle occupants who suffer serious, life-threatening injuries in these crashes. In 2011 semi-truck accidents, passenger vehicle occupants accounted for 66% of fatalities, while only 16% of the fatally injured were the occupants of large trucks. So, what factors contribute to these devastating crashes? In this post, we discuss three leading causes of accidents involving large commercial vehicles.

Common causes of Missouri semi-truck accidents

1. Driver fatigue. Because fatigue has proven to have an extremely detrimental effect on truckers' driving performance, federal regulations exist to limit the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel in a single shift. Unfortunately, some drivers and companies simply don't comply with these regulations. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Large Truck Crash Causation study, 13% of semi-truck drivers who were involved in crashes were found to be fatigued. And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that truckers who have been driving for more than an eight-hour stretch are twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

2. Driver distraction. Effective January 3, 2012, federal law prohibits all commercial truck drivers from using a hand-held cell phone while driving. The national ban was enacted in response to several studies that found any form of cell phone use significantly increased a trucker's accident risks. One such study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, found that a "safety-critical event" is 163 times more likely to occur when a truck driver is using a cell phone to text, email, or surf the internet. In fact, simply reaching for a hand-held electronic device makes a trucker about three times more likely to cause an accident. And cell phones aren't the only source of driver distraction: FMCSA officials say eating, drinking, smoking, and fixating on "non-driving related objects" can also increase a truck driver's crash risk.

3. Speeding. FMCSA officials say speed is a key contributing factor in many semi-truck accidents. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 23% of semi-truck accidents occurred when truckers were traveling too fast for conditions, which is defined as "traveling at a speed that is greater than a reasonable standard for safe driving." Large trucks handle very differently than passenger vehicles, so it's imperative that truckers adjust their speed accordingly when they encounter wet roads, heavy traffic, construction zones, and other potential hazards. Failing to do so can be a fatal mistake.

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"Tailgating" a major cause of Missouri accidents involving semi-trucks

February 7, 2014

Thumbnail image for IMG_8832a.jpgHave you ever wondered how following distance - the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle traveling in front of you - plays a role in Missouri truck accidents? You might have noticed that when traffic is heavy, the distance between the front and rear bumpers tends to be smaller. It can even become a fight to keep the distance small enough to prevent another vehicle from cutting in front of you. The problem with this particular driving behavior - known as "tailgating" - is that it is a major contributor to many Missouri traffic accidents. And when it comes to truck accidents, following too closely is not only a contributing factor: it can cause increased damage and serious injury or death.

Missouri Accident Statistics


  • Of the major cities, 15.8 percent of tractor trailer and truck accidents occur in St. Louis, 15.1 percent in Kansas City, 5.1 percent in Springfield. The highest number of truck accidents occur on U.S. highways, followed by interstate and state numbered roads. The highest number of property damage accidents happen on city streets. The vast majority of truck accidents are, of course, along the major highway thoroughfares of I-70 and I-44.

  • In 2010 commercial vehicles, which includes trucks, tractor trailers and buses, were involved in 9 percent of all traffic accidents in Missouri. That percentage is even greater for fatal traffic accidents (12.6 percent).

  • In 2010 105 people were killed and 4,007 people were injured in accidents involving a big truck, tractor trailer, or other commercial motor vehicle.

  • Over half of these accidents, 58.7 percent, occurred in an urban area, however of all the fatal crashes, 72.2 occurred in a rural area, along those major truck routes.

  • 25 of the people killed were drivers.

  • 86 percent of truck or bus accidents occurred on a straight road

  • 69 percent occurred on a level road

  • 29 percent occurred on a hill

  • 79 percent occurred on dry roads

  • 14.5 percent occurred on wet roads


Truck accidents are equally distributed throughout the year and mostly occur on week days. While truck accidents occur around the clock, a significant number occur between 7 am until 7 pm, when big rigs share the road with passenger cars and light trucks.

Observations

Given this data, it is clear that semi-truck accidents are extremely dangerous, particularly for the drivers of passenger vehicles. Leaving plenty of room between you and another vehicle is one of the best ways to avoid a serious truck accident. A large truck takes a lot longer to stop and has a massive amount of force - so be patient and give yourself plenty of room, just in case.

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Avoiding semi-truck accidents: Five tips for Missouri drivers

January 24, 2014

truck-768072-m.jpgSharing the road with a semi-truck can be challenging, especially when traffic is heavy or road conditions are bad. In this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers provide five tips to help you avoid being involved in an accident with a large commercial vehicle.

Preventing semi-truck accidents: Five tips for Missouri drivers

1. Pay attention. Of the thousands of car accidents that happen in the United States every year, very few are unpreventable. In fact, all too many of these accidents occur simply because drivers aren't paying attention - a mistake that can be deadly, especially if you're traveling near a large truck. Put away your phone, have a passenger tune the stereo, and don't be a rubbernecker - someone who gets distracted by objects or happenings outside their vehicle, like another car accident. Keeping your eyes - and your focus - on the road can go a long way toward preventing many serious accidents.

2. Don't linger in a large truck's blind spot. Annually, experts say over 413,000 accidents are caused by blind spots, and specifically, one-third of fatal accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a semi occur within a semi's large, dangerous blind spots, which are known as "No Zones." These spots are located to the left and right of the truck's cab, immediately in front of the truck, and behind the trailer. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you can't see a truck's mirrors, the driver can't see you. When you're passing, following, or changing lanes near a semi, be mindful of the truck's blind spots and proceed with caution.

3. Don't cut off a semi-truck. Because they are large and extremely heavy, semi-trucks require twice as much time and space to stop than average passenger vehicles , and that's when roadway conditions are good. If you cut in front of a semi, the driver may be simply unable to stop in time to avoid a collision.

4. Be predictable and use your signals. Since truck drivers need extra time to react to roadway hazards, you can help make the road safer by making your intentions clear and predictable. Maintain a consistent speed, pass on the left side, and be sure to signal in advance (at least three full seconds) before turning or changing lanes.

5. Be respectful of other motorists, including truck drivers. A little common courtesy can go a long way. Remember that everyone on the road is trying to get from Point A to Point B: stay calm, be patient, and make safety your top priority.

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Alcohol involvement suspected in fatal Missouri semi-truck accident

November 8, 2013

ambulance-ecnalubma-677683-m.jpgAs Missouri semi-truck accident lawyers, we know that large, heavy semi-trucks can act as deadly weapons, particularly when they're involved in collisions with average-sized passenger vehicles. And when semi-truck operators choose to drive under the influence, their vehicles become even more dangerous to other motorists on the road.

Recently, a semi-truck driver was charged with involuntary manslaughter and two counts of assault after he allegedly caused a fatal crash in Platte County. According to the Kansas City Star, 38 year-old Adam Shaw was northbound on Missouri 45 when his tractor-trailer crossed the highway center line. The semi clipped a pickup truck, forcing the smaller vehicle to run off the road, and then the semi hit a southbound minivan head on. The driver of the minivan, 49 year-old Catherine Nienaber, was pronounced dead at the scene, while her passenger (Nienaber's seven year-old son) was taken from the scene by ambulance with serious injuries. The driver of the pickup also suffered non-life threatening injuries in the incident.

Law enforcement officials say they believe alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident. Shaw is currently being held in the Platte County Detention Center on a $250,000 cash bond. Authorities continue to investigate, and Shaw could face additional criminal charges depending on their findings.

Semi-truck drivers and alcohol use

• Under regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), semi-truck drivers are not allowed to use alcohol or be under the influence of alcohol within the four-hour period "before going on duty or operating, or having physical control of, a commercial motor vehicle." They're also prohibited from using alcohol, being under the influence of alcohol, or having "any measured alcohol concentration or detected presence of alcohol" while on the job.

• When drivers are found to have violated these regulations, they are immediately placed out of service for the following 24 hours, and they are required to report the incident to their employer (within 24 hours) and to a state official (within 30 days).

• When truck drivers' alcohol use is believed to have contributed to an accident resulting in injuries or fatalities, drivers are required to undergo immediate testing for controlled substances and they must submit to an evaluation conducted by a substance abuse professional. They may also face suspension and the ultimate loss of their commercial driver's licenses, along with being subject to criminal charges, their accompanying penalties, and personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits filed on their victims' behalf.

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Truck drivers' medical conditions can increase accident risks for Missouri drivers

October 23, 2013

medical-doctor-1314902-m.jpgAs Missouri truck accident lawyers, we know that collisions involving semis and average-sized passenger vehicles can have catastrophic consequences, often for the occupants of those smaller vehicles. To operate a semi-truck safely, drivers must be skilled, proactive and alert to the actions of other vehicles traveling near them. When truckers suffer from certain medical conditions, they increase accident risks for everyone on the road.

This week, a semi-truck driver plowed through a Colorado intersection, causing a wreck involving 13 vehicles and leading authorities to believe that he experienced a medical emergency while behind the wheel. According to 7NEWS in Denver, the semi-truck was westbound on a roadway in Cherry Hills Village when it failed to stop at the intersection and rear-ended several vehicles stopped there. Witnesses say the semi then continued on, knocking down a power pole and ultimately coming to a stop in a grassy area in an apartment complex.

"When my car got jostled, I was almost like - it was a joke - like, 'Who's pushing me,' but then I looked over and there's a big, giant truck cab rolling, just barreling through the intersection, and I was like, 'Oh, this is really happening,'" said Thomas Ogans, one victim of the crash. "And then as that happens, a bunch of glass hits me in the face. Glass everywhere, sparks was flying, it was just like out of a movie. I was scared out of my mind." Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously injured: four people - including the truck driver - were injured in the accident and taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented a new rule that requires truck drivers to undergo official medical examinations performed by health providers who are specifically trained and certified. FMCSA's Office of Medical Programs works to keep truckers off the road if they have a medical condition that could threaten the safety of motorists traveling near them. Its mission "is to promote the safety of America's roadways through the promulgation and implementation of medical regulations, guidelines and policies that ensure commercial motor vehicle drivers engaged in interstate commerce are physically qualified to do so."

According to the Mayo Clinic News, the federal rule also works to make drivers, trucking companies and examiners accountable for their actions. "If something bad happens, if an accident occurs and property or individuals are somehow affected, the examiner may get added scrutiny if they haven't done a comprehensive medical evaluation or a glaring medical condition was not addressed," said Dr. Clayton Cowd, M.D.

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Passengers file personal injury lawsuit after tour bus is struck by semi-truck

September 25, 2013

old-style-no-u-turn-202604-m.jpgAs Springfield auto accident lawyers, we've noted reports of several serious tour bus accidents this year. Some of these crashes had serious consequences - including passenger injuries and fatalities - and, in many cases, the accidents were caused by the unsafe actions of tour bus drivers and/or their employers.

Last week, two people were killed and four others were injured when a Texas tour bus was struck by an 18-wheeler on a Panola County highway. According to the Longview News Journal, the accident occurred after the bus driver was informed that a passenger had been left behind at a truck stop. In response, the bus driver reportedly attempted to make a U-turn at a crossover and turned into the path of the semi-truck, which hit the left side of the tour bus. One passenger, who was ejected through a side window, and the bus driver, who was ejected through the front windshield, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Three other passengers were taken from the scene by ambulance, while the semi-truck driver was airlifted to East Texas Medical Center with incapacitating injuries.

Today, the News Journal reports that two of the injured passengers have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the tour bus company, El Expreso in Houston. Edgar Vela and Sergio Torres are reportedly suing the company for damages including medical expenses, loss of wages, physical impairment, pain and suffering, disfigurement and mental anguish. The suit alleges that El Expreso "committed actions of omission and commission, which collectively and severally, constituted negligence, and which were proximate causes of the injuries suffered" by Vela and Torres.

News of the accident - and the resulting lawsuit - came in the weeks following an announcement from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which revealed that federal investigators had launched a "strike force of passenger bus safety inspections" throughout the country. These inspections are designed to keep high-risk busing companies and drivers off our nation's roads. "Aggressive strike force inspections help save lives on our roadways and protect people who travel by bus," said Administrator Anne S. Ferro in a FMCSA news release. "Strong enforcement efforts will increase safety and reduce serious crashes that result in death and injury."

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Memorial sign honors state trooper killed by trucker who fell asleep at the wheel

September 11, 2013

candle-1281538-m.jpgAs Missouri truck accident lawyers, we know that the average passenger vehicle is no match for a semi-truck. Research shows that passenger vehicle occupants are extremely vulnerable to life-threatening injuries when they're involved in collisions with semis. And if vehicle occupants have increased safety risks, you can imagine the dangers facing pedestrians.

Recently, law enforcement officials in Illinois erected a memorial highway sign to honor a state trooper who died last year when a semi-truck driver fell asleep behind the wheel and struck the trooper as he conducted a routine traffic stop. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 32 year-old Kyle Deatherage had just returned from New Jersey when the accident occurred, where he had traveled with 28 other troopers to help assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy. On November 26, Deatherage pulled over a vehicle on northbound Interstate 55 and was speaking with the driver when he was hit by the semi. Deatherage was pronounced dead at the scene.

Following an investigation, the semi-truck driver, 52 year-old Johnny Felton, was charged with several criminal offenses, including reckless homicide, failing to slow down or change lanes to avoid Deatherage, and operating a commercial vehicle without a valid driver's license. Felton currently awaits trial: if convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison. Deatherage's wife and children have also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both Felton and his employer, Dot Transportation Inc. (DTI).

In the months following the crash, attorneys representing the Deatherage family have uncovered alarming allegations against Felton that date back over three years. A October 2009 memo from a DTI manager points out that Felton had already been involved in three at-fault accidents and accused him of falling asleep at the wheel, falsifying his log book, driving more than the mileage allowed by federal law, and failing to attend safety meetings. Instead of taking him off the road, however, DTI officials reportedly sent him for more training. "This corporation makes four billion in sales a year. Those profits rely on drivers," attorney Thomas Q. Keefe told the Belleville News-Democrat. "They had knowledge that this man was a real and actual danger more than three years before he killed this young trooper, husband and father and they let him drive."

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Teen driver dies after collision with semi-truck

semitrucksunset.jpgBoth state and federal crash data has proven, time and time again, that young drivers have the highest risk of involvement in car accidents that result in injury. Because they lack experience, teenagers have a more difficult time assessing roadway situations and responding to them in a safe and prudent manner. When a teen driver is involved in a collision with a large commercial vehicle, like a semi-truck, our Missouri truck accident lawyers know that the stakes are even higher.

Recently, an Iowa teenager was killed when his SUV was struck by a semi-truck and subsequently rolled over into a ditch. According to the Des Moines Register, 17 year-old Rodrigo Lopez was eastbound on Interstate Highway 80 when he attempted to merge into the right lane and was struck by a semi already traveling in that lane. Lopez was taken from the scene by ambulance, but he later died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. Another semi traveling nearby was also damaged by debris created by the initial collision, law enforcement officials report. Investigation into the crash continues.

Facts about teen car accidents:

• Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for American teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 2,700 teens between age 16 and 19 were killed - and about 282,000 were injured - in 2010 auto accidents.

• While young people between age 15 and 24 only account for about 14% of the U.S. population, they represent about 30% of total costs connected to auto accident injuries nationwide.

• Drivers between age 16 and 19 are the most likely to be involved in car accidents: per mile driven, they're three times more likely to crash than older, more experienced drivers.

• Unsupervised teen drivers are more likely to crash when they're driving with teen passengers on board - and the crash risk increases in accordance with the number of passengers.

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