Last week, I wrote about the death of a young man killed by a wheel that came flying off a semi truck on Interstate 70 in St. Louis. Now that an investigation into the accident has been completed, the Missouri Highway Patrol say that equipment failure caused the accident and no charges will be filed against the truck driver. This finding is of interest to me as a St. Louis tractor trailer accident attorney because it shows how important it is to maintain semi trucks well in order to keep all drivers on the roads safe.
The Missouri Highway Patrol reports that the equipment failure leading to the accident was caused by a mechanic’s failure to tighten the bolts of the semi truck’s wheels properly when working on them earlier. The accident that took the life of Brandon Haskin, 24, of St. Peter’s, occurred when lug nuts on the rear axle of a semi truck came loose and allowed two wheels to fly off. One of those tires crashed through Haskin’s windshield as he was driving on the other side of the interstate in morning rush hour traffic. He died at the scene. Another driver, Jamie Duboise, 26, of O’Fallon, suffered moderate injuries when Haskin’s SUV struck her sedan. The tractor-trailer driver, Wayne Knickmeyer, 48, of Wentzville, was not hurt. Knickmeyer will not face charges related to this accident. The article didn’t note whether the mechanic who failed to tighten the bolts, or Knickmeyer’s trucking company, could face criminal charges.
The Missouri Highway Patrol’s finding that equipment failure caused this accident raises many questions about how the equipment failure happened. Many different parties bear legal responsibility to make sure that semi trucks are safe on the roads. Recognizing the disproportionately large damage that tractor-trailers can do to other, smaller vehicles, federal regulations require truck drivers to inspect their vehicles to ensure that they are properly maintained before getting on the road. Failure to notice a serious safety defect could make the trucker liable for any accident it causes. Trucking companies may also be liable, because they must see that their mechanics, drivers and other employees are properly trained and perform their work adequately. And manufacturers of truck parts — like bolts, lug nuts, wheels, and tires — can also bear responsibility. If the bolts that came loose were defective, for example, the company that manufactured them could be liable for damage caused when they failed.
Knowing this, as a Missouri semi truck crash attorney, I doubt that the Missouri Highway Patrol’s decision not to bring charges against Knickmeyer will be the end of this case. The victims and their families will be picking up the pieces of their lives for a long time to come. They most likely have already incurred expenses for funeral costs, medical treatments and lost wages, and there will probably be more costs to come, including auto repair or replacement. The victims could sue those responsible for these costs as well as lost quality of life and pain and suffering. Financial compensation cannot turn back the clock and restore their lives to the way they were before the accident, but it can at least make it easier for the victims to move forward.
At the Lowe Law Firm, one of our central areas of expertise is representing victims of serious accidents with commercial trucks. We know that trucking accidents involve complex and serious issues like traumatic injuries, and that insurance companies can sometimes engage in unfair, illegal behavior in order to avoid paying what they owe. Our southern Illinois 18-wheeler accident attorneys work hard to level the playing field for our clients, starting with explaining their rights and protecting them from illegal behaviors, pressure or harassment by insurers. We will work our hardest for every client to ensure that they receive the fullest possible financial compensation, even if that means months of research into the cost of lifetime treatment and loss of income for a seriously injured person.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a serious trucking accident, please call on the Lowe Law Firm for help. We offer free, confidential case evaluations, so there’s no risk in speaking to us about your rights and your options. To set up a consultation, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.