One Killed After Chain Reaction Crash on Highway 40 Pushes Driver Into Semi’s Path

By January 11, 2012 Trucking Accidents

As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorney, I know that the sheer size and weight of semi trucks can make them serious threats even when they aren’t directly responsible for causing a crash. For example, in a chain-reaction crash that recently took the life of a Wildwood woman, the likely cause was a rear-end crash by another driver, but the rear-end accident alone may have been less important than what happened next. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Laura Dunn, 48, was killed after a rear-end accident pushed her car into the path of a big rig, which sent it into another vehicle and into a ditch. In all, four vehicles were involved, but no other serious injuries were reported. News reports mentioned no investigation.
Dunn was east of Clarkson road in Chesterfield at about 3:30 p.m. when she was rear-ended by a 2011 Volkswagen driven by Jeffrey Dobner, 25, of Foristell. Reports did not describe the circumstances of the crash, except to say that Dobner’s car was totaled in the accident. That crash pushed Dunn’s Hyundai into the path of a Freightliner semi truck driven by 57-year-old James Saale of Chillicothe. The impact with the semi drove the Hyundai into a Toyota minivan driven by Courtney Birkel of Chesterfield, 41, and then off the side of the road. Emergency personnel from the Monarch Fire Protection District pronounced Dunn dead at the scene. All four of the drivers were wearing seat belts. No other injuries were reported, but the crash shut down all westbound lanes of the highway but one for two hours, and traffic continued into the evening as police worked at the scene.
The articles did not announce charges against any driver, and it’s possible that the death will ultimately be deemed accidental. But as a Missouri semi truck accident lawyer, I know that if charges are filed, they are most likely to be filed against Dobner, the driver of the car that originally rear-ended Dunn’s. In almost all rear-end accidents, police and auto insurance companies start by assuming that the person in the rearmost car is at fault, and their minds may only be changed in very specific circumstances (and with well-documented evidence). The rear-end accident was likely less harmful than the impact with the 18-wheeler, because large trucks like Freightliners are so much larger than the typical sedan that they can do far more damage in a crash. But the trucker, and by extension, his trucking company, may be legally at fault only if their safety choices made it unreasonably difficult to get out of the way.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we focus our practice on accidents involving large commercial trucks, because we know how devastating they can be. As this crash shows, a crash between a tractor-trailer and an ordinary-sized passenger car is not a fair contest; the greater size and weight of the large truck means it can do substantially more damage than another car, even at the same speed. For the people inside the smaller car, this means serious injuries, sometimes leading to permanent disability or death. Our southern Illinois big rig accident attorneys help victims of these types of crashes and their families hold the people at fault for the accident legally and financially accountable for the harm they caused. That includes all financial damages, such as lost income and medical bills, as well as compensation for their pain, suffering and losses.


If your family is struggling with injuries caused by a serous semi truck accident and you’d like to speak with an experienced law firm about your legal options, call Carey, Danis & Lowe today. For a free, confidential case evaluation, send us an email or call 1-877-678-3400.
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