As a southern Illinois 18-wheeler accident lawyer, I was saddened to read about a horrible accident near Mattoon, Ill. on Memorial Day. Holiday weekends often involve more tragic accidents than usual because so many people take road trips, and this means that we all have a duty to use extra caution in our holiday travel. Unfortunately, a semi truck driver allegedly was not paying attention as traffic ahead of him slowed down to accommodate road construction, and three people lost their lives.
According to the Champaign News-Gazette, a Louisiana semi truck driver was on Interstate 57 about two miles north of Mattoon when he reportedly looked down to find his map. Traffic ahead of him was slowing because two lanes were merging into one due to road resurfacing, and he didn’t realize it until it was too late. His 18-wheeler hit the back of a red Trailblazer in front of him, which was almost stopped, and a chain reaction with eight other vehicles ensued. An SUV that was hit caught fire. Three people in the SUV were killed, and a fourth person was taken to the burn center at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield. At least two of the 13 people hurt in the accident were critically injured. The truck driver was not injured, but was taken to a hospital for intoxication tests. The northbound lanes of the interstate were closed for more than seven hours while dozens of emergency personnel attended to the accident.
The longer I handle cases like this in my work as a Missouri tractor-trailer crash attorney, the more I am dismayed that preventable accidents like this continue to happen. Drivers depend on each other to drive carefully and make good decisions. This is especially true of semi truck drivers, who can kill or catastrophically injure people in smaller vehicles if they simply fail to pay attention. If the initial reports are accurate and the truck driver in this case really had taken his eyes off the road, the driver and his company may be held liable for the injuries, damage and death caused by the accident. Pulling off the road to look for and read the map might have cost the trucker some time, which might not please his employer, but it would have saved lives. It may be that the driver was under pressure to get to his destination quickly, or that he was fatigued from driving for many hours, or that he was not feeling well, and these conditions could have impaired his judgment about what risks were worth taking as he drove. Trucking regulations make it clear that if a driver’s ability to be safe on the road is compromised in any way, the driver needs to avoid driving until that condition has been resolved.
It may be a while before the exact cause of the accident has been determined, but it is very important that all the victims contact a St. Louis semi truck collision attorney immediately in order to preserve their rights. In many cases, the trucking company’s insurance company starts working right away to limit its losses by trying to convince victims to accept an unacceptably low amount of compensation. Insurance companies know that victims often aren’t aware of their rights, and they exploit this to save money by denying victims the full settlement they are entitled to. In fact, the law allows victims to claim all financial costs related to the accident from the trucker and trucking company that caused them, along with compensation for their injuries, physical and emotional pain and lost quality of life.
But when victims don’t realize that they have the right to sue for this compensation, they often accept a small payment from an insurance company, which means they are legally barred from requesting more if they discover more financial needs later. This is why it’s so important for victims to have an experienced attorney on their side. At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we specialize in protecting victims’ rights. We work hard to make sure that victims receive all that they should, and to see that those who caused their suffering are held responsible for it. If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a serious trucking accident, please call on Carey, Danis & Lowe for help. We offer free, confidential consultations. To set one up, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.