A recent serious accident in southern Illinois involving several vehicles demonstrates how important it is for drivers of heavy trucks such as tractor trailers to use the utmost caution. Fox2 Now reported July 16 that two people were killed and three were hospitalized with injuries in a chain-reaction crash involving four semi trucks on I-57. As a southern Illinois semi truck accident lawyer, I am also troubled to note that this wreck was probably entirely preventable. Like several other recent tractor trailer accidents, this one allegedly started because several drivers failed to stop in time to avoid hitting traffic sitting on the highway.
The crash took place on I-57 between Benton and West Frankfort in southern Illinois, around 2 p.m. last Thursday. The cause of the accident has not yet been established, but we do know that traffic on the highway was stopped because of a construction zone. WJBD reported that a semi truck driven by Carl Jones, 52, of Florissant, Mo. rear-ended a vehicle stopped in the construction zone, which was pushed into three other vehicles ahead of it. Then Jones’s truck was rear-ended by another tractor-trailer, driven by Randy Reynolds, 54, of Herrin, Ill. A third semi truck, driven by Damon Stahlhut, 39, of Marion, Ill, rear-ended Reynolds’ truck. Both Stahlhut and Reynolds were hauling asphalt. Reynolds’ truck caught fire and the fire spread to Jones’ truck. Both Reynolds and Jones lost their lives, but fortunately, the occupants of the other involved vehicles were not seriously injured. I-57’s northbound and southbound lanes were closed for about five hours while emergency crews responded to the wreck.
Fox 2 in St. Louis had a video report:
In this case, we don’t know whether driver distraction, equipment failure, medical issues or something else caused the problems that led to this terrible accident. But we do know that there are now two families who have lost loved ones, and in my experience as a Missouri tractor trailer accident attorney, it’s important for these families to protect their rights as victims while the accident investigation takes place and responsibility is assigned. Sorting out crashes involving this many trucks and this many drivers can be very complex, especially because each trucker may be insured separately from his or her trucking company. In addition to being complicated, this can create many opportunities for insurance companies to minimize their liability by violating the victims’ rights. That’s why it’s essential for victims to get help from an experienced attorney as early as possible.
Trucking regulations require trucks to be maintained in good working condition and truckers to be rested, reasonably healthy and careful on the road. As the accident investigation progresses, the police may find that one or more of the truckers or trucking companies involved failed to live up to these obligations. That’s why it’s important for victims and their families hurt in accidents involving large trucks to talk with an experienced semi truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after the crash. The families of the men killed in this crash may have depended on them for financial support. If someone else’s negligence, or failure to be appropriately careful and obey the law, caused their deaths, then the families can sue the negligent parties for financial compensation. This could include compensation for lost income and funeral expenses as well as compensation for the loss of a loved one’s care and companionship. Money cannot restore their lives to the way they were before the accident, but it can at least make it easier for these to move forward.
At Carey, Danis & Lowe, we specialize in representing victims who were injured or families of victims killed in serious accidents with commercial trucks. Our St. Louis 18-wheeler crash attorneys 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 victims what they deserve. That’s why we 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 work our hardest for every client to ensure that they receive the fullest possible financial compensation. If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a serious trucking accident, you can call on us 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.