As a Missouri 18 wheeler collision attorney, I hear about more fatal accidents involving semi trucks than most people. Sadly, a St. Joseph man recently lost his life in such an accident. According to the Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune, Michael A. Hart, 44, died July 14 in an accident caused by a tractor-trailer that pulled in front of his van. The article does not assign blame, but if the police report says the trucker pulled in front of Hart, it’s very likely that that trucker will be assigned the fault for the accident. My sympathies go out to Hart’s loved ones, and I hope they are treated fairly and protected from the worst excesses that trucking insurance companies are capable of.
The article says Hart was driving eastbound on U.S. Highway 36, a mile east of Hamilton, a small town northeast of Kansas City. Dale O. Hazzard, 38, of Gallatin, was driving his 1995 Volvo tractor trailer southbound on Spring Hill Road. According to the police report, Hazzard pulled out in front of Hart’s 1989 Chevy van, and the van hit the rear right side of the semi truck. The vehicles became entangled. There was no mention of whether Hazzard was hurt in the crash, or why he pulled onto the highway without stopping for oncoming traffic. A map of the area shows that the roads come together in a T intersection, so Hazzard would have had to slow down to turn from the gravel Spring Hill Road onto Highway 36.
In my work as a St. Louis semi trailer crash lawyer, I have seen far too many crashes that may have been entirely preventable, like this one, because they are caused by careless, negligent behavior. That includes cases where semi truck drivers were distracted by maps or phones, illness, exhaustion from overwork or simply not paying attention. I’ve also seen cases where the driver did everything right, but his or her trucking company failed to maintain the truck and its equipment properly. All of these mistakes can lead to a terrible, sometimes fatal, accident — and all of them are completely preventable. Because trucks have the potential to cause this type of serious accident, purely based on their size and weight, there are numerous state and federal laws and regulations governing drivers of large trucks.
Truck drivers and their employers are subject to penalties from the state government and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for breaking those rules. But those penalties can’t do much for people who suffered devastating injuries or lost a loved one in a crash, which is why negligent truckers and trucking companies are also liable in any lawsuit filed by trucking accident victims. This means that victims or their survivors can sue truckers and trucking companies for financial compensation, requiring those who caused the harm to pay for it. Financial compensation cannot return the victims’ lives to the way they were before the accident, but it can help the victims begin to get their lives back on track by taking care of medical costs, funeral costs, replacement of destroyed property such as the family car and lost past and future wages. It can also compensate them financially for their pain and emotional suffering.
If you were injured in a trucking crash that you believe was the fault of a negligent truck driver or trucking company, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe right away for help. It’s important for trucking accident victims to contact a southern Illinois semi truck accident attorney right away to ensure that all their rights are preserved. Often, truckers’ insurance companies take advantage of victims’ emotional trauma or grief to convince them sign away their rights to sue right after the accident, in exchange for a small sum of money. Doing this takes away the victims’ rights to request more money later, when better information and the help of an experienced attorney can help them recover much greater and more appropriate compensation. To learn more about your rights and your legal options, you can contact Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. To set up an appointment, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.