As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorney, I continue to follow the news about the fallout from the 2008 Interstate 40 crash. In that accident, trucker Jeffrey Knight plowed his semi truck into a line of stopped cars, leaving three dead and 15 injured, some permanently. Knight told investigators he was reaching for his cell phone at the time, which eventually led police to charge him with three counts of second-degree involuntary manslaughter. He has been held in St. Louis County jail since April of last year. Now, according to a Jan. 29 post the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Crime Beat blog, trial for the involuntary manslaughter charges has been scheduled for June.
Knight was driving a load of scrap metal when he approached a line of stopped cars near the junction with Interstate 270. He failed to slow or stop in time, running into or over ten vehicles before stopping. The accident killed Charles “Keith” Cason, of Caseyville, 55; Lydia Miller of Canton, 55; and Alvin Mast of Kahoka, 88. Miller and Mast were Amish and had hired a driver to bring them to a funeral in Tennessee. The Missouri Highway Patrol said Knight had a clean driving record and didn’t seem to be using drugs and alcohol. However, in its report, the patrol said Knight admitted that he had been reaching for his phone and opening it just before the accident, opening him to distracted driving charges. If convicted on all three counts, he faces up to 12 years in prison.
This was a terrible, avoidable accident. But as a Missouri big rig accident lawyer, I hope that we can at least use it as an example of why it’s so important for truck drivers to avoid driving distractions. Every driver should avoid distractions behind the wheel, of course, and public safety campaigners are starting to acknowledge that. But truck drivers are in charge of machines many times the size and weight of a passenger car, and that means they can do much more damage in a crash. For example, if Knight had been driving an ordinary sedan in this crash, it’s unlikely that he would have been able to hit ten vehicles or harm 18 people. Truck drivers are well aware of this greater danger, and I hope that means they also feel a greater responsibility to drive safely.
Carey, Danis & Lowe focuses its practice on representing clients who sustained serious injuries in a crash with a large commercial truck. Our southern Illinois semi truck accident attorneys represent the families of those who were wrongfully killed as well as victims who sustained serious, permanent injuries. In many cases, the trucking company as well as the trucker is liable for the crash, because of its hiring policies, its operating policies or the state of its equipment. We help clients hold both of them and their insurance companies legally liable for the accident and all of its effects — physical, emotional and financial. In a lawsuit, trucking accident victims can recover compensation for their injuries, pain and lost quality of life, as well as for all accident-related medical bills and other costs.
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