Two recent pileup accidents involving semi trucks snarled traffic for eight hours on Interstate 80 in Illinois. As a southern Illinois tractor trailer crash attorney, I frequently read about accidents like this, and I was especially sad to read that one of these accidents resulted in very serious injuries to a 13-year-old girl and her father. Such accidents should remind all of us of the need to be careful while driving, but people who drive large, heavy trucks have a special responsibility to exercise caution, since their vehicles can do so much more damage than a passenger car can.
At 2:10 p.m. on August 10, the first accident occurred when one semi truck hit another near Utica, Ill. Karolis Bogusas, 28, of Elmhurst, was driving a tractor-trailer that became disabled, so he pulled onto the shoulder. Then, another tractor-trailer driven by Kevin G. Haeffner, 38, of Lincoln, Neb., struck Bogusas’s truck and jackknifed. Haeffner’s trailer was full of packaged raw beef, which spilled out across the Interstate as the trailer was smashed open by the collision. Haeffner was taken to Ottawa Regional Hospital, treated, and released. Meanwhile, the mess created by that accident left traffic nearly at a standstill.
Just 20 minutes after the first crash and a mile away, another crash occurred, this one with even worse results. Rex Davis, 50, of Montpelier, was driving another semi truck that he plowed into several cars ahead of him, tossing them aside to the center median. The tractor-trailer stopped atop a Pontiac Grand Am, crushing the car flat with 37-year-old Thomas Bolin and 13-year-old Corren Bolin, of Princeton, inside. The father and daughter were severely injured, but thankfully they were not killed. It took rescuers about an hour to extricate the two of them from their flattened car. Then, Corren was rushed to Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru, Ill. Her father was airlifted to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where Corren was later airlifted. After emergency treatment and surgery, both were listed in critical condition.
News reports about the accident said that the state police were investigating the two crashes and that no citations had been issued as of press time. Even as the investigation goes on, the data presented in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study helps us to think about what could have caused these crashes and how to prevent them in the future. This study found that 29% of fatal crashes in which truck drivers were at fault were attributed to driver distraction and inattention; 23% of truck drivers in the crashes under study were speeding; 9% had made illegal maneuvers; 7% were driving aggressively, 5% were following too closely, and 1% had used alcohol.
Sadly, any error a truck driver makes can have terrible consequences for drivers of smaller vehicles, which cannot protect their passengers from the tremendous force of large, heavy tractor-trailers. That’s why there are important rules that truckers are legally required to follow, such as restrictions on the number of hours they can drive before having a rest period, or inspecting the condition of their trucks before setting out on each day’s drive. Failure to respect and abide by these rules is not just illegal — it also puts innocent people’s lives at risk, as the study demonstrates.
As a Missouri 18-wheeler crash attorney, I emphasize preventing accidents by being careful on the roads. But when truckers ignore regulations and common sense, that’s called negligence. If their negligence causes innocent victims, such as the people in a nearby car, to get hurt or killed in an accident, the victims and their families can hold them legally accountable. Victims hurt in accidents with large trucks often sustain serious injuries that are very expensive to treat and that significantly disrupt their lives. The costs for those injuries and disruptions should come out of the pockets of those who are responsible for their injuries — the truck driver, his or her employer, and their insurance companies.
Victims of accidents caused by negligent semi truck drivers should talk to an experienced St. Louis semi trailer crash lawyer to learn about their rights to recover financial compensation. That includes compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost quality of life, lost past and future wages, damage or loss of personal property such as a vehicle, and damage to close relationships. If you or a loved one were hurt by a negligent tractor trailer driver, please contact Carey, Danis & Lowe right away. Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident can help ensure that all relevant evidence from the crash is preserved, and prevent the negligent driver’s insurance company from convincing you to sign away your rights to full compensation.
To learn more or set up a free consultation, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.