I was saddened to read that a Missouri semi truck accident outside Kansas City, apparently caused by drunk driving, has taken the life of a woman and injured her son and another man. According to the Platte Chronicle, truck driver Adam Shaw of Springfield, Missouri, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter and assault for causing a crossover accident early on Oct. 29. Police say he was driving a Freightliner semi truck drunk when he crossed the center line of Highway 45 at 8 a.m. His truck hit a minivan driven by Catherine Nienaber of Kansas City, Kansas, who died of her injuries. Her seven-year-old son suffered serious injuries in the crash. Also injured were Shaw himself and the driver of a third vehicle, 52-year-old Rodney Griffin of Atchison, Kansas.
Shaw crossed the center line at a point on Highway 45 called the Waldron Curve, which is used by commuters. Police told KCTV 5 that the area has seen accidents in the past, but they couldn’t say how many. They believe Shaw crossed the center line just after 8 a.m. and first clipped Griffin’s pickup truck before crashing head-on into the Nienabers’ minivan, which was behind the pickup. The crash temporarily closed the busy highway between Interstate 435 and Jones-Meyer Road. Shaw was taken into custody in Platte County and charged with felony DUI manslaughter, felony DUI assault and misdemeanor assault. One charge specifies that his BAC was at or above 0.18, making it four times the 0.04 legal limit for commercial motor vehicle drivers.
The lower legal limit for commercial drivers is one of the ways our society holds truck drivers to higher standards than ordinary drivers. Another way we do this is by requiring occasional drug and alcohol tests for commercial drivers. The fact that this driver was drunk—very drunk, in fact—while driving at all, and particularly at 8 in the morning, raises important questions about why he was entrusted with a commercial vehicle. No employer can prevent a driver from going drinking once, but his employer would have had a legal responsibility to detect signs of alcoholism or other signs of consistent drinking problems. Unfortunately, some trucking companies skirt these duties, skipping the tests or sending drivers to doctors who get paid to churn out medical fitness certifications regardless of their problems.
That may be cheaper than firing drivers with problems, but it puts everyone else on the road in serious danger of accidents caused by truck drivers who aren’t fit to drive. If the trucking company or companies that hired Shaw overlooked important safety regulations to do it, this family would be able to hold it legally responsible with a Missouri tractor-trailer accident lawsuit. In a lawsuit, families can claim all of the costs of the accident—for medical care and car repair, lost wages and household services. They can also claim compensation for any death in the family, any lifetime medical needs, and their pain, suffering and emotional trauma. This money may not restore things to the way they were before the crash, but it can help families make ends meet, get the medical help they need and recover after injuries that were no fault of their own.
If your family has suffered a serious injury because of a big rig crash caused in Missouri or southern Illinois by someone else’s carelessness, don’t wait to call Carey, Danis & Lowe. For a free consultation, call us today at 1-877-678-3400 or send us an email.
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