As a Missouri semi truck crash lawyer, I was interested to read about criminal consequences for a trucker who allegedly killed two people with negligent driving. According to a June 9 article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, truck driver Jay Valentine of Texas pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of careless driving. Valentine, 33, was accused of causing a crash on Interstate 55 near Herculaneum in June of 2010 when he took his eyes off the road too long. The truck crashed into a line of traffic, triggering a chain-reaction crash that ultimately involved eight cars and killed two people, one of whom was dragged inside his car for the length of a football field.
On June 2, 2010, Valentine was heading north on Interstate 55 when something distracted him. He told investigators he couldn’t remember exactly why he looked to the right, but when he turned his attention back to the road, he saw that traffic was slowing and it was too late to stop in time. Instead, his big rig hit a 2005 Ford Focus driven by Charles Martin, 52, of Perryville. This was the car that was ultimately dragged a very long way; one trooper at the scene said it looked like scrap metal. The semi then hit several more vehicles, causing a pileup that badly injured Alana McKnight, 28, of Festus. McKnight was airlifted to the hospital but later died. Prosecutors said they reviewed the facts thoroughly and did not believe more serious charges were appropriate. However, Valentine and his former trucking company face four lawsuits from crash victims and their relatives.
Some observers might be disappointed that prosecutors didn’t file more serious criminal charges against Valentine. I am a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorney, not a criminal attorney, but I do know that prosecutors generally prefer not to file charges they don’t believe will hold up in court. Although the driving described here is certainly inappropriate and unsafe, it may not be a crime worse than careless driving in Missouri. However, that doesn’t mean the victims of this accident have no recourse. As the article notes, families of both of the people killed are suing Valentine and his trucking company, Western Express Inc. They also face a claim by three people who were seriously injured in the crash, all of whom are claiming compensation for neck and back injuries; one also cites a head injury with permanent scarring.
Carey, Danis & Lowe has a special practice in semi truck accidents because we understand how destructive they can be. Unlike an accident between two cars, a crash between a car and a large truck is an unfair match, because the truck is far bigger and brings much greater force to the accident. For the people in the smaller vehicle, this can translate to death or very serious injuries. Our southern Illinois 18-wheeler accident lawyers help clients suffering from these kinds of drastic injuries get fair financial compensation for their physical injuries, pain and trauma. A lawsuit can also help families deal with the financial costs of the crash, which can be severe when there’s a serious injury or a breadwinner is permanently disabled.
If you or someone you love was hurt in a crash with a commercial truck, you should never take a payment from the trucking company or its insurance company before you speak to Carey, Danis & Lowe. For a free evaluation of your case, send us an email today or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.