Last year, I wrote about a horrifying trucking accident that happened in Oklahoma, just over the border from Missouri, last summer. A tractor-trailer driver failed to slow or stop for stalled traffic on the interstate and plowed into a line of cars at 71 mph, killing ten people and injuring at least three more. The driver, 76-year-old Donald Creed, of Willard, Mo., did not appear to slow down or swerve as he approached the stopped cars. Creed was charged with ten counts of misdemeanor negligent homicide, and The Oklahoman reported at the end of June that a plea agreement may be near. Three families of victims who died in the crash have filed a lawsuit to be heard in September, and two of the injured have filed their own lawsuits as well. As a Missouri semi trailer crash attorney, I hope that these legal processes will help the families to heal, even though their lives can never be the same.
Neither side will discuss the terms of the plea agreement, including whether Creed could face any jail time, but Creed’s attorney said that discussions with the Ottawa County district attorney are going well. The cause of the crash also remains unclear. Investigators found no mechanical problems, visual obstructions or intoxication that could explain the crash. But The Oklahoman suggests that driver inattention and exhaustion could have contributed to it. Creed had finished a 22-minute phone call just eight minutes before the crash, and he had also been working since 3 a.m. The crash happened at about 1 p.m., and the heat on the road was extreme, measuring between 110 and 115 degrees. Creed told investigators after the crash that he didn’t know what had happened, and he thought that the cars he ran over had driven under his truck on their own. It took three to five hours to rescue those who were injured and killed, as traffic stood still for seven hours, backed up for three miles. Highway patrol spokesman Lt. George Brown said it was the worst traffic accident he had ever responded to, and that he couldn’t remember one with a higher death toll.
As a Missouri big rig accident lawyer, I will be especially interested to learn about the progress of the lawsuits filed by the victims and their families. Creed has retired in the wake of the accident, which could make some observers wonder how the victims will get any compensation, even if they win. But as a southern Illinois 18-wheeler accident attorney, I know that in a claim like this, any financial compensation typically comes from the driver’s insurance company, if any, and the employer’s insurance company. In fact, the chance of a serious accident like this is one of the main reasons that drivers and businesses carry liability insurance. The law holds negligent truck drivers and their employers responsible for harm that they cause, and unfortunately, so many preventable accidents occur that liability insurance is a must.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do everything in their power to minimize payouts to victims, including underhanded tricks, which is why trucking accident victims shouldn’t hesitate to contact an attorney with specialized experience in large truck accidents, such as Carey, Danis & Lowe. If you or a loved one were hurt by a negligent semi truck driver, please contact our law firm for a free consultation about your situation. It’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as reasonable after an accident, because quick action can make a big difference to your case. Not only can an attorney help you preserve all relevant evidence from the crash, but he or she can protect you from insurance company representatives who take advantage of victims’ grief and shock and inexperience with the law to deny them full compensation. To learn more or set up a free consultation, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.