As a Missouri tractor-trailer crash attorney, I’ve kept up with the news about a horrifying crash that happened last summer in Oklahoma. According to an Aug. 3 article from the Associated Press, the criminal case against the trucker who was allegedly at fault in the accident has been resolved. Donald L. Creed, 77, of Willard, Missouri, was sentenced to 10 years of probation and will serve 30 days in the Ottawa County, Oklahoma, jail for his guilty plea to 10 counts of misdemeanor negligent homicide. Those ten counts represent ten people who were killed in the June 2009 crash near Miami, Oklahoma, not far from the Oklahoma-Missouri border.
In the crash, Creed’s tractor trailer slammed into vehicles that had stopped for another accident on Interstate 44. The investigation into the crash did not turn up any evidence that Creed tried to brake or avoid hitting the other vehicles, nor that he was under the influence of alcohol or any other chemical interference with his ability to drive. At the scene, Creed said he thought the other vehicles had driven under his truck, suggesting he was confused or simply not paying attention. For the first year of his probation, Creed will undergo electronic monitoring. He will not be allowed to possess a commercial driver’s license either, although he has already retired from his job as a driver for a Kansas City grocery company. At least three families of victims of the crash have filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma court, which was scheduled to be heard in September.
In my experience as a southern Illinois semi trailer accident lawyer, victims sometimes get the sense of closure they need when criminal proceedings end against an at-fault truck driver. No doubt some families also feel that nothing is enough penalty for taking away their loved ones. But, as the news reports about this case suggest, there is more than one avenue that families can take to demand justice for someone injured or killed in a semi truck crash. In civil lawsuits, victims and their families can seek financial compensation from the insurance companies of drivers and their employers. A financial settlement or judgment can’t make their lives go back to the way they were before the crash, but it can at least pay for the costs imposed on victims because of the crash — costs like funeral expenses, medical bills, replacement of destroyed property like the family car, and lost past and future wages. It can also compensate victims for the less tangible costs like diminished quality of life, pain and suffering, and damage to their closest relationships.
The St. Louis semi truck collision attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe help victims of serious big rig accidents recover all the financial compensation they are entitled to. Anyone who has been involved in a serious accident with a semi trailer should contact us right away. Even if a truck driver pleads guilty to criminal charges, his or her employer and their insurance companies will most likely fight hard to avoid paying much compensation to victims. That’s why you need an experienced attorney on your side — to help preserve evidence and ensure that you aren’t tricked into signing away your rights to receive full compensation from the insurance companies. It’s important to avoid accepting a settlement offered by an insurance company without having consulted an attorney, since accepting it forecloses your ability to get more money if you discover later that your injuries are more serious and long-lasting than you had realized at the time.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one because of the carelessness of a semi truck driver or trucking company, please let Carey, Danis & Lowe help you. We offer free, confidential consultations. To set one up, please contact us online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.