Truck Accidents in Illinois and Missouri: What to Know
St. Louis and the Metro East stand at the midsection of America, where numerous highways intersect. Cars share the road with commercial vehicle traffic of all kinds, carrying goods between Missouri and Illinois and across the nation. Unfortunately, this means a lot of serious truck accidents.
When a driver is in a wreck with a truck, getting a settlement for personal injuries is slightly different than a crash between two individuals’ vehicles. Liability may apply not only to the commercial truck driver but also to their company, and possibly other entities.
In both Illinois and Missouri, a victim’s best chance at getting full and fair compensation is with a personal injury lawyer who also has experience as a truck accident lawyer.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
Semis, tractor-trailers, buses, and even smaller panel trucks pose risks that go beyond a car, SUV, or pickup. Several characteristics of commercial vehicles make accidents more likely and more serious:
- A truck’s size makes it hard for other drivers to see around it, and for the driver to see other vehicles. Its length requires a wide turning radius. And its height can make it difficult to maneuver in windy conditions. Overcorrecting on wet or icy roads can cause even an experienced truck driver to lose control and jackknife or rollover.
- Even an empty semi weighs about eight times a typical car. Loaded with cargo, a truck can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Even a minor impact with a vehicle that heavy is likely to cause serious damage to a car, as well as severe injuries to anyone riding in it.
- Trucks take much longer than smaller vehicles to stop. This poses a danger to cars ahead if a driver needs to slam on their brakes.
- Freight, if not secured properly, can fall off a truck endangering those behind and beside the truck on the road. The heavier the cargo, the more serious the resulting accident.
- A truck’s large wheelbase makes its bumper sit significantly higher than a car. This can cause an under-ride collision, wedging and sometimes crushing the smaller vehicle beneath the truck.
- Like any driver, a truck driver might be impaired, distracted, or fall asleep at the wheel.
Due to these factors, the severity of a car and truck accident is typically greater than a crash involving two cars. The smaller vehicle is unlikely to come away from the crash with fender-bender-type damage. And more often than not, the victims in the car will suffer serious, if not catastrophic injuries.
Like any car accident, the victim deserves full compensation for their injuries. Illinois and Missouri are both “at-fault” states, meaning the person who caused the accident is liable for damages. But when the at-fault driver was behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, the process can get complicated. Contacting a truck accident lawyer like Hipskind & McAninch for truck accidents in Missouri and Illinois is a good first step.
Special Laws and Regulations for Commercial Vehicles
Government entities have put rules and regulations into place in an attempt to reduce the risk of truck accidents. As mentioned above, for example, there are laws limiting the weight a truck can carry.
Depending on the size of the vehicle, the driver may need a Commercial Driver’s Licence (CDL). Commercial drivers are typically required to complete training and hold certifications proving they are allowed to operate the vehicle. Reputable companies also conduct regular drug testing on their drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits drivers to 11 hours behind the wheel, and only after 10 hours of rest. For buses and any other vehicle carrying passengers, the limit is 10 hours of driving after 8 hours of rest. All drivers must take a 30-minute break after 8 hours behind the wheel.
These regulations were put in place to protect everyone on the road. Sadly, some drivers and their companies do not follow them. Not only does this make a serious accident more probable, but it also can redefine the issue of liability in a truck accident case.
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident
Truck accidents are complicated because responsibility can fall on parties besides the driver. Various companies and individuals involved in the commercial operation may be liable, depending on the crash’s particular circumstances.
The Driver. If a crash happens due to a commercial driver’s negligence, they can be held liable. Their status as either an employee or an independent contractor can determine how much of the responsibility is theirs, and what might be shared with the company they work for.
The Trucking Company. The owner of the truck may be liable for a truck accident. Companies have certain responsibilities to see that the drivers they hire are qualified, trained, and drug tested, and do not go beyond the FMCSA hourly limits. If the company has failed to make sure that all of these regulations are followed, it can affect the case. The company is also responsible for carrying out regular maintenance and inspections, making sure the truck has the proper signaling and emergency equipment and having appropriate insurance coverage.
Third-Party Maintenance Company. If the trucking company contracts its fleet’s maintenance and inspections to another entity, that company may be held liable. If, for example, a truck accident results from faulty brakes, the maintenance company whose job it is to keep them in good working order could be included in the case.
Freight Loading Company. A separate company that is responsible for loading and securing cargo may be liable if they fail to do so and the freight causes an accident.
An experienced truck accident attorney understands the intricacies of these cases and will ensure that all responsible parties are included in a claim. Further complicating matters is the fact that all of these entities may have different insurance companies. This means multiple claims and separate negotiations—something that would be impossible for the victim to juggle on their own.
Find the Best Truck Accident Lawyer
Being hurt in a car accident is bad enough. A truck accident can amplify the car’s damage and the victim’s injuries. It also often increases the size of the settlement needed to make the victim whole again.
A truck accident lawyer can assist in:
- Proving who was at fault
- Calculating all monetary and non-monetary losses
- Filing appropriate documents and insurance claims
- Negotiating a settlement with the various insurance companies
- Filing a lawsuit if a fair settlement is not reached
- Standing by the victim’s side to make sure they get the compensation they deserve.
While it is not necessary to find a truck accident lawyer immediately after the crash, it is worth noting that every state has a different statute of limitations.
In Missouri, victims have 5 years from the time of the accident to file a claim. In Illinois, the statute of limitations is only 2 years.
Personal injury lawyers Hipskind & McAninch deal with truck accidents on both sides of the river. Contact them for a free consultation. They can get started on your case right away, wasting no time in getting you the settlement you deserve.
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