If you’ve been injured in a truck accident in Missouri, you want answers. You want to know what really happened, who was responsible and whether insurance companies are treating you fairly.
But a truck crash case is like a complicated puzzle. Figuring out how the pieces fit together is tricky. Multiple parties may be liable for the wreck. You will need good, solid evidence – and lots of it – to back up your claim. Simply put, you will need a knowledgeable truck accident attorney by your side.
Let the Missouri truck accident lawyers at The Bruning Law Firm help you. Our legal team has years of experience representing clients who were hurt in accidents involving semi-trucks, tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles. We have a thorough understanding of trucking regulations and the strategies that insurers use in attempt to reduce payouts. We don’t fall for their tricks.
Our firm has won millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for injured clients in Missouri over the years. These successes have placed us among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers and in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. But most importantly, we have used our legal skills to show clients that we care – not just by winning them compensation, but by fighting for them because it’s just the right thing to do.
It’s easy to arrange a free consultation with The Bruning Law Firm. Call us or contact us online today.
Who Is At Fault for My Missouri Truck Accident?
Truck accidents are easily some of the worst on the roads. The vast size difference between a tractor-trailer and a standard car means that truck crashes are more violent and more likely to result in more severe injuries. Most of the time, the occupants of the other vehicle suffer the worst trauma.
In the wake of a truck crash, it’s easy to place blame quickly. Most likely, that will be on the truck driver. The trucker could certainly be at fault. But semi-truck accidents are not like car accidents. Preparing a truck for travel involves a variety of players – all or some of whom may share responsibility for the wreck.
Examples of possible defendants in a truck accident case include:
- Truck drivers
- Trucking companies
- Parts manufacturers
- Freight loading and securement companies
- Third-party maintenance companies
- Government agencies responsible for roadway maintenance
- Other motorists
Determining liability takes time and investigation. Trucking companies have teams of investigators ready to get started right after the accident. Their goal is to protect the trucking company, not you. Our attorneys can begin building your case once the initial consultation is complete.
Getting started will mean identifying all of the parties who were involved in the crash. With truck accident cases, more than one insurance policy may be involved. Truck companies often have more than one insurance carrier themselves. The cargo might be insured by a different insurance company. If the accident involved multiple vehicles, you must also take each individual’s auto policy into account.
When you are recovering from injuries, you shouldn’t have to worry about untangling these insurance matters. Our lawyers will handle all communications with insurers to make sure that you aren’t being shortchanged.
Why Are Semi-Truck Collisions So Complicated?
Truck crash accidents differ from car crashes for another important reason. The trucking industry is heavily regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The safety regulations are comprehensive and very detailed, spelling out the responsibilities of truck drivers and commercial trucking companies with everything from hiring practices and driver training to maintenance schedules and safety protocols.
Violations that have led to serious truck accidents include:
- Not taking mandatory rest breaks
- Hiring unqualified drivers
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Negligent cargo loading
- Ignoring weight, size and route limitations
- Driver fatigue
- Driver error (speeding, failure to check blind spots, traffic signaling, underestimating stopping distance)
- Skipping maintenance schedules
- Failure to perform repairs
- Pressuring employees to meet unreasonable delivery schedules
Truck drivers and trucking companies must adhere to both state and federal standards. At The Bruning Law Firm, we know the complexity of the federal regulations as well as Missouri trucking laws. Our lawyers can spot violations of all relevant statutes and use them to build a strong negligence case for you. We can also determine how conditions that may be outside of the truck driver’s control – such as poor weather – could impact the outcome of your case.
What to Do After a Missouri Truck Accident
Truck accidents can result in immediate injuries that are easily spotted. However, other serious injuries are invisible and you might not even feel their repercussions for days or weeks after the wreck. That’s why you should always seek medical attention. Your health is most important. Not getting treatment could also jeopardize a future legal claim.
If your injuries are not incapacitating, there are several helpful things that you can do at the accident scene. You should:
- Collect as much information as you can, such as the name of the truck driver and trucking company, insurance information, license plate numbers, and driver’s license information.
- Take photos of the accident scene, your car’s damage and any injuries.
- Obtain a copy of the police accident report.
- Get contact information for any witnesses.
- Don’t talk to insurance company or truck company’s representatives.
- Contact a truck accident attorney.
Many tractor-trailer collisions involve multiple vehicles. If that was the situation in your crash, it may be difficult to get every involved party’s information. Don’t worry. Our tractor-trailer accident lawyers will gather every piece of information necessary to support your claim for compensation.
Whether on any of our high-speed interstate highways, or in the hectic traffic of a city street in a metro like St. Louis, serious and deadly truck accidents can easily occur in Missouri. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s statistical analysis center, more than 3,000 people are injured on Missouri roadways each year in accidents with commercial motor vehicles (semi-trucks), and more than 100 die.
A commercial truck can weigh up to 30 to 40 times more than the average passenger car and its massive size makes it harder to control or to stop in emergencies. Because of the dangers these big vehicles present, the federal government heavily regulates the trucking industry. It requires random drug and alcohol screenings, sets hours of service restrictions that mandate all drivers take regular breaks and off-duty time, and requires that trucking companies carry more liability insurance
than other drivers.
If a Missouri truck accident injured you, you likely have questions about the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries or loss. The Bruning Law Firm is happy to answer specific questions about your case during a free case evaluation. In the meantime, here are answers to some of the most-asked questions about Missouri truck accident cases.
How do I obtain compensation for injuries I suffered in a Missouri truck accident?
Individuals who were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck in Missouri can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injuries through a lawsuit. If a truck accident victim can successfully prove these things, the court may order an award of damages—legally mandated compensation. In Missouri, truck accident claimants generally have five years from the date of the accident to file a claim in court. However, claimants shouldn’t wait. There may be exceptions to this deadline in your case, such as if the government is a defendant. And because the legal investigation in truck accident cases is often extensive, start collecting evidence and tracking down witnesses to support your case as soon after the accident as possible.
How are Missouri truck accident cases different from cases involving other types of traffic accidents?
Truck accident cases often involve more serious or catastrophic injuries that are expensive to treat and result in major quality-of-life impacts such as the loss of one’s independence or ability to earn an income. Additionally, trucking companies are federally required to carry larger amounts of insurance, meaning more money is available to compensate victims of truck accidents. For this reason, truck accident victims often demand much more compensation than victims of normal passenger-vehicle accidents.
Missouri truck accidents are also different in that determining liability can often be more difficult. For one, liability could be shared among many different parties, each subject to their own rules and regulations. Because the risk of liability is so great for trucking companies and the large corporate insurance companies who provide their policies, they often have robust legal departments. Fighting for compensation in a trucking accident case, therefore, can often be much harder. This makes it even more important to hire an attorney. A victim of a Missouri truck accident who tries to file a claim without an experienced attorney may risk losing many thousands of dollars in compensation because they lack a full understanding of their legal rights and how to vindicate them.
How do I prove who was liable for my Missouri truck accident?
You may find many sources of liability after your Missouri truck accident. The truck driver and the trucking company employing them are often the first examples that come to mind. Additional potentially liable parties include other roadway users, the shipper who should have properly loaded the truck’s cargo, or the manufacturer or distributor of defective truck parts. In other words, the range of people whom you could hold liable in a truck accident is quite broad, and depends on the unique facts of a case.
To determine who was liable in your truck accident case, you must establish:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the actions that a reasonable person would take in a given set of circumstances to protect the safety and health of others. While all roadway users owe others a duty of care to operate motor vehicles safely and legally, a commercial truck driver has an expanded duty of care. This includes such things as maintaining a special license to operate the truck, and satisfying intensive insurance requirements. Missouri truck drivers may be considered alcohol-impaired at a much lower blood alcohol content than is the case for regular passenger-vehicle operators. Other potentially liable parties have their own duties of care, such as the trucking company’s responsibility to ensure that the driver is properly trained, or the manufacturer of the truck’s parts responsibility to ensure that the parts are safe and do not present an unreasonable risk to consumers when used as instructed.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach refers to any actions the at-fault party took that violated the duty of care. The truck driver who fails to adhere to rest requirements, the company that fails to ensure its drivers are properly licensed, and the manufacturer that produces a defective truck part may all be breaching their duties of care.
- The breach resulted in a truck accident in which you sustained injuries, leading to expenses and impacts. You must establish causation between any given liable party’s breach and the injuries you sustained.
One of the many services an experienced St. Louis truck accident attorney can provide is a determination of all sources of liability in your case and all insurance resources that can compensate you. Multiple liable parties may have injured you in a truck accident claim, and leaving any one of them out could mean leaving behind thousands of dollars in compensation you deserve.
I was injured in a no-zone accident. The truck driver said it was my fault. Is this true?
Depending on the other facts of your case, in all likelihood, the truck driver is at fault. The term “no zone” refers to the truck’s blind spots. A blind spot is a place, generally on the rear side of a vehicle, that a driver cannot see through his or her rear or side-view mirrors. As explained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a commercial truck has significant blind spots on all four sides due to the massive height and length of the vehicle. Not to mention, a commercial truck often doesn’t have a rearview mirror, as it would be of no use with the trailer attached.
Unfortunately, the term “no zone” also incorrectly suggests that driving alongside a commercial truck is somehow illegal or that it’s automatically your fault if you get hit while in one. The truth is, the truck driver has the responsibility to yield to drivers in the travel lane when making turns or changing lanes. While it is certainly recommended for your own safety to avoid lingering in the no-zone, such that the truck driver may forget you are there, if the driver forgets you are there and encroaches on your lane of travel, they may be liable if an accident ensues.
The truck driver’s insurance adjuster has already offered me a settlement. Should I accept it?
It is common after a serious truck accident to get a quick settlement offer from the at-fault party’s insurance adjuster. Never accept this offer without first speaking to an experienced truck accident attorney about your case. Regardless of how concerned the adjuster seems with your well-being, the adjuster isn’t working on your behalf, but on behalf of the insurance company. The adjuster’s job is to save the insurance company money by avoiding large payouts on claims. In the case of a truck accident, their liability could be especially high, and thus their incentive to push you into a quick, low settlement is greater.
Accepting the first offer from the insurance company in a truck accident case is generally a mistake, as there has not been enough time to determine the expenses and impacts your injury has caused or will likely cause in the future. A settlement is a one-shot opportunity—if you accept a settlement that doesn’t provide enough money to cover the costs of your injury, you can’t go back and ask the insurance company for more money.
An experienced Missouri truck accident attorney will have a better idea about how to determine the value of your case, based on the actual expenses and impacts you have incurred, as well as those you will likely incur in the future.
How much can I get if the truck accident damaged my spinal cord?
Spinal cord injuries are among the most serious injuries an individual can suffer. The spinal cord includes a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist. The vertebrae and discs of the spinal column protect it. The spinal cord, along with the brain, makes up the body’s central nervous system. The brain uses the spinal cord to communicate with and control the functions of all other parts of the body.
Despite its amazing function and importance, the spinal cord has only a limited ability to heal after injury. Spinal cord injuries often result in either an incomplete or complete loss of function and sensation in the body below the injury site, a condition known as paralysis. Injuries occurring high up on the cord, in the cervical (neck) region, will generally result in a condition known as quadriplegia or tetraplegia. It paralyzes the shoulders, diaphragm, arms, hands, torso, pelvis, hips, legs, and feet. Injuries that occur lower on the cord will often result in paraplegia, which is paralysis in the hips, pelvis, legs, and feet.
These are generally high-value claims due to the permanence of the damage and the disabling aspects of the injury. They may leave the victim with frequent complications requiring medical treatment throughout life, a reduced life expectancy, the inability to complete personal tasks independently, and the inability to earn in the same capacity as before the accident.
I was injured in a truck accident in Missouri four years ago. Is it too late to file a claim?
Depending on other factors in your case, you may still file a claim. The statute of limitations in truck accident cases in Missouri is generally five years from the date on which the accident occurred. This means that as long as you file your claim in court within five years, the court can consider your compensation claim. However, there are exceptions, and the unique facts of your case may affect how much time you have to file. You should consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to determine exactly how long you have to file and to get the process started as soon as possible.
I can’t afford an attorney. Can I file my Missouri truck accident claim on my own?
Bringing a truck accident claim is hard. These cases can be expensive for defendants and their insurers to pay out, and so they have an incentive to push back in any way they can. With their army of attorneys, insurers may try to push a self-represented truck accident victim into a settlement that is much too low to cover the victim’s actual expenses and impacts.
With an attorney on your side, you have someone with the knowledge of how to handle these cases and maximize the amount of compensation you can recover. They know the type of evidence you need to prove your case in court and the process of negotiating a settlement with an insurance provider. Without that knowledge and understanding, particularly in a truck accident case, it can be difficult and immensely stressful to get a fair outcome.
At The Bruning Law Firm, we understand the concerns people have about affording an attorney, particularly in light of the expenses they are facing because of their injury. Because having an experienced Missouri truck accident lawyer on your side is so important, The Bruning Law Firm is pleased to offer two special services designed to ensure access to justice for truck accident victims.
- A free case evaluation, which is an obligation-free conversation that you can have with one of our truck accident attorneys to obtain answers to questions about your specific case. You can also learn your options for obtaining compensation and how The Bruning Law Firm can assist you.
- A client-friendly contingent-fee payment arrangement, which means you owe nothing for your attorney’s services unless and until there is a positive resolution to your case.
Talk to a Missouri truck accident attorney today to learn more about how we can help you pursue the maximum amount of compensation available to you. Contact us now.
Reach Out to Our St. Louis Semi-Truck Lawyers Today
Truck accidents can cause emotional and financial devastation that robs victims and their families of their health and wellbeing. At The Bruning Law Firm, we focus on seeking fair and favorable results for our clients to restore their security.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We represent injured people in Belton, Branson, Carthage, Columbia, Grandview, Independence, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kansas City, Lees Summit, Liberty, Raymore, Raytown, Springfield, St. Charles, St. Louis and throughout Missouri.
Our Practice Areas
With more than 35 years of experience successfully representing St. Louis residents in personal injury cases, our attorneys have handled a variety of claims, including: