If you or your loved one find yourself a victim of a commercial truck accident in the greater St. Louis area, in Missouri or across the country, you need an experienced law firm on your side. These accidents usually generate difficult and complex litigation against several corporate defendants involved in different aspects of the trucking industry. The services of an experienced truck accident lawyer can be crucial.
Our team can offer advice and representation about your legal options for recovering money damages. We cut through the tangle of liability issues by finding violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations whenever they might have occurred with respect to commercial vehicle maintenance and inspection, driver’s hours behind the wheel, and handling of particular cargos. Our ability to relate particular violations of the federal trucking regulations to your accident, injuries and pain and suffering can lead to highly productive settlement negotiations with the responsible defendant’s insurance company.
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Types of Truck Accidents Our Lawyers Handle
Construction vehicles ranging from dump trucks to mobile cranes
Repair and maintenance vans
Delivery and parcel express trucks
Buses, mobility vans, airport shuttles, hospitality vans, and other passenger vehicles
Emergency response vehicles, such as fire engines or police cars
Snow plows and mobiles
Other large trucks
How We’ve Helped Our Clients
Learn more about the compensation our team has won for clients.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Commercial truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons that can be the fault of a driver, corporation, or insurance company. Each incident presents a unique set of challenges that are difficult to navigate on your own. Our truck accident lawyer has worked on a wide array of truck accident cases and can help you get through the tangle of complexities and maximize what you can recover. We work with a team of experts including accident reconstructionists, safety engineers, highway, bridge and railroad crossing civil engineers, and trucking regulation experts to get to the bottom of what happened.
Many people don’t realize that large commercial trucks are usually equipped with electronic data recording systems, commonly known as black boxes, that will electronically record what took place in the moments before impact. Usually, these systems are self contained and record to an internal hard drive. What we often see in truck crashes is that the 3,000 pound family sedan is completely totaled but the fully loaded 80,000 pound semi truck can drive away from the scene. If the electronic data is not immediately downloaded and preserved, driving the truck will record over the critical electronic data stored on the hard drive. In addition, many companies equip their vehicle with proprietary GPS tracking or logistics software that allows us to see where the truck has been and how far it has travelled over a period of time. This can be key information in a truck accident investigation that the company will not just voluntarily give up. It is imperative to get access to this valuable electronic information immediately. In addition, busses and many commercial trucks now have built in video recording systems - not to mention the thousands of cameras along our nation’s highways.
Tired Or Impaired Truck Drivers
Most commercial drivers get paid by the load. The faster they can deliver, the more they can earn in any given week. Recognizing the risks inherent in this type of compensation system, the Federal government has set limits on how many hours over the road truck drivers can spend behind the wheel and how much rest they must take between drives. Unfortunately, there are always those who are willing to play games and cheat the system if it is their financial advantage. Many drivers push themselves to the limit, choosing to ignore rest periods mandated by federal regulations. We have even had cases where drivers keep two sets of records or logs in case they get stopped. These types of violations can result in overly tired or impaired truck drivers who can cause devastating damage to the cars they share the highway with.
Truck drivers have many tasks in addition to operating their vehicles. Many use laptop computers to help them keep logs, prepare reports, and track expenses. A distracted truck driver can cause a catastrophic accident. Use of a laptop, cell phone or DVD player while driving is foolish, yet it happens every day on highways in Missouri and Illinois.
When a trucking company or driver fails to secure a load, debris can spread over a wide area and lead to a serious accident. Though the negligence might seem obvious, commercial truck companies and their insurance agencies may try to avoid paying adequate compensation for the losses of accident victims. It is important to obtain legal representation as soon as possible to inspect the accident site and examine the evidence.
Failure to Maintain Truck Driver Logs and Regulations
Federal regulations require truck drivers to keep detailed logs of their activities to help ensure they get enough rest and avoid driving while fatigued.
Log book violations by truckers include (1) failure to keep logs as required (2) keeping two separate logs — one accurate and one kept to show investigators and (3) failure to surrender the driver’s log as requested and required by law.
Semi truck brakes and tires must be regularly inspected and kept in good shape before and during travel. When these precautions are not taken, serious accidents can occur.
Accidents Caused By Overloading or Falling Debris
Trucking regulations spell out how cargo should be loaded and secured. Weight regulations, tie-down regulations and red-flag rules for irregular size cargo all work to keep us safe. When these regulations are overlooked, accidents can occur.
What is my semi truck accident case worth?
This is one of the questions we - as truck accident lawyers - get most often. The answer depends on three factors:
- Who was at fault;
- What are your injuries or damages;
- How much insurance is available.
The defendant may try to blame you for the truck accident. If they can confuse a jury into believing that the accident was your fault, they have the ability to not pay a dime. In our experience handling commercial truck cases, the driver has even more incentive to lie and try to blame you: They have a C-class commercial truck driver’s license that could be jeopardized if they are found at fault and work for an employer who might not be too happy if they’re driving recklessly. Their livelihood could depend on whether they are able to shift the blame to you.
If fault is in dispute, the defendant may accept partial responsibility for the accident but also blame the injured victim. In these cases, the amount of money they’re willing to pay will be reduced by whatever fault they believe the plaintiff bears in the accident. For example, if they think the injured party has sustained one million dollars in damages but is 50 percent at fault, they may only be willing to pay $500,000 or half of what the case is really worth. Fault can be one of the biggest factors affecting the value of a case.
A jury is allowed to award a plaintiff money for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages cover financial loss you have incurred; it usually consists of medical bills, lost wages, funeral bills and pharmacy expenses. You can collect for past damages as well as damages you will incur in the future.
Non-economic damages include compensation for your pain and suffering, mental anguish and how this accident affected your life.
Economic damages are usually straightforward: what was the bill? Non-economic damages are a bit more difficult to assess. While there is no magic formula or algorithm that will determine the value of a case, there are some general guidelines that can help you figure out what it’s worth, including the following guidelines:
1. The cost of your past medical bills.
If you get rear-ended by an 18-wheeler and get examined in the emergency room and do not have any injuries, you will have a semi truck accident claim that’s worth less than someone who spent a month in the hospital ICU on a ventilator and has a half-million-dollar medical bill or someone who’s suffered a wrongful death. This may seem obvious because these are extreme examples, however, it can become a very complicated issue.
2. Future expected medical care.
If a health professional believes that there is no expectation that you will need any care in the future, then your case will have less value than someone who is paralyzed and needs a lifetime of medical treatment and adaptive devices.
3. Loss in wages.
A person who was a construction foreman making $90,000 a year and can no longer work will have a wage loss component to his damages that a retired or unemployed person may not have.
The bottom line? The more damage incurred, involved the greater the potential value of your case.
Truck accident lawyers are often constrained by what insurance is available.
Every state sets a minimum amount of insurance that all truck drivers must carry; current law requires $25,000 of collision per person in Missouri and $20,000 in Illinois. Most states protect the personal property of a married couple that is owned jointly and limit assets that can be attached, such as a primary residence. The reality is that you’re often limited by what insurance is available. Fortunately, most commercial trucks carry fairly significant insurance policies to protect the companies that they work for. Many people don’t realize that it’s often possible to make an insurance claim under your own policy.
Sorting through what insurance is applicable to an accident can be confusing. There are things such as Uninsured Motorist, Underinsured Motorist and Med Pay policies that can allow you to recover much more than you may expect. It’s vital to speak to an attorney with experience in navigating these treacherous insurance issues.
Who pays for damages after a truck accident?
If you can prove driver negligence, then the driver or the company they work for could be held liable. The company could also come under scrutiny if you can show it neglected to keep its vehicles up to standards, which then resulted in a semi truck accident.
Sometimes there are more than one reason an accident has occurred. We often find ourselves suing the State Department of Transportation for poorly maintained highways, inadequate guardrails or safety mechanisms, poor markings or lack of signage on roadways or at railroad crossings. Other motorists or faulty road conditions could be contributing causes to the auto accident. You need an experienced semi truck accident attorney who can look over the accident claims, fully analyze the situation and try to reconstruct what happened.
After getting into an accident with a large commercial tractor trailer, you’ll likely be balancing car repairs, medical procedures and calls with insurance agents. You shouldn’t have to handle getting truck accident compensation alone – which is why we’re here to help.
How can I get compensation after a truck accident?
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a large truck, chances are that you’ll receive a call from an insurance adjuster representing the driver and trucking company.
The adjuster will normally ask for your permission to record the conversation so that they can investigate the claim and cover the following topics:
- How did the accident happen;
- Were you seriously injured;
- What repairs does your vehicle need?
Many times, this conversation is critical in terms of liability. As an attorney, I’ve seen many cases where my client has spoken to the insurance adjuster and given a recorded statement before I got involved in the case. The insurance adjuster then takes something my client says and tries to use it to shift the blame on them.
It’s perfectly fine to speak to the adjuster about the details of getting your car fixed quickly, but refrain from talking about how the accident occurred or any injuries unless your truck accident attorney is on the line and part of the conversation. To receive fair compensation, get an attorney involved who can represent your interests with the insurance company.
While your car can get repaired quickly, a bodily injury claim may take longer. Your attorney cannot and should not begin negotiating a settlement on your injury claim until you are completely done with treatment and released by your doctor; failing to wait may mean you’ll make a demand for settlement without knowing the full extent of your damages. You need to finish treatment so your attorney can put together all your medical records and bills to submit them to the defendant’s insurance company with a demand for settlement.
Then, the insurance company will review the demand and analyze it in terms of liability (who was at fault) and whether the amount demanded is reasonable given the plaintiff’s injuries. This usually leads to a back-and-forth negotiation between your attorney and the insurance adjuster. If the two sides cannot agree on a fair settlement amount, then you need to be prepared to file your lawsuit and hold the defendant accountable for their actions in a court of law where a judge or jury will determine what your damages are. This will prolong the process and can be frustrating for a victim who just wants to get on with their life, but is often the only way to get fair compensation for your injuries.
When should I hire a truck accident lawyer?
As soon as possible.
Immediately following an accident, you should be focused on your medical care. However, quickly working with an experienced lawyer is crucial for a successful outcome. There’s often valuable evidence that must be collected: The electronic data on a semi-truck’s black box will get recorded over the moment that truck drives away, skid marks may disappear in the rain and witnesses may begin to forget crucial details if you wait too long to contact them.
You also don’t want to be in a situation where the defendant’s insurance company has already taken a recorded statement from you without an attorney present. Many people don’t want to hire an attorney – either because they don’t think of themselves as the type of person that sues or they think they can manage the case independently and save on attorney’s fees. Don’t hesitate to ask to be compensated for the damages caused by a reckless driver. An experienced law firm will maximize the value of your case and make sure you receive the money you deserve.
What our clients say
"I was referred to Mr. Fernandez by a family member who is an attorney, for assistance with my elderly mother’s claim for injuries resulting from an accident involving an 18-wheeler. He was direct, honest, and very kind as he spoke with my mother, helping her to understand what his work would entail. An obviously talented negotiator, he presented appropriate research to support the claim for my mother’s injuries and it settled with an offer that brought the case to a quick resolution."
"Gonzalo is one of the most hardworking lawyers I’ve met. He takes his job seriously and does not let anything slip up. I can’t thank him enough for his help and recommend him highly!"
"Gonzalo kept me up to date and worked tirelessly. He answered all my questions and supported my family and I throughout. He is smart and a great listener."
In a crisis moment, I contacted Gonzalo Fernandez to review my situation. He was able to review my information within hours of initial contact and then provide me with sound legal advice.Gonz went above and beyond what I would've expected.I'd highly recommend him and his team to anyone that needs legal representation. Thanks Gonz for all you've done!