Douglas R. Horn, Principal Partner, Horn Law
Our law firm concentrates in Missouri accident law and a primary part of our law practice deals with truck accidents that cause serious injury or death.
Over the past 5 years accidents involving big semi-trucks have been on the increase, most notably accidents that occur on Missouri interstates and highways. While there is little doubt that the large volume of highway truck traffic leads to a greater probability of truck collisions, there are other significant factors that cause collisions on the highways where traffic is moving fast.
Truck Lane Changes
Most people probably do not realize that truck drivers driving big tractor-trailer trucks have to contend with huge blind spots. In fact, these blind spots may be the root cause of most collisions when truckers attempt to change lanes. Moreover, when truckers get tired or have been on the road for a long period of time it is more probable that they will more easily neglect their blind spots. This is especially true when a truck driver does not anticipate and plan the lane change. Obviously, big trucks are not agile and can not maneuver like cars. The problem comes when a truck driver makes a decision to quick make an unplanned lane change with traffic in the rear.
From a legal recovery standpoint, the fact that a truck driver has blind spots is not an excuse. However, because the truck driver and his company will be hesitant to admit responsibility or fault for the collision, independent witnesses are vital in the changing lane case. Skid marks and debris fields at the scene are also important to establish the exact location of the vehicles at the time of impact.
The other significant factor in truck collisions is speed. Because truck speed is closely related to truck collisions, some states have a highway truck speed limit of 55 mph. There are, of course, a number of circumstances that cause truckers to drive at high speed. Delivery deadlines, performance appraisals, and fuel consumption (for uphill grades) can drive a trucker to push speed. Speed is an important factor in many crashes because trucks have a limited braking capacity in comparison with a car or other 2 axle vehicles. Speed is also a factor in reaction time in being able to avoid an obstacle or other traffic on the roadway.
Although witnesses are important in establishing truck speed, trucks also have on-board data recorders which record speed and other important information. It is important that I establish evidence of speed as soon as possible. With respect to the data recorders and other information within the trucking company’s control, it is important that legal counsel preserve this vital information.
In every trucking accident, prompt investigation is a must. In cases across Missouri and the Midwest, we can make sure the truck vehicle, the truck driver, the truck company, and the crash scene are investigated with detail and the potential witnesses are sorted out.
We handle cases in the counties that border the major highway and interstates in the western part of Missouri, including Atchison, Bates, Boone, Buchanan, Cass, Cooper, Holt, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Platte, Saline, St. Clair, etc.. The fact that the accident happens in an out-laying county should not deter immediate investigation, particularly when the accident scene has been cleared within hours of the accident.