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Compensation available for fatal truck accidents in Missouri

Recent data shows that the rate of fatal truck accidents is increasing.

One of the scariest thoughts about driving is being involved in an accident with a large truck, and for good reason. Since semi-trucks outweigh the average car by at least 12 times, any collision with them is extremely likely to result in catastrophic injuries or death-most likely to the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

Unfortunately, car-truck collisions are becoming more deadly as of late, according to recent statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The data indicates that the number of nationwide fatal truck accidents increased 18 percent between 2009 and 2012. As of today, about 11 such accidents occur each day.

What is perhaps more startling is that the increase happened during a period of economic recession when the demand for trucking services declined. Experts believe that this can be explained by unfortunate circumstances plaguing the industry. Since truck drivers work a solitary, often low-paying job with long periods away from their families, turnover is rampant. Because of this fact, many truck companies are unable to keep their best drivers and must settle for new drivers with little or no driving experience.

Aside from the shortage of qualified drivers, experts believe that the increase can be explained by the working conditions of the drivers. Since drivers can be penalized for not meeting their tight delivery deadlines, many take measures to assure that their deliveries are made on time, even if it means cutting corners. As a result, many drivers skip rest breaks, use drugs or do not get the required amount of sleep each night to gain an edge.

Legal options available

You do not have to go very far to see the grim aftermath caused by a truck accident. Recently in Missouri, Interstate 70 was closed when a tractor-trailer crossed though the median and struck a car in a chain-reaction accident, killing one and seriously injuring eight. Although such truck accidents can occur for several reasons, negligence on the part of the driver or trucking company (e.g. maintenance lapses) is a major cause.

When fatal truck accidents occur because of negligence, Missouri law allows certain family members to recover compensation from the responsible party in a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is intended to compensate family members for the financial and noneconomic losses that they suffer because of the decedent's death. Accordingly, the law allows family members to recover losses such as:

  • Loss of present and future earnings
  • Pain and suffering of decedent
  • Loss of financial support, parental guidance, comfort and companionship
  • Burial and funeral expenses

In most cases, recovery is limited to the decedent's spouse, children and grandchildren. However, in certain cases, siblings may also recover losses in this type of lawsuit.

Although a wrongful death lawsuit is an imperfect remedy in that it cannot bring the deceased back to life, it can provide the financial support necessary for the grieving family to move on from a difficult time. If you have lost a loved one in a fatal motor vehicle accident and suspect that carelessness is to blame, it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can assess the circumstances surrounding the accident and advise you further on your right to compensation under Missouri law.

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