What Can I Do When Unqualified Truck Drivers Crash Into Me?

Many truck accidents in the St. Louis area occur because of driver negligence. Statistics show that speeding alone accounts for nearly 22,474 Missouri motor vehicle crashes in a year.

Truck drivers are responsible for complying with all licensing and continuing education requirements. They must keep their CDL licenses in good order, take the necessary classes, and obtain the proper certifications before venturing onto the road.

In addition, the trucking companies that employ these drivers are responsible for hiring competent, qualified, and experienced individuals to operate their commercial vehicles. Trucking companies must also provide the necessary training to their drivers and supervise driver activities. Finally, trucking companies must terminate drivers with a lengthy list of moving violations.

If you have suffered injuries in a trucking accident that happened because of an unqualified truck driver, you might be eligible to pursue monetary compensation and damages. In the context of a truck accident, you might pursue a claim against the truck driver and/or the employer trucking company’s insurer.

In any case, a knowledgeable St. Louis truck accident attorney can assist you with identifying the at-fault individual or entity and assist you with filing an insurance claim that seeks favorable monetary compensation and damages. If the insurance company does not offer you the compensation you deserve for everything that you went through, you have the option of filing a lawsuit and litigating the case in the court system.

Your attorney will answer all of your questions about settlement or litigation and will zealously advocate for your right to recover damages for the injuries that you suffered.

What Does an Unqualified Truck Driver Mean?

Generally speaking, a commercial truck driver who is unqualified or underqualified to operate a vehicle lacks experience, education, and training. First of all, the driver might not have sufficient hours logged on the road or have experience driving a large commercial truck, such as a tractor-trailer or a box truck. The driver might not have completed the necessary classes and training sessions before operating a large commercial vehicle on a busy highway or another roadway.

Unqualified truck drivers who lack education and experience on the road can make serious mistakes. They might operate their vehicles too fast for roadway or weather conditions, or they might drive distracted. Distracted driving means paying attention to something in the vehicle, such as a cellular device or tablet, instead of the roadway. Inexperienced commercial truck drivers might also violate various rules of the road.

For example, they may weave in and out of traffic without using turn signals or tailgate other vehicles in an attempt to get ahead. Finally, an unqualified truck driver might fail to follow various state or federal motor carrier regulations while driving (or when preparing to drive). For example, the driver may fail to inspect the truck regularly for defects, such as with the overhead and undercarriage lighting systems.

If you have suffered injuries in a commercial truck accident that an unqualified truck driver caused, you might be eligible to pursue compensation for all of your injuries. To prove that a truck driver was unqualified, a St. Louis truck accident attorney might hire an accident reconstructionist or investigator. One of these individuals can testify as an expert witness at a trial if that becomes necessary. On the witness stand, the investigator can explain how the accident likely occurred because of a truck driver’s inexperience or incompetence.

Can a Trucking Company Help Cause an Accident?

In some cases, a trucking company that employs an inexperienced driver can be responsible for an accident. Trucking companies are responsible for hiring drivers who have the necessary training and experience to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. Sometimes, trucking Companies hire inexperienced drivers to try and save themselves a significant amount of money.

However, these younger and less-experienced drivers may not be familiar with the equipment they are operating and generally may not have enough hours logged to properly operate a big rig, tractor-trailer, or 18-wheeler. If an accident victim can demonstrate that the trucking company hired or retained an inexperienced driver, then the company can share in the liability for the accident.

Trucking companies may also be responsible for accidents when they hire or retain truck drivers who have bad driving records. If a truck driver has a history of moving violations or citations, yet the company hires the driver anyway, this is a recipe for disaster.

Similarly, if a trucking company fails to terminate a driver who incurs numerous moving violations, the trucking company can again bear responsibility for any subsequent accidents and injuries that happen.

In addition, trucking companies must properly supervise their drivers and ensure that drivers receive continuing education. When trucking companies do not monitor driver activities or fail to ensure that they comply with continuing education requirements, they can be responsible for accidents that occur in the future.

Proving a trucking company’s full or partial fault for an accident can be a difficult task. You can be sure that the trucking company’s insurer will retain an expert to try and disprove an accident victim’s legal theories. A St. Louis truck accident attorney can retain an expert to support your position that the trucking company knew or should have known that a certain driver was unqualified or lacked experience.

In addition to retaining an expert for your case, a knowledgeable truck accident attorney can advocate for you when negotiating with the insurance company and pursuing favorable compensation for your injuries stemming from the accident.

Filing a Claim for Monetary Compensation and Damages

Truck accident victims who suffer injuries in an accident resulting from an unqualified driver’s negligence can file a claim for damages. These claims begin when the accident victim’s lawyer submits a settlement demand package to the truck driver or trucking company’s motor vehicle insurer.

In addition to your monetary demand, the demand package should contain evidence to support the demand, which might include a copy of the police report, witness statements, investigative reports, medical records, medical bills, victim impact statement, and lost wage documentation if the accident victim missed time from work.

The insurance company adjuster handling the claim will review all of these documents and might decide to make an offer to settle. Initial settlement offers in truck accident claims are usually far below the full value of the case. Insurance companies make these low offers to see if accident victims will hurry to settle their claims.

Insurance companies figure that when accident victims wish to expedite the settlement process, they will be willing to resolve their cases for just about anything even if that number is far below the case’s true settlement or verdict value. In most cases, you should never accept an initial settlement offer that the at-fault party’s insurance company puts on the table. Rather, your attorney will usually need to negotiate with the adjuster several times to get to an offer worth accepting.

Insurance companies are sometimes unreasonable and will refuse to offer compensation that makes an accident victim whole. If the insurance company does not offer you fair compensation for your accident-related injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit against the truck driver and/or the trucking company in court. During litigation, the parties might still decide to settle the case. However, if that does not happen, the case may go to trial, and a jury will decide all disputed issues, including the amount of monetary compensation to award you for all of your injuries.

A knowledgeable St. Louis truck accident attorney will file your claim or lawsuit on time and within the statute of limitations. Your lawyer will also zealously negotiate for you and fight for your right to recover monetary compensation for all of your truck-accident-related injuries.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

Victims of truck accidents in Missouri have five years from the accident date to file a claim or lawsuit seeking monetary compensation. This five-year statute of limitation is a hard-and-fast deadline, and if the accident victim or their lawyer does not file suit within this time frame, the court will dismiss any subsequently filed lawsuit. Therefore, the accident victim will not be eligible to recover any monetary compensation or damages for related truck accident injuries.

Even though five years seems like a long time, it is very short in the context of truck accident claims especially those that involve unqualified drivers who negligently operated their vehicles. Proving that a truck driver or trucking company was negligent often requires expert testimony, and it can take a long time to gather evidence and employ experts to testify in a case.

Therefore, as soon as possible after your truck accident, retain knowledgeable legal counsel to represent you. A truck accident attorney can immediately file a lawsuit in your case and get the ball rolling on litigation. Your attorney will zealously advocate for your legal interests and work to get you the compensation that you need for your injuries.

Potential Damages that Accident Victims Can Recover in Truck Accident Cases

Victims of serious truck accidents that result from unqualified or inexperienced drivers can suffer debilitating and serious injuries in their accidents.

When a speeding tractor-trailer weighing many tons collides with a smaller passenger vehicle, serious and traumatic injuries are bound to occur. The driver and any occupants of the passenger vehicle might strike something inside the car, such as the headrest, door frame, or steering wheel. In addition, the accident victim’s body can violently move around and about the interior of the vehicle, resulting in various soft tissue injuries, such as muscular strains and sprains to the back or neck.

In addition to soft tissue injuries, victims of truck accidents can suffer concussions and other traumatic head injuries, broken bones, back and spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage. Some truck accident cases can even result in one or more fatalities. This is especially true if the accident involves a head-on collision with a truck.

For a truck accident victim to recover monetary compensation, the accident victim must establish the legal elements of the claim. This means they must prove that the at-fault truck driver and/or the trucking company acted unreasonably under the circumstances and did something wrong.

Potential damages in a St. Louis truck accident claim include recovery for medical expenses and lost earnings. Accident victims can also file a claim for loss of use of a body part, such as with a paralysis injury, loss of life enjoyment of life, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, mental distress, and emotional anguish.

A knowledgeable St. Louis truck accident lawyer can work to obtain a favorable settlement on your behalf. If the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer refuses to compensate you fairly, your lawyer can litigate the case in the court system. Your lawyer will work hard to help you obtain the best possible recovery in your claim or lawsuit.

While a truck accident claim cannot turn back time and prevent an unqualified driver from causing your injuries, it can help you move forward in the best position possible.