As a St. Louis tractor-trailer accident attorney, I noted with interest a recent article about financial penalties for the state in a fatal trucking crash. According to a Nov. 24 article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a three-person arbitration panel ruled that the Missouri Department of Transportation should have warned motorists about the traffic pileup that led to the death of 28-year-old Jemma Dant of St. Louis. Dant was stopped on Interstate 44 for traffic when she was rear-ended by a semi truck, pushing her vehicle into another stopped vehicle. Traffic was backed up from the Vandeventer exit on I-44, past the designated exit lane and into the right lane.
Dant’s family argued that MoDOT should have done more to warn drivers about the backup problem. In fact, the exit in question has been re-striped since the 2005 accident, their attorney said, and warning signs have been added. Cases against MoDOT may be heard by an out-of-court arbitration panel instead of a state court. A panel in this case ruled in mid-November that Dant’s father, sister, brother, nieces and nephews should receive $1.3 million in compensation. But because Dant’s family had already received $950,000 in a claim against the trucker and trucking company, the state may subtract that amount from the judgment, leaving a payment of only $350,000. This is just under the maximum of $378,814 that state agencies may be compelled to pay, a cap set by sovereign immunity laws.
As a Missouri semi truck accident lawyer, I am pleased that Dant’s family received fair compensation despite those laws. Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine dating back to Britain, which says that governments are immune from lawsuits. Incredibly, this doctrine allows states to decide whether they and their employees are liable at all for wrongdoing, even clear and undisputed wrongdoing. As a rule, Missouri and Illinois citizens may sue their states for negligence, but they have special rules to follow — such as the damages cap — and often must overcome special obstacles like shorter deadlines and administrative petitions. Failure to follow these rules can disqualify a claim entirely, no matter how strong it might be. That’s why it’s important for people with a claim against a government agency to speak with an experienced attorney as early as possible in the process.
Carey, Danis & Lowe focuses its practice on representing families who have suffered a loss or a serious injury in a trucking accident caused by someone else’s negligence. That includes people who didn’t give enough warning about clear dangers as well as carelessness by truck drivers and the trucking companies that hire and outfit them. Accidents with commercial trucks can be devastating for the people in the smaller vehicle, who often don’t stand a chance against the truck’s much greater size and weight. Our southern Illinois 18-wheeler accident attorneys help clients hold drivers and trucking companies legally responsible for the carelessness that caused these catastrophic accidents. We also help families defray the high financial costs of a crash — such as high past and future medical bills and the sudden loss of an income — by claiming back all of the costs of the accident from the wrongdoers who caused them.
If you or a loved one was seriously hurt in a trucking accident in Missouri or southern Illinois, you should talk to the Lowe Law Firm as soon as possible about your legal options. To set up a free, confidential evaluation of your case, please send a message through our Web site or call 1-877-678-3400 today.