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Category Archive: Wrongful Death Claims

  1. Injuries in Auto Accidents When Car Seats Break

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    On an October 28, 2015, segment of CBS News Investigates, individuals described the devastating effects on their lives that resulted from auto makers’ low standards for testing the strength of car seats to ensure they will not break during car accidents.  According to CBS, all the manufacturers have to do is put a brace across a seat, attach it to a winch, and pull – and they can pass the federal standard.  Car crash experts showed that even a banquet chair could pass the test, which does not bode well for Missouri drivers.  As a St. Louis personal injury attorney, this fact leaves me very concerned about the potential for harm to Missouri drivers and passengers in car crashes.

    Every day, an average of three children die in car accidents, and another 470 are injured.  Of those, 11% are sitting in the rear seats, which is the recommended location for children.  However, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards are so low for the strength of the seats in front of them that children in rear seats are at substantial risk of injury in motor vehicle collisions.

    The parents of a 16-month old child had their lives changed forever when their mini-van was rear-ended at 55 mph.  The child was sitting in the seat behind her father, whose seat broke after collapsing on impact and struck the child in the face, killing her.  Crash tests have demonstrated what can happen when a seat collapses.  The seat is launched backwards and slams into a child’s face.  Children are not the only individuals at risk for injury in these accidents.  Drivers’ heads crash into seat backs, sometimes resulting in injury, paralysis, or death.  For example, a 70 year old woman was paralyzed in 2011 when the seat of her vehicle broke after being hit from behind.  People harmed in automobile accidents like these may have claims against the auto makers for product liability.  If a loved one was killed, their family members may choose to bring a wrongful death suit against the manufacturer as well.

    Sadly, according to car crash experts, auto makers have been aware of the problem for decades.  What is more troublesome is that the NHTSA also has known for many years.  In fact, in 1992, the NHTSA, whose job is to look out for the safety of the public, warned of the danger of seat breakage and cited examples of “major or fatal injuries” when seat backs collapse.  Even after stating in 2000 that the NHTSA would be “looking into the seat back issue within a year,” the standard as of 2015 is the same as it was in the 1960s.  In fact, the NHTSA abandoned research into the issue 11 years ago despite the continued high risk of harm, personal injury or death to drivers and their passengers.

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  2. Fatal Motorcycle Accident – St. Louis County

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    The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that a St. Louis County man was killed in a motorcycle accident in Franklin County, Missouri last weekend. As a St. Louis personal injury attorney, I have seen many serious and even fatal motorcycle accident cases. The facts and circumstances of these terrible accidents are always very disturbing.

    The Post Dispatch reports that the motorcycle, a 2005 Harley Davidson, was struck by an SUV whose driver failed to yield while making a left turn. The Franklin County, Missouri prosecuting attorney is considering whether to pursue charges against the SUV driver, a Fenton, Missouri resident.

    Motorcycle accident cases often involve very serious injuries. Many times automobile drivers claim that they did not even see the motorcycle prior to the collision. A recent study was just completed for the Governors’ Highway Safety Association that reported on motorcyclist traffic fatalities by state. The preliminary data for the country showed motorcycle fatalities were down 2% for the first 9 months of 2010. Missouri motorcycle crash fatalities for this same period declined 1%. To view the preliminary findings in the report, click here.

    In cases such as this where a rider suffers tragic consequences, an attorney for the family of the victim will most likely be investigating a wrongful death claim. The claim is governed by a specific Missouri statute. While no amount of money can ever replace the loss of a loved one, the statute is designed to compensate family members for the loss of companionship, counsel and service, among other things, of a loved one.

    Wildwood Man Killed in Traffic Accident, stltoday, August 14, 2011.

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  3. Federal Panel to Review Deadly Truck and Bus Accidents

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    As a St. Louis personal injury attorney, I was happy to see that the federal government recently convened a panel to focus on deadly bus accidents and truck accidents. In May of this year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held a two-day panel to focus on ways to reduce the number of fatal truck accidents and bus accidents.

    One proposal put forth by the government involves reducing the number of driving hours from 11 to 10 a day. The proposal also includes requiring mandatory rest breaks for drivers, limiting the work day to 14 hours and requiring drivers to take more time off to rest after reaching their weekly driving limit.

    The Associated Press article discussing the NTSB focus group highlighted the tragic nature of many tractor-trailer, bus and truck accidents. The article discussed a tragic accident in which a 76 year old tractor-trailer driver who had slept only about five hours the previous night and had been driving almost 10 hours failed to see a line of cars stopped on the highway for a fender bender and plowed into and over several vehicles killing 10 people.

    As any Missouri lawyer knows, truck accident cases and bus accident cases usually involve serious injury and death. The citizens of Missouri would be well served by increasing the safety of our highways through reasonable regulation.

    Panel to Focus on Deadly Truck, Bus Accidents, Associated Press, May 10, 2011

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  4. Fatal Bus Accident Highlights Driver Fatigue

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    Yahoo News reported earlier this month that a May 31 fatal bus accident in Bowling Green, Virginia, took the lives of several people and injured many more. As a St. Louis accident attorney, I could not help but take note of this accident given the recent string of bus accidents in our area. In this case, the bus was transporting 59 passengers. According to reports, the driver fell asleep in the early morning hours and lost control of the bus causing a crash.

    The bus company employing the driver had been cited on numerous occasions for violating safety rules involving driver fatigue. Apparently, the company had been cited for 46 violations involving driver fatigue rules over two years. The company was ranked in the bottom 14 percent of motor carriers. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), between 13 percent and 31 percent of commercial vehicle crashes are due to driver fatigue.

    While this was not a Missouri accident, Missouri bus accident attorneys are no strangers to serious passenger and school bus accidents. The greater St. Louis region alone has had several high profile bus crashes in the last few years. Any St. Louis personal injury attorney would look at the facts of the Bowling Green accident and immediately consider the actions of the company employing the driver. The history of this company’s conduct might suggest an action for punitivie damages in a Missouri lawsuit.

    A Missouri wrongful death lawyer investigating the Bowling Green accident would consider whether the company’s and driver’s conduct would constitute an aggravating circumstance under Missouri’s wrongful death laws. This claim is similar to a punitive damage count. When companies have a pattern of willfull misconduct, wanton or reckless behavior, punitive damages may be appropriate when someone is injured or killed.

    The NTSB is looking at new rules and regulations to make bus companies comply with safety regulations regarding driver fatigue. One proposal is to install an automated method for keeping track of driver’s hours instead of paper driving logs. These new regulations should make Missouri roads safer for bus passengers and the citizens of Missouri.

    Fatal VA Bus Crash, Yahoo.com News, June 11, 2011

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  5. Motorcycle Rider Killed in South St. Louis in Collision with a Car

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    KMOV news reports a motorcycle versus car accident in South St. Louis near River Des Peres and Gravois. The motorcycle rider was taken to a hospital in St. Louis where he later died from his injuries. Any St. Louis motorcycle accident attorney can attest to the dangers of vehicles failing to yield to motorcycles. KMOV reports that the car was making a left turn at the intersection of River Des Peres and Gravois when it struck the motorcycle. The news report did not provide any other details about how the accident might have taken place.

    Motorcycle accidents can be particularly devastating. The difference in size and weight between a car or truck and motorcycle can be substantial. This difference adds to the severity of the accident and can lead to horrific injuries and even death to motorcycle riders, as was the case this time when it resulted in the motorcycle rider killed.

    The specific facts of this accident were not disclosed in the article. To the extent that a Missouri personal injury attorney or wrongful death lawyer investigates this accident, they will be looking at the conduct of the car driver and motorcycle rider. The physical evidence at the scene of the accident and the statements of witnesses may assist the Missouri attorney in putting together what took place.

    Motorcycle accidents In Missouri and nationwide cause serious injury and death. Many times the operator of a motor vehicle will look right through a motorcycle rider and claim they did not see him or her. Motorcycle riders can increase their visibility and the safety of their rides through various techniques. The Missouri Department of Revenue has published a motorcycle operator manual to assist Missouri riders with safety issues. To view the manual, click here.

    Police I.D. Motorcyclist Killed in South St. Louis Collision, KMOV, June 10, 2011

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  6. Wrong Way Driver on Interstate 55 in St. Louis County Causes Fatal Car Accident

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    KMOV in St. Louis reports that a man driving a Toyota Camry was killed in a car accident Saturday night when a driver was driving the wrong way on northbound Interstate 55 near the Bayless Road exit. As a St. Louis personal injury lawyer, every time I hear about a wrong way collision, I question whether alcohol played a role. According to the news report, the wrong-way driver struck the Camry head-on. The news report states that the engine of the Camry had been pushed into the front seat during the collision, pinning the driver in the car. Sadly, the car crash killed the driver of the Camry.

    According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, the wrong-way driver was reportedly swerving between lanes prior to the head-on collision. The fact that the car wreck happened late at night and involved the type of driving conduct at issue would raise suspicion as to whether any drinking or drunk driving (DWI) was involved.

    The Missouri personal injury attorney investigating an automobile crash such as this would want to determine whether there was any alcohol consumption on the part of the driver causing the car wreck. A car accident attorney handling a serious Missouri injury car crash, especially a Missouri wrongful death claim, would want to determine if drinking was involved. The lawyer’s investigation may even include where the offending driver was consuming alcohol prior to the car accident. Missouri law, under certain circumstances, can give rise to a claim against the provider of liquor to a drunk driver who causes a collision.

    Drunk driving is an issue for Missouri car accident attorneys in many Missouri car and truck crashes. For statistics on Missouri drunk driving automobile accidents, click here.

    Wrong Way Driver Strikes Car Head On Kills Man in I-55 Crash, KMOV, May 15, 2011

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  7. St. Louis Police Seek Suspect in Pedestrian Hit and Run Auto Accident

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    St. Louis Police are seeking the assistance of the public in locating a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run automobile accident with a pedestrian in December. This pedestrian hit and run occurred as the pedestrian was walking in the southbound lanes of S. Jefferson in St. Louis, Missouri when she was struck and killed by an SUV. St. Louis Police believe the truck involved in the accident was a Chevrolet Suburban. The police also believe there may be witnesses to this pedestrian accident. A reward has been offered to anyone coming forward with information.

    This is a tragic situation for the family of the deceased. It is all the more difficult knowing that the person involved in this accident left the scene. If the victim’s family determines to pursue a wrongful death claim, the injury lawyers handling that matter would also want to try to identify the driver of the truck. If the driver’s identity cannot be determined, then the personal injury attorneys may pursue uninsured motor vehicle claims. When the driver of a car or truck leaves the scene of a collision and cannot be identified, the driver is often referred to as a “phantom motorist”. A phantom motorist is usually treated as an uninsured motorist. The fact that the pedestrian was not in a motor vehicle is not relevant. If the injury or death was caused, in whole or part, by an uninsured motor vehicle, then the claim can be made.

    In Missouri, uninsured motor vehicle insurance is considered partly contractual in nature. As such, the insurance generally follows the insured and is not limited to a particular vehicle or car. That is why a pedestrian involved in an accident with an uninsured driver can make an uninsured motor vehicle claim even though the pedestrian was not occupying a motor vehicle at the time of the accident.

    The Missouri personal injury attorney investigating an uninsured motor vehicle claim will want to know about all automobile insurance policies of anyone living in the same household as the injured client (the pedestrian in this case). Many automobile insurance policies provide coverage to relatives residing in the household of the named insured. At times, this will provide the lawyer with more avenues of recovery for an injured client or the family of a deceased client.

    Police Seeking Public Help in Locating Hit and Run Suspect, KMOV.com, January 19, 2011

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  8. Three Killed in Tractor-Trailer Crash Near Bonne Terre in St. Francois County

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    As a St. Louis personal injury attorney, I took note of a particularly bad accident last week in St. Francois County. Three people were killed last week in an accident involving a tractor-trailer and a car on Highway 67 north of Bonne Terre, Missouri, in St. Francois County. The accident occurred near Highway 67 and Berry Road and involved a man from DeSoto and two individuals from Bonne Terre.

    This accident follows a recent string of tractor-trailer accidents in the St. Louis area. News reports state that the Bonne Terre accident involved a semi-truck driver who had a suspended driver’s license. The driver of the semi-truck has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

    When a loved one is lost as the result of another’s negligence, Missouri statutes provide a cause of action for wrongful death. The Missouri personal injury attorney would most likely pursue Missouri wrongful death claims against the tractor trailer driver, his employer and anyone else responsible for causing the accident. Although one can never truly value the loss of a life, under Missouri’s wrongful death statute certain persons can seek compensation for pecuniary loss suffered including the value of lost services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training and support.

    Early investigation by a truck accident attorney can be critical in preserving and discovering evidence relevant to any civil lawsuit arising out of a tractor-trailer crash. The personal injury lawyer, through investigation and formal discovery, may uncover whether driver fatigue, driving in excess of the required hours, chemical impairment, sleep deprivation or other health conditions played a role in the driver’s conduct. The injury lawyer will also be looking at the conduct and practices of the tractor-trailer driver’s employer.

    A Missouri attorney involved in a semi-truck accident case may also want access to the tractor trailer for inspection and examination. The truck might also be equipped with electronic onboard recorders. This “black box” type of recorder may contain important information on the truck’s movement prior to the accident.

    Three Dead in St. Francois County Crash, KMOV.com, January 20, 2011

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  9. Missouri Man Sentenced to 20 Years for Drunk Driving Car Accident

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    The Springfield News Leader reports that a Seymour, Missouri man convicted of drunk driving was sentenced to 20 years in prison for causing a fatal drunk driving car accident. In November of 2009, the defendant, Shane Young, was driving a vehicle with an open case of beer inside. He rear-ended a car that was stopped on U.S. 65, causing a chain-reaction car accident. The auto accident killed the driver of one of the automobiles and injured the driver’s fiancee, who was a passenger in the car. Her injuries included a scar to the head, ongoing headaches, panic attacks, and fear whenever she rides in a car.

    Following the automobile accident, it was determined that Young had a BAC of 0.212. The legal limit in Missouri is .08. Young also was a repeat DWI offender who had just been released from jail the day before the car accident on suspicion of drunk driving in a September incident. Young pleaded guilty to the drunk driving charges on the eve of a jury trial.

    This is a sad story that plays out all too often on Missouri roadways. Drunk driving accidents cause serious bodily injury and death. The Missouri injury lawyers who represent the family of the deceased driver will most likely file a wrongful death lawsuit against the drunk driver and any other parties responsible.

    The wrongful death lawyers may seek punitive damages against the drunk driver for such reckless and callous behavior. The attorneys may also determine that the drunk driver was served alcohol in a bar or restaurant prior to the automobile accident when he should not have been. This may give rise to a claim under Missouri’s Dram Shop Law. The Missouri car accident attorneys will also have to determine the extent of any insurance coverage applicable to the car accident, including whether there is any underinsured motor vehicle insurance if the defendant had low limit liability insurance.

    Seymour Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Fatal Drunken-Driving Crash, News Leader of Springfield, January 8, 2011

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  10. Evidence to Help Reconstruct Missouri Car Accident

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    The News Leader of Springfield, Missouri reports that the Springfield Police Department is attempting to reconstruct a car accident that killed a pedestrian from Lee’s Summit, Missouri. On December 9, 2011, a Missouri State University student, Mr. Almahuzi, was driving a car on St. Louis street when he lost control of the automobile and crashed. The car struck and killed a pedestrian, who also was a Missouri State University student. Police are trying to reconstruct the automobile accident using various evidence- gathering means.

    The police are using the car’s event data recorder to gather evidence to help reconstruct the Missouri car accident. According to the news report, 65% of new cars had event data recorders in 2005. All cars will have event data recorders on 2013 models. The event data recorder may provide the investigators with the car’s speed, engine RPM, percent of throttle, brake status, and occupant seat belt use at the time of the car accident. This data will assist in the reconstruction of the car wreck.

    The accident may give rise to a Missouri wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of the deceased pedestrian. Missouri injury lawyers representing the family in the wrongful death claim may also want access to the information provided by the event data recorder.

    Car accident attorneys frequently investigate the facts surrounding a car accident. Investigations may include obtaining witness statements, getting photos of the scene and the motor vehicles involved, and photos of any physical evidence at the scene of the collision. Police reports also may provide specific factual evidence, such as measurements of the location of the motor vehicles on the roadway after the accident, skid marks, etc. In certain car wreck cases, Missouri personal injury lawyers choose to hire an expert to reconstruct the accident using the evidence. The personal injury attorneys may be able to use the accident reconstruction expert’s opinion with respect to certain aspects of the car or truck accident in a Missouri civil lawsuit for damages.

    Evidence Will Help Reconstruct Car Accident, The News Leader, January 6, 2011

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