Lake Ozark, MO — There was an accident reported on Wednesday (April 8, 2015) that left three people with injuries (one with serious injuries) and two people dead in rural Miller County, Missouri. Police have identified the injured victims as April Cline,. 41, Amy Shaw, 46, and James Villines, 42.
According to their reports, all three were injured and two more were killed when an 18-wheeler failed to stop at a red light and crashed into some parked vehicles — including another semi-truck. This was on Wednesday afternoon at about 3:00 p.m.
Daniel Burch, 62, was driving his 18-wheeler west along Highway 54 that afternoon when he came upon the intersection with Route W, where a semi-truck, a Nissan SUV, a Dodge truck, a Ford van, and a Pontiac car were all waiting at the red light.
For some reason, Burch didn’t brake in time and crashed his 18-wheeler into the stopped cars. Two people in the Pontiac Vibe were killed immediately in the accident while Amy Shaw, James Villines (who was in the Dodge truck), and April Cline were all injured.
They were all taken to a hospital, but Shaw was the most seriously injured. She is from Jefferson City. The accident is still being investigated, but the truck driver, Daniel Burch, is being charged for the accident, possible with Careless and Imprudent driving.
Map of the Accident
View from the Road
I did a little bit of checking up on this truck driver mentioned in the accident because I was curious to know what kind of driver wouldn’t notice a red light in front of him. It appears that this driver (or at least someone with his same name, age, and residence) was cited for a traffic-related violation as recently as 2014, and it appears that he may also be a self-employed truck driver.
What significance does that have here? Well, for starter, it helps us understand why this accident happened in the first place. I’ve heard some speculate that this driver had dozed off and others say he was simply distracted at the time. The specific violation he was given a citation for appears to be related to driving a truck or hauling an oversized load without a permit.
Now, that automatically makes me wonder if everything is on the up and up with this trucker, because if he’s too busy to get the right permits and be safe, then what else are we going to find if we take a closer look at this driver and his practices? One thing that absolutely must be done is gather evidence like the trucker’s Hours of Service logbook and the ECM data on the truck. Those will tell whether he was driving too many hours (and therefore fatigued), how fast he was going at the time, whether he tried to brake, etc.
I do want to mention, however, that there’s a possibility that this driver is a contract trucker who effectively works for himself. As far as legalities go, that means that whatever kind of insurance this driver has will be spread out amongst all the victims. If he was working for a larger company, however, they usually have umbrella policies and resources to cover large amounts of damage. Unfortunately, I can tell you right now that no trucking company is simply going to look at an accident like this and immediately try to make things right.
Trucking companies have a vested interest in protecting themselves and their drivers and they will go to great lengths – and costs! – to avoid litigation and court. The best way to counteract that is by having a solid investigation done that accounts for all the evidence before the trucking company is able to build a bogus case for their driver because nobody is holding them accountable.
— Grossman Law Offices