Tractor trailer accidents are an unfortunate fact of life in Columbia,
Missouri and across the state. These huge rigs pose a danger to other
motorists due to their enormous size and weight. By law, a tractor trailer
can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, as compared to the 4,000 pounds of
the average car, SUV or small pickup truck. Just hearing the difference
between these weights makes it easy to imagine the devastation, injury
and loss of life that can occur whenever a tractor trailer hits a passenger vehicle.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is investigating one such truck accident
that left three dead on Friday night, Nov. 18th. This tragic collision
happened on westbound Interstate 70, at exit 87.
According to the Highway Patrol's traffic accident report, Judy Ritoch,
50, of Independence MO, slowed her vehicle and was struck from behind
by a tractor-trailer rig driven by Dustin Wright, 30. Ritoch's car
burst into flames as a result of the collision.
Her husband, David Ritoch, 49, and mother-in-law, Eileen Ritoch, 77, of
Sweet Springs, were both in the vehicle as well. All three were pronounced
dead at the scene.The tractor trailer driver was not injured.
Troop F reported these traffic fatalities as their 51st through 53rd of
2011 so far.
Making this accident even sadder, surviving family members told reporters
that the family had been on their home from the wedding of the Ritochs'
daughter at the time of the crash.
Why did this tragic tractor trailer accident happen?
At the time of this writing, the Highway Patrol's Sgt. Paul Reinsch
said the accident investigation was ongoing, and that no charges had been
filed against Wright. However, as Columbia Missouri truck accident lawyers
for over twenty years, we know that there are many factors that contribute
to tractor trailer accidents. Here are some of the main causes of these
• Speeding--the number one cause of semi-truck accidents
• Driver fatigue--delivery deadlines and the desire to get home frequently
make drivers push their limits, with fatal results
• Driver distractions--distracted driving is happening in epidemic
proportions, and not just for truck drivers. It is illegal for commercial
truckers to text while driving.
• Driving over the legally allowed number of hours per shift (12 hours)
• Driving too fast for weather conditions
• Difficulty seeing properly at night
• Tailgating--it takes tractor trailers a much longer time to come
to a full stop, so if they are driving too closely behind another vehicle
that has to slow or come to a sudden stop, the consequences can be deadly.
• Poor maintenance
Any of these factors might have been in play, and contributed to the cause
of this tragic accident. It will become clearer once the Patrol finishes
its investigation whether or not the trucker or the trucking company was
negligent in any way. If they were, there could be grounds for a wrongful
If you have been involved in a Columbia Missouri tractor trailer accident,
it is likely that you will need legal representation to receive a fair
settlement from the trucking company's insurance carrier. Call the
Columbia truck accident law firm of Aaron Sachs and Associates today and
schedule a free initial consultation about your truck accident claim.
Attorney meetings by appointment only