If you've been injured in a Missouri car or truck accident, consulting an attorney is usually a wise practice. After all, the Independence, Missouri truck accident attorneys offer a free initial consultation, so there's really nothing to lose. Too often, we hear about clients who try to negotiate their own settlements with insurance companies and wind up with far less than what they're entitled to. When you have an attorney, you have an advocate--someone whose top priority is to make sure your interests are represented.
Recently, a Dallas woman settled with a Missouri insurance company regarding a St. Louis County trucking accident three years ago. In June of 2008, Roxann Coulam was driving a rented sport utility vehicle as part of a funeral procession. As she passed through an intersection with a highway off-ramp, a cement mixer driven by David Chaudoin exited the highway, failed to stop, entered the intersection, and struck the passenger side of her vehicle. The force of the impact pushed Coulam's SUV into another vehicle in the procession.
Chaudoin complained of pain in his neck and left shoulder, and was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. At the scene, he told police responders that the brakes in his truck had failed, causing the collision. He said that he tried to aim the truck towards a ditch to avoid hitting cars in the procession, but instead he hit a yield sign and overturned, causing him to crash into the line of cars.
Coulam, on the other hand, refused treatment at the scene, even though she reported injuries to her knees. As most personal injury attorneys will tell you, this choice is usually not the best one. Many auto accident victims think they aren't hurt, only to have symptoms of injuries appear within a few days. And importantly, declining (or failing to seek) treatment immediately following an accident can be extremely detrimental to a personal injury claim. Insurance companies can use that choice as a way of demonstrating that the victim couldn't have been badly injured if he/she did not require immediate medical attention.
However, in November of 2010, Coulam brought a claim against Five Star Ready-Mix Concrete, Chaudoin's employer. The claim argued that Chaudoin caused the accident through his negligence on several counts: failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to control his vehicle, and failing to slow down and/or use his horn once it became clear that a conclusion was imminent. Further, the claim argued that either Chaudoin or Five Star also failed to make sure the truck's brakes were properly maintained and in working order. Coulam sought compensation for her pain and suffering, for lost wages, and for the "permanent disability" that she incurred.
Although both Five Star and Chaudoin denied any wrongdoing, all parties entered into mediation and reached a settlement on the very first day. American Family Insurance, Five Star's provider, paid Coulam $375,000 to recoup her losses. John Sanner, Five Star's attorney, said that settling was the best option for his clients: "A lot of special damages, a sympathetic woman hit in a funeral procession by a dump truck? It has all the makings for a pretty big verdict, I'd say."
If you've been the victim of a Missouri trucking accident, resist the temptation to take the first offer an insurance company makes. Call the attorneys at Aaron Sachs & Associates, P.C. for a free consultation, and find out what you're entitled to before you agree to accept a settlement. You can reach us toll-free at 1-888-777-AUTO.