Injuries Resulting From Negligent Acts Or Omissions by Public Employees

Two firefighters were injured in an accident near Doe Run, Missouri. The Saint Francois Missouri trucking accident occurred when a fire tanker raced to a house that was on fire. Firefighter and driver William Nokes rushed down Highway B near Crocker Court, but was driving too fast for a curve in the road. The tanker drove off the roadway and overturned. The damage to the tanker was severe: the tanker was totaled.

Nokes received medical treatment for his minor injuries from the Missouri trucking accident. Occupant and fellow firefighter Haylie Hagermann suffered greater injuries. She was airlifted to Barnes-Jewish Hospital with moderate injuries.

According to local reports, there are more than 170 fire truck crashes in Missouri in a single year. In 2009, five people died in Missouri fire truck accidents and 42 more were injured. Like other commercial motor vehicles, fire trucks are massive. The disparity in size between a fire truck and a typical passenger car puts the passenger car at a great disadvantage. A collision may result in more damage to the smaller vehicle and greater injuries for the smaller vehicle’s occupants.

Fire truck accidents are further complicated by the legal concept of “sovereign immunity.” Sovereign immunity means that the government and its agencies are immune from lawsuits, unless the government explicitly allowed itself to be sued in a statute. Sovereign immunity is “in full force and effect” according to Missouri statute §537.600.

Missouri has created an exception to sovereign immunity for personal injury lawsuits after a Missouri trucking accident is caused by a public employee. Specifically, Missouri statute §537.600 states that sovereign immunity is waived for “[i]njuries directly resulting from the negligent acts or omissions by public employees arising out of the operation of motor vehicles or motorized vehicles within the course of their employment.” Accordingly, if a public employee injures someone in a Missouri trucking accident, the government can be sued for compensation. The Missouri state legislature enacted this statute to protect ordinary citizens from negligent public employees. The waiver of sovereign immunity deters Missouri truck accidents and prevents injuries.

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