Truck Accident Lawyers in Kansas City, MO
Being injured in a truck accident can cause more than a headache. Large trucks are on the roads every day and have the potential to be deadly. A truck accident can also lead to a significant loss of income. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you’ll need the services of a knowledgeable truck accident attorney in Kansas, Missouri. The attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet are knowledgeable Kansas City car accident attorneys who have handled all types of truck accident cases and can help protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.
Treating a truck accident the same as a regular car accident is a dangerous game to play. Understanding the intricacies of the law surrounding trucking accidents is an important part of reaching a successful verdict.
Kansas City Truck Accident Resources:
- Truck vs. Car Accidents
- Compensation for Truck Accident Injuries
- Missouri Trucking Laws
- Kansas City Truck Accident Statistics
- Common Causes of Truck Accidents
- Do I Need a Lawyer?
Truck Accident Fatalities in America 2006 – 2016
[Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]
While the number of truck accident fatalities took a significant dip in 2009, it has been on a steady increase since then. This could be due to an increasing amount of distracted drivers on smartphones, more young drivers hitting the roads or an increase in driver’s operating a vehicle under the influence.
How Trucks Are Different
It is obvious that trucks are bigger and therefore cause more damage than cars, but there are other factors at play that make truck accidents a real risk on the roads today. Drunk driving truck accidents are on the rise and truck accidents account for roughly 5,000 deaths every year. Driving defensively is one way that drivers on the road can avoid collisions with trucks, but even the most cautious drivers are at risk. Understanding the importance of legal representation after a truck accident can make a significant difference in your life after an accident.
In truck accident cases, unlike most car accidents, an employer may be held responsible. If any act that caused an accident happened during the normal course of work, an employer may be held liable. Independent contractors are an exception to this rule, because they are held personally liable for all of their truck activities.
To determine if an act happened during the natural course of work expected by the employer, the following are evaluated:
- The driver’s intent – any intentional acts that cause an accident, such as drinking or texting while driving, will not generally be held liable by an employer.
- The circumstances surrounding the accident, including nature, time, and place.
- The type of work.
- The freedom an employee is allowed during work.
- The time-frame an employee spent acting outside of the scope of work.
Compensation for a Truck Accident Injury
The damages that may be awarded during the course of a truck accident case may include compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, lost income, and loss of future earning capacity.
Considerations that will affect the outcome of your case primarily affect liability. In some states, if you are partially liable for the accident, you may not receive full monetary compensation for any injuries sustained.
Missouri Trucking Laws
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) develops and enforces trucking industry regulations and safety standards at the federal level, and every state has individual laws pertaining to the trucking industry. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) upholds various trucking industry regulations all trucking companies based in Missouri must meet, including driver qualification standards.
- Missouri requires all commercial truck drivers to be at least 18 years old, or 21 years old for transporting hazardous materials.
- Trucking companies must use reasonable diligence in vetting and training all drivers, ensuring drivers can safely operate their commercial vehicles.
- Drivers must know how to safely load, block, brace, and secure their cargo. Some cargo types require specialized trailers and safety equipment.
- Truck drivers must pass a physical exam, and potential drivers should expect disqualification if they have felony convictions, DUI convictions, hit and run citations, or other serious traffic offenses on their records.
The FMCSA also upholds hours of service laws designed to ensure truck drivers do not drive for too long without adequate rest. The MODOT also upholds similar standards, and all Missouri trucking companies must meet the state’s hours of service requirements in addition to FMCSA regulations.
- Property carriers must limit driving shifts to 11 consecutive hours and no more than 14 hours in a single day with a break of ten hours or more between shifts.
- Property carrier drivers may not work more than 60 hours in a set of seven consecutive days, or no more than 70 hours in a consecutive eight-day period.
- Drivers may not drive more than eight hours without at least a 30-minute break.
- Passenger carriers must limit driving shifts to 10 consecutive hours and no more than 15 hours in a single day with breaks for at least eight hours between shifts. The same seven and eight-day scheduling rules as property carriers apply to passenger carriers.
- Following a designated work week, a truck driver may not start the first shift of the next week for at least 34 consecutive hours of rest time.
Violating these hours of service requirements is not only illegal, it is incredibly dangerous. Driving ability degrades the longer a driver remains behind the wheel without adequate rest and nutrition. Drivers who push themselves too far for too long without rest risk causing serious accidents. When accidents involving commercial trucks and tractor-trailers happen, these large vehicles can cause catastrophic damage.
Kansas City Trucking Accident Statistics
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 115 fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles in Missouri in 2017, resulting in a total of 122 fatalities. The State Highway Patrol also recorded 2,652 crashes involving commercial vehicles resulting in personal injuries, logging a total of 4,047 individuals injured. More than 11,000 crashes resulted in property damage only.
Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
Truck accidents happen for various reasons, and some of the leading causes of truck accidents reflect the most common causes of all motor vehicles in general. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), more than 4,100 people died in 2017 from truck accidents, so all drivers should know the most common causes of these serious incidents.
- Alcohol use. Driving under the influence is extremely dangerous for any driver, but a commercial truck driver under the influence can cause exponentially more damage than a typical passenger vehicle driver. Alcohol impairs judgment, slows reaction time, and increases the likelihood of the driver falling asleep behind the wheel and/or losing control of the vehicle.
- Driver error. Truck drivers must complete extensive training and safety education courses. Newer drivers are more likely to make handling errors like oversteering, dangerous braking, and driving too fast for conditions.
- Hazardous weather. All drivers must use extra caution and reduce speed during inclement weather. Trucks are also more susceptible to high winds when they have nothing in their trailers; their higher centers of gravity make them more vulnerable to tipping or rolling over.
- Dangerous driving. Vehicle drivers around a commercial truck should pass with care and refrain from any dangerous maneuvers. Large trucks cannot slow down or maneuver as quickly as smaller vehicles. An aggressive driver may easily cause a truck accident if the truck driver does not have time or room to respond safely.
- Poor vehicle maintenance. Trucking companies must ensure their fleet vehicles receive appropriate maintenance on a consistent basis. Failure to perform required maintenance could lead to an equipment failure and an accident.
- Faulty parts and vehicles. Product manufacturers that produce unreasonably dangerous or defective products face liability for accidents and damages their defective products cause.
- Improperly secured cargo. Drivers, trucking companies, and distributors responsible for packing trucks must ensure they do so safely. An imbalanced load can easily cause an accident, and some special types of cargo like construction materials, lumber, and smaller vehicles require specialized security equipment.
These are just some of the most common causes of trucking accidents. Whenever a driver sustains injuries or other damages due to the negligent actions of a truck driver, the injured driver should strongly consider hiring an attorney to explore his or her available avenues of compensation.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Truck Collision Case?
Hiring an attorney is a major decision for any type of accident claim, but truck accident claims are far more complicated than typical motor vehicle accident claims. A case may seem straightforward at first only for various potential complicating factors to arise, and an attorney can help an injured client address and handle these issues as they appear. Hiring an attorney for a truck collision case also affords the client several other distinct advantages.
- Trucking companies usually have in-house legal teams or high-profile legal firms on retainer. The average person without legal representation could face a very difficult road to recovery, and trucking companies’ legal representatives and insurance carriers are less likely to push back against a claimant with professional legal representation.
- Your attorney can handle correspondence and negotiations with insurance carriers. Most insurance carriers want to look for any and all reasons they can find to deny a claim or reduce a claimant’s settlement, and an attorney can help ensure you receive appropriate coverage under the policy in question.
- The average person with no legal training would likely miss court filing deadlines and other requirements, potentially leading to a judge throwing out a case before it ever really starts.
- Attorneys have the experience to find the available channels of compensation open in a truck accident case, potentially securing a greater recovery than a client could have managed on his or her own.
- Liability is not always clear in truck accident cases. Liability could fall to more than one party or a plaintiff may share partial liability for the accident. An attorney can help accurately determine liability and help his or her client avoid absorbing liability unjustly.
Ultimately, hiring a Kansas City truck accident lawyer offers an injured driver a better chance of securing compensation for his or her losses. Some injured drivers may believe that self-representation would save them money on legal fees for straightforward cases. However, the expense of hiring an attorney is much easier to handle than having no option for recovery due to a procedural misstep with court filings or inability to find available avenues of compensation. In most truck accident cases, hiring an attorney is the safest option.
Experienced Kansas City, MO Truck Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a truck accident, seek medical assistance immediately. Your medical records may play an integral role in proving the effect of the accident on your long-term ability to function normally after the accident. Psychological and emotional injury considerations may also come into play during the course of a case. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues directly related to your accident, you may be eligible for compensation for your suffering.
Take as many pictures of the accident scene as you can. Get information from witnesses and the other driver. Sometimes gaining this information is not possible due to the injuries sustained in the accident. As soon as you are able, contact an attorney to help you with all aspects of your case as it moves forward. Your attorney may help facilitate conversations between you and your insurance company, the other party in the accident, and other representatives.
Your main focus after the accident should be to regain your health, and having a qualified attorney to help you with your case can help you get back to your normal life much faster. Our attorneys have extensive combined successful experience handling all types of auto accident cases, including truck accidents.