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 Kansas City truck accident attorney in Missouri. The skilled lawyers at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet are knowledgeable Kansas City car accident attorneys who have handled all types of Missouri 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?
Why Choose Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet for Your Truck Accident Claim
- For over 25 years, our Missouri accident and injury lawyers have represented clients in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. We have the experience and resources that you need to pursue a truck accident claim.
- We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and jury verdicts on behalf of our clients. Our attorneys will fight tirelessly to secure the highest possible award in your case.
- Our firm accepts truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis. You will not be charged any legal fees if we do not obtain a settlement for you.
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.
Common Injuries in Truck Accident Claims
Because trucks are so much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, they can cause a lot of damage in an accident. It is very common for truck accident victims to suffer from severe, life-altering injuries. In many cases, people do not survive these catastrophic collisions.
Below are some of the injuries that could occur in a Kansas City truck accident:
- Broken Bones: Truck accidents can generate a significant amount of force on the human body. This force can cause bones to break, leading to severe pain and lengthy recovery times. Broken legs, arms, wrists, ankles, hips, and ribs are common in these collisions.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: The brain is one of the most important organs in the body. During a truck accident, you could suffer a bump, blow, or penetrating injury to the head that damages the brain. Traumatic brain injuries sometimes result in permanent complications such as impaired speech, movement, memory, or concentration.
- Organ Damage and Bleeding: The force and impact of a truck accident can easily damage the internal organs. Organ damage can lead to internal bleeding and life-threatening complications. The liver, lungs, spleen, stomach, and kidneys are especially susceptible to injury.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: The spinal cord is responsible to transmitting messages between the brain and the rest of the body. In a truck collision, the spine can become broken, compressed, or severed. Spinal cord injuries often result in permanent or temporary paralysis and loss of sensation below the injury site.
Missouri Truck Accident Liability
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.
In addition to the driver and his or her employer, many other parties could be held liable for a truck accident. For example, if the accident occurred due to a mechanical defect in the vehicle, the manufacturer of that defective product would be at fault for the collision. You could pursue a claim against that entity.
Many trucking employers contract certain services out to third-party companies, such as cargo loading and maintenance. If the truck accident occurred due to improper cargo loading practices, improper maintenance, or another error committed by a third party, you could pursue a claim against that entity.
Determining liability in a truck accident claim can be challenging, especially in cases of very severe accidents. In these situations, you need the resources and connections of an attorney. A truck accident lawyer can conduct an in-depth investigation into the collision and leverage the expertise of accident reconstruction specialists to help you identify the at-fault party.
How to Prove a Truck Accident Lawsuit in Missouri
To secure compensation in a truck accident lawsuit, you need to gather enough evidence to prove three important facts. First, you will need to prove that the defendant owed you a certain duty of care at the time of the collision. For example, truck drivers have a responsibility to follow the law and drive their vehicles safely.
Next, you will need to prove that the defendant breached the duty of care through a negligent act or failure to act. A truck driver who runs a red light or drives under the influence would breach his or her duty. A company that forces its drivers to work more hours than allowed would also breach this responsibility.
Finally, you will need to show that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your accident and the injuries that you suffered. There are several pieces of evidence that you could leverage to establish causation and prove your right to compensation, such as the following:
- Photographs and videos from the scene of the accident
- Statements from witnesses who saw the collision occur
- Law enforcement reports taken after the accident
- Footage from surveillance cameras, traffic cameras, and in-cab cameras
- Medical records that detail the nature and extent of your injuries
- Maintenance reports, driving logbooks, and other company records
- Information from the truck’s black box, or event data recorder
- The truck driver’s personnel records
- The results of alcohol and drug tests
Compensation for a Truck Accident Injuries
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. These losses are categorized as either economic or non-economic. In the case of economic damages, you are seeking compensation for your out-of-pocket financial losses, such as medical care or repairs to damaged property. On the other hand, non-economic damages encompass the physical and emotional pain and suffering that you endured.
In some cases, you may be eligible for a third category of compensation known as punitive damages. These damages aim to punish the defendant for his or her actions, as opposed to compensating you for the losses you suffered.
To recover punitive damages, you must prove with clear and convincing evidence that:
- The defendant intentionally harmed you without just cause.
- The defendant acted with a flagrant and deliberate disregard for the safety of other people.
If your accident was caused by a truck driver who ran a red light, you are not likely to qualify for punitive damages. However, if the driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, you may be able to establish that he or she acted with a disregard for the safety of others.
A Kansas City truck accident lawyer from Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet can help you determine whether to petition for punitive damages. Your attorney can also help you explore all possible avenues to compensation and estimate your potential settlement. Using this information, your lawyer will fight for your right to a full recovery.
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.
Comparative Negligence in Missouri
Truck accident claims in Missouri are subject to comparative negligence laws when the injured party shares part of the responsibility. Missouri operates on a pure comparative fault framework, which reduces a personal injury settlement by the plaintiff’s degree of fault. The plaintiff could recover compensation even if he or she is 99% at fault.
For example, say that you are struck by a truck at an intersection. The truck driver ran a stop sign, but you failed to come to a complete stop before entering the intersection. In this situation, you may be assigned 20% of the fault. If you asked for a $50,000 settlement, you would receive $40,000.
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, MO 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 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.
How Long Do You Have to File a Truck Accident Claim in Missouri?
The statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit for filing certain types of legal claims. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the appropriate statute of limitations, the court will most likely dismiss your case and prevent you from recovering compensation.
For truck accident cases, you have five years from the date of your collision to file your claim. There are two main exceptions to this rule:
- If you were under the age of 21 at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations will begin on your 21st birthday. You would have five years from this date to file your lawsuit.
- If you were mentally incapacitated, the statute of limitations will begin on the date that you are declared competent.
- If the defendant leaves the state of Missouri during the five-year period, the length of his or her absence will not count toward your deadline.
- If a government agency is a defendant in your claim, you would have a much shorter statute of limitations. You must file your claim within 90 days of the truck accident.
To protect your right to financial recovery, it is critical to file a truck accident claim on time. As soon as possible after your collision, reach out to a lawyer to discuss your legal options and initiate your lawsuit. Your attorney will carefully assess your case and identify your appropriate filing deadline.
What to Do After an Unexpected Truck Accident
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 Kansas City personal injury lawyer 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. After you receive medical attention for your injuries, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.
Contact a Kansas City Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you were injured in a Kansas City truck accident, you deserve justice for the losses that you suffered. The attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet can help you fight for your right to fair compensation and hold the defendant liable for your damages.
Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with a Kansas City truck accident lawyer. You can reach out to our firm by calling (618) 832-4688 or by completing our online form.