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Wendt Law Firm: Kansas City Personal Injury Lawyers

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Our law firm represents those who have suffered personal injuries or have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another. We specialize in personal injury trial litigation and focus our attention on those we represent.
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Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer

Kansas City accident lawyer Sam Wendt

If you or a family member was injured in an accident in Kansas City, you’re not alone. With nearly 500,000 people living in Missouri’s largest city, it’s no surprise that car wrecks happen every day. If you need legal help or advice, call our Kansas City car accident lawyers right now for a free, zero obligation consultation.  Attorney Sam Wendt has dedicated his practice to helping people in Missouri and Kansas who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence.

Attorney Wendt is an award-winning attorney and has been selected as one of Kansas and Missouri’s “Super Lawyers” every year from 2008 forward. He has also been selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association as one of Missouri’s Top 100 trial attorneys and is also Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member as a result of winning millions for his clients. When choosing an accident lawyer to help you, it’s important to choose one who has a great track record of results and has the experience to help you win your case. Contact accident attorney Sam Wendt today and find out how we can help you.

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What can a car accident attorney do for me?

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Not every car accident in Missouri requires the assistance of an accident lawyer. If you’ve been in an accident and were not injured, you can most likely handle the claim yourself directly with the insurance company. However, if you were injured in the crash, the smartest thing you can do is speak to a qualified personal injury lawyer before talking to the other side’s insurance company. It’s no secret that insurance companies will try to avoid paying or try and pay you as little as possible in order to settle an accident claim. They don’t want to deal with the best accident lawyers because they know they will end up paying a much higher settlement if attorneys get involved.

It’s not uncommon to hear stories of insurance companies offering pennies on the dollar for what an accident case is actually worth. A great attorney will often take a small settlement offer and turn it into a significantly larger settlement for their client. You may be eligible for compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, property damage, physical pain, and emotional suffering. In addition to this, some of the other things a Kansas City car accident attorney can do include:

  • Get an investigation team out to the accident location to make sure evidence is preserved
  • Handle dealing with the other driver’s insurance company
  • Communicate with your health care providers to obtain the medical records needed in your case
  • Negotiate with lien holders on your claim to potentially reduce the amount of those liens
  • Negotiate with the insurance adjuster or defense attorney so you get a fair settlement amount
  • If a fair settlement amount is not offered, a car accident lawyer with trial experience can fight your case in court
  • Help you find medical care
  • Advance all costs in your case so you don’t need to come up with any money out of pocket. You only pay if they successfully handle your case.

Kansas City Regional Crash Factors

Understanding the crash factors that arise specifically in Kansas City can reduce your chances of becoming a victim. A firm grasp on this information can also clarify who may be legally responsible for your recent accident. Common risk factors typically relate to either driver behavior or roadway conditions. The Kansas City Regional Transportation Safety Blueprint presents an in-depth study of the factors involved in local car accidents from 2013 to 2017.

According to the blueprint, these are the 10 most common crash factors, and the corresponding number of related injuries and fatalities:

  1. Lane departure: 68.8% of total crashes, 3,547 serious injuries, 725 deaths.
  2. Fixed object: 50.7% of total crashes, 2,763 serious injuries, 534 deaths.
  3. Unrestrained occupants: 41.3% of total crashes, 2,432 serious injuries, 435 deaths.
  4. Aggressive driving: 40.9% of total crashes, 1,828 serious injuries, 431 deaths.
  5. Young motorists: 32.7% of total crashes, 3,114 serious injuries, 345 deaths.
  6. Impaired driving: 30.5% of total crashes, 1,500 serious injuries, 321 deaths.
  7. Horizontal curves: 23.3% of total crashes, 1,384 serious injuries, 246 deaths.
  8. Intersections: 20.9% of total crashes, 524 serious injuries, 220 deaths.
  9. Unlicensed drivers: 20.5% of total crashes, 1,137 serious injuries, 216 deaths.
  10. Distracted driving: 15.5% of total crashes, 1,048 serious injuries, 163 deaths.

There may be more than one factor involved in any given collision. For example, a reckless driver may be speeding, but the design of the roadway made it difficult to stay in the lane on a curve. Fault for an accident in this case may fall on both the driver and the designers of the roadway. Understanding the proximate cause(s) of your crash, and who may be liable for resulting injuries, can be difficult. It may require an in-depth investigation of your accident with help from an experienced Kansas City car accident lawyer.

Boasting a 15-county metropolitan area anchored by Kansas City, Mo and more than 2 million residents, there’s unfortunately amply opportunities for a serious traffic collision. Our Kansas City car accident lawyers have handled cases on the four major U.S. interstate highways that pass through KC plus Kansas and Missouri state highways, from the K-5 and the K-32 to Route 9 and Route 152.

Other notable local roads with an increased risk of accidents include:

  • Broadway: An entertainment center in one of Kansas City’s oldest neighborhoods, this street is home to many bars, live jazz outlets and quality restaurants.
  • Swope Parkway: This street is the most accessible way from the city’s midtown to Swope Park.
  • North Oak Trafficway: This major commercial road is home to its fair share of crashes.

Car Accident Facts in Kansas and Missouri

At Wendt Law Firm P.C., our accident attorneys take it upon themselves to dig deeper into the most common causes of local car accidents. Developing our understanding of these crashes enables us to provide better services to our clients. We stay up to date on the latest facts and statistics about car crashes in Kansas and Missouri. In doing so, we remain sharp and improve the odds of securing maximum compensation for our plaintiffs.

Kansas & Missouri Fatalities by Crash Type (2016)

Source: NHTSA

Here is some in-depth information about the most common factors involved in KC car accidents:

  • Distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) names distracted driving one of the most dangerous habits in America. Distracted driving killed at least 3,477 people in the country in 2015. Texting and driving is the deadliest form of distraction, as it hits all three categories: manual, visual, and cognitive. In Kansas City, there is an average of 33 fatalities and 366 serious injuries per year due to distracted driving. Missouri has a greater rate of injuries and deaths relating to distracted driving than Kansas.
  • Drinking and driving. About 31% of all motor vehicle deaths in the KC region involved impaired drivers. An “impaired” driver is one with a blood alcohol concentration level at or above the legal limit of 0.08%. Driving under the influence of drugs is also a fatal mistake and a serious crime. One in 10 teenaged drivers in Kansas City report driving under the influence of alcohol. After a crash involving an impaired driver, victims may file civil charges during an ongoing criminal case. The driver will likely be guilty of negligence per se, or “obvious” negligence from breaking the law.
  • Aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is a malicious action on the part of a driver that involves a moving traffic offense and endangers the lives or properties of others. Examples include following too closely (tailgating), speeding, and weaving through traffic. About 33% of all injurious and fatal crashes in KC involved aggressive driving. Jackson County, Missouri had the highest rates of aggressive driving from 2008 to 2012. Safety strategies to prevent this risk include education and awareness.

Eliminating these three issues could save thousands of lives in Kansas City every year. Unfortunately, these problems still persist in Missouri and Kansas.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries or died in a car accident involving one of the above-mentioned factors, you likely have grounds for a lawsuit. You could sue another driver, vehicle part manufacturer, roadway designer, or third party.

Common Types of Collisions in Kansas City, MO

The type of accident you were in can reveal important information about the potential causes and liable parties. Rear-end collisions, for example, signal that the offending party was following too closely or not paying enough attention to the road. A head-on collision could point to a driver who was under the influence or who fell asleep behind the wheel. During our years in legal services, we’ve helped clients recover following all types of car accidents. We know what to look for, and how to prove someone else’s negligence. There are two main types of collisions we would like to focus on in this section: head-on collisions and intersection crashes.

A head-on collision occurs when one vehicle crosses a median or centerline and collides with an oncoming vehicle. The offending driver may travel the wrong way in traffic on purpose, as if to make a pass, or inadvertently due to distraction or another dangerous behavior. Head-on collisions are often more severe than other crash types. In Kansas City, 12% of all fatal accidents were head-on collisions from 2008 to 2012. Missouri reported more head-on collisions resulting in injuries and fatalities than Kansas every year during this period, except in 2012 when both states reported 12 fatal head-on collisions.

Intersection crashes are those that occur at the junction where two or more roads cross. Intersections pose high risks for pedestrian and bicycle collisions. There are multiple different opportunities for a collision at any typical four-way intersection. Researchers recorded an average of 553 serious injuries and 44 deaths per year in intersection crashes in Kansas City. These collisions can occur at signalized and unsignalized intersections, although the latter is more dangerous for drivers and pedestrians. Aside from head-on and intersection collisions, other common accident types include fixed object collisions, horizontal curve crashes, and lane departure crashes. 

Common Injuries After a Car Accident

Car accidents can lead to any number of injuries and negative side effects, but some injuries are more common than others. Some of possible side effects of a car crash include:

  • Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash. A person may suffer from whiplash when the force of a blow causes him or her to strike a dashboard, airbag, steering column, or seat back. Whiplash often presents with debilitating pain to the neck and may necessitate a brace, which can seriously diminish quality of life.
  • Fractures to the limbs or ribs. A fracture can occur upon impact, even at slow speeds. Fractured arms, legs, or ribs can take weeks or even months to heal and might require physical therapy or surgery. Even minor fractures can represent a serious medical cost and effect on wellbeing.
  • Core injuries. Seat belts help protect against serious injuries, but they can also cause injuries to the core area of the body. At high speeds, the force of a seat belt locking can lead to bruising, or even damage to internal organs. Soft tissue injuries to the core may also result from the force of the airbags.
  • Head injuries. Motor vehicle accidents are some of the leading causes of concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Head injuries range from mild to severe and can impact a person’s ability to function for a lifetime.
  • Spinal cord injuries. Similarly, a spinal cord injury often affects a person’s ability to function and lead normal lives. They have negative consequences such as paralysis, loss of motor or sensory function, and an inability to enjoy previous activities.

Kansas City Car Accident Laws: Missouri Vs. Kansas

There is a primary seat belt law in place in Kansas, and a secondary safety belt law in Missouri. Secondary seat belt laws mean police officers must have another reason for pulling the individual over. Local municipalities, including KC, have their own primary seat belt ordinances. An “unrestrained occupant” is a common factor in fatal accidents. Failure to use restraint devices can result in death and disabling injuries.

The NHTSA reports that seat belts saved about 13,941 lives in 2015. About 27.5 million people in the U.S. still fail to buckle up during their daily drives. In the KC region, 41.3% of fatalities and 19% of serious injuries involved unrestrained occupants at the time of impact. Aside from the many driver safety laws in Missouri and Kansas, there are also specific statutes regarding car accident lawsuits. You must obey state-specific laws to bring your claim, depending on where in Kansas City you reside.

There are deadlines for filing personal injury claims with the civil courts. Accident victims have two years from the date of injury to file a claim in Kansas, and five years from the date of injury to file in Missouri. Missouri is a pure comparative fault state, while Kansas abides by modified comparative fault laws. This means that those in Missouri may collect damages regardless of the plaintiff’s portion of fault, but in Kansas, a plaintiff cannot be more than 50% at fault to recover damages. Retain a Kansas City car accident attorney with experience handling claims in both states for the best possible representation.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Kansas City, Missouri

Missouri law requires you to immediately notify the police of any car accident that results in injuries, death, or significant property damage. After the vehicles involved in the accident have stopped, check yourself and others for injuries. Do not move if it is painful to do so as you may aggravate an injury and make it worse. If you and the other drivers only sustained minor cuts and scrapes, safely move your vehicles out of the way of traffic. However, if possible, quickly take a few photos of the vehicles as they came to rest in the street. Pay close attention to skid marks and debris in the road, and try to get as many shots as possible as long as it does not impede traffic. These photos can support a future legal claim in case negligence caused your accident.

When the police ask you about the accident, do not admit any fault, even if you know you are at least partially to blame for the crash. Be careful not to say anything the police could misconstrue as an admission of guilt. Simply answer their questions honestly and concisely until you have permission to leave. You will need a copy of the police report, but you can secure that easily later. Your next priority should be to seek medical attention.

Even if you think you only suffered minor injuries, a car accident injury may not manifest noticeable symptoms for some time after the crash. If you delay seeking treatment, you not only put your own health at risk, but could unintentionally cast doubt on a future insurance claim or lawsuit. A claims adjuster or jury will assume that since you did not seek immediate care your injuries couldn’t have been as severe as you claim.

Determining Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident

Establishing liability in a car accident is never an easy thing. In fact, insurance companies often argue over which party has fault in a car accident or whether the parties share fault. Generally, proving someone was liable for another’s injuries following a car accident requires four elements:

  • First, an injured motorist must show the other driver owed him or her a duty of care. This is the easiest element to prove because motorists owe a duty of care to all others on the road.
  • Secondly, an injured plaintiff must show the motorist committed negligence. A negligent motorist may be liable for an accident when he or she acts in a manner that another reasonably careful motorist wouldn’t, usually by breaking a traffic law.
  • Next, an injured party must show a driver proximally caused his or her injuries. In other words, negligence directly resulted in injuries or property damage.
  • Last, an injured party must show he or she suffered harm as a direct result of the accident. Examples include medical bills, auto repair bills, and intangible losses such as pain and suffering.

Missouri is a Comparative Negligence state, which means if there are multiple parties involved in an accident, each party could be held proportionately at fault.

Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Car Accident Settlements?

Statistics reveal most people will be in at least one car accident in his or her lifetime. Knowing what to expect from the process is essential for a victim of negligence to protect his or her right to compensation. One of the most common questions we hear from clients is, “Will my car accident settlement be subject to tax?”

The simple answer: It depends. A settlement may be taxable depending on what a victim uses it for and the type of compensate they seek in the first place. A portion of a settlement to compensate for medical bills or the cost of future care may not face taxing. Lost wages, on the other hand, may be subject to the same tax as would be applicable to the work itself. Our experienced Kansas City car accident attorneys can help you determine how taxing works regarding your car accident settlement.

Filing a Lawsuit After a Car Accident in Kansas City

After you’ve handled your medical concerns, a Kansas City personal injury attorney can help you determine your options for legal recourse. If a negligent driver or third party caused your car accident, your attorney can help you secure compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering resulting from your crash. Contact the Wendt Law Firm team today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Kansas City car accident attorneys. We’ll review your car accident case and let you know what type of compensation to expect from a lawsuit.

“They worked tirelessly until the final days getting the most settlement they could. I would recommend them to anyone needing help dealing with the legalities of an automobile accident.” – Judi