After a Kansas man suffered a traumatic brain injury after a serious crash, Wendt Law Firm, P.C. secured over $10 million for his injuries, medical bills, and overall suffering. As your Kansas City truck accident lawyer, we have one priority: fighting for the injured. Our team of attorneys specializes in personal injury litigation, allowing truck accident victims to focus solely on recovery.
Large trucks can inflict a great deal of damage on smaller vehicles in accidents. With weights up to 80,000 pounds, large trucks can obliterate other vehicles in sideswipe, rear-end, and head-on collisions. These crashes often result in catastrophic and fatal injuries to victims, but our Kansas City truck accident attorneys are standing by to help you financially recover and prevent such future incidents by holding the guilty parties responsible.
The majority of truck accidents are rooted in negligence – be it the fault of a truck driver, trucking company, vehicle part manufacturer, or Kansas City’s dangerous roadway infrastructure. After a traumatic truck accident in KC, come to Wendt Law Firm P.C. for answers to your legal questions, and possible claim representation.
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The FMCSA keeps track of large truck crash statistics using the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and other databases. According to the FMCSA, 4,657 fatal accidents involved large trucks in 2017. This represented a 10% increase from 4,251 fatal accidents the previous year. In addition, about 107,000 injury crashes involved large trucks – a 5% increase from 2016. While all truck accidents are unique, there are certain patterns that exist among these types of wrecks. The design of large trucks lends itself to these types of accidents in particular:
Commercial trucks can tip and rollover if the driver takes a curve too sharply, drives too fast for conditions, strikes an object in the road, tries to correct a trailer that’s gone off the road, or brakes incorrectly down steep declines. Rollovers can crush smaller vehicles and lead to highway pileups.
A large truck “jackknifes” when the trailer swings out away from the cab at a sharp angle. Jackknifing can occur when the driver uses an incorrect braking tactic. This makes it impossible for the driver to control the vehicle. At this point, a rollover or other accident may occur.
Large trucks do not possess the same stopping power as smaller, lighter vehicles. They require more room to come to complete stops. Truckers that follow too closely or speed may end up causing rear-end collisions that can be fatal to passengers in other motor vehicles.
When a smaller vehicle rear-ends a large truck, the front of the smaller car can go underneath the rear trailer. This can lead to catastrophic and fatal injuries such as decapitation. Other motorists should always leave plenty of following room when behind large trucks, and pay attention while driving.
Truck accidents can occur due to various reasons. In all of these situations, there is someone that could have prevented the accident. From a truck driver driving under the influence to lost cargo loads on the interstate, most trucking accidents come down to negligence. When this is the case, victims can pursue compensation for damages through the Kansas City civil court system.
During your free, no-obligation consultation, our Kansas City truck accident attorneys will listen to the intimate details of your crash and discuss all possible legal acts of negligence. From here, we can begin building your personal injury lawsuit and the Wendt Law Firm team will be with you every step of the way. Call today to schedule your consultation.
Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Knowing what causes truck accidents in Kansas City can help you avoid and prevent them. As a passenger vehicle driver, you have a responsibility to obey roadway rules and help truck drivers stay as safe as possible. You also bear a burden to drive defensively as the party most at risk of serious and fatal injuries in truck accidents. Always assume a truck driver isn’t paying attention or does not see your vehicle. You can help avoid accidents, starting with recognizing their most common causes:
Negligent Truck Drivers
Despite being in charge of a much larger and more dangerous vehicle, truck drivers are just like other motorists. They make mistakes that can prove fatal to others. Truckers eating and drinking behind the wheel, texting and driving, breaking roadway rules, driving drowsy, or driving drunk have all caused crashes in the past. The trucking company will often be liable for the actions of its truck drivers.
Unsafe Passenger Vehicle Drivers
Truck drivers don’t bear 100% of the blame for Kansas City accidents. Passenger vehicle drivers cause many wrecks. Driving in a truck’s blind spots or “no zone,” abruptly changing lanes in front of a truck, making turns in front of oncoming trucks, unsafe passing, and failing to move a disabled vehicle all the way off the road can all result in serious truck accidents. Large trucks cannot stop as quickly as smaller vehicles. It’s important to leave 18-wheelers plenty of room to maneuver.
Poorly Maintained Trucks
Truck part failures cause many accidents every year. Vehicle failures can result from inadequate fleet maintenance on the truck company’s part. It is up to the company to consistently maintain and repair its trucks, as well as up to drivers to inspect vehicles prior to trips. Poor maintenance can result in brake failures, tire blowouts, and other dangerous circumstances during cargo transportation.
Unsecured Cargo Loads
Lost loads are a less common cause of trucking accidents than other human errors, but they still happen every year. The FMCSA maintains strict rules and procedures for secure cargo loading. Breaking these rules to fit more on a truck or to save time and money can result in dangerously unsecured loads. Lost load accidents can cause serious car crashes and multi-vehicle collisions on KC highways.
Sometimes trucking accidents aren’t the fault of either driver or the trucking company but instead stem from third-party factors such as an unsafe roadway or defective auto parts. It is possible to file a claim against the Kansas City government for road defects that cause trucking accidents, such as potholes. Filing a product liability claim is also a possibility if a defective or dangerous truck or car part contributed to your accident or injuries.
Learning the common causes of truck accidents not only helps you prevent collisions; it can also help you understand who might be legally responsible for your damages after a crash. Negligent commercial truck drivers or trucking companies can face liability for causing an accident in many scenarios. You might also be able to bring a claim against more than one defendant, such as the truck company and a part manufacturer. A free consultation with Wendt Law Firm P.C. can help you determine the proximate cause of your accident, as well as who might be accountable for your damages.
Who Is Liable for a Trucking Accident in KC?
A semi-truck accident injury case comes with unique liability issues. Rather than your case only involving you and another driver, it may also include the liability of a trucking company, truck owner, contractor, cargo company, or product manufacturer. In most cases, a trucking company will be vicariously liable for accidents involving its trucks and/or drivers – even if the company leases the trucks and uses independent contractors as drivers. FMCSA laws hold companies responsible for most truck accidents. Other parties, however, may also share liability.
The truck company. A truck company could be liable for its own negligence, such as failing to properly maintain and inspect its trucks. Poor hiring and training procedures could also make a company liable for an accident. A truck company could also be vicariously responsible for the negligence of its drivers.
The truck manufacturer. If a defective or dangerously designed truck part – including instruments used to secure cargo – caused an accident in KC, the manufacturer or distributor could be liable for damages. Many product liability claims use strict liability laws, meaning the victim does not have to prove negligence.
A third party. A third party could be responsible for your truck accident if someone other than the truck driver or company caused your crash. Examples include the Kansas City government for a roadway defect, a construction company for a dangerous site, and another driver.
Federal and state laws set standards for how much insurance a trucking company must carry. When a claim determines the trucking company is at fault, its insurance company must pay benefits. If the insurance company refuses to offer you a reasonable settlement, a lawyer can help you negotiate. Hiring a lawyer can also allow you to take a defendant to court in pursuit of maximum compensation, if necessary. If your claim involves multiple defendants, this could increase the chances of obtaining a full award.
Federal Regulation of Missouri Trucking Accidents and Accident Lawsuits
Truckers differ from typical motor vehicle drivers in that they must obey federal and state safety laws while on the road. Truck drivers must also possess commercial driver’s licenses, obtained only after special tests and driver training. There are dozens of laws truck drivers must abide by at all times, which cover how often they must sleep, and when to check the truck’s engine performance among other details. Breaking any of these laws is an act of negligence that could result in a crash. Here are some of the most important FMCSA regulations involved in trucking:
Drug and Alcohol Tests
All commercial vehicle operators must consent to drug and alcohol testing pre-employment, during random drug tests, under reasonable suspicion, and post-accident. Trucking companies can only offer employment if the driver tests negative during pre-employment substance tests.
Hours of Service Regulations
Drowsy driving is a serious issue in the commercial trucking industry. Truck drivers may not drive longer than 11 consecutive hours during a 14-hour maximum shift, which can only occur after 10 consecutive off-duty hours. Drivers cannot drive 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight days. Drivers must take one 30-minute break in the first eight hours of a shift.
Size and Weight Restrictions
Large trucks can only weigh so much depending on their size. Single-axle trucks may only carry up to 20,000 pounds, while two-axle trucks can carry 34,000 pounds maximum. No large truck can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Overloading a truck is extremely dangerous, and can lead to rollover accidents. There are also laws for truck heights and widths.
Trucking companies and drivers must take care to properly maintain and service fleet vehicles. Drivers must keep logs recording daily inspections and performance checks prior to hitting the road. Federal laws exist to control the quality of many truck parts, such as air brake systems. Part manufacturers must also obey certain regulations when creating truck components.
After a crash, victims should look at federal regulations the driver, company, or another entity may have broken in relation to the accident. The federal government strictly regulates commercial vehicle activity and performance. Any broken federal or state laws, resulting in a crash, is negligence per se. This legal doctrine makes it relatively easy for victims to obtain compensation since the defendant committed an unlawful act. A Kansas City accident lawyer can help you navigate all applicable FMCSA laws and state-specific trucking codes to pursue recovery.
Large Truck Accident Statistics in the Kansas City Region
The Kansas City Regional Transportation Safety Blueprint of 2013-2017 provides data on truck accidents in the area that caused serious injuries and deaths. The study defines “large trucks” as vehicles with gross weights greater than 10,000 pounds, and includes single-unit trucks and truck tractors that have the primary purpose of moving freight. KC is one of the top five trucking centers in the U.S. According to the data, large trucks make up at least 14% of total traffic in Kansas City – moving 60 million tons of freight through the region in one year alone. The movement of freight through KC is essential to the local and state economies.
Within the time period of the study, there was an average of 21 truck accident fatalities and 99 serious injuries per year. The Missouri side of the KC metropolitan area saw more truck accidents than the Kansas side during every year of the study. The two counties with the most truck crashes were Jackson County, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas. Proposed infrastructure developments to Interstate 49 from Louisiana to KC will place more stress on the region’s roadways. City councils will have to make an increased effort to enhance the safety of roadway users in the future.
Safety strategies may include maintaining local contact and coordination with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the entity in charge of federal large truck laws. KC officials will also work to educate motorists about sharing the road with large commercial vehicles, and support legislation that makes commercial driver license requirements more stringent. Finally, city officials should continue to measure accident activity in high-crash corridors and implement solutions to counter common issues.
Missouri and Kansas Trucking Laws
The laws surrounding the commercial trucking industry and related accidents aren’t only federal – Missouri and Kansas also impose statewide trucking laws. Trucking companies and their drivers must obey all related state laws; breaking them and causing injuries to others is a type of negligence that points directly to trucking company liability. When operating in Kansas City, truckers and their employers must obey local speed limits, signage, and driving under the influence laws.
Trucks in Kansas City cannot surpass a maximum speed limit of 70 miles per hour at any time. The limit is much lower in certain areas, such as rural roads. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for all KC commercial drivers is 0.04% – half the limit for non-commercial drivers. Truckers must obey road signage that states that trucks cannot operate on certain roads or must only take certain routes. In the event that state laws conflict with federal laws, state laws take precedence. Get in touch with us to learn more about state-specific trucking laws in relation to your recent accident.
Common Injuries Sustained from Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are catastrophic more often than not. The large size and weight of commercial trucks can crush or obliterate smaller passenger vehicles in a collision. Passenger vehicle drivers are at a much higher risk of serious, life-threatening injuries than truck drivers. The list of potential injuries in a trucking accident is almost endless. Some injuries, however, arise more often than others. Contact our firm as soon as possible if you or a loved one suffered any of the following injuries in a recent Kansas City truck accident:
Broken bones are common car accident injuries, but that doesn’t make your case any less significant or unique. Bone fractures can be painful and debilitating. You will likely have to take medical leave at work – paid or unpaid. Fractures can take months to heal, with some of the worst breaks never fully healing at all. Fractures of the skull or spinal cord can be fatal.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The delicate brain can sustain many different types of injuries in a bad trucking accident. The brain striking the inside of the skull can cause bleeding or swelling, along with significant damage to the victim. Brain injuries can cause temporary or permanent physical and cognitive impairments. Traumatic brain injury survivors might never be the same as they were pre-accident. To learn more about pursuing compensation for a TBI, schedule a free consultation with our Kansas City brain injury attorneys.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Spine injuries can affect the ability to move and feel. A severe spine injury could result in full or partial paralysis of the limbs and/or trunk of the body. Spine injuries result in lifetime costs such as medical care and live-in assistance, as well as modifications to accommodate a permanent disability. Less serious injuries to the neck and back (e.g., whiplash) can also be debilitating and cause chronic pain. Schedule a free consultation with our spine injury lawyers.
Serious truck accidents often result in vehicle fires – especially if the large truck was carrying flammable or hazardous substances. Fires in crashes can cause catastrophic burn injuries that leave behind significant physical and emotional scarring. Disfiguring burn injuries deserve serious financial compensation from the at-fault party in Kansas City. Speak with our Kansas City burn injury attorneys to learn more.
Sadly, truck accidents are frequently fatal for passenger vehicle drivers and occupants. Fatal fractures, brain injuries, spine injuries, internal organ damage, or other trauma can unexpectedly cut a life short. Talk to our law firm right away after losing a beloved family member in a Kansas City truck accident. Our Kansas City wrongful death attorneys can help you fight for maximum compensation.
Personal injuries can change your life. You might face hefty hospital bills, significant pain and suffering, emotional damage, permanent disability, lost income, or the death of a loved one after a KC truck accident. In the face of these serious losses, know you’re not alone. Wendt Law Firm P.C. has experience with a wide range of truck accident injury claims and knows how to navigate the complex web of laws surrounding these collisions. We can help your family seek recovery for all the losses connected to a serious personal injury.
How Much Should You Expect From a Kansas City Truck Accident Settlement?
A truck accident settlement aims to reimburse the victim for the damages he or she suffered because of the wreck. The award amount, therefore, will depend on each unique case. A victim with catastrophic injuries because of a truck accident may receive more money than someone with minor cuts and scrapes, for example. If your accident lawyer believes you can achieve a settlement, learn what kind of compensation to expect by making a list of all your economic and noneconomic damages.
Medical bills. Your attorney can fight for full reimbursement for all your medical expenses and health care costs – those you have already paid for and the foreseeable costs you will have in the future.
Lost wages. The money you lose from having to stay home from work while you recover from an injury could become part of your economic damage award in a Kansas City truck accident claim. Your lawyer could also request lost future earnings.
Pain and suffering. General damages such as physical pain, emotional trauma, mental anguish, psychological suffering, loss of consortium, and lost quality of life are compensable damages in Kansas City.
Property repairs. Damaged property from the truck company or someone else’s negligence may receive compensation for repairs or replacement. The defendant may also pay for other out-of-pocket expenses, such as a vehicle rental.
Calculate your economic damages by adding up your bills and out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. Predict future economic expenses to add as well. Then, use a lawyer’s help to estimate a potential noneconomic damage award. A courtroom may use multiple tactics to calculate intangible losses. More severe injuries and impacts on the victim’s life will generally lead to higher noneconomic damage awards. Consult with our attorneys and review our past results for an idea of what your truck accident case could be worth.
What to Do After a Kansas City Truck Accident
As a driver in Kansas City, it may be possible to prevent a truck accident. Do your best to maneuver safely around 18-wheelers. Stay visible by keeping out of the truck’s no zone – its blind spots. Pass a large truck with care. Never cut off a big rig, as it may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting you. Anticipate wide turns and be patient with a trucker. If you do get into a collision, do your best to complete certain steps.
Stay at the scene to avoid a hit-and-run charge. Pull your car over or move it safely to the side of the road. Exchange information with the truck driver and other involved parties.
Call 911. If you or anyone else has injuries, call the police for assistance from the scene. You should also notify the police if the crash caused major property damages.
Obtain insurance information. If you can, write down the truck driver’s name, truck number, and insurance information. Mark the time and location of the crash as well.
Next, contact a lawyer as soon as possible for an overview of your rights. A truck accident attorney in Kansas City from Wendt Law Firm P.C. can review your case, hear your story and let you know your legal options. We can walk you through all the steps it will take to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Calling us right away can ensure you do all the right things to build a claim.
Why Hire a Kansas City Truck Accident Attorney?
Truck accidents inherently involve complex questions of fault and liability. For years, trucking companies could evade liability for accidents by renting equipment and using independent contractors instead of employees. Today, however, federal laws hold companies responsible for accidents involving their fleets or drivers. This means that accident victims are more likely to be able to recover through the truck company’s insurer.
Yet the company may not be the one at fault for your crash. The defendant could be a product manufacturer or another driver on the road. You need an attorney to help you sort through the elements of your case, and take the appropriate legal action for maximum compensation. Legal representation during insurance settlement negotiations and civil trials can make all the difference in your case. Contact the Kansas City truck accident lawyers at Wendt Law Firm, P.C. for a free case evaluation in KC today.
“Wendt Law Firm was very professional, courteous and went above and beyond in their service of our case…They were patient and responsive and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for representation.” – Steve