Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyer
Sharing the highway with a massive commercial truck like an 18-wheeler or semi can be intimidating for even experienced drivers. Still, we can take comfort in knowing that commercial drivers are some of the most qualified operators on the road. For starters, a trucker is required to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) that requires passing a written knowledge test, practical road test, as well as a variety of medical and other safety exams. In addition, if a driver plans to transport hazardous chemicals or operate a vehicle that goes beyond a basic 18-wheeler, they will likely be required to carry additional certifications, as well.
State and federal safety regulations and oversight for the trucking industry hold truck drivers and shipping companies to high standards. Still, there is no amount of oversight that will ever guarantee that a driver will avoid causing an accident, which is why most drivers carry commercial liability insurance policies with limits that typically exceed $1 million in coverage. In 2018, there were a total of 4,630 fatal crashes involving large trucks or buses and another 121,000 injury crashes. Both of these counts had increased from 2017, but regardless of whether or not accidents and fatalities are trending up or down, everyone who rides in a motor vehicle is always at a non-zero risk of being involved in an accident.
Contact RKB Law, LLC For an Initial Consultation Today
If you have been hurt in an accident with a truck or lost a loved one to a fatal truck crash, contact our personal injury law firm to speak directly with an experienced truck accident attorney today. The regulations put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are designed to keep our roads safe and to provide the trucking industry with clear guidelines. Still, these guidelines can also serve to complicate a truck accident case by adding countless additional details and factors into the mix. Working with a truck accident attorney is one of the best ways to navigate these complexities while, more importantly, focusing on your recovery without taking on the added stress of your motor vehicle accident claim.
Read more about truck accidents in Kansas City, MO below, and contact our firm as soon as possible to get started on your personal injury claim today.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Missouri
The following are just a few of the many ways that truck accidents happen. Whether or not you see your unique situation mentioned below, remember that no two accidents are alike. Contact us as soon as possible to have a conversation with an experienced truck accident lawyer and get a clear idea of how you can best move forward to get the money you deserve.
Did you know that tired driving can, in some instances, be even more dangerous than driving drunk? According to the CDC: “being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as someone having a blood content (BAC) of 0.05%. Being awake for at least 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol content of 0.10%.”
The FMCSA has worked to combat fatigue in the trucking industry by imposing Hours of Service that provide strict guidelines to the hours a driver can operate in a given period, but this does not mean that a driver won’t be tired due to personal activities or other non-driving related reasons.
Driving Under the Influence
The federal blood alcohol content limit for a passenger driver is .08, but CDL drivers operating commercial vehicles have a legal limit of .04. In addition, it is illegal for a driver to consume any mind-altering substances before driving a car, whether or not it impacts their BAC. If you suspect that the driver who caused your accident is under the influence of a mind-altering substance, be sure to let the attending officer know of your suspicions when they arrive at the scene of the crash.
A semi-truck is a massive and complex piece of equipment that sustains nearly continuous wear and tear, and as such, requires ongoing maintenance to ensure that there are no equipment failures that lead to an accident. This includes constant monitoring of tire pressure and tread wear to avoid blowouts and much more.
Depending on the driver’s arrangement, they may be responsible for maintaining their vehicle, or the trucking company they work for might be. The same is true about the trailer, which may be owned by a shipping and logistics company that assumes liability for any issues. Truck accident attorneys know how to unravel these complicated legal agreements to determine who to file a truck accident case against.
Aggressive driving covers several specific behaviors, including speeding, tailgating, refusing to allow drivers to change lanes, and in worst-case scenarios, including road rage — an active attempt to injure another driver. While often dependable and professional, truck drivers can succumb to their basest human emotions and engage in any number of dangerous driving behaviors that can significantly increase the risk of an accident. For example, speeding in any vehicle increases the braking distance, reduces the time a driver has to respond, and typically diminishes control over the vehicle; in a truck, high speeds can be deadly.
Inclement weather isn’t something that a driver chooses, but it is a common factor in many Kansas City truck accidents. While it is true that this external factor is something that a driver may not be able to avoid — especially one that drives for a living — this does not mean that a driver is not liable for an accident they cause. Your Kansas City truck accident attorney will work to build the details of the case and fight to get you the money you deserve for your trucking accident.
Proving Fault In Truck Accidents
Your attorney will first need to prove that the other driver and not you caused the truck crash. Truck accident lawyers have several methods to do so, including the information provided on the trucking accident report, as well as accessing the truck’s electronic control module (ECM), otherwise referred to as the “black box.” Other information that will help a Kansas City, MO attorney determine the cause of your truck accident include looking at the many different logs a driver must keep updated while operating a semi-truck, including their hours traveled, the manifest of their goods, and more.
Each of these pieces of information can provide insight into your Kansas City accident, but if you are not familiar with how to interpret this data, it can lead to confusion and possibly missing essential details. It is important to remember that the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will not point out any information you may have missed that would further implicate their client, which is why truck accident lawyers are your best option when it comes to building a solid case and getting the money you deserve.
Comparative Negligence in a Missouri Truck Accident
Missouri uses a doctrine called “comparative negligence” when assigning fault in personal injury cases. Under comparative negligence, a victim can seek compensation for an accident even if they are partially liable. The final settlement or award will be reduced by the percentage of fault they assume. This law is instrumental, as the alternative would block a victim from collecting damages if they were even 1% responsible, but insurance companies will attempt to pin additional fault on you to reduce their costs. Your attorney will fight to ensure that you do not accept any responsibility that you did not legitimately contribute to the truck crash.
Calculating Damages After a Kansas City Truck Accident
When you are in an accident with a commercial truck, the results can be catastrophic. The size difference between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck can turn even a low-speed fender bender into a life-changing event with severe and even permanent injuries. However, regardless of the extent of your injuries, there are many different impacts you will encounter, referred to in a personal injury case as “damages.” Personal injury cases seek compensatory damages for a victim that repay them for their measurable losses and impacts, which can be both financial and non-financial.
Economic damages are the basis of a personal injury case and account for all impacts of a truck accident that have measurable dollar values associated with them. For example, your medical bills and all associated costs will be included in your economic damages and typically make up the bulk of this category. The other most prominent and variable economic damage in a truck accident case is the disruption to a victim’s earnings through their lost income and impacts to their long-term earning capacity and other related losses.
There are many other economic damages that an experienced attorney will be able to track down and calculate on your behalf after your truck accident, as well. The key to a comprehensive settlement is attention to detail that will include all impacts without glossing over “insignificant” damages, all of which add up to impacts that you do not deserve to pay for.
Non-Economic damages are the other half of compensatory damages and seek financial compensation for impacts that are not readily measurable in monetary terms. These include things like the pain and suffering of your injuries, the trauma you almost certainly experienced during a crash with a truck, and many more. As you can imagine, an accident victim typically finds it very difficult to quantify the extent of their non-economic damages and negotiate a fair dollar amount with an insurance adjuster.
Your attorney will handle this entire process on your behalf while you can focus on your recovery.