Why Choose Flick Law Firm?
- Success in Truck Crash Cases Since 1995
- Awarded AVVO Top Trucking Accident Attorney Rating
- USDOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regs. Training
- Advanced Trial Training for Truck Wreck Cases
- In-house Library of Truck Crash Litigation Resources
- Our No Fee Unless You Win Guarantee!
80,000 pounds or more of 18 wheeler coming at you at up to highway speed. Add in inattentive or distracted driving, excessive speed, driver fatigue, following too close, not yielding the right-of-way or other semi truck collision causes and you have a recipe for disaster. Were these causes of your big truck crash? Rear end collisions, intersection collisions, sideswipes, head-on crashes are all common types. Was your wreck one of these kind? Then you are in the right place.
As a Kansas City trucking injury lawyer we have seen how the impact of a tractor-trailer accident on your life can be almost as dramatic as the crash. Life altering injuries like head injury, broken bones, ruptured discs, joint injuries, back and neck injuries, to name just a few, are not unusual in these crashes. You may be temporarily or permanently disabled, have medical bills, future medical expenses, pain, suffering, lost income and reduced earnings potential. The long-term financial impact on you and your family can be devastating. How are you going to handle this?
With all you have at stake having an experienced Kansas or Missouri 18 wheeler accident lawyer working hard for you can be essential because you know that the trucking company, it’s insurer and truck accident law firm aren’t going to look out for your best interests.
Important Time Limits
You may have the best semi-truck wreck injury case in the world but if you wait too long you may be totally out of luck. Surprising ? Maybe. But, unfortunately true. Both Missouri and Kansas have time limits in which truck crash injury claims must be made. In the legal system these are often called a “statute of limitations”. Generally the time limits which apply to your case are determined by the state in which your truck wreck happened.
Generally, you must either settle your case within the limitations period, file suit within that time and meet other procedural requirements or you will likely lose any right you have to make a claim. So as you can see, to properly protect your interests it is ESSENTIAL that you know what the time limits are, how they apply specifically to your case and make sure that you comply with them.
Missouri has different time limits on truck collision negligence claims depending on whether the injured person survived the crash or died in the wreck. Missouri law contained in V.A.M.S. 516.120(4) sets a five year time limit on injuries caused by truck crashes. Interestingly, Missouri has a shorter three year statute on limitations on wrongful death claims caused by a truck wreck. (V.A.M.S. 537.100)
Missouri has a number of exceptions to these time limits. For example, when the injured person is a minor or is mentally incapacitated they may have additional time to pursue a claim. There may also be other exceptions. If you need additional information on these important time limits please call our office at (816) 221-0501.
Kansas in general has a two-year statute of limitations on Kansas truck accident injury negligence claims. K.S.A. 60- 513 is the Kansas law setting this 2 year limit. This limit applies to injuries whether they are simple, catastrophic or fatal. Unlike Missouri, Kansas does not have a special time limit on truck wreck cases involving wrongful death.
There are some exceptions to this rule. Some are when the person was hurt is a minor, an incapacitated person as described by K.S.A. 60-515 or is imprisoned. There are some other potential exceptions as well. There are also some more limited (and less well known) cases where a Kansas 18-wheeler accident or other truck wreck claim may be brought within 3 years. This can become complicated very quickly. Please feel free to contact Flick Law Firm at (816) 221-0501 for more information these time limits.
Who’s at fault?
A semi crashed into you. It’s the trucker’s fault, right? Maybe. If things were that simple our job would be a lot easier.
Proving the truck driver’s fault is an essential requirement for recovering damages in Missouri and Kansas truck collision personal injury cases. This might seem simple at first. However, it can become complicated very quickly.
Trucking accidents can happen in ways not frequently seen in typical auto accidents. Rear end and intersection collisions make up a high percentage of the car accident cases we handle. Trucking cases often involve these kinds of wrecks as well. However, they also can involve situations like improperly loaded trailers tipping over, falling cargo, under-ride collisions and jackknifes not usually seen in car accidents. Sideswipes make up a much higher percentage of truck crashes than auto accidents due to large blind spots around trucks. Proving fault in some of these cases may be more difficult than in your typical intersection or rear end collision car accident.
Another challenge in trying to show fault is the tendency of some trucking defendants’ stories and versions of the “facts” to change over time. So the bottom line is that proving fault in a trucking case is not always a simple matter.
Crashes can have more than one cause and sometimes more than one person is responsible for causing a motor vehicle accident. An example would be a car driven under the posted minimum speed on interstate highway being rear-ended by semi operated by a sleepy trucker who was driving longer than the hours-of-service rules permit. In this case both drivers are likely partly to blame for the wreck.
Missouri and Kansas law both recognize this issue and provide for comparing the fault of all people involved in a wreck based on the degree of fault each has in causing the crash. This system is called “comparative fault”. Missouri and Kansas each have their own version.
Missouri uses a system call “pure comparative fault”. Under the Missouri system, the jury decides what percent fault each party had in causing the truck wreck. The jury also decides the amount required to properly compensate the injured party for their losses. An amount of damages representing the percentage of injured party’s fault is then deducted from the damages the jury determined to calculate the amount of compensatory damages the plaintiff receives.
Kansas law also provides for comparing fault however, the Kansas system is different in some important ways from the Missouri system. Unlike Missouri’s “pure comparative fault” system, under Kansas law an injured party can only recover damages if they are less than one-half at fault. Under Kansas law, if the injured party is assigned less than 50% of fault their recovery, their recovery is calculated similarly to the way it is in Missouri. However, if the injured party is found to be one half or more at fault they unfortunately recover nothing under Kansas law.
Don’t Trust Your Semi Truck Wreck Case to Just Anyone
Many law firms handle a variety of cases and also personal injury. A smaller group handle only personal injury but do a range of cases like medical malpractice, product liability, slip and fall cases, car and 18 wheeler wreck cases. Still fewer focus exclusively on motor vehicle accident cases and have the specialized training and 18 wheeler accident injury attorney experience required to properly negotiate and litigate these cases to get top dollar compensation for victims.
Since 1995 Flick Law Firm has successfully helped injured people in these cases. As an experienced Kansas City truck accident lawyer, we can tell you that a tractor-trailer crash case can be much more complicated than your typical car accident case. The rules, evidence and insurance in a tractor-trailer accident case are usually different and more complex than in an ordinary auto collision claim.
Specialized training, experience and resources can be essential to your semi-truck wreck attorney getting you the compensation you need and deserve. Flick Law Firm has more than 20 years of experience successfully handling truck wreck cases and has spent years acquiring specialized resources and training for them.
Specialized US DOT Truck Safety Regulation Training
The U.S. Government has hundreds of pages of truck safety regulations, called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, (FMCSR’s) which trucking companies and their drivers are usually required to follow. FMCSR violations are common truck crash causes. Unfortunately, most law schools and lawyer’s continuing education programs offer little or no FMCSR training.
To better use the FMCSR’s to help injured people Lawrence Flick, Senior Attorney completed detailed FMCSR training through the US Department of Transportation (USDOT). Areas he studied include:
- Driver qualification requirements
- Driving and work hour limits
- Driver log book rules
- Safety inspection rules
- Record keeping requirements
- Driver drug and alcohol testing procedures
This training has helped us use the FMCSR’s successfully and prepares us to use them in your case. As an example showing the value of this training, in one case this training helped us deliver a successful result for our client by establishing that a truck driver was not properly qualified and should never have been driving the truck. For more examples see our: How Your 18 Wheeler Accident Lawyer Can Use the FMCSRS in Your Case page.
You can easily see how important it is for your Kansas or Missouri 18 wheeler accident attorney to know how to use the FMCSR’s effectively in your case. If you are considering hiring another attorney for your case find out if they have had US Department of Transportation FMCSR training.
More Specialized Resources
Lawrence has also completed national level, multi-day continuing education programs on truck accidents, including Litigating Truck Collision Cases, a specialized big truck wreck lawyer training course at Advanced Trial Advocacy College. He belongs to a national organization of truck wreck attorneys, the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA). Through APITLA and other resources Flick Law Firm can access national networks of experienced 18 wheeler crash lawyers for case documents, consultation and access to expert witnesses.
We have an in-house library of resources on topics ranging from truck crash prevention, trucking safety, tractor-trailer driving, truck safety research, FMCSR’s to truck accident litigation. We also have a relationship with a major national supplier to the trucking industry through which we can obtain industry training and safety materials for use in cases. Government, industry and legal profession sources sources regularly send us updates on truck accident litigation, research and developments in truck safety. And these are just some of the advantages you get when you hire us as your trucking injury law firm.
We Hit the Ground Running in Your Case
Your initial appointment at Flick Law Firm will usually take between two and three hours and involve an in-depth discussion of your case. We will want to know about what happened before, during and after your collision, your injuries, medical treatment, medical bills, the current status of your injuries, additional treatment that you will need, lost time from work, lost income, any physical and work limitations, medical and vehicle accident insurance and other issues.
We will need to review the police or Highway Patrol crash report. This report is a key document from which we can obtain a wealth of essential information. The identity of the trucking company, driver and insurance carrier, the investigating officer analysis of the crash, whom the officer assigned blame, the basis for it, which driver, if any, was ticketed and the violations they were charged with is just some of the information we can learn from the police report.
Other documents we will want to see include any photos showing the damage to your vehicle, other vehicles involved or the wreck scene, medical bills and other medical documents, off-work slips, other documentation of lost income, the insurance policy on the vehicle you were driving and possibly other materials.
Instant Access to Company Safety Data
At your initial appointment here, we know how to get instant access to detailed safety data about specific trucking companies like:
- Traffic violations by company drivers
- Other crashes the company’s trucks were involved in
- Equipment defects like defective brakes, tires or lights
- Other safety violations
This information can be invaluable. Our experience has shown that a heavy truck wreck, rather than just being a chance event, is often just the “tip of the iceberg”. The apparent cause of your collision may seem to be speeding or driver inattention. However, investigation often uncovers a pattern of FMCSR violations or poor safety practices at the company. Having information about the company’s safety violation history can give us a big head-start in the investigation/evidence collection phase of your case, be helpful in proving the company’s liability and increasing the value of your case.
Evidence Collection – Following The Trail
Let’s say you are driving from Independence, Missouri to Lee’s Summit on Interstate 70. You see a vehicle in your rear view mirror coming up on you way too fast and feel an enormous shock as the vehicle slams into the back of your car. If you were rear-ended by another car, the other driver probably lives somewhere in the Kansas City area. In our typical car accident case where both drivers live in the area, the evidence which needs to be obtained is usually available locally.
If instead a tractor-trailer crashed into you may be in a totally different situation. Kansas City is a major transportation and logistics hub. It is served by railroads like BNSF and Kansas City Southern and is at the crossroads of interstate highways, like I-70, Interstate 35 and Interstate 49. These roads carry traffic from a trucking industry which operates in all 50 states. The company, whose truck hit you, may be based hundreds of miles away, in say St. Louis, it’s insurance company somewhere else, the trucker may live in a third state and drive through other states.
The FMCSR’s require trucking companies to maintain extensive documentation. Driver qualification files, driver logs, pre-trip inspection reports, police reports, scene photographs, records held by an assortment of government agencies are just some of the documents which may be needed. The trail of paper and computerized records is often spread across a number of states. You can easily see how highly complex the investigation conducted by your semi tractor trailer truck accident lawyer can be and why having an attorney experienced with this type of investigation can be extremely important.
In one case we handled, we obtained evidence from Kansas, Missouri, and other states as well as Washington, DC from law enforcement, courts, employers, a federal agency, expert and other witnesses and the company.
The importance of having this information is that it gives us a solid foundation when it is time to question the driver and company officials about your wreck. All that work came together to allow us to successfully attack the credibility of the driver, the qualifications of the company’s safety personnel and achieve a very successful result for our client.
Common Truck Collision Types
Your crash was probably one of the kinds listed below:
Truck Rear-Ends Other Vehicle
An 18 wheeler or other big truck rear-ending the vehicle ahead is one of the most common kinds of truck crash. Often the vehicle which is rear-ended has stopped for a red light, a stop sign or has slowed down for traffic ahead. Following too closely, speeding/driving too fast for conditions, driver fatigue and driver inattention/distraction are common causes of these big rig wrecks.
Crashes at intersections caused by right-of-way violations like running a stop sign, a red light or not yielding in a left turn can involve any kind of vehicle.
Additionally, in certain kinds of turns, a tractor-trailer can cause a road accident by obstructing the path of other drivers.
Intersection collisions have a higher serious injury potential than some other trucking accident types
Truckers use mirrors to see traffic to the sides and behind them. As a result, tractor-trailers and other big trucks have large blind spots around them. If the driver doesn’t see a vehicle in an adjacent lane and change lanes, a sideswipe or lane change collision can result. These are much more common on the right side rather than the left. Sideswipe prevention technology like side mounted video cameras and lane departure warning systems are available yet many trucks are still not equipped with them.
A head-on crash can happen when vehicles move toward each other from opposite directions and collide. These most often happen on straight roads due to unintentionally crossing into oncoming traffic. Speeding/driving too fast for conditions and inattentive/distracted driving are typical factors. Severe injuries or death are common and, given the size and weight of big rigs compared to smaller vehicles, people in the smaller vehicle are likely to experience more serious injury.
A jackknife accident is like a folding pocketknife. Instead of the tractor and trailer both moving in the same direction, they can fold toward each other with the tractor facing one way, the trailer facing another, and both possibly crashing together. While the semi is jackknifing it can collide into other vehicles or obstruct the road so that other vehicles crash into it, resulting in catastrophic multi-vehicle pileups. A jackknife eighteen wheeler accident is often caused by overly hard braking, especially on slippery roads in bad weather conditions.
A tragic example illustrating the catastrophic potential of jackknife accidents occurred in Platte County, Missouri on Interstate 29 between Kansas City and St. Joseph. In icy winter road conditions an 18 wheeler jackknifed across I- 29 near Missouri 273 blocking traffic on the highway. Another tractor-trailer carrying hazardous material including hydrochloric acid crashed into the jackknifed tractor trailer. Fuel began leaking from damaged gas tanks and fires started. More vehicles crashed into the second semi. Explosions happened. The fires burned so hot, that combined with the acid fumes, rescue crews were not able to reach injured people in their cars. Tragically, 10 people died and numerous others were injured.
Many trucks, particularly tankers, can be at increased risk for rollover due to a high center of gravity.
Couple this with speeding/driving too fast around a curve and you have a recipe for a rollover.
Some other factors associated with rollovers are inattentive/distracted driving, weather conditions like crosswinds and cargo shifting.
Common Truck Crash Causes
Some common (and less common) truck accident causes include:
Speeding or driving too fast for conditions can reduce the time a driver has to react to and avoid a potential collision and increase stopping distance. Unfortunately, the faster a vehicle is going, the longer (in time and distance) it can take to stop and the bigger the potential impact, damage and injuries that can cause a wreck.
Keeping enough space between your vehicle and the one ahead so that you can stop safely without hitting the vehicle ahead is a basic driving rule and is essential to avoiding a rear end wreck. This is especially important for semis and other large trucks because of the weight, force and at times hazardous materials (hazmat) like gasoline, toxic substances or other dangerous cargo they can carry. Unfortunately, following too closely continues to be a contributing factor in these rear-end collisions.
Driver fatigue is a known crash cause. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations limit the number of hours drivers can be behind the wheel or on duty. Despite this, they may still experience fatigue and drowsiness while driving. Fatigue can slow reaction time, cause drivers to lose focus on the road and even fall asleep at the wheel.
Research indicates that an inattentive or distracted trucker is a common cause of trucking accidents. Truckers not paying proper attention to road and traffic conditions, who are texting, on cellphones or using other electronic devices, for example, are major distracted driving truck accident causes.
All drivers, and especially professional truck drivers, are or should be familiar with rules-of-the-road governing right-of-way at left turns, stop signs, traffic signals, merges and in other situations. Despite this, failing to yield the right-of-way remains a significant contributing factor to big rig wrecks.
Improper lane changes are another major cause of semi accidents. Eighteen wheeler drivers typically rely on a system of mirrors to see beside and behind the vehicle. There are significant blind spots in which the driver has no or limited visibility. If another vehicle is in one of these blind spots, or the driver is not paying proper attention and starts to change lanes, a sideswipe collision can result.
Driving a tractor trailer or other transport truck safely in rain, snow, ice, sleet or other bad weather conditions can be difficult due to their design, weight, cargo and other factors. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations require drivers to reduce speed and use extreme caution in these conditions. If the conditions are dangerous enough they are not allowed to drive until the truck can be operated safely. Despite the rules, rain, snow, ice and other weather conditions continue to contribute to truck wrecks
Properly working brakes, tires and lights are just some of the parts essential for safe operation. If an 80,000 pound articulated lorry has a tire blowout or brake failure at highway speed a catastrophic loss of control ending in disaster or death can result. Thanks, in part, to a comprehensive system of federal regulations, inspections by drivers, motor carrier inspectors and law enforcement, equipment failure is not among the most common truck crash causes.
When cargo is not properly loaded, distributed or secured loads can shift causing the truck to fall or roll over, potentially crushing occupants of vehicles unfortunate enough to be in the way. Cargo can also fall off and hit people in other vehicles with the potential for serious injury or death. Wrecks due to improper loading can also occur when trucks are loaded with more than their maximum capacity.
Contact Us Today
Flick Law Firm is deeply committed to using our extensive knowledge and resources to help commercial motor vehicle accident victims recover the maximum compensation they need and rightfully deserve.
To put our experience and track record to work for you call (816) 221-0501 or complete the Contact Us Form to see how our focus, experience and results can make a difference in your case. We look forward to helping you.