Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyers
Filing a Truck Accident Claim in Missouri
The Kansas City Metro Area is one of America’s major transportation hubs, with thousands of trucks hauling commercial goods on our local roads and highways every day. Despite strict regulations enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA), negligence by truck drivers and truck company management causes some of the most catastrophic accidents on our roads.
At Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Chtd., we represent victims of devastating truck accidents in Kansas City and the surrounding areas. Our firm has secured some of the largest settlements and verdicts on behalf of truck accident victims in the area, including a record-breaking $23.5 million verdict in Kansas, believed to be the highest accident verdict in the state’s history. In total, we have recovered well over half a billion dollars for injured individuals and their families.
If you or someone you love was involved in a collision with a semi or 18-wheeler, contact our Kansas City truck accident lawyers at (816) 542-5999 for a free consultation.
What Are the Most Common Contributing Factors in Truck Accidents?
No accident is inevitable, but some failures drastically increase the chances that an accident will happen. When it comes to truck accidents, for example, a collision is probable if a driver fails to operate the vehicle safely or if the vehicle is not well-maintained. Because commercial trucks are so much heavier and larger than other vehicles, they are far more likely to seriously injure and kill other motorists, as well as to cause considerable property damage.
All too often, the cause of a truck accident is assumed to have been the reckless behavior of the truck driver. Certainly, drivers have their share of the blame, as many of them fail to drive safely and too many operate their vehicles without enough rest before embarking on long road trips. In truth, though, truck accidents also have other causes.
One of the biggest causes of truck accidents is equipment failure. A commercial truck has many different systems that are often operational for far more of the day than the usual passenger car or pickup truck, so any faulty part or failed system can spell trouble on the road. No matter how skilled or experienced a truck driver is, failed or improperly working equipment can be catastrophic.
Trucking company policies also may cause problems with rigorous schedules and unrealistic expectations for drivers. Drivers often feel they must operate without enough rest, a product of tight deadlines and continuous stress.
Still, the leading cause of truck accidents is driver error. Although drivers understand the dangers that they present on the road, some still operate carelessly. They fail to follow federal trucking regulations, improperly load or secure cargo, and use drugs or alcohol while driving. In addition, some drivers have not received enough training or gained sufficient experience before driving.
How Negligence Contributes to Truck Accidents
Like other types of personal injury and motor vehicle accident claims, many truck accidents occur as a result of negligence. This negligence might be on the part of the truck driver, the trucking company, or some other third party, such as the manufacturer of a defective auto part or another driver.
At Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Chtd., we have experience obtaining maximum verdicts and settlements for truck accident injury and wrongful death claims involving negligence, such as:
- Drunk and drug-impaired truck drivers
- Truck driver speeding and reckless driving
- Unsafe truck safety equipment
- Improper maintenance
- Untrained or unlicensed truck drivers
- Unsafe loads
- FMCSR violations/logbook violations
We often work with teams of accident reconstruction experts, medical professionals, economists, and others who help us build a comprehensive picture of how the accident occurred, who was at-fault, and how the victims’ injuries and losses have affected and will continue to affect their lives. This, in turn, allows us to build solid cases aimed at securing the maximum compensation to which our clients are entitled.
How Does Overloading Contribute to Truck Accidents?
Like elsewhere in the United States, many truck accidents in Missouri can be attributed to poor truck maintenance, speeding, and truck driver fatigue. A fourth factor, however, is contributing more and more to unsafe commercial trucking: overloading.
In response, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has implemented regulations that address this growing problem. Commercial trucks must now follow two rating guides: gross combination weight and gross axle weight. These ratings apply weight limits that mean a load should never be more than a truck’s combined rating for both its axles and its load.
Unfortunately, some truck companies regularly exceed weight limits and allow their trucks to travel longer distances to reduce operations costs and other expenses. An overloaded truck has an increased risk of being in a truck accident, according to federal regulators.
The risks are threefold:
- First, an overloaded truck is less able to respond to emergency conditions. This factor alone can cause an accident.
- Second, too much weight drastically reduces braking ability and means a truck takes longer to stop. In many cases, drivers misjudge their stopping distance and end up being in or causing accidents.
- Third, overloading contributes to truck rollovers because of load shifting during sudden turns and even lane changes.
Federal and state regulators have long known about these problems and have implemented regulations that address these issues. Unfortunately, too many overloaded trucks still travel the country’s public roads and highways.
Violating federal trucking regulations can mean that the trucking company and its driver are risking the lives of other motorists, which means they are committing acts of negligence. In the event of a truck accident, if overloading is determined to be a factor, then anyone injured or the family of anyone killed may be able to hold the trucker and operator liable for their actions.
Truck Accidents Caused by Driving Too Long & Hours-of-Service Violations
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adult drivers have driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year and more than one-third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Now imagine the damage these tired drivers could cause behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer after a long workday. Fatigue caused by lack of sleep is a major cause of truck accidents.
After a Large Truck Accident Causation Study found that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers were considered fatigued at the time of their accident, the FMCSA enacted regulations to ensure the safety of drivers and the public. Because long driving shifts and lack of adequate sleep were causing fatigue in commercial motor vehicle drivers, the FMCSA created hours-of-service rules that limit the number of daily and weekly hours spent driving and regulate the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts. Drivers are kept on a 21- to 24-hour schedule, maintaining a natural sleep and wake cycle and are required to take a daily minimum period of rest with longer weekend rest periods to combat cumulative fatigue effects that accrue on a weekly basis.
A commercial motor vehicle driver is subject to the following hours-of-service regulations:
- 11-Hour Driving Limit: May drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- 14-Hour Limit: May not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty following 10 consecutive hours off duty; off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period
- Rest Breaks: May drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver’s last off-duty or sleeper berth period of at least 30 minutes
- 60/70-Hour Limit: May not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days; a driver may restart a 7/8 consecutive day period after taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty
Damages in Truck Accident Claims
The number of casualties produced by truck accidents is not surprising. Motorists in most vehicles are at a disadvantage in an accident because of the sheer size of a commercial truck, especially one that is fully loaded and traveling over or even at the posted speed limit. Sometimes, just a seemingly minor contact between a passenger vehicle and a truck can injure or kill those in a car, van, or pickup truck. Truck drivers themselves pose risks because some fail to adhere to federal and state regulations regarding hours of service and rest periods. Fatigued drivers are about as dangerous as drunk drivers in failing to operate their vehicles safely.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident involving a big rig, semi-truck, or another commercial vehicle, you will be facing an industry that will do everything possible to protect its financial interests. In many cases, truck companies will have their own local investigators on the scene of an accident within a few minutes. They have the financial resources to protect their interests. With our firm, so do you.
We fight to recover fair compensation for your damages, which may include:
- Medical bills, current and future
- Lost income/wages, current and future
- Loss of earning ability
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Loss of love, companionship, and counsel
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Loss of financial support
Our firm is aware of the various contributing factors to truck accidents and the level of risk to the public on city streets, as well as highways. Unfortunately, the outcomes of too many truck accidents include serious injury and death, devastating consequences for victims and surviving family members. We understand how hard it is for seriously injured motorists to recover and how tough it is for families to cope with losing loved ones.
Under such circumstances, our law firm can provide victims with information about their rights when it comes to seeking compensation after a truck accident. We may be able to help victims or surviving family members determine whether the negligence of a truck driver, trucking company, or truck manufacturer played a role in an accident.
Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation
Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, Chtd. has a long history of successfully winning cases for people injured in truck accidents. These cases are complex and require interpretation by an experienced professional in commercial truck accident law. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial motor vehicle, it is essential that you obtain an experienced personal injury attorney to determine if negligence may have been a factor.
Please contact our Kansas City truck accident lawyers today for a free consultation. We will only receive a fee in the event of a successful resolution and, when you choose to trust our firm with your case, you can rest assured that you will receive personal attention from your attorney throughout the entire legal process.