Archive for July, 2014

Wrongful Death Actions Often Follow Pedestrian Accidents

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

One common type of accident which often results in a wrongful death action as well as a criminal case is the pedestrian accident. When a pedestrian is struck and killed, it is often because the driver of a motor vehicle was behaving recklessly or negligently, and in violation of the law. Because two types of actions may be pursued against the defendant, there is an opportunity for the victim’s family to obtain financial recovery for their loss, as well as the possibility that the responsible party will receive criminal punishment for their actions.

Unfortunately, pedestrian accidents happen more frequently than you may realize. One pedestrian somewhere in America is struck and killed by a vehicle every two hours. This means that twelve pedestrians die in accidents every day. Some pedestrians who are involved in accidents do survive, and they receive injuries which range from scrapes and bruises to severe head injuries and loss of limbs. Many pedestrians do not survive accidents with motor vehicles, though, because the force of the impact from the vehicle can throw them or crush them, causing life-threatening injuries or immediate death at the time of the accident.

Families of pedestrian accident victims can seek two forms of civil damages after losing someone that they love in a pedestrian accident. The first type of civil action is a survival action, which is brought against the at-fault driver by the family members of the deceased for the purpose of recovering the damages which were suffered by the deceased as a result of the accident. The second type of civil action is a wrongful death action. Wrongful death actions serve the purpose of helping the families of pedestrian accident victims recover for damages that they have experienced due to the losses of their loved ones. These damages include loss of support, loss of companionship, and funeral expenses.

Since pedestrian accidents sometimes occur when the at-fault driver is not breaking the law, families of accident victims should take comfort in knowing that survival and wrongful death actions can still be pursued under these kinds of circumstances. The only difference from this scenario and other pedestrian accidents which do involve unlawful behavior on the part of the at-fault driver is that in cases where there is unlawful behavior, there are also likely to be criminal charges filed. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a common cause of pedestrian accidents involving unlawful behavior. Speeding is another commonly cited unlawful behavior which often results in pedestrian deaths. Sometimes, the conduct of the at-fault driver exceeds that which we would classify merely as unlawful behavior. These cases receive special treatment under criminal laws, with vehicular manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter charges often being filed in cases of extreme recklessness.

If someone that you love was killed in a pedestrian accident, it is essential that you speak with an attorney as soon as you can in order to protect your rights. A Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorney can help you to understand the process of pursuing a claim for damages, and what you might expect to happen along the way from start to finish. The experienced Kansas City Wrongful Death Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. help clients from throughout the region, including St. Joseph, Independence, Lees Summit, Columbia, Warrensburg, Overland Park, Olathe, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, and many other Kansas and Missouri communities. We offer caring and compassionate assistance to our wrongful death clients as they navigate a very difficult time in their lives. Please call us today, at (816) 472- 4673 to arrange for an initial consultation.

Understanding Underride Accidents

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

There are various ways in which passenger vehicles and tractor trailers can collide. The differences in size and shape of the two types of vehicles make for many possible accident scenarios. One common type of collision is the underride accident. An underride accident occurs when the front of a passenger vehicle goes underneath the trailer of a tractor trailer either from the back or from the side.

Underride accidents are often fatal for the occupants of passenger vehicles. When a car or other passenger vehicle gets underneath the trailer, the top of the vehicle is often torn off. In this horrifying and gruesome manner, drivers and passengers often die or sustain severe injuries to their heads, necks, and upper bodies.  Underride accidents cause approximately three hundred and fifty deaths every year in the United States.

There are Department of Transportation regulations which require the bottom edge of rear bumpers on tractor trailers to be less than twenty two inches above the ground. These “bumpers” do not look like the bumpers on passenger vehicles, so you may have seen them and not realized what they were. Rear bumpers on tractor trailers often have an open design made up of a horizontal metal bar which is suspended from the rear of the trailer by two vertical metal bars.

While a bumper which meets the current DOT requirements may make some difference in the outcome of a crash involving a passenger car, compliant bumpers are not always effective in preventing underride accidents. Sometimes, the car can push the bumper forward with a forceful impact, and get under the rear of the trailer. Vehicles traveling at moderate to low speeds can even become wedged underneath the trailer if they hit the bumper off-center, or if they move under the trailer from the side instead of from the rear.

Because the current bumper design requirements are not that effective at preventing underride accidents, various groups have asked the DOT to change the regulations to require larger, stronger bumpers which would be less likely to fail upon impact. Some manufacturers already make their trucks with bumpers which exceed the current DOT regulations. Crash tests on these improved bumpers have shown them to be much more effective at preventing underride accidents. While these self-initiated improvements within the truck manufacturing industry are a step in the right direction, the number of new trucks with improved bumpers on the road is much, much smaller than the amount of trucks with bumpers that meet the current DOT regulations and trucks with bumpers that do not meet the DOT requirements because they are missing or broken.

Underride accidents are just one type of crash which can happen when an eighteen-wheeler and a car collide. If you have been injured or someone that you love has been killed in any type of accident involving an eighteen wheeler, it is important that you seek the aid of an attorney right away. The knowledgeable Kansas City Trucking Accident Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. help clients from throughout the region, including St. Joseph, Independence, Lees Summit, Columbia, Warrensburg, Overland Park, Olathe, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, and many other Kansas and Missouri communities. Please call us today, at (816) 472- 4673 to arrange for an initial consultation.

Be Careful in and Around Work Zones to Avoid Personal Injuries

Friday, July 11th, 2014

All across America, summer is associated with road work. The highways, bridges, and local streets that get us where we need to go require constant repairs and maintenance in order to keep them in good condition. Of course, summertime is a time when our nation’s roads are busier than ever, as individuals and families make the most of the nice weather and time off from school and work by taking vacations, which often involve quite a bit of driving.

The road work that is going on this summer will benefit both drivers and workers, but it also poses safety risks to both groups. Workers in highway construction zones are often injured or killed by motorists who are not paying attention, or who fail to slow down to the posted work zone speed. Sometimes, a work zone accident does not injure any workers, but the motorist or motorists involved in the crash, their passengers, and their vehicles are harmed.

There are many things about construction zones that make them a popular location for accidents. In some work zones, traffic is controlled by flaggers. If drivers approaching the work zone are speeding, they may not see the flagger’s signal and may cause an accident that could harm the flagger, themselves, their passengers, or others. Changing lane patterns traffic patterns keep everyone on their toes, but distracted drivers may not even notice them and may cause an accident. Construction vehicles enter and leave work zones all day long, often at locations that are not regular entrance and exit ramps. This creates an accident risk if they fail to yield to traffic, or if approaching motorists do not see them.

Both motorists and workers can take steps to keep themselves safe in work zones. Workers must use safe work habits, and ensure that work zones are set up properly. When workers are aware of the dangers that exist both inside of the construction area, from machinery, materials, and other things, and just outside of the barriers, from car and truck traffic on the road, they can do their best to stay out of harm’s way. Drivers of cars and trucks must pay close attention to the road as they pass through work zones, and they must drive at an appropriate speed. Work zones often have posted speed limits, and failure to abide by them creates a danger for everyone. When both workers and motorists use extra care in and around work zones, everyone benefits from increased safety.

If you have been injured in a work zone accident, it is important that you speak to a Kansas City Personal Injury Lawyer right away. The knowledgeable and caring Kansas City Personal Injury Lawyers at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. help injured clients from throughout the region, including St. Joseph, Independence, Lees Summit, Columbia, Warrensburg, Overland Park, Olathe, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, and many other Kansas and Missouri communities. Please call us today, at (816) 472- 4673 to arrange for an initial consultation.