Archive for the ‘Trucking Accidents’ Category

Kansas City Motorists: How to Avoid a Tractor-Trailer Accident

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Many motorists are unaware of the dangers that large commercial trucks pose on the roadways. For example, in late December near Kansas City, an 18-wheel tractor-trailer crashed into the rear end of a passenger car that had come to a near stop on the road. According to witness accounts, the truck made no attempt to avoid hitting the car. All five of the vehicle’s occupants perished in the crash, including three children under the age of three.

While some accidents are completely unavoidable, it is important to be aware of the ways you can protect yourself and your passengers while on the road. A driver needs to adopt a different mindset when maneuvering near these large trucks. To help avoid being involved in a tractor-trailer accident, keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • If you cannot keep up with traffic, pull completely off of the road. Motorists put themselves in great danger when they drive at a rate much slower than the speed of traffic. This often occurs when a person’s vehicle is malfunctioning. Drivers of large trucks especially may not notice that a car is traveling at a slower speed until it is too late for them to react properly. If you cannot exit the highway, the next best thing is to make sure you are completely on the shoulder with your hazard lights on.
  • Allow extra space. Driving next to or behind a tractor-trailer is not the same as driving next to another passenger vehicle. These large trucks are not only big, but they are also extremely heavy. Thus tractor-trailers require a much longer distance to come to a complete stop than a car. This is why tailgating a tractor-trailer is so dangerous. If you have to pass in front of truck make sure you allow plenty of space and do so as quickly as a possible.
  • Stay visible.  Due to their considerable size, tractor-trailers have large blind spots. Which means that if the driver of a large truck cannot see you, he or she could hit you. Therefore, when driving near a tractor-trailer, make sure you can see the driver’s rearview mirrors or the driver. It is safe to assume that if you cannot see either, then then driver cannot see you. This is why it is best to avoid driving next to a semi-truck for any significant length of time.

 Be patient. Highway driving requires a certain level of driver patience. It is easy to become annoyed with a truck driver that may be driving too closely or making what appear to be aggressive maneuvers. In this situation, a driver may be tempted to give the truck driver a “brake check” or engage in another type of retaliatory behavior. Road rage is a dangerous game, especially with a large truck. If the truck driver is not able to stop or brake in time, you could die. Cars and even large SUVs are no match when compared to the size of a tractor-trailer.

 If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries after being involved in a tractor-trailer accident, the experienced Kansas Personal Injury Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. can help. Our team of skilled Kansas City Personal Injury Attorneys will make sure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve. The team of Personal Injury Attorneys at the Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. have helped countless injured victims around the area, both in Kansas and Missouri. To find out how the attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. can help you, call us today at (816) 472-4673 to schedule an initial consultation. At Hubbard & Kurtz, L.L.P. we will make getting back on your feet easier on you.

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.

Tired Truck Drivers Pose a Big Risk to Motorists

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Many of us share the road with tractor trailers every day. There are many types of tractor trailers on the road. Some are brand new with shiny paint and advanced safety features. Others are in good condition, even though they are a few years old.  Other trucks are poorly maintained, with defects which make them unsafe to drive. All tractor trailers have one thing in common – they have human drivers. Truck drivers spend many hours of their life on the road, and many of them are professionals with years of experience and impeccable driving records. Unfortunately, some truckers drive when they are too tired to do so safely. Driver fatigue has historically been a leading cause of tractor trailer accidents, and it continues to be a problem despite the fairly recent passage of new hours of service regulations which affect the trucking industry.

When people get even an hour or two less than the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep per night on a regular basis, they become chronically overtired. When a person is overtired, their attention span is shortened, their reaction times are slower, and they do not process information quickly. The effects of being overtired are dangerous for any driver, but even more so for the drivers of enormous tractor trailers. Last year, federal regulations were passed which allow truckers to be behind the wheel for eleven hours out of each fourteen hour work day, with a limit of seventy hours of driving per work week. The new hours of service rules also require truck drivers to have a thirty four hour rest period in between the end of one work week and the beginning of the next. Since the period between work weeks is intended to ensure that drivers get enough rest, they must sleep between one and five in the morning during two of the nights that they are off.

Many people were pleased when the new hours of service regulations were passed, but the trucking industry has pushed back hard. The United States Senate has responded by passing an amendment which would remove the requirement for a thirty four hour restart period in between work weeks. Fortunately, the amendment has not passed the entire Senate yet, and will also have to be reconciled with appropriations legislation in the House.

Unfortunately, trucking accidents resulting from drowsy driving continue to be a problem despite the new regulations. One particular drowsy driving accident has gotten a lot of recent press because it involved comic Tracy Morgan. On June 7th, Morgan was seriously injured and James McNair (Jimmy Mack) was killed in a collision between a Wal Mart truck and their limo bus on the New Jersey Turnpike. The driver of the truck is reported to have not slept for twenty four hours prior to the crash. It is possible that accidents like this continue to occur because the new hours of service regulations have only been in effect for about a year so far, and because some companies essentially force drivers to spend too many hours on the road by assigning drivers to schedules which are not in compliance with the new rules.

If you have been injured or someone that you love has been killed in an 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.

The Dangers of Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

A tractor-trailer in Missouri may weigh as much as 80,000 with a trailer length of up to 53 feet.  The massive dimensions of this commercial vehicle result in terrible destruction when it impacts another vehicle.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its most recent report for 2012 accident statistics, more than 3,900 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks and 104,000 people were injured.  These are the numbers for one year.  In its report, the NHTSA reviewed crash statistics for those trucks that had a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds.

The statistics show that there was an increase in the number of fatalities between 2011 and 2012.  When there were fatalities as the result of a commercial truck crash, approximately 72 percent of the deaths were occupants of other vehicles involved in the accident, while 18 percent were riding in the truck, and another 10 percent were outside of the vehicles, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.  While there was a four percent (4%) increase in fatalities, there was an 18 percent increase in people injured in these types of crashes, going from 88,000 in 2011 to 104,000 in 2012.  This is a significant increase in injuries and is part of an overall upward trend for the past three years after truck accident injuries and fatalities went down for the previous four years.  For these accidents, 73 percent of those injured were in the other vehicles involved in the crash, 24 percent were occupants of the truck, and three percent were designated “nonoccupants.”

A serious truck accident usually involves more than one vehicle.  The majority of the accidents occurred when both vehicles were traveling in a straight line, while other accidents involved turning vehicles, negotiating a curve, or stopped traffic.  Thirty-one percent of the 2012 truck accidents with two vehicles involved the large truck striking the other vehicle with its front end, as opposed to a side or rear impact point.  From this very basic overview, it is easy to understand why victims of tractor-trailer crashes suffer from such severe harm.

For those people who survived the accident, they often sustained serious injuries, including:

  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis – the tremendous forces of the crash often lead to a structural collapse of the impacted vehicle, leading to the wrenching of the occupants of the smaller vehicle.  Devastating damage to the spine is all-too-common;
  • Traumatic brain injuries – the impact to the head of a victim, whether penetrating or not, may cause bleeding and swelling of the brain, leading to long-term harm;
  • Broken or fractured bones – most accidents involving a tractor-trailer and a car will lead to broken bones as a result of the impact forces;
  • Burns – the severity of the crash may lead to the rupture of fuel tanks or lines, resulting in terrible fires while victims still are trapped in the wreck.  Burn injuries often require years of medical treatment and the pain is terrible;
  • Internal bleeding – crush injuries from a horrible crash may include damage to internal organs, including the liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, and bladder; and
  • Deep lacerations – a truck accident may result in severe lacerations that take a long time to heal and often leave a victim with permanent disfigurement.

If the tractor-trailer accident resulted in the death of a loved one, it may be possible to bring a wrongful death action against the truck driver and the trucking company, depending on the circumstances of the crash.

When you have been involved in a serious accident involving a tractor-trailer, your focus may be on recovering from your injuries, but it is important to consult with a qualified attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.  The skilled and hardworking Missouri Truck Accident Attorneys at Hubbard & Kurtz, LLP are ready to fight for you.  To schedule an initial case evaluation, call us at (877) 535-1163.

 

 

Commercial Trucking Industry Seeks Permission to Bury Critical Trucking Accident Evidence

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Trucking accidents are the most dangerous of all traffic accidents because they cause hundreds of thousands of serious accidents per year and result in an average of over five thousand fatalities each year.  The mere size and substantial weight differences between large semi-trucks and other passenger vehicles usually means that the passengers and drivers of the other vehicle involved will likely suffer serious injury or death. A victim of a serious trucking accident, especially if injured, will likely face a significant challenge in establishing the cause of the accident.  Driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of serious trucking accidents.  While trucking industry regulations require drivers to maintain logbooks that detail the time a driver is on the road and rest schedules, these logbooks and other supporting documents are routinely altered.

One of the most valuable pieces of evidence regarding the cause of a commercial trucking accident are onboard data recorders often referred to as “event data recorders” (EDRs).  These electronic devices store a wealth of information that is critical to identifying the factors that cause a serious big-rig accident.  However, the trucking industry is now seeking legal sanction to make this information unavailable to victims in big-rig accidents.  This extremely unfair proposal, sponsored by Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ar) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tn), threatens to give legal sanction to a trucking industry practice that is already widespread – specifically the cover up of vital evidence of driver negligence or inadequate vehicle maintenance in trucking accidents.

What is even more astonishing about this proposal, referred to as the Commercial Driver Compliance Improvement Act, is that the information stored in the EDR would still be available for use in litigation by the trucking company if the data helps them defend trucking accident cases.  Currently, experienced trucking accident attorneys will send spoliation letters to trucking companies warning that this information must be preserved because of possible litigation.  If the trucking company refuses to comply and destroys the information stored in the EDR after receiving a spoliation letter, the trucking company may be liable for sanctions.

The data stored in an EDR currently provides critical evidence regarding factors that may have played a role in a tractor-trailer accident and provides a check against logbooks and other documents relating to driver fatigue that are more easily manipulated.  An EDR may record data relevant to speed history and speed immediately proceeding an accident, sudden braking, rapid acceleration, hours behind the wheel, rest periods and vehicle maintenance issues.  Because driver negligence and mechanical issues related to vehicle maintenance are leading causes of tractor-trailer accidents, this legislation would make trucking accident litigation much more difficult for trucking accident victims.  The potentially chilling effect this proposed legislation could have on commercial trucking accidents is evident when reviewing some leading causes of trucking accidents:

  • Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for road conditions
  • Driver fatigue relating to violation of hours of service rules (i.e. driving too long without adequate rest periods)
  • Failure to perform scheduled maintenance regarding tires, brakes, etc
  • Truck drivers distracted by mobile phones and other electronic devices

The typical EDR will preserve critical evidence regarding all of these potential trucking accident causes.  This typically allows trucking accident reconstruction experts to carefully identify the factors and causes of a serious trucking accident.  The issue of proving fault in a trucking accident can be complex.  It is essential to work with an experienced Kansas City commercial trucking accident attorney if you are involved in a Kansas City trucking accident.

If you suffer serious injury or a loved one suffers a serious injury or wrongful death in a Kansas City truck accident, Call (816) 472-HOPE (4673) or Contact us by email today to schedule an appointment.

From our offices in Kansas City, a Kansas City trucking accident attorney from our law firm is available to serve clients throughout the Kansas City region, including St. Joseph, Independence, Lees Summit, Columbia, Warrensburg, Overland Park, Olathe, Atchison, Lawrence, Topeka, and many more Kansas and Missouri communities.