In 2016, 114 fatal truck accidents (involving semi-trucks, also known as 18-wheelers or big rigs) occurred across the state of Missouri, accounting for nearly 3 percent of the 3,864 fatal truck accidents that occurred across the US that same year. Severe injury, heavy property damage, permanent disability and multiple deaths are a few of the many devastating consequences of a truck accident, and these serious consequences mean that damages tend to run high.
Because of this, trucking companies will staunchly defend themselves to make sure that they do not have to pay you for their negligence. At Wagstaff & Cartmell, our team is dedicated to making sure that you recover full compensation in any truck accident case you have been involved in, while also holding truck companies accountable for their actions.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or suffered a wrongful death due to a truck accident, our experienced attorneys are here to help. We believe in helping you by building your case, fighting for your rights, and seeing that you are justly compensated for your medical expenses, as well as any additional damages that may have been incurred as a result of a truck accident.
Causes and Risks of Truck Accidents in Kansas City
Truck accidents are usually much more serious than the average car accident due to the truck’s massive size and weight. An average semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds—about 20 times heavier than an average car—making semi-trucks generally take longer to stop. Trucks that carry hazardous materials, like gasoline, pose an even greater risk of injury in the case of an accident.
Other factors—like road hazards and distracted driving—can also contribute to semi-truck accidents. When truck drivers are forced to work through the night, or work for long periods of time without breaks, they can become fatigued and less alert to dangers on the road. Common causes of traffic accidents include speeding, malfunctions, distracted or exhausted driving, weather conditions, unstable cargo and poor roads.
Kansas City, MO Truck Accident Statistics
- In 2016, truck accident-related deaths increased 8 percent across the state of Missouri compared to 2015 (up from 105 fatalities in 2015 to 114 fatalities in 2016).
- Between 2014 and 2016, there were 363 fatalities involving trucks or other commercial motor vehicles across the state of Missouri. This accounted for nearly 3 percent of all truck accident-related fatalities (13,098) across the country during this time.
- Of the approximately 475,000 police-reported crashes involving large trucks across the country in 2016, there were 3,864 (0.8 percent) fatal crashes and 104,000 (22 percent) injury crashes. The majority of these truck-related crashes (62 percent) involved two or more vehicles.
- Three of the most common causes of truck accidents are distracted driving, speeding, and poor weather/road conditions.
What Makes Truck Accidents Different?
Trucking accident cases are unique in the sense that large semi-trucks differ from other vehicles in significant ways; for example, semi-trucks are prone to jackknifing, which usually occurs when the truck is forced to make a sudden brake or turn. If a truck-driver brakes suddenly on a slippery road, or turns suddenly to avoid hitting another vehicle, the truck driver may not be entirely at fault because in many cases, conditions that require sudden braking or turning are unforeseeable.
Semi-trucks also tend to have trouble turning, and some truck drivers will use two lanes in order to make a right turn. Sometimes the truck driver will be held responsible for an accident if he or she was trying to turn from an inside lane or trying to make a turn while taking up two lanes.
Another difference between a truck accident and an accident between two cars is the presence of a third party—the trucking company itself. Because truck drivers often answer to a trucking or shipping company, the company may be held responsible for the accident rather than the individual driver.
How We Can Help You to Get Compensation for Your Truck Accident Claim
If the truck driver or another party connected to the driver is found to be at fault for an accident, then that party may be legally required to compensate the plaintiff for damages caused by the accident. This may include compensation for medical bills related to injuries sustained in the accident, lost wages for any time taken off work for recovery, as well as pain and suffering damages. In a fatal accident, the victim’s family may be entitled to recover damages on behalf of the deceased.
When an accident of any kind occurs, it is critical to take appropriate action as soon as possible. Above anything else, ensuring the safety of all involved parties should be a priority, followed by gathering the names and contact information of all involved parties, as well as any eyewitnesses. No matter who is at fault in an accident, it is important to know your rights and ensure that each negligent party is held accountable for their actions.
Who Will Pay for My Truck Accident in Kansas City?
If you are injured in a truck collision, then you may have suffered significant losses. Truck accidents often involve serious or life-threatening injuries due to the difference in size between trucks and most passenger vehicles. You may be able to file a personal injury claim against one or more people or entities based on the facts of your case.
Depending on the circumstances of your truck accident, you may receive compensation from the truck driver’s insurance company, the trucking company that employs the at-fault driver, the manufacturer of the truck and/or its parts, the company that loaded the truck, or even a third party that was hired to do maintenance on the truck fleet.
Do Different Laws Apply to Truck Accidents?
Yes. Tractor-trailers or big rigs are a type of commercial motor vehicle. Under federal law, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as one with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,0001 pounds or more; a vehicle that is designed to transport more than 15 passengers; or a vehicle that is transporting specific quantities of hazardous materials. Many state and federal laws only apply to commercial truck drivers.
For example, drivers of commercial vehicles are required to have a commercial driver’s license, which is issued by the state. They are also subject to hours of service rules, which limit the amount of time that they can spend behind the wheel before resting. If a trucker violates these laws, it may lead to an accident. A skilled truck accident lawyer will not only investigate the circumstances of the crash but will analyze the applicable laws and regulations to build a strong case for compensation.
What Happens If I Am Partially at Fault for a Truck Accident?
It isn’t unusual for more than one person to be responsible for any type of motor vehicle collision. Perhaps a truck driver was speeding, but you changed lanes without signaling — leading to a wreck. In these types of cases, you will still be able to recover for your losses. However, the total amount that you recover will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
Missouri has adopted the comparative negligence rule, which allows individuals who share some portion of the blame in a personal injury case to recover compensation. Their recovery will be limited by the percentage that they are deemed to be at fault for the accident, as determined by a judge or jury. In contrast to states that only allow comparative fault principles to be applied if the plaintiff was less than 50% at fault for an accident, in Missouri, comparative fault applies in most personal injury cases.
Using the example above, assume that you suffered $1,000,000 in damages as a result of this truck accident. The speeding truck driver was found to be 60% at fault for the crash, while you are assigned 40% of the blame. Your damages will be reduced by 40%, or $400,000, for a total recovery of $600,000.
How Much Is My Truck Injury Case Worth?
The value of any personal injury case depends on a number of factors, including the nature and severity of the injury. For example, a truck accident that leaves a person completely paralyzed will typically result in a higher recovery than one that caused a broken bone that was completely healed within 2 months.
In a truck accident case, damages may include compensation for medical bills and future medical care, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, property damage, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Based on the facts of the case, other types of damages may be available, such as funeral expenses for a loved one who was killed in a truck crash. While there is no average settlement or jury award for a Missouri truck accident case, an experienced truck accident lawyer can evaluate your case during a free consultation and give you an estimate of the potential value of your case.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Over years of representing truck accident plaintiffs, we have come to know how traumatic a truck accident can be for a victim and their family. When you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, retaining an experienced truck accident attorney is highly recommended before making any kind of statement or settlement. Wagstaff & Cartmell is dedicated to putting in the legwork with the courts and insurance providers so that you can focus on what’s important—rest, recovery and peace of mind.
At Wagstaff & Cartmell, our success is defined by representing and winning cases on behalf of our clients. Contact us for a free case evaluation, and to learn more about seeking compensation for your truck accident claim today.