Semi-trucks are the biggest, heaviest, and most dangerous vehicles on Missouri and Kansas roads. Victims of truck accidents understand this better than most, as they have already suffered as a result. After being injured in a big rig collision, you likely have to undergo long-term and potentially invasive medical treatments and may even suffer from a life-long disability as a result of your injuries. Managing your everyday life and supporting your family while trying to recover from serious injuries can be overwhelming. You do not have to face such challenges on your own.
By filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties, you can obtain the compensation you need to pay for medical care, treatment, rehabilitation, and lost wages. At Cullan & Cullan, our Kansas City truck accident lawyers are among a select few attorneys in the United States who have obtained specialized training in semi-truck accident reconstruction. In addition, we have an attorney who is also an engineer. We have the medical and legal knowledge, skills, resources, and experts to properly handle these cases. We handle these cases nationwide and have the largest verdict ($19,000,000) in Nebraska history as well as many other eight-figure verdicts and settlements.
For a free review of your truck accident claim,
call (816) 253-8606.
Two Critical Things to Know About Truck Accident Cases
Handling a truck accident case is not like handling a car accident case.
Many lawyers incorrectly believe that handling a case involving a semi-truck is the same as handling a case involving a car accident. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hundreds of federal and state regulations govern the ownership and leasing, the insurance (primary & excess), operation, repair, maintenance, loading and use of commercial motor vehicles or semi-trucks. Very few lawyers are aware of these complex regulations, let alone have read them or understand them. If you have been injured in a wreck involving a tractor-trailer and are interviewing lawyers to see who you should trust with your case, ask them to give you just a few examples of federal regulations governing truck drivers. This will tell you immediately if they have handled these important cases.
- To win the most amount of money in a truck accident case requires immediate investigation and preservation of evidence
The best offense is understanding the defense. After graduating from law school, as part of their education, Dr. Sam and Dr. Gene Cullan both sought employment with insurance defense law firms. This training provided valuable insight and made both of them better advocates for people injured in semi-truck accidents. One important thing that they learned is that when a truck accident occurs, the insurance company for the trucking company will send its own team of investigators to the scene of the wreck as quickly as they can. This early investigation can often make or break a case. It is extremely important that the family of the person injured in a truck accident case retain an attorney as early as possible to conduct an investigation on behalf of them.
Today, many trucks are equipped with sophisticated computerized data accumulation systems which record location, speed, time, and duration of stops, brake and clutch applications, performance while passing on curves and hills, and many other statistics. Obtaining this information and performing a thorough inspection of the truck before the evidence is altered or destroyed is crucial to an underlying accident reconstruction and often critical to a claim for punitive damages. This may require that the injured parties’ attorney file an emergency motion with the court for a protective order preventing the trucking company from destroying the data and /or repairing the tractor or trailer. There are also hundreds of documents to examine when investigating a trucking accident. These will not be freely given to the injured parties’ attorney.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck drivers are tasked with operating heavy and powerful machines that are difficult to control and maneuver. Often, they also work under tight deadlines and are asked to work long hours, all while traveling on congested roadways. Truck drivers are required to adhere to several safety regulations in addition to obeying the same traffic laws as other motorists, but these safety regulations are not always adhered to and may lead to an accident taking place.
There are a variety of factors that may contribute to a semi-truck accident. These may include:
- Truck driver negligence
- Fatigued, distracted, drugged, or drunk driving
- Violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules
- Trucking company negligence
- Poor vehicle maintenance or repair
- Illegal or negligent loading practices
Truck drivers or trucking companies may be held liable if their negligence caused a crash, but their insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying out any claims, fairly or at all.
What You’re Up Against
Big trucks have big insurance companies with their own lawyers and resources to fight your claim and can hinder your recovery, creating unnecessary burdens for you and your family. With attorneys on your side who have specialized in semi-truck accident reconstruction, and an attorney who is an engineer, AND multiple attorneys who are doctors, you can be sure that you will be effectively represented. At Cullan & Cullan, we understand the financial and emotional impact injuries can have and can ensure that insurance companies don’t succeed in attempting to downplay your losses to avoid taking financial responsibility. Our Kansas City truck accident attorneys are truly qualified to represent your interests.
Committed to Protecting Your Legal Rights
By conducting a thorough investigation of your accident, we can gather and preserve the evidence to determine fault and present a strong case on your behalf. We are familiar with the trucking industry rules and regulations as well as the equipment in trucks, such as “black boxes” and satellite tracking systems, which can provide us with important information. Truck accident claims can be complex, but having a knowledgeable legal team on your side can mean the difference between a positive future and one filled with undue hardship.
Gene Cullan, J.D., Ph.D. is an experienced Kansas City truck accident lawyer and he is among a small percentage of attorneys who obtained training at Texas A&M University in semi-truck accident reconstruction. Dr. Sam Cullan is an engineer as well as a lawyer and medical doctor. His advanced training in engineering is also advantageous in investigating truck wrecks. If you have been injured in a Kansas City truck wreck, our team at Cullan & Cullan has the know-how and resources to help you find justice.
Truck Accident Facts
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were 475,000 reported accidents involving large trucks in the United States in 2016, 104,000 of which resulted in injury. Meanwhile, 3,864 of these reported large truck crashes proved fatal. Since driver error is one of the most common causes of truck accidents, many of those accidents and injuries were the direct result of mistakes made by truck drivers that could have been prevented.
Dangerous Truck Driver Behavior
Because of the damage that large trucks can cause, it is especially important for truck drivers to make responsible, safe decisions on the roadway. When a truck driver behaves carelessly or recklessly, the resulting accidents can be devastating.
Examples of truck driver errors that can lead to a serious accident may include:
- Speeding: Truck drivers must adhere to the speed limit and adjust their speed relative to the weight of the cargo they are hauling.
- Failing to check blind spots: It is not easy to see alongside and behind a large trailer. Therefore, truck drivers must use their signals and check their mirrors multiple times before changing lanes or making a turn.
- Driving while fatigued: Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Under federal regulations, truck drivers may only drive for 11 hours after having 10 hours of consecutive off-duty hours for rest.
- Driving while intoxicated: Each state can modify legal alcohol limits for drivers, but most states make it illegal for large truck drivers to work with a blood alcohol level of .04% or higher. The legal limit for passenger vehicle drivers is 0.08%.
- Driving while distracted: A truck driver who is looking at a phone instead of the roadway, or who is otherwise distracted, may fail to notice changes in traffic and roadway conditions.
- Failing to obey traffic devices: Truck drivers who run red lights or stop signs can cause devastating collisions and pedestrian accidents.
Fatal Truck Accidents & Wrongful Death Claims
The size and weight of large trucks make them capable of causing devastating accidents. A truck accident wrongful death occurs when the negligence of a truck driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer, or other responsible parties directly results in someone’s death. In such cases, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death claim to receive compensation for their tragic losses
Potentially liable parties in a truck accident wrongful death claim may include:
- Truck Drivers: Truck drivers who speed, drive while distracted, or fail to yield the right-of-way may be held responsible for the injuries they cause. They may also face a wrongful death lawsuit if they failed to inspect their vehicle, failed to obey a traffic control device, fell asleep at the wheel, or caused a wrongful death due to drunk driving or impaired driving.
- Truck Companies: Companies can be held accountable for the negligence of their employees. They may also be liable for violating federal laws regarding the number of hours their drivers are on the road, if this leads to wrongful death.
- Truck Owners: Some fatal truck accidents result not from driver error but from a mechanical malfunction. Truck owners can be held accountable for a crash that results from their failure to properly service and maintain the vehicles.
- Truck Manufacturers: Truck part companies can be held responsible for a fatal crash if their product is defective and that defect leads to a loss of life.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Kansas City Truck Accident Claim
Negligent truck drivers can be held accountable for the damages they cause. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you should retain an attorney who has extensive experience in investigating truck accident cases. Federal and state laws regarding trucks and truck accidents are very complex. Your attorney must know these laws.
Our firm has attorneys who have obtained specific training in investigating truck accidents. Trucking firms have insurance companies and defense lawyers on their side that will fight hard to protect their interests. You need someone on your side that will fight for your rights and look out for your best interests. The legal team at Cullan & Cullan can provide the legal guidance you need to obtain the compensation necessary for a secure future.
Find out how we can help you by calling (816) 253-8606.