Why Hire a Kansas City Wrongful Death Lawyer
It is an unfortunate fact that collisions with trucks, semis, 18-wheelers, or other commercial vehicles in Kansas City and throughout Missouri and Kansas often result in serious injuries and death. Recent studies and reports have shown that the number of fatal truck crashes is on the rise, even though the number of overall traffic fatalities has declined.
If the truck driver, trucking company or another party is responsible for causing the fatal truck accident, the surviving family of the deceased has a legal right to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for their loss and damages.
Determining Liability in a Fatal Truck Accident
To successfully assert a wrongful death claim in court, you must prove that the other party was liable or at fault in causing the deadly truck collision. There are a number of ways to establish liability that may apply to a particular case.
First, a reconstruction expert can investigate the circumstances of the accident and use this information to develop a scientific opinion as to what caused the accident. This expert opinion can also assess whether the driver’s actions or failure to act contributed to the truck crash.
Second, truck drivers are required to undergo drug and alcohol screening to determine if the driver was under the influence when the accident occurred. If the truck driver did not survive the accident, an autopsy can also be done to determine if there was alcohol, controlled substances, or other drugs in the driver’s system.
Third, eyewitness statements, pictures and video from the truck accident scene can help establish liability in a wrongful death claim. Pictures or video are especially helpful if they show how the accident happened. A truck accident attorney will know how to obtain any available pictures or video from investigators, police, or intersection cameras. An attorney can also help identify, contact and interview witnesses.
What Are Causes of Truck Accidents?
A full and complete investigation is always necessary because every truck accident case is unique. However, the surviving family and their attorneys should be aware of some of the more common causes of truck accidents. In many cases, fatigued or drowsy driving from long hours and distances can affect a truck driver’s alertness and lead to serious accidents.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has mandated truckers follow specific hours-of-service limits and record the hours traveled in a logbook or by using an electronic on-board recording device. Unfortunately, some truckers do not comply with these regulations and endanger both their lives and those of others.
Another common cause is distracted driving. Even though truck drivers are prohibited from using cell phones while driving, some truckers still do it.
In addition to cell phone use, other distracted driving behavior includes:
- Working with documents
- Looking at billboards
Other common causes of truck accidents include inexperience in truck driving, failure to properly maintain a truck, impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs, failure to follow driving regulations, exceeding the truck driving speed limit, tailgating, or driving too fast for the weather or road conditions.
What Should Be Done ASAP
If you lost a loved one in a crash with a truck, 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle, you should contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your claim and legal rights. An truck accident lawyer should send a letter of representation to all parties involved in the crash, including the truck company, and request that they preserve any evidence relating to the incident.
In particular, the trucking company should be requested to preserve and make available at least the following records:
- Hours-of-service records
- The driver’s complete personnel file
- Truck maintenance reports/records
- The truck involved in the crash
Beware of Deadlines
The deadlines for filing a wrongful death lawsuit may differ from state to state. For instance, in Missouri, families have three years from the date of the death to file a lawsuit. In Kansas, the deadline is two years from the date of death. These deadlines are critically important because, if you fail to file timely and include claims against all potentially liable parties, you will be barred from doing so in the future.
If you are able to prove that the at-fault parties caused the truck accident and the death of the decedent, a jury will award fair and just compensation for the dependents of the deceased or other parties permitted under the law. Such compensation includes mental anguish, medical expenses before death, funeral costs, loss of companionship, loss of guidance, and loss of the decedent’s income and services.
Call Our Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have lost a loved one in a fatal truck accident, you are likely experiencing an overwhelming amount of grief and stress. Please know that our Kansas City wrongful death law firm and truck accident attorney are here to help.
Our legal team can guide you through the legal issues and ensure that your rights are protected so you can pursue compensation you are entitled to under the law. Call (816) 203-0143 to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation consultation.