Monthly Archives: May 2011

Kansas City Accident Attorney Explains What to Do Following a Kansas Auto Accident

Any Lenexa resident or other resident in the Kansas City area who is involved in a serious Kansas auto accident is likely to be overcome with stress and anxiety.  If a driver suffers serious injury in a car accident, the auto accident victim may be suffering from serious injuries that may make it difficult to focus on what needs to be done to preserve one’s legal rights and avoid jeopardizing one’s claim for compensation.  While legal and insurance concerns may not seem important when dealing with serious injuries, a successful and prompt resolution of these issues may be necessary in the face of significant medical expenses, lost income and other financial challenges.  There are certain steps that should be taken following a Kansas car accident to preserve a person’s right to financial compensation.  We have provided an overview of the important things that you can do following an auto accident to preserve your rights to financial compensation.

  • Make Sure Everyone Is Out of Danger: The first order of priority following a car accident is to make sure that everyone is out of the zone of danger.  Following a serious car accident, a driver should call 911 if anyone is hurt or there is significant vehicle damage.  A disabled vehicle or pedestrian in the roadway can mean people remain in danger even following the car crash.  It is critical to put out flares or warning signals and try to get vehicles out of the roadway.  If it can be done safely, anyone who might be in danger should be moved to safety.
  • Gather Evidence or Preserve Witnesses: If the police are summoned to the scene of a car accident, the officer will investigate and may interview you.  If you observed evidence that suggests negligence by the other driver, such as alcohol on the driver’s breath, speeding by the other driver or similar conduct, you should inform the investigating officer.  If there were witnesses to the accident, it is a good idea to get contact information for the witnesses and inform the investigating officer.  A car accident victim should also take pictures of vehicle damage, any evidence of injuries, the accident scene and surrounding area.  Because most people are fairly shaken following an accident, it is also advisable to keep a journal to help you remember what happened.
  • Seek Medical Treatment and Evaluation: If you are injured and paramedics are summoned to the scene, you should let them examine you.  Many car accident victims refuse medical attention or do not follow-up with their doctor because they believe that they have not been seriously injured.  This can be a decision with serious long-term repercussions.  Sometimes very serious injuries including traumatic brain injuries, severe spinal or neck injuries and other serious injuries are not obvious immediately after an accident.  Sometimes even fractures and broken bones can be masked because the shock of being involved in a traumatic car crash may make it difficult to fully appreciate one’s injuries.  If you do not obtain a medical evaluation or follow through on treatment, the insurance company may argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Many people are pleasantly surprised when the other driver’s insurance adjuster calls.  The adjuster may be friendly and even offer to cut you a settlement check.  Frequently, an auto accident victim will discover that their medical costs, injuries and long-term consequence far exceed any such settlement offer.  When an insurance company offers to settle a claim, they will typically ask that a general release be signed that may prohibit you from going back and seeking damages for subsequently discovered injuries.  You should never settle an auto accident claim or even talk with the other driver’s insurance company until you have obtained legal advice from an experienced Kansas personal injury attorney.

Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law, has been representing car accident victims throughout Kansas for over 27 years.  If you have suffered serious injury or the loss of a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries or loss.  A Kansas City accident attorney from our law firm can represent auto accident victims who suffer serious injuries.  If you or a loved one has suffered injury in a Kansas or Missouri car accident, call us today at 1-800-734-3771 for your free no obligation initial consultation.

Dangerous Design Flaws and Defects Placing Drivers at Risk on Kansas Roadways

Sports utility vehicles (SUV’s) are among the most popular vehicles due to their functional benefits as a family vehicle, but they also have design defects that compromise the level of protection they offer motorists.  SUV vehicles are notorious for their high incidence of rollover accidents.  Attributes of SUV’s that increase their risk of rollover accidents include their weight, size and high center of gravity.

These contributing factors are also examples of design flaws and defects that may place the safety of others at risk of a serious Kansas auto accident.  The manufacturer of the automobile, the manufacturer of its parts, and other parties potentially may be liable in the event of an automobile collision caused by such defects.

Product liability law involves a defect in the design, manufacturing or marketing of a product that results in injury or wrongful death of an individual in a product defect related accident.  Consumers purchase automobiles with a good faith expectation that they are reasonably safe and free from defects that may cause a car crash or more serious injury in a collision.  Most consumers never consider the possibility that their vehicle has a product defect when they purchase it.  However, most product defects are not apparent at the time a vehicle is purchased but manifest themselves only under certain driving conditions or over prolonged use of the vehicle.  Manufacturers of automobiles and of defective parts can be held responsible for the resulting injuries if the defect of the automobile proximately causes an auto accident resulting in injuries or wrongful death.

There are several types of defects that may be associated with an automobile collision including design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects.  A design defect, such as the design flaw in sports utility vehicles that tend to contribute to SUV rollovers due to a combination of weight, size, and speed, is a defect that can be determined by the design plans, such as the engineering plans used to develop and assemble the vehicle.

The Ford Pinto provides the classical example of a design defect in a motor vehicle.  These vehicles had a design defect which caused the rupture of fuel systems in Ford Pinto’s that resulted in fuel tank explosions when the vehicles were involved in rear-end accidents.  Pintos were already on the assembly-line during the rear-end crash tests that revealed this very serious defect.

The automaker continued the manufacture and distribution of automobiles because they determined that it was cheaper to pay the lawsuits for those that were seriously injured or killed than to re-tool and correct the manufacturing defect.  This lawsuit became the classic case for imposing punitive damages on a product manufacturer that knowingly allows an unsafe product to enter the market and treats serious injury or wrongful death to buyers as a cost of doing business.

The next type of product defect that can cause severe injury to consumers involves defects in the manufacture process while assembling the vehicle.  Vehicles may exhibit a manufacturing defect with or without a design defect and may result in strict liability for damage on the manufacturers or the assemblers of the automobile.  Manufacturing defects can result in brake or tire failure, poor handling that causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle and suspension system failures. Any time an automobile part fails, the driver is at risk of potential accidents from losing control of the vehicle, compromising the driver’s safety.

Design, manufacturing, or assembly defects place users at risk of a dangerous collision in motor vehicles including SUV’s especially when there were no warning provided to consumers of any risk associated with the vehicle.  Other types of defects includes seat-belt malfunctions, failure of door latches, defects associated with airbags, and other types of design and manufacturing defects.

Failing to warn consumers of potential hazards and dangers of an automobile can also leave companies subject to a potential product liability claim.  One particular method of warning involves a product recall that provides notice to car dealers and consumers regarding potential hazards of vehicles.

Defective motor vehicles can cause devastating accidents that result in serious injuries ranging from broken or fractured arms, legs, or hips to permanent disability or paralysis.  If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective vehicle or car part which caused an accident or caused more serious injuries, a Kansas City accident lawyer from our law firm can review your case free of charge and will provide an honest assessment of your chance of receiving compensation.

Call us today for your free initial consultation at 1-800-734- 3771. Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law, P.C, provides personal injury representation in eastern Kansas and western Missouri, including the communities of Overland Park, Olathe, Lenexa, Shawnee, Merriam, Mission, Roeland Park, Westwood, Fairway, Prairie Village, Lawrence, Topeka, Gardner, Kansas City, Grandview, Harrisonville, Belton, Pleasant Hill, Clinton, Lees Summit, Raytown, Peculiar, Lawrence, Strasburg, Freeman, and Garden City.