Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Look at the Devastating Injuries Sustained in Truck Crashes in Kansas

Truck accidents are among the most serious of accidents to occur on Kansas roadways.  These massive vehicles, often exceeding 80,000 tons, wreck havoc on passenger cars stuck in their wake.  Over 140,000 individuals are injured in truck accidents across the country each year, and more than 4,000 will perish in such accidents.

The following is a list of the most common injuries sustained by truck accident victims:

  • Brain and head injuries—head and brain injuries are among the most catastrophic and debilitating of all injuries experienced by truck accident victims.  Symptoms of head injuries following an accident include: loss of memory, blurred vision, chronic headaches, diminished mental capacity, vision changes, and changes in cognition.  Head and brain injuries can range in severity from concussions, bruising and bleeding to traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries are among the most serious injuries a truck accident victim can sustain and can result in permanent mental impairment.   
  • Neck injuries—hundreds of thousands of truck accident victims will sustain neck injuries in the crash.  These injuries can range from relatively minor whiplash to more serious injuries like cervical dislocation.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries—the back and spinal cord are vulnerable parts of the body that can experience serious injury in the event of a crash.  Spinal cord injuries can cause loss of feeling or function in the arms, legs, and other extremities.  Compression of the spinal cord, as often occurs in a truck accident, can cause loss of range of motion, extreme pain, and even paralysis.  Any back injury will cause pain and limit one’s mobility or ability to fulfill work obligations.
  • Internal injuries—the weight and speed of impact of a truck can cause internal organ injuries, including damage to the lungs, kidneys, heart, liver, and spleen.  Internal organ damage is often life threatening and will require immediate medical treatment.  Recovery from these injuries can include surgery, transplants, and intensive rehabilitation.  It is not uncommon for lifelong effects to stem from a truck accident that caused internal injuries.
  • Broken bones—broken bones caused by the impact of a truck accident are extremely painful.  Improperly healed breaks will lead to a host of medical problems.
  • Amputation or loss of a body part—the loss of a limb or other body part is one of the most devastating injuries that results from a serious truck accident.  These injuries will require months or years of physical therapy, prosthetics, and often psychological trauma.
  • Burns or other injuries due to toxic chemicals—commercial trucks are often hauling dangerous, flammable chemicals.  In the event of an accident, the occupants of a passenger vehicle may be exposed to hazardous chemicals or burned by chemical fires.  Burns can result in permanent disfigurement and inhalation of toxic chemicals can lead to long-term health problems.

Contact Kansas City Truck Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in truck accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Truck Accident attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Given their immense size and mass, truck accidents are among the most serious accidents to occur on the roadways.  Victims often suffer catastrophic injuries and even death.  For the victims of truck accidents, medical expenses will quickly mount and truck accident victims should act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential truck accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

But What If I Was Partially At Fault? Comparative Negligence in Kansas Slip and Falls

Under premises liability law, Kansas property owners have a duty of care to maintain their property in reasonably safe condition, free from dangerous defects which can include slick floors, cracks or holes in sidewalks, poorly lit stairs, standing water or icy spots, loose floor mats, and much more.  This duty of care generally extends to sidewalks, parking lots, and walkways owned by or adjacent to the property.  When an individual slips and falls on the property of another, the victim can pursue an action against the owner or possessor of the property.  For liability to exist, the plaintiff must establish that the property owner or possessor acted negligently.

Negligence can be established in one of three ways:

  1. The owner or possessor of the property or an employee must have created or caused the dangerous condition.  For instance, in a store slip and fall, an employee who spilled a substance on the ground and did not remedy the slippery condition can be deemed negligent;
  2. The owner of the premises or an employee knew of the dangerous condition but did nothing to remedy it.  Continuing the above example, in a store slip and fall, an employee notices a spill on the floor but fails to remedy it. The property owner can be held liable for this negligence; or
  3. The owner of the property or an employee should have known of the dangerous condition.  For instance, in a store slip and fall, a spill has been present on the floor for several hours and a customer complained of it, but the store failed to remedy the spill.  The property owner might be deemed negligent, as their knowledge of the dangerous condition is presumed.

Kansas has adopted the doctrine of modified comparative negligence.  Under this doctrine, an individual who is partially at fault or responsible for the slip and fall accident will not be barred from recovery, so long as their degree of fault is less than the property owner’s.  In other words, the victim will be barred from recovery if his or her negligence is equal to or greater than the defendant’s.  A slip and fall victim’s recovery will be reduced by the degree of his or her negligence.

The law of modified comparative negligence can be illustrated through the following hypothetical:

  • Melissa drove to the supermarket at 8:30 a.m., an hour after it had opened, to grab some items before heading to work
  • It had lightly snowed the night before
  • An employee had partially cleared the parking lot early that morning, but patches of ice remained
  • Melissa was walking in her high heel shoes up to the store and fell on ice in the parking lot
  • · Melissa was awarded $100,000 to compensate for her injuries, but her recovery was reduced by 10% because she was deemed partly at fault for wearing unsuitable footwear given the icy weather.

Contact Kansas City Slip and Fall Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Personal Injury attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Individuals injured due to a property owner’s negligence, including store owners, homeowners, hotels, hospitals, and the like, can be held liable for your damages sustained as a result of the fall.  Slip and fall victims must act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential slip and fall accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Falls on the Jobsite in Kansas

Over 260,000 individuals across the U.S. will experience a fall on the job that requires time off work.  Close to 1,000 employees will die in fatal falls in America.  In Kansas, hundreds of work related falls are reported to the workers’ compensation board annually.  Some of the most common falls include falling off non-moving motor vehicles and ladders.  Over 100 employees die after falling off ladders each year and more than 60 perish from falling off non-moving vehicles.

Dangerous Occupations

Falls can happen in nearly any workplace, but employees in certain occupations are at a greater risk of serious falls.  The vast majority of workplace falls occur in the fields of:

  • Farming
  • Forestry
  • Fishing occupations
  • Construction laborers
  • Carpenters
  • Miners
  • Roofers
  • Structural metal workers
  • Construction supervisors

Studies show the majority of fall related deaths and injuries, some 50%, happen in the construction industry.  This can be attributed to the fact that so many construction workers must perform tasks at high elevations, involving ladders and scaffolding.  Further, the construction industry is generally fast paced and tough deadlines are enforced.  Many temporary or seasonal workers are employed, who may or may not be properly trained.

Types of Work Related Falls

Many different types of falls can occur on the jobsite.  Some of the most common causes of falls while at work include:

  • Falls from ladders
  • Falls from one level to another, i.e. from the roof, down the steps or stairs, from building girders or structural steel, or from trees
  • Falls from scaffolding, staging
  • Falls on the same level
  • From nonmoving vehicles

Injuries Stemming from Falls

An employee’s injuries will depend greatly on the cause of the fall and individual circumstances.  Some of the most common injuries sustained in a fall include:

  • Head injury
  • Brain injury
  • Neck and back injury
  • Broken limbs
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Internal organ damage
  • Death

Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Fall Injuries

In the state of Kansas, nearly all public and private employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.  Employees who are injured in a fall will generally be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits so long as they can show the injury arose in the course and scope of employment.  Further, the employee must notify the supervisor of the accident and their injuries must be severe enough to require either medical attention or time off work.

Workers’ compensation benefits can include: payment for medical bills, prescription drug costs, rehabilitation, wage replacement, mileage reimbursement, and more.

Contact Kansas City Workers’ Compensation Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex and stressful.  Those injured in falls on the job may experience uncertainty as to whether they should file a workers’ compensation claim.  It is important that any injured worker fully understand their rights and obligations that are attached to filing a workers’ compensation claim before actually deciding to file a claim.  To better understand what to expect, and what you might receive after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with a Kansas workers’ compensation attorney right away.  Kansas workers’ compensation attorney Michael R. Lawless of Michael R. Lawless, PA, devotes his practice to helping injured clients get back on their feet.  To schedule a free consultation with Michael R. Lawless, contact our office today by calling locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accidents in Kansas: Part II

If you are one of the over 100,000 individuals injured in a motorcycle accident, you are likely feeling hurt, confused, and unclear as to your legal rights and how best to protect them.  In Part I of this two part series, we began our list of frequently asked questions concerning motorcycle accidents in Kansas.  We addressed the most common causes of such accidents, including negligence on the part of the driver of the motor vehicle as well as equipment failure, faulty motorcycles, and defective roadways.

In Part II, we continue our list of questions frequently posed by clients who have been involved in a motorcycle accident.

What actions can I pursue?

Motorcycle accident victims can seek compensation for their property damage and personal injuries sustained due to the negligence of another through a personal injury action.  Personal injury lawsuits must generally be filed within two years of the injury, though some exceptions may apply.

What actions can the family members of a deceased motorcycle accident victim pursue?

Family members of an individual who has been killed in a motorcycle accident can seek recovery through a wrongful death suit, filed against the at fault driver.  In Kansas, wrongful death suits can be filed by any heir to the decedent.

What types of compensation are available to those injured in a motorcycle accident in Kansas?

Your recovery will vary widely depending upon the facts of your case.  Some common damages sought in a personal injury action include:

  • Emergency room bills
  • Hospital admission bills
  • Ambulance or helicopter transportation expenses
  • Physician bills
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Future lost wages
  • Future disability
  • Impaired earning ability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Impaired quality of life
  • Loss of consortium (brought in a separate action on behalf of the spouse of the injured victim)

The families of a deceased motorcycle accident victim often seek recovery for the following damages in a wrongful death action:

  • Conscious pain and suffering of the decedent
  • Loss wages
  • Loss of deceased earning capacity
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of consortium (brought by decedent’s spouse in separate action)
  • Child’s loss of parental consortium (brought in an independent action)
  • Loss of affection and companionship

What if I was partially at fault for the accident?

Kansas has adopted the doctrine of modified comparative negligence.  Under this doctrine, an individual who is partially at fault or responsible for the motorcycle accident will not be barred from recovery, so long as their degree of fault is less than the other driver’s.  In other words, the victim will be barred from recovery if his or her negligence is equal to or greater than the defendant’s.  A motorcycle accident victim’s recovery will be reduced by the degree of his or her negligence that contributed to the accident.

Contact Kansas City Motorcycle Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Motorcycle Accident attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Motorcycle accident victims often sustain serious injuries in an accident, including head trauma, neck and back damage, broken limbs, and more.  Medical expenses will quickly mount and motorcycle accident victims should act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential motorcycle accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accidents in Kansas: Part I

Motorcycles have become increasingly popular across Kansas in the past few years.  Motorcycle enthusiasts love the thrill of the open road and freedom associated with riding a motorcycle.  Unfortunately, with the increase in the number of motorcycles on Kansas roadways has come a rise in the incidence of accidents.  Over 100,000 motorcycle accidents occur each year across the U.S. and about 4,500 individuals will die in these accidents.  Motorcyclists often sustain more serious injuries in an accident due to their lack of structural protections.  As such, it is important that motorcycle accident victims seek the assistance of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash.

The following is a list of questions frequently posed by those who have been involved in a motorcycle crash.

What are the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in Kansas?

Most motorcycle accidents involving a motorcycle and a motor vehicle can be attributed to driver error.  If the driver of a motor vehicle fails to exercise reasonable caution and injuries a motorcyclist, the driver can be held accountable for the injuries and property damage sustained by the motorcyclist.  Common causes of negligent operation of a motor vehicle that lead to motorcycle crashes include:

  • Left hand turns into motorcyclists—possibly the most common cause of motorcycle accidents,  motor vehicle drivers often make a left hand turn without checking in their mirrors or looking over their shoulder.  This can result in turning right into a motorcycle, causing serious injury to the motorcyclist who is left with no time to stop.
  • Unsafe lane changes—drivers are required to use turn signals and check blind spots before switching lanes, but many fail to take theses requisite precautions.  Given the lesser visibility of motorcyclists, drivers often merge into the motorcycle.
  • Distracted driving—driving while talking on the phone, texting, eating, emailing, and the like will take a driver’s eyes and attention away from the road.  While distracted driving is dangerous for all road users, motorcycle riders are particularly vulnerable because they are less visible.
  • Speeding—drivers who speed are less likely to be able to stop in time to avoid an accident with a motorcycle.  They may also not see an approaching motorcyclist due to their reckless behavior.

Are all motorcycle accidents in Kansas caused by driver error?

No.  While many accidents are ultimately caused by driver error, this does not apply to all.  A motorcycle collision in Kansas can also be attributed to: defective motorcycles, equipment failure, or defective roadways.  When any of these conditions give rise to a crash, the property owner of the defective roadway or the manufacturer of the defective equipment or motorcycle may be held liable.  Motorcyclists can bring an action under premises liability or products liable to obtain recovery for their injuries sustained.

Contact Kansas City Motorcycle Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Motorcycle Accident attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Motorcycle accident victims often sustain serious injuries in an accident, including head trauma, neck and back damage, broken limbs, and more.  Medical expenses will quickly mount and motorcycle accident victims should act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential motorcycle accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Slip and Fall Injuries in the Workplace

The majority of workplace accidents in Kansas and across the nation result from slip and falls.  Slip and falls at work constitute 15% of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicles as a cause of accidental fatalities.  Even a minor trip or slip on the jobsite can have serious consequences, leading to head injury, brain injury, sprained muscles, or broken bones, all of which can keep an employee from being able to attend work and perform essential tasks.

Kansas employees injured in slip and fall accidents while on the jobsite may have a valid workers’ compensation claim.  Under the Kansas workers’ compensation system, employees who are injured in a slip and fall accident while in the course and scope of employment will receive benefits.  Employees must timely report their slip and fall injury or their claim will be barred.  Further, employees must sustain injuries significant enough to require medical attention or missed work time in order to obtain benefits.

Slip and fall accident victims can receive workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses, mileage reimbursements, prescription drug costs, payment for vocational rehabilitation, and wage replacement.  Employees who suffer severe injuries, leaving them totally or partially disabled, may be eligible for more extensive benefits.  The family members of those who die in a slip and fall accident while at work could receive death benefits.

Types of Workplace Slip and Falls

There are two general types of workplace falls: same-level falls and elevated falls.

Same level falls account for 65% of all falls.  Common causes of same-level falls include:

  • Slippery surfaces—spills of slippery products or liquid occur in workplaces across Kansas, from retail stores to warehouses and service industry locales.  Slippery surface falls can result in relatively minor injuries like bruising and contusions, but can also cause serious injuries such as fractures or traumatic brain injury.
  • Snow and ice—during the winter months, employers have a duty to keep the workplace, including sidewalks and parking lots, free from dangerous ice or snow.  Despite this obligation, Kansas employees often find themselves slipping and falling on icy surfaces during the winter months.
  • Trips—employees often trip from walking over uneven surfaces or into miss placed or poorly positioned objects.  Employers must take care to fix uneven sidewalks and walking surfaces, including parking areas.  They must also keep the workplace free of debris.

Elevated falls are those that occur from a height.  These falls often occur in the construction industry, agriculture, mining, forestry, and other such occupations.  Elevated falls hold the potential for serious injury and can result in death.

Contact Kansas City Workers’ Compensation Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

Workers’ compensation claims can be complex and stressful.  Those injured in a slip and fall accident on the job in Kansas may experience uncertainty as to whether they should file a workers’ compensation claim.  It is important that any injured worker fully understand their rights and obligations that are attached to filing a workers’ compensation claim before actually deciding to file a claim.  To better understand what to expect, and what you might receive after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should consult with a Kansas workers’ compensation attorney right away.  Kansas workers’ compensation attorney Michael R. Lawless of Michael R. Lawless, PA, devotes his practice to helping injured clients get back on their feet.  To schedule a free consultation with Michael R. Lawless, contact our office today by calling locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

A Look at Sidewalk Falls in Kansas

Most of us walk along the sidewalk on a daily basis without ever giving consideration to our safety while doing so.  A shallow pothole, crack in the pavement, misplaced item, or protruding root can shatter that illusion of security as you travel head first towards the pavement.  Sidewalk injuries occur at disturbing rates throughout Kansas, frequently taking place in the winter months when ice and snow accumulate on sidewalks, but also occurring year round due to a variety of dangerous conditions.

Some of the most common causes of sidewalk falls in and around Kansas City include:

  • Cracks—uneven elevations or cracks in pavement are very common and often develop gradually over time.  Cracks can be attributed to tree roots, weather, the age of the sidewalk material, and soil conditions.  They can also result from defective or poor materials used in construction of the sidewalk.
  • Potholes—when the surface of the sidewalk separates, potholes develop.  Similar to cracks, potholes can be attributed to tree roots or the accumulation of pooled water or snow.
  • Snow or ice—parts of Kentucky receive generous coatings of snow or ice during the winter.  These weather conditions create highly slippery surfaces and lead to a large number of falls each year.
  • Debris—children’s toys or wagons, unkempt or overflowing trashcans, bikes, and any other objects that find their way to the sidewalk can lead to falls.

Different cities and towns across Kansas will have varying regulations concerning maintenance of sidewalks.  For instance, in Haven, KS, property owners are responsible for adjacent sidewalks.  However, to address concerns over dangerous sidewalk conditions, the city has recently cracked down on enforcement of sidewalk safety, but will reimburse property owners for sidewalk repair in the amount of the cost of the concrete to repair the deficient sections of the sidewalk.  Similarly, in Lawrence, property owners must remove snow or ice within 48 hours of cessation of accumulation of the snow or ice on the sidewalk.

Sidewalks that do not adjoin residential or commercial property are usually the responsibility of the state, municipal, or federal authority that controls that sidewalk.  The government entity will have the same duty to maintain the sidewalk in safe condition for pedestrians.

Individuals who slip and fall on a Kansas sidewalk may be able to recover for their injuries sustained under premises liability law.  Property owners will not be liable for every fall, but they can be found liable if they caused a defect to exist in the sidewalk or knew of a defect but failed to remedy it.  Further, under the theory of constructive liability, the property owner could be held liable for a defect that he or she should have known existed.

Contact Kansas City Slip and Fall Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Personal Injury attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Individuals injured in sidewalk slip and fall accidents can seek recovery from adjacent property owners for their injuries sustained in the accident.  Slip and fall victims must act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential slip and fall accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.

Tips for Staying Safe While Traveling in Kansas During the Summer Months

With summer rapidly approaching and kids soon out of school, many Kansas families are likely planning annual road trips to visit family, friends, or coveted destinations.  While road trips can provide a great means of transportation, saving families on pricey air fare and encouraging family bonding, they can present some dangers.  One problem is that many families across Kansas have the same idea—leading to sometimes clogged highways.  To avoid accidents, drivers must be cognizant of their own actions and those of drivers around you.

The following is a list of some safety tips that will help you avoid automobile accidents and stay safe while traveling during the summer months:

  • Minimize distraction—traveling with the family and pets can be hectic.  Long hours spent on the road can also lead the driver to talk on the phone or check emails and texts while driving.  In addition, all that time on the road will often equate to eating and drinking in the car.  It is important that you eliminate all of these distractions so that you can safely focus on the road ahead.  Put your co-pilot in charge of all phone calls and tending to children or pets, eat or drink only when your vehicle is parked, and always keep your eyes on the road.
  • Pack some maps—in our GPS reliant culture, most of us have long forgotten the days of maps.  However, when traveling across county and state lines, you may lose GPS service.  Pack a map so that you do not end up lost on a rural road.
  • Begin your journey well rested and relaxed—driving while excessively tired or stressed is dangerous for you and those around you.  According to some studies, tired driving is as hazardous as drunk driving.  Set off on your journey after a good night sleep and in a tranquil mood.
  • Check your vehicle—ensure all of your essential fluids, like oil, brake, and windshield fluid are full.  Make sure your tire pressure is correct, lights are working, AC is functioning, and brakes are in working order before getting underway.
  • Make sure all passengers are securely fastened—it is against the law to drive without a seatbelt, and it is extremely dangerous.  Make sure all adults and older children are properly buckled.  Younger children must be placed in an age appropriate car seat or booster seat.
  • Remain cognizant of the heat—never leave children unattended in the car as heat stroke can result and pack plenty of water for hydration.
  • Pack a first aid kit—you should pack a first aid kit in your vehicle in the event of an emergency.  It should include jumper cables, water, a flashlight, a jack, some non-perishable food, and any necessary medications.

Contact Kansas City Automobile Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless Today for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident, Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Automobile Accident attorney with more than 27 years of experience helping his clients receive the compensation they deserve.  Auto accident victims often sustain serious injuries in an accident, including head trauma, neck and back damage, broken limbs, and more.  Medical expenses will quickly mount and automobile accident victims should act fast to preserve their legal rights.  To schedule a free consultation to discuss your potential car accident case, contact Michael R. Lawless, PA by calling our office locally at (913) 681-5566, or you may call us toll-free at (800) 734-3771.  You may also contact us online and we will respond to your inquiry as soon as possible.