Kansas Car Accident Attorney Discusses the Importance of an Employee’s Handbook in Car Crash Cases

Regular readers of this blog should be familiar with the basic assertions that must be proven in a Kansas car accident lawsuit:

  • The at-fault driver owed the injury victim a duty of care;
  • The at-fault driver breached this duty by operating his or her vehicle in a careless or reckless manner;
  • The at-fault driver’s negligent or reckless driving was the primary proximate cause of the crash; and/
  • The injury victim suffered injuries, losses, and/or expenses that can be compensated with an award of monetary compensation.

Typically, it is the second element that is the point of contention in car accident lawsuits. There are many ways in which an injury victim may attempt to show that the manner in which the defendant operated his or her vehicle was careless: the injury victim may, for example, show that the defendant committed one or more traffic violations immediately before the crash. Alternatively, the injury victim may attempt to show that the manner in which the at-fault driver operated his or her vehicle was in a manner that a reasonable person would hot have done.

Employee Handbooks May Provide Additional Evidence

If the at-fault driver was engaged in the performance of his or her job duties at the time of the crash, that driver’s employee handbook and policies may provide an additional source of evidence to help establish negligent behavior. For example, suppose you or your loved one is involved in a truck collision involving a delivery truck. Suppose further that the delivery driver’s employee handbook requires that he not be on the road longer than five hours at a time without having taken an hour break. Suppose yet still that the crash occurs after the driver has been on the road for six hours without a break. While there may not be anything unlawful about the driver’s actions, the fact that he broke company policy may be relevant in determining whether he or she was negligent. In this case, the relevant inquiry will be whether an individual in the defendant’s position, with the defendant’s knowledge of company policy, would have chosen to break company policy and drive for six hours.

Obtaining Copies of Handbooks and Other Important Evidence

The fact that such information may be available in your car wreck case underscores the need to obtain legal assistance with your case as soon as possible. In some cases, important evidence needed to establish the essential premises of your case can disappear or become significantly more difficult to find and obtain if too much time elapses. A company may update its employee handbook following a crash and destroy older versions of the handbook that would have been in force at the time of your crash. If the employee is terminated, documentation showing that the employee received the handbook and had agreed that he had reviewed it can likewise be destroyed if steps are not taken quickly to preserve such documentation.

Contact Us Today for Assistance With Your Case

With years of experience handling Kansas car wreck injury cases, Michael R. Lawless is able and poised to take quick action on your behalf after your car crash. Attorney Michael R. Lawless will carefully review the facts of your case and take action to preserve important evidence that you will need to succeed in your injury case.

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a Kansas car accident, give yourself the best possible chance at recovering the compensation you need by calling Kansas Car Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law at (800) 734-3771.

Kansas Car Crash Lawyer Advises of the Dangers of Lending Your Vehicle

Kansas is known for its hospitality and the willingness of individuals to lend a helping hand (even in some of the state’s larger cities). Whether it’s a cup of sugar or a few dollars to help you make ends meet, Kansans are always prepared to assist someone in need. In some cases, this might include lending one’s vehicle to help that person run an errand, apply for a job, or handle that person’s personal obligations. Does this pose any potential legal trouble for you?  Like most legal questions, the answer is a definite, “It depends.”

Individuals Responsible for Their Own Actions

A fundamental principle of our judicial system is that adults are generally responsible for the civil and criminal consequences of their own actions. This principle applies in the context of borrowing another’s car, for example: even though the car may belong to another person, a driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring the vehicle is properly ensured and registered before taking the vehicle out onto the street. If the driver gets pulled over, he or she cannot avoid a ticket for improper registration or not having insurance on the vehicle by claiming the vehicle belongs to someone else.

This holds true in the realm of civil law/personal injury law as well.  A person who is driving the vehicle of another and who causes injury to another driver or passenger because of careless or reckless driving may not avoid responsibility for those injuries he or she caused by claiming the car belonged to another person.

Notwithstanding this general principle, however, Kansas law also recognizes that in any personal injury accident several individuals may be to blame for the plaintiff’s injuries. In the context of lending someone your vehicle, you as the vehicle’s owner may be brought into the case as an additional defendant if:

  • Your car had defects or was not in good operating order and you knew or should have known this information and you did not disclose this information to the driver. To illustrate, if you know the brakes on your older car are not working well, you may have a legal duty to disclose this fact to another before you let that person drive your car. If that person gets into a wreck and it is determined that the brakes failed, you may be responsible. If you disclose the problem to the other person and he or she chooses to drive anyway, then he or she may have assumed the risk and be solely responsible for any crashes that result.
  • You know or should know the person shouldn’t be driving. If you lend your keys to someone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who has a significant history of being involved in car wrecks, you may be partly responsible for any injuries this person causes if he or she is involved in a car wreck. In most cases, the focus will be on what you knew or should have known prior to lending your car: you are not expected to know everyone’s blood alcohol content just by looking at them, for example, but you cannot lend your keys to someone that you watched consume a six-pack of beer and not expect to escape all liability.

How Your Kansas Car Crash Attorney Helps You

 When you retain Michael R. Lawless, a seasoned Kansas Car Crash Lawyer, to assist you with your Kansas car wreck case, he will thoroughly evaluate your case and identify all parties who contributed to your crash. By holding all individuals responsible for your wreck accountable, you are in a better position to recover full and fair compensation for your losses and injuries. Call Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law today for help by dialing (800) 734-3771.

Kansas Personal Injury Attorney Discusses Safety During Upcoming Bike Across Kansas Event

Each year, 800 or so bicyclists traverse the wide expanse of the Sunflower State in the annual Bike Across Kansas event. This year’s route begins at the Colorado border and ends eight days later in Leavenworth, Kansas. For those eight days in June, however, drivers along the route will need to share the road with hundreds of bicyclists. During this time, the risk of a bicycle wreck along the route will be significantly elevated.

Riding Safe During Bike Across Kansas

For bicyclists participating in the event, there are some preventative steps that can be taken now to reduce the likelihood of trouble along the way:

  • Purchase and obtain the proper equipment: A safe ride begins with purchasing the equipment you need to stay safe and ensure your bicycle is in good operating condition. At the very least, you should consider purchasing a properly-fitted and appropriate helmet, protective eyewear, gloves or other hand protection, highly-visible clothing, and supplies (such as sunscreen, lip balm, and first aid basics along with basic bike repair tools). You should also carry a cellular phone with an extra power source in the vent you need to summon emergency medical personnel.
  • Try not to become separated from other bicyclists: The old adage, “There is strength in numbers” is especially true during Bike Across Kansas. By staying around others in the convoy, you will be able to receive assistance quickly in the event your equipment breaks or you are struck by a motorist. You should also make certain that a loved one or trusted friend has a map of your route and is available to receive regular updates from you along your route.
  • Ride defensively: As a bicyclist, you are subject to the same rules of the road as other motorists. In addition, you should ride your bicycle with the assumption that other motorists who are sharing the road with you will not be able to see you well or brake in time to avoid an accident. This means you should allow for plenty of room between you and other vehicles, not travel in a vehicle’s blind spot, and ensure that your path is clear before turning or stopping.

If you do become injured along the route, be certain that you summon emergency medical assistance quickly to your location. If at all possible, move yourself and your bike to the side and off of the road. Use flares, signals, or other means of attracting the attention of other riders or motorists.

There may be an increased incentive for a motorist who strikes a bicyclist to leave the scene of the crash as opposed to render aid to you and help you in seeking assistance. If this occurs, attempt to remember and record as much information as you can about your accident and the vehicle and person who caused your crash. Give this information to any law enforcement officer who arrives to help you, and give this information to your personal injury attorney as well. The more information you can recall about the vehicle that caused your crash and/or its driver, the more likely it is that you will be able to locate this individual and hold him or her responsible for your injuries.

If you or a loved one are injured by another on Kansas’ roads and highways, contact seasoned Kansas Personal Injury Attorney Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law at (800) 734-3771 for assistance in exercising your legal rights. Attorney Michael R. Lawless will help you pursue compensation for your injuries and losses against the person or persons responsible for your losses.

Kansas Car Wreck Lawyer Analyzes Situation Where Law Enforcement Officers Cause Wrecks

In Kansas (as is true throughout the remainder of the nation), law enforcement officers must undergo rigorous training before they are permitted to take to the streets by themselves. The process usually begins with the completion of an academy that may last several months. From there, the new recruit must usually complete a period of “field training” where the new officer is directly supervised by a more experienced officer while the new officer attempts to apply the knowledge he or she gained at the academy to the “real world.” All told, it may be six months or more before a new recruit has graduated from the training phase of his or her employment and is released to the field without direct supervision.

However, even the most skilled and well-trained law enforcement officer is still only human and mistakes can be made. When a law enforcement officer’s err in judgment causes you or your loved one injury, recovering compensation may be significantly more difficult than when a civilian driver is the cause of your injuries.

Protections for Law Enforcement Officers

Unlike civilian drivers, police officers, highway patrol troopers, and sheriff’s deputies have certain protections that apply when they are responding to emergency calls or pursuing criminals. K.S.A. 8-1506 exempts law enforcement officers from following most rules of the road (including speeding laws) so long as they do not endanger others and proceed with due regard for the safety of others on the road. In other words, if a law enforcement officer is speeding or violating a traffic law but is doing so in a careful and prudent manner, taking into account the safety of others, that law enforcement officer will be immune from criminal prosecution (and, in most cases, immune from civil liability as well) if he or she causes an injury crash. This immunity represents the first hurdle that must be cleared in a crash caused by a law enforcement officer.

Suing Government Agencies and Political Subdivisions

The next hurdle that injury victims hurt by a law enforcement officer must clear is Kansas’s Tort Claims Act. This Act specifies how personal injury claims must be brought against government entities and their employees (such as law enforcement officers). The Act is very specific in terms of what the injury plaintiff must do and the timeframe in which these tasks must be completed. A personal injury plaintiff who fails to follow the procedures for bringing a claim as set out in the Act will typically be foreclosed from obtaining any compensation whatsoever from the government agency and/or its employee.

What Should I Do If I am Injured by a Law Enforcement Officer’s Driving?

 Because of the unique challenges that face injury victims who are injured in a wreck caused by a law enforcement officer, it is advisable that you seek experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel. The first step in your recovery process requires you to file a written claim with the government agency that employed the officer involved in your wreck within the statutorily-designated time.

Michael R. Lawless is an experienced Kansas car wreck injury attorney with years of experience assisting victims of all types of car wrecks. Where the at-fault driver in your wreck is a law enforcement officer or other government employee, Michael R. Lawless can assist you in quickly taking the steps you need to take in order to assert your legal rights. Call Kansas Car Wreck Lawyer Michael R. Lawless as soon as possible at (800) 734-3771 and allow him to help you on your road to recovery.

Kansas Truck Accident Lawyer Discusses Status of NHTSA and FMCSA Rule

Late last year, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) came forward with a proposed rule that would require semi-trucks and big rigs to be equipped with a device that would regulate the maximum speed that the truck could travel while on the highway. At the time the rule was proposed, it was hoped that the Obama administration would approve the rule after the time for public comments had passed. Now that the Trump administration is in place, fears are rising that the common-sense rule will meet its demise before implementation.

The Need for Speed (Rules) for Trucks

It is no secret that commercial trucks like big rigs and semi-trucks can cause serious harm to the occupants of passenger vehicles in the event of a crash. The magnitude of harm caused by these large commercial trucks only increases the faster that the truck is traveling. That is to say, a truck that crashes into a passenger car while traveling 65 miles per hour will inflict greater harm than a truck that crashes into a passenger car while traveling 55 miles per hour. Thus, the proposed rule – and the devices described in the proposed rule – could potentially decrease the incidence rate of serious and fatal truck crashes.

Determining the Speed of a Commercial Truck in a Crash

When a truck is involved in a crash with another vehicle – especially where there is evidence suggesting the truck driver was at fault and caused the crash – the speed of the truck at the moment of impact becomes extremely relevant to the investigation into the crash. A truck that is traveling above the posted speed limit (or even at a speed that is too great for the prevailing road, weather, and/or traffic conditions) can be found to be negligent or reckless, thereby supporting an injury victim’s claim for damages.

While the speed of a truck can be estimated from skid marks and other physical evidence found at the scene, one of the more reliable methods whereby the speed of the truck can be determined is to obtain the “control module” or “black box.” This is a recording device that is found either under the hood of the truck or (sometimes) within the cab itself. This module contains important information about the truck in the moments immediately before the crash: it can tell someone, for example, the speed of the truck for the critical few seconds before the crash and whether the brakes were activated at any time immediately before the collision (which could indicate whether the truck driver tried to avoid the collision.

The Assistance of an Attorney Can Prove Invaluable

 Because there does not appear to be any speed-regulation device that will prohibit trucks from exceeding a particular speed, the actual speed of a truck involved in a collision will remain an elusive and relevant inquiry. An experienced truck crash lawyer will have the knowledge and resources needed to obtain the control module from the truck and/or employ other means to determine the speed of the truck and whether the truck driver is liable for any injuries caused to others.

Michael R. Lawless is a dedicated and skilled Kansas truck crash attorney. He is available to assist you and/or your loved ones recover compensation in the aftermath of a truck crash. Attorney Michael R. Lawless will fight hard on your behalf so that you can focus on your health and your family. Contact Kansas Truck Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless today by calling (800) 734-3771 and discussing the details of your injury accident with him.

Kansas Car Crash Attorney Explains Head-On Collisions and Passing Laws

Several weeks ago news outlets across the State of Kansas reported on a deadly head-on collision that occurred in western Kansas.  According to early reports from law enforcement agencies, a semi-truck struck a passenger van head-on while the truck was attempting to pass a slower-moving semi traveling in the same direction. The crash killed four of the five occupants of the van right away; a fifth occupant died the next day at the hospital.

Passing Laws: Just Because You Can Does Not Mean You Should

 Two-laned highways are especially prevalent in the western part of the State, where the volume of traffic is not so great as to warrant the construction of multi-laned highways and/or highways with medians dividing the lanes of travel. Instead, these two-laned roads have opposing lanes of travel pass by one another at highway speeds (usually 55 mph or greater) with nothing more than painted lines separating the two lanes of travel. Furthermore, Kansas law permits vehicles to overtake and pass slower-moving vehicles traveling in the same direction by entering the opposing lane of travel. The basic rules governing this maneuver require the passing driver to:

  • Continue traveling at the posted speed limit, even while overtaking the slower-moving vehicle (law enforcement will likely tell you that if you need to exceed the speed limit to pass the other vehicle, you should not attempt the maneuver);
  • Ensure the opposing lane of travel is clear of any traffic so that the passing maneuver can be safely completed;
  • Return to the original lane of travel only after safely passing the slower-moving vehicle and/or if traffic in the opposing lane of travel appears and there is insufficient space to safely pass the slower-moving vehicle.

These rules are designed to make an otherwise dangerous situation safe for the passing vehicle, the vehicle being passed, and any traffic in the opposing lane of travel. When the passing vehicle violates any of these rules, it jeopardizes the safety of others nearby.

Tips for Avoiding Collisions on Two-Laned Roads Involving Passing Vehicles

Even if you are not attempting a passing maneuver yourself, you should remain alert and attentive to other vehicles that are. Prepare to take one or more of the following actions if necessary:

  • Slow down if a passing vehicle needs additional space in order to maneuver back into the correct lane of travel;
  • Get to the shoulder if it appears the passing vehicle cannot safely complete the passing maneuver. If the passing vehicle is approaching you head-on, moving to the shoulder can avoid a head-on collision. If the vehicle is traveling in the same direction as you, moving to the shoulder can give the passing vehicle enough room to safely return to its proper lane of travel.
  • Travel prudently; in other words, travel at a speed that is safe and reasonable given prevailing road and weather conditions and leave plenty of space between you and other cars ahead of you.

Turn to Michael R. Lawless for Help

 Kansas attorney Michael R. Lawless is available to assist you and/or your loved ones if you have been injured in a head-on collision or other traffic crash on a two-laned highway. Micheal R. Lawless will thoroughly examine your case, determining the type of compensation you may be entitled to recover and from whom such compensation may be obtained. Our firm has the resources to quickly preserve important evidence and testimony that can be useful in helping you succeed in your case. Act quickly in the aftermath of a highway traffic collision and contact Kansas Car Crash Attorney Michael R. Lawless at (800) 734-3771 to discuss the details of your car crash.

Kansas Car Accident Attorney Explains Whether a Driver’s Medical Condition Can Lead to Negligent Driving

Epilepsy and heart attacks are just a few of the serious medical conditions that can cause a driver to suddenly lose control of his or her car and crash – sometimes into another vehicle, causing additional injuries and damage. These events can leave victims with serious injuries, just as any other vehicle crash caused by negligence or recklessness. However, an injury victim may have additional difficulties in recovering full and fair compensation – doing so may require the assistance of a resourceful and thorough car crash lawyer.

Negligence May – or May Not – Include Driving with a Medical Condition

Liability for the injuries and losses of another after a car accident requires proof that the at-fault driver acted (at the very least) with carelessness or negligence. This means, for example, that the at-fault driver needs to have made a decision that a reasonable individual would not have made under the same or similar circumstances before he or she can be held responsible for the injuries that may result from a car crash. It is not always the case, however, that driving with a medical condition (or while taking prescription medication) is a careless act. Factors that will need to be examined by a knowledgeable car crash attorney include:

  • Whether the at-fault driver has been diagnosed with a condition that makes it dangerous for him or her to drive: A driver who has no reason to know that he or she suffers from an epileptic condition or is susceptible to fainting (for example) would have no reason to think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car. Conversely, a driver who has suffered a number of seizures or who has fainted before would have more reason to be cautious about getting behind the wheel of a car.
  • What the driver’s doctor has suggested the person not drive: It is usually reasonable for an individual to rely on the advice and suggestions of his or her doctor. If the driver at fault in a particular accident has been told by his or her doctor that he or she should not drive (or should only drive under certain conditions), this would suggest the driver’s decision to get behind the wheel was unreasonable (and, hence, negligent).
  • How many times the driver has experienced medical distress while driving: Even in the absence of a diagnosis or instructions from his or her doctor, a driver who has fainted, experienced a seizure, suffered a heart attack, or experienced any other type of medical distress while driving – whether an accident resulted or not – should seriously consider whether it is safe for him or her to continue driving.

The presence of one or more of these factors may suggest that the driver’s decision to take to the road and drive was unreasonable and negligent, even if the driver did not expect or intend to suffer a medical emergency while driving.

When you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash where the at-fault driver suffered a medical emergency, contact Kansas Car Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless to determine what your next steps should be. Although it may be natural to feel compassion or sympathy for the at-fault driver given his or her medical conditions, the driver should be held to account for the harm he or she caused if he or she had reason to know driving could be dangerous. Call Michael R. Lawless at (800) 734-3771, and let us investigate the facts and circumstances of your case and take decisive action to protect your rights after a car crash.

 

Kansas Personal Injury Lawyer Discusses Top Ways to Make 2017 a Safe Year for Driving

A recent article in the Kansas City Star reported that over the New Year’s holiday weekend, an average of 31 individuals are killed across the nation each day of the holiday in drunk driving accidents. That means, within the span of approximately 48 hours, over 60 individuals lose their lives in collisions caused by intoxicated drivers – more than one per hour. While statistics and past experience might suggest that drunk driving in Kansas will continue through 2017, there is no reason this must be the case. Like other bad driving behaviors that can lead to traffic injuries and deaths, drinking and driving is a choice. This year can be safer for you – and your family – if you decide to practice safe behaviors such as:

  • Wearing your seatbelt each and every time you travel. Statistics show that you are more likely to survive a serious traffic collision – and survive with fewer catastrophic injuries – if you wear a seatbelt. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that seat belts saved approximately 12,800 lives in 2014 alone and can reduce the chance of injury or death by approximately half. Not only should you wear a seatbelt, but you should encourage your passengers and your children to wear a seatbelt at all times as well.
  • Do Not Drive While Drunk … or While Drowsy … or While Distracted. While attention is paid to drunk driving during the holidays, distracted driving and drowsy driving (that is, driving with too little sleep) are just as dangerous as consuming alcohol and/or drugs before driving. Besides refusing to drink or use drugs before driving, make sure you get enough sleep before driving (even for short trips) and put your cellphone away before embarking on your trip.  In addition, avoid the temptation to eat while you are driving – foods such as tacos, pizza, soups, and other similar foods require a great deal of attention and focus to safely eat. Therefore, you should find a safe place to stop your car and consume your meal before continuing on your way.
  • Drive defensively. Although it is tempting to violate traffic laws or drive in an aggressive manner to get to your destination faster, the few seconds or minutes you might save on your travel time are not worth the increased risk of a traffic collision that speeding, failing to give other vehicles a proper signal or space when passing, and/or deliberately or inadvertently violating traffic laws can create.
  • Take action against other negligent or careless drivers. If you do happen to be involved in a car crash caused by another driver who is driving in a careless manner, take swift action to protect your rights by speaking with a Kansas car wreck attorney. The benefits you receive from an insurance claim settlement may not be sufficient to cover all of your losses and expenses, and there is no reason you ought to bear the financial burden of your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses when these are caused by another’s negligence.

While these behaviors may not completely insulate you from all traffic crashes, your risk of being involved in an injury collision or fatal accident decreases when you decide to drive safely. Michael R. Lawless is dedicated to helping Kansas drivers remain safe and recover compensation for their injuries when they are hurt in car crashes caused by other drivers’ unsafe driving behavior. Contact Kansas Personal Injury Lawyer Michael R. Lawless’s firm today by calling (800) 734-3771 to discuss your car accident and the rights you may be able to exercise.

 

Staying Safe on the Side of the Road

Two Kansas Highway Patrol troopers were recently injured near Topeka when the troopers had pulled the motorist over on the shoulder of I-470 and were conducting a traffic stop. During the stop, a vehicle traveling along the highway struck the rear of the troopers’ patrol car, causing the patrol car to then strike the motorist’s vehicle. Several others were also injured in the crash. While civilian drivers will never have an occasion to pull another driver over on the shoulder of a highway, there are several legitimate reasons why a motorist may nonetheless stop on the side of the road:

  • Mechanical trouble or a flat tire may force the driver to stop and attend to the trouble;
  • The driver may need to stop to address a text message, phone call, or handle a fussy child in the backseat;
  • The motorist simply needs a short break from driving.

Although the reasons for stopping on the shoulder may be different, civilian motorists are just as capable of being injured in a traffic collision on the side of the road.

Safety Tips When You Must Stop on the Side of the Road

Regardless of the reason why you decide to pull off to the shoulder, be safe. The following safety tips can help prevent you or a loved one from suffering serious injuries:

  • Pull off onto the shoulder as far as you can. The closer your car is to the white demarcation line separating the shoulder from the lane of travel, the higher the risk that another driver may inadvertently stray over the line and strike your vehicle – or you;
  • Make yourself and your car as visible as possible. This is especially important at night or in low-visibility conditions. Activate your emergency blinkers and keep your headlights and taillights lit. If you have an emergency car kit equipped with flares and/or road strobes, place these devices intermittently for several yards behind your vehicle. (If you don’t have a properly-equipped emergency car kit in your vehicle, now would be an excellent time to get one.) If possible, wear bright-colored garments or use a reflective vest when you are outside your vehicle.
  • Be alert to traffic. Do not assume that the above-mentioned steps will make you visible to every driver. If you hear a vehicle approaching, visibly watch the vehicle as it approaches and be prepared to take evasive action if it appears the individual does not see you.
  • Limit the number of people outside the vehicle. When more people are outside the car and on the shoulder, this means there is a greater risk of someone in your traveling party suffering serious injury. If someone does not have any legitimate reason to be outside the car, they should wait inside the car.

Do not linger on the shoulder of any highway, whether you are in your car or not. The sooner you can get back on the road and rejoin the normal flow of traffic, the better. (Of course, you should also exercise due care and caution when reentering the highway by checking for traffic, accelerating safely but smoothly, and utilizing your turn signal).

Contact a Kansas Car Crash Attorney Today

If you or a loved one is injured while on the side of the road, Kansas Car Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless may be able to assist you. If the driver that struck you or your loved one was driving in a careless or negligent manner, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us today at (800) 734-3771 to discuss your case with attorney Michael R. Lawless.

Speed a Factor in Serious Car Wrecks

Kansas City Royals fans were devastated to learn than pitcher Yordano Ventura was recently killed in a car wreck in the Dominican Republic. Investigators looking into the cause of the crash believe excessive speed may have played a role. Unfortunately, if this were true, this would only be one in a long line of fatal traffic crashes where speed was a factor. Statistics maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the federal government show:

  • Speeding is the third most common factor contributing to traffic crashes (distracted driving and impaired driving are the first and second most common factors, respectively);
  • Speeding plays a role in approximately one-third of all traffic crashes in the nation;
  • Speeding is a factor in about 40 percent of all fatal traffic crashes involving males between the ages of 15 and 20;
  • About 13,000 people die annually in fatal speeding crashes; and
  • Crashes in the USA caused by speeding cost about $40 billion each year – for every minute you save on travel time by speeding, you cost society about $76,000.

Speeding is dangerous in large part because (1) it reduces the amount of time a driver has to react to hazards or avoid collisions; (2) it affects the handling of a car – a car traveling at excessive speeds responds differently to input from the steering wheel than it does at lower speeds; and (3) it increases the distance and time necessary to bring the vehicle to a stop.

Compensation After Speeding Accidents

If you or a loved one are involved in a fatal speeding accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the speeding driver (you may be entitled to compensation even if you or your loved one was partly to blame for the crash). Unlike a drunk driving accident, however, it may not always be apparent if the other involved motorist was, in fact, speeding. Thankfully, there may be evidence available to help you and your car crash attorney determine if excessive speed played a role in the crash:

  • The car’s “black box”: This is a computerized device that records important information about the vehicle in the critical few seconds before a crash. This data includes the speed of the vehicle (broken down in time increments) as well as whether the driver of the car applied the brakes of the car.
  • Skid marks: When a car traveling at a high rate of speed suddenly applies the brakes, skid marks may be left on the asphalt. Accident reconstruction experts and some law enforcement officers are specially trained to determine an approximate speed of a vehicle based upon the skid marks left.
  • Witness observations: Although a lay witness (that is, one without any specialized knowledge or skills) cannot testify as to a specific speed of a vehicle, courts in Kansas have allowed lay witnesses to testify whether a vehicle appeared to be traveling in excess of the posted speed limit.

Locating and preserving this important evidence becomes critical, then, to the success of your car crash lawsuit. Your attorney will know what steps to take to ensure the black box data is preserved and the identity and testimony of witnesses secured, as well as whether an accident reconstruction expert is necessary.

Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas-based car crash injury attorney helping motorists who have been injured in traffic collisions caused by another driver’s excessive speed. Michael R. Lawless is experienced in and has the resources necessary to determine if speed was a factor in your crash and is committed to holding those who carelessly or recklessly speed accountable for their actions. Contact Kansas Car Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless by calling (800) 734-3771 if you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a speeding-related crash.