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.

 

 

Kansas Car Accident Lawyer Discusses Whether it is Ever Too Late to Call an Attorney

Attorney advertisements often (nearly always, in fact) urge injured victims to contact this firm or that attorney “right away” and caution them not to delay in seeking legal help. Some of these advertisements make it seem as if your legal rights will disappear if you do not take immediate action by calling the attorney or firm. However, in the aftermath of a car accident you undoubtedly have other questions on your mind:

  • How long will I have to be in the hospital?
  • When am I able to return to work?
  • How will I be able to meet my bills and expenses?

These weighty concerns may make the task of retaining an attorney seem unimportant. Is there any truth to attorney advertisements that say you must “act now” in hiring an attorney?

Kansas’ Statute of Limitations

Recall that every state (including Kansas) has a statute of limitations which gives injury victims and certain length of time after an accident in which to file a claim for compensation. In Kansas, the statute of limitations that is applicable in personal injury cases such as car crashes is two years. In other words, Kansas law gives car crash injury victims two years from the date of their accident in which to file their lawsuit seeking compensation. This two-year period can pass by rather quickly: During this time, the injury victim (and/or his or her attorney) must investigate the cause of the crash and determine who is likely responsible for causing the crash, locate these individuals as well as helpful witnesses and evidence, consult with any expert witnesses, if necessary, and quantify and document his or her damages and losses. All this typically occurs before the victim even files his or her initial pleading.

In general, a victim who fails to file his or her lawsuit pleading within this two-year period is forever barred from filing a lawsuit based upon the injury crash. So, therefore, there is some reason for the urgency of advertisements that encourage victims to “act now.” The sooner you retain an attorney following your accident, the more likely it is that you will not run afoul of the statute of limitations.

What if the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?

Injury victims for whom the statute of limitations has passed may not be completely barred from bringing a lawsuit to recover compensation. However, they must act quickly in order to assert their rights. The two-year period typically begins to run on the date that the accident occurs. However, the two-year period does not begin to run if the victim does not have reason to know that he or she has actually been injured or has diligently tried to locate the at-fault party in order to serve him or her but has been unable to do so. So, for example, a party who is rendered unconscious and enters a coma following a car accident, or one who is told by doctors that he or she is “fine” but who later develops medical complications, will have the statute of limitations period begin when they either become aware they have been injured or from the date when a reasonable person in their situation would have known he or she was injured and may have had a claim for compensation.

It never hurts to review your situation with an experienced car accident lawyer. Kansas Car Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless will review the facts of your case and help you understand whether you may be able to bring a lawsuit for your car crash injuries, the statute of limitations notwithstanding. Call Michael R. Lawless today at (800) 734-3771 to discuss your case.

 

 

Kansas Car Crash Attorney Explains How Passengers’ Negligence Can Cause Accidents

A typical car crash case in Kansas involves one or more injury victims bringing suit against one or more allegedly-negligent drivers of cars, trucks, and/or commercial vehicles. Although the facts and circumstances that led to these crashes will vary from case to case, the underlying allegations of such cases is the same: that one or more drivers operated a vehicle in a careless or reckless way and, in so doing, caused the victim(s) to suffer harm. In some cases, the victim(s) may allege that a third-party – such as a municipality or state agency responsible for designing or maintaining a roadway – also played a role in causing the crash. The one person that you do not often hear of playing a role in an accident (but who can, in fact, be the primary cause of a crash)? The passenger of a motor vehicle.

Why So Few Lawsuits Against Passengers?

An injured motorist may choose to file a lawsuit against any person or entity he or she believes played a role in causing a crash. Bringing suit against all parties who may be responsible for causing a crash is an essential step in the victim’s quest to obtain full and fair compensation: If the victim only brings suit against a person who is 30 percent responsible for the crash, the victim may only be able to recover 30 percent of the monetary damages to which he or she would be entitled.

Passengers of motor vehicles can certainly engage in negligent or careless behavior that can lead to a crash. More specifically, a passenger may cause a distraction for the driver of a vehicle by engaging the driver in conversation, pointing out something that causes the driver to take his or her eyes off of the road, or engaging in other similar behavior. There have even been incidents in which the passenger of the vehicle has grabbed the steering wheel of the vehicle while the vehicle is in motion (in jest or during a fight) and caused the driver to lose control. So why does there seem to be so few vehicle passengers who are named as defendants in cases? There are at least two reasons:

  • First, in many cases the injured driver and the passenger are related to one another or are in a relationship with one another. The driver and passenger may be husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, or have some other connection with one another. In such a case, the “costs” to the driver in bringing a suit (both monetary as well as costs to familial or other intimate relationships) may be too great.
  • Second, it can be challenging to gather the proof necessary to prove that a passenger was negligent and what role this negligence played in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. Absent testimony from the passenger him- or herself or the driver of the vehicle in which the passenger was riding (who, for the reasons listed above, may not have any incentive to cooperate with the injured plaintiff’s lawsuit.

Can an Attorney Help Find Evidence of a Passenger’s Responsibility?

 Even though evidence of a passenger’s culpability in causing an accident might be scarce, the chances of finding such information increase when you retain the services of an experienced and resourceful personal injury lawyer like Kansas Car Crash Attorney Michael R. Lawless. He strives to help his clients by identifying and bringing suit against all responsible parties so as to help ensure his clients receive full and fair compensation or their injuries. Contact him today to discuss your car accident recovery by calling (800) 734-3771.

Kansas Bus Accident Lawyer Comments on Horrific California Bus Accident (Pt. 2)

In an earlier article we looked at the recent California bus crash that left dozens of individuals dead and many more injured after a bus rear-ended a tractor-trailer at a time when the bus was believed to be going 65 miles per hour and the truck five miles per hour. What can make bus accidents truly frightening for injured passengers is not knowing what to do in the aftermath of such a crash.

Steps to Take After a Bus Crash

Although passengers who are traveling on a bus when the bus is involved in an accident may discover that they are in the midst of a confusing and terrifying situation, they are not by any means without the power or ability to help themselves. Keep these tips in mind when traveling by bus in case you find yourself involved in a bus crash:

  • Keep calm and consider your situation: Unlike in a passenger in car crash, escaping a bus accident is not as simple as opening the door and stepping away. In the moments after a bus crash, adrenaline will be running and it can be tempting to jump out of your seat and run to the front of the bus. Before you do so, however, get a handle on your situation: Are you injured? Can you move? What pain or odd sensations do you feel, if any? Is the bus on fire? Is there an odd smell or the smell of chemicals? Answering these few questions (it should only take you a moment or two) can tell you (1) if you should move; and (2) the direction you should move. If you cannot feel your legs or arms, or if your neck or back hurt, you may have suffered a spinal cord injury. In this case, you should not attempt to move unless doing so is absolutely necessary to save your life. If the bus is on fire, move low and go to the nearest emergency exit as quickly as possible.
  • Get clear of the bus: Once you exit the bus, try and get yourself as far away from the bus crash as possible. There is always a possibility that fuel might be leaking and could ignite. If emergency medical personnel are on the scene, meet with these people right away and have them examine you for injuries. Unless you suffered no injuries at all or only very minor injuries, it can be helpful to have them transport you to the hospital so that any injuries you did receive are treated promptly and appropriately.
  • Record your recollections: As soon as you are able to do so, record everything you remember about the bus crash, including the people sitting around you and the conversations, noises, and sights you remember just before the crash. Even if you believe you cannot remember much about the accident, the few details you may be able to remember can be enough to lead to more substantial information or evidence about the case. If nothing else, attempt to recall the name of the bus company, the driver, and the intended route (departure city and destination city) of the bus. The more information you can remember, the easier it will be for your bus accident lawyer to track down important records about your incident.

Because of the complexities present in most every bus crash incident, you should obtain experienced and knowledgeable counsel to help you understand your rights and seek compensation. Kansas Bus Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless is a compassionate yet dedicated advocate for Kansas bus crash victims. Contact his office today for help with your case by calling (800) 734-3771.

 

Kansas Bus Accident Lawyer Comments on Horrific California Bus Accident (Pt. 1)

Late this month a California bus accident along Interstate 10 that left approximately a dozen individuals dead and several more wounded made national news. The bus was transporting individuals from a desert casino location. Within hours of the crash, news outlets were describing the crash as one of the deadliest bus crashes in the state’s history. According to preliminary news reports from Fox News and other outlets, the bus was traveling nearly 65 miles per hour (perhaps more) when it struck the rear-end of a tractor-trailer that had slowed to 5 miles per hour. From photographs, the bus and trailer appear to have crushed or collapsed into one another. The investigation into the cause of the crash continues.

Dangers of Bus Accidents

A passenger on a bus might reasonably believe that he or she is safer in the event of a crash than the occupant of a passenger car. There is reason for this belief – busses are heavier and larger than most other vehicles – a collision between a bus and a passenger car is almost always going to do more damage to the passenger car than the bus. Yet, passengers of a bus are at a disadvantage when the bus collides with another commercial vehicle. Passengers do not have restraints, which means the significant “jolt” from a collision can send passengers into the aisles and around the cabin. Passengers may strike their heads or appendages on seats, windows, and other passengers. Not only this, but many busses are like airliners in that bags are permitted to be stored above the seats. In the event of a crash, these bags can come tumbling down on top of passengers and cause head injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Finally, passengers may become trapped on a bus that is on fire or leaking toxic substances because of the number of people on the bus and the disproportionately small number of exits.

Causes of Bus Accidents

Any bus accident can be tragic given that the mistake or careless action of one person (the bus driver) can negatively impact the lives of dozens of other people. Officials with the California Highway Patrol indicated that (at the present time, at least) it did not appear as if the bus driver attempted to brake before hitting the tractor-trailer, suggesting that the bus crash in California may have been caused by inattentive or drowsy driving. Although the crash did not happen in Kansas, a similar crash could easily occur given that Kansas has long stretches of flat roads and is a major thoroughfare for busses traveling from east to west and from west to east. Just as may be true in this California incident, a long open road at night can easily dull the senses of the bus driver and result in a catastrophe. When this occurs (again, as is true in the California accident) there may be dozens of deaths and/or serious injuries that result.

Passengers injured in bus crashes may be entitled to recover compensation if a careless bus driver caused an injury accident or if the reckless or careless acts of another person led to the bus crash that caused your injuries. This may include compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses and losses attributable to the crash. If you or a loved one are injured in a tour bus crash, chartered bus crash, or public transportation bus accident, contact Kansas Bus Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless (800) 734-3771 if you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a distracted driver.

Kansas Distracted Driving Crash Lawyer Discusses Texting While Driving Accidents

Jacob Mansch is a Kansas educator with a story to tell. Already wheelchair-bound because of spina bifida (a birth defect in which the spinal cord of an infant fails to develop properly), Mr. Mansch was seriously injured in a car accident that left him hospitalized for five months. The driver that caused the crash was allegedly distracted by his telephone at the time of the accident. Now, Mr. Mansch is using his accident and injuries to help bring awareness to others about the dangers of texting while driving.

Texting While Driving Statistics

The dangers of driving while distracted are well-documented, yet many people consider driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of drugs to be a much larger issue. While driving under the influence is certainly dangerous, statistics show that texting while driving – especially amongst teenaged drivers – is fast becoming an epidemic. Consider the following statistics:

  • During 2013, ten percent of all drivers between the ages of 15 years and 19 years who were involved in fatal crashes were distracted by a cell phone at the time of the crash (the highest percentage of any age group studied);
  • It is estimated that 3,154 people were killed and 424,000 others were injured in 2013 in crashes caused by distracted drivers;
  • A teen is more likely to receive a call or text from his or her own parents while the teen is driving than from any other person;
  • A driver’s risk of being involved in a crash increases by a factor of four when that driver is using a cell phone, regardless of whether the cell phone is a “hands-free” device;
  • Cell phone usage while driving is estimated to reduce the amount of brain activity dedicated to driving by up to 37 percent.

While distracted driving increases any driver’s risk of being involved in a serious or fatal car accident regardless of the driver’s age, these same statistics show that teenage drivers are more likely than any other age group to be seriously injured or killed in distracted driving accidents.

Keep your Teen Drivers Safe

On Kansas roads (especially those long, lonesome roads in the western part of the state), it can be tempting for teen drivers to pass the time and miles by checking their e-mails and texts, social media, or voicemails. Distracted driving accidents can occur on these roads, too. To help keep their teens safe, parents should teach (and model!) the following behaviors to their teen drivers:

  • Teach your children to put away their cellphones while driving. They should turn the phone off while the car is in motion so that they will not be tempted to reach for it should a text or voicemail alert go off while the teen is driving;
  • Tell your teen driver to set an automatic message to his or her phone alerting those who might try to call or text that he or she is driving and will reply to messages when he or she arrives at his or her destination;
  • As parents, do not call your children or text them if you know they are on the road (and, again, teach your children not to answer the phone until they arrive at their destination);
  • Finally, tell your children that if they believe they must check their phones or return messages while on the road, they should first pull off at a safe location, park their cars, and then return the message(s) before resuming their trip.

Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas Distracted Driving Crash Lawyer helping families and individuals harmed by distracted drivers recover compensation for their injuries and losses. Contact his law office by calling (800) 734-3771 if you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a distracted driver.

Kansas Car Accident Attorney Describes New “Driverless” License

A former racecar driver who was paralyzed in an accident 16 years ago is making news on the roads once again. Earlier this week, Sam Schmidt became the first individual to receive a license allowing him to drive a specially-modified Chevrolet Corvette. Mr. Schmidt is paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a horrific accident, and although he has been able to sail a sailboat using only his chin he has not been able to drive a car since his accident. Due to advances in technology, however, Mr. Schmidt is now able to do just that. Mr. Schmidt’s story is providing hope to thousands of individuals whose disabilities and impairments had previously prevented them from driving a vehicle.

License to Drive Though Paralyzed

Because of his paralysis, Mr. Schmidt is not able to operate the accelerator, brake pedal, or steering wheel of a traditional automobile. With advances in technology, however, a specialized Corvette was created that would enable Mr. Schmidt to control the vehicle using only head movements. Nevada has allowed Mr. Schmidt to obtain a “driver’s” license that would enable him to operate the car on Nevada roadways, provided the following limitations are met:

  • Schmidt must drive with a licensed driver in the passenger seat who is capable of taking control of the car in an emergency (Mr. Schmidt’s Corvette has a steering wheel and pedals on the passenger’s side of the vehicle);
  • Schmidt is not permitted to drive on ice or snow;
  • Schmidt must drive on Nevada roadways (the license is not yet recognized as valid by other states);
  • Schmidt must follow a pilot car while driving (that is, there must be a second vehicle operated by a licensed driver who “leads” or “guides” Mr. Schmidt and his car);

Nevada has indicated that, in time, it will consider lifting some of these restrictions if it determines it is safe to do so.

Driving in Violation of Restrictions and Car Accident Lawsuits

Many individuals aside from Mr. Schmidt have one or more restrictions on their licenses. For example, many people must wear corrective lenses while driving because their ability to see things close up and/or see objects far away. Drivers who are young and/or inexperienced may be restricted to driving only when they are accompanied by a licensed driver, when they are driving to and from certain authorized locations, and/or during certain times of the day. Commercial drivers must meet certain requirements as well.

If a driver with a restricted license or a license with limitations imposed upon it is involved in a crash, does evidence that these restrictions or limitations were violated have any bearing? Potentially so, as many of these limitations are connected to a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. If these limitations were made known to the driver with the restricted license and the driver willfully chose to drive in violation of these restrictions, this may be considered an unreasonable course of conduct that breaches the duty of care. How much impact a violation of these restrictions will have depends on the cause of the accident and whether any other person is responsible for the crash.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash, contact Kansas car accident lawyer Michael R. Lawless right away. Kansas Car Accident Attorney Mr. Lawless’s investigation into your case will reveal whether the at-fault driver violated any restrictions placed on his or her license. In any event, Mr. Lawless will fight vigorously to assist you in obtaining full and fair compensation. Contact Michael R. Lawless today by calling (800) 734-3771.

 

Kansas Über Accident Attorney Explains How Lawsuits for Compensation May Change Very Quickly

Within the past few months, ridesharing company Über has announced and moved forward with plans to replace its human drivers with automated, driverless cars. While this may excite those in favor of technological advances, such a move causes problems for Über’s current roster of human drivers and raises important questions about how an injury victim will be compensated if Über’s fleet were to become driverless.

 

The Harm to the Human Drivers of Über

 

Currently, a significant number of individuals make extra money for themselves and/or their families by driving for Über. These individuals are not necessarily employees of Über: rather, they sign up to become an independent contractor / driver through Über’s website. If approved, the person will decide when he or she wishes to accept fares and when they would like to be “off the clock.” When they are accepting fares, their information is displayed on Über’s app to passengers who are needing a ride. If selected to provide a ride, the driver receives information about the passenger’s location and intended destination. At the conclusion of the ride, the passenger’s credit card is automatically billed by Über for the amount of the fare, and the driver’s share is deposited into his or her designated account. But by eliminating human drivers in favor of robotic cars, Über will be hurting these human drivers financially as some of them depend on the money they receive from fares in order to supplement other income and to help make ends meet.

Questions of Liability Will Remain

 It has always been confusing for injury victims and attorneys alike to determine exactly who is responsible when an “on the clock” Über driver injures another person. While a transition to driverless cars may change the nature of the questions that must be determined regarding liability, obtaining compensation for injury victims injured by one of these autonomous cars is still likely to be difficult. A new cast of characters may be responsible in any given Über accident, including:

  1. Über employees and the company itself, if the company knew or should have known that the autonomous car in question was defective or in need of repair;
  2. The manufacturer of the car, if a mechanical defect caused the accident. Consider the danger of an autonomous car with a steering system defect or braking system defect.
  3. The designer or programmer of the car’s “robotic brain” – the sensors and computers that tell the car where to go, when to turn, and when to stop – if the car’s computer system is behind the car crash.

This will make investigating an Über accident on behalf of an injured client even more intensive and expensive. Attorneys will likely need to consult with one or more experts on a regular basis to determine what caused a particular crash and whose negligence or carelessness enabled the accident to happen. While attorneys like Kansas City attorney Michael R. Lawless are always committed to helping injury victims obtain fair and full compensation, clients should expect that their attorney may need additional time and resources before being able to provide the client with a “game plan” for obtaining compensation.

Contact a Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured by an Über driver or has suffered injuries or losses in any other type of car accident case, contact

Within the past few months, ridesharing company Über has announced and moved forward with plans to replace its human drivers with automated, driverless cars. While this may excite those in favor of technological advances, such a move causes problems for Über’s current roster of human drivers and raises important questions about how an injury victim will be compensated if Über’s fleet were to become driverless.

The Harm to the Human Drivers of Über

 Currently, a significant number of individuals make extra money for themselves and/or their families by driving for Über. These individuals are not necessarily employees of Über: rather, they sign up to become an independent contractor / driver through Über’s website. If approved, the person will decide when he or she wishes to accept fares and when they would like to be “off the clock.” When they are accepting fares, their information is displayed on Über’s app to passengers who are needing a ride. If selected to provide a ride, the driver receives information about the passenger’s location and intended destination. At the conclusion of the ride, the passenger’s credit card is automatically billed by Über for the amount of the fare, and the driver’s share is deposited into his or her designated account. But by eliminating human drivers in favor of robotic cars, Über will be hurting these human drivers financially as some of them depend on the money they receive from fares in order to supplement other income and to help make ends meet.

Questions of Liability Will Remain

It has always been confusing for injury victims and attorneys alike to determine exactly who is responsible when an “on the clock” Über driver injures another person. While a transition to driverless cars may change the nature of the questions that must be determined regarding liability, obtaining compensation for injury victims injured by one of these autonomous cars is still likely to be difficult. A new cast of characters may be responsible in any given Über accident, including:

  1. Über employees and the company itself, if the company knew or should have known that the autonomous car in question was defective or in need of repair;
  2. The manufacturer of the car, if a mechanical defect caused the accident. Consider the danger of an autonomous car with a steering system defect or braking system defect.
  3. The designer or programmer of the car’s “robotic brain” – the sensors and computers that tell the car where to go, when to turn, and when to stop – if the car’s computer system is behind the car crash.

This will make investigating an Über accident on behalf of an injured client even more intensive and expensive. Attorneys will likely need to consult with one or more experts on a regular basis to determine what caused a particular crash and whose negligence or carelessness enabled the accident to happen. While attorneys like Kansas City attorney Michael R. Lawless are always committed to helping injury victims obtain fair and full compensation, clients should expect that their attorney may need additional time and resources before being able to provide the client with a “game plan” for obtaining compensation.

Contact a Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one has been injured by an Über driver or has suffered injuries or losses in any other type of car accident case, contact attorney Michael R. Lawless right away at (800) 734-3771. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses you experienced as a result of your crash.

Kansas Über Accident Attorney Michael R. Lawless right away at (800) 734-3771. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses you experienced as a result of your crash.

Kansas Personal Injury Accident Attorney Describes the Assumption of Risk Doctrine in Connection with Pokémon Go!

Unless you do not have any contact with children and have been living off of the grid for the past few months, you are likely familiar with the new Pokémon Go! app that has children and the young at heart excited about exercising. For those unfamiliar with the program, Pokémon Go! is an app downloadable to a smart phone that immerses user in a sort of digital fantasy world:

  1. The object is to find and locate digital monsters called Pokémon;
  2. These monsters are (according to the game’s premise) hiding in plain sight in our own world;
  3. Through the Pokémon Go! app, you are able to find and see these monsters (the app essentially takes the real world you see through your phone’s camera feature and overlays it with the information from the Pokémon fantasy world);
  4. Once you find them, you must capture them using digital, fantasy tools contained in the app.

The game has been a huge success so far, but has also been linked to some serious personal injury accidents in which pedestrians and motorists harmed themselves and/or others by paying more attention to the app than their surroundings. The Pokémon Go! app warns users about the dangers of trying to play the game while walking or driving and advises that players use the game at their own risk. Is this sufficient to alleviate the developers of Pokémon Go! from liability for the injuries of players and others injured on account of the game?

Assumption of Risk Doctrine Generally

A personal injury doctrine called the “assumption of risk” doctrine may provide some protections to the developers. This doctrine holds that a participant of an activity who is aware of the activity’s dangers and chooses to participate in the activity in spite of these dangers “assumes the risk” that he or she will be injured or killed. This doctrine is invoked frequently when amateur sportsmen and sportswomen undertake a new activity like rock climbing, whitewater rafting, or jet-skiing. In most states, an injury victim who “assumes the risk” from a defendant and who is thereafter injured in the activity is not able to sue the defendant-business or defendant-individual.

Kansas and the Assumption of Risk Doctrine

Some may claim that users and players “assume the risks” associated with the game by agreeing by the terms and conditions of the game (players must accept these terms and conditions when initiating the game, otherwise they will not be able to play the game). Suppose a lawsuit is initiated in Kansas against the developers of the Pokémon Go! game after an adult walks into traffic while playing the game. The adult alleges that the game developers were negligent in not putting additional warnings or safety features into the game, while the developers allege that the adult “assumed the risk” of injury by accepting the terms and conditions of the game.

If such a case were to be decided according to Kansas law, the defendants’ assertion of the assumption of risk doctrine would be ineffective. This is because the Kansas Supreme Court struck down the doctrine in 2014. Instead, the Kansas Supreme Court held that any “assumption of risk” plays into the court’s general comparative fault scheme. Any knowledge or assumption of risk by the injury victim will be considered along with all other factors in determining who is primarily at fault in causing the crash.

Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney.  Contact his office at (800) 734-3771.