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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.

Kansas Truck Accident Lawyer Explains the Relevance of Traffic Violations in a Truck Crash Lawsuit

In Ohio, a recent five-car vehicle crash was determined to have been caused by a dump truck driver who was unable to brake in time after traffic in front of him on a major interstate had stopped. Further investigation into the cause of the crash – and into the dump truck driver who allegedly caused it – revealed that the dump truck driver had received multiple traffic citations. This underscores the need for truck accident victims to request and review the driving record of the at-fault driver in a truck collision. In some truck accident cases, this single document can prove to be quite powerful.

Holding the Employer Responsible for Your Injuries

Where the truck driver is employed by a business and the truck driver’s driving record shows that the driver has previous driving-related convictions, the driver’s employer may be able to be held responsible for your injury accident. This is because most employers are responsible for exercising care and control over their employees while their employees are “on the job.” In the case of a driver with a spotty driving record, the employer’s obligation may require the employer to insist on a period of “clean driving” before hiring the driver, that the driver attend remedial driving courses – or that the employer not hire the driver at all. Employers who fail to take reasonable steps like this to fulfill this obligation may be held liable for the negligent or careless conduct of their drivers.

Just because a driver has multiple traffic violations on his or her driving record does not mean that the driver’s employer is liable for your injuries, however. Your attorney will need to establish by sufficiently-convincing proof that: (1) the driver’s careless behavior occurred while the driver was “on the job”; and (2) the steps that the employer took to supervise or control the driver’s behavior were inadequate, given what the employer knew or should have known about the driver’s history. For example, suppose you are struck by a dump truck driver while the driver is on his way to deliver a load to a jobsite. An employer who knew this driver had multiple driving violations but who insisted that the driver complete a remedial driving course and drive with a supervisor before he was permitted to drive solo may have fulfilled its obligation to exercise due care (which can, in turn, limit the compensation to which you are entitled from the employer).

How To Use a Driving Record at Trial

 Driving records of at-fault drivers are useful in settlement negotiations, but using them effectively at trial requires a knowledge of the Kansas rules of evidence. Simply asking the allegedly at-fault driver about his previous driving-related convictions is not usually an effective way to alert the judge or jury to this driver’s history (after all, without the ability to enter the driving record into evidence, the driver can simply lie about the information on his or her driving record with impunity). This is where the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced Kansas truck accident lawyer can prove invaluable – ensuring important documentary evidence is admitted and considered by the court.

Michael R. Lawless is a Kansas truck accident lawyer committed to holding those who cause injury to others accountable for their actions. Kansas Truck Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless takes the time to ensure no stone is left unturned when investigating truck injury accidents for his client. If the at-fault truck driver has a spotty driving record, Mr. Lawless will aggressively pursue both the driver and the driver’s employer for compensation, if appropriate. Contact his office today for assistance with your truck accident case by calling (800) 734-3771.

Kansas Personal Injury Attorney Reports: Electrocution Death of Kansas Worker Highlights Importance of Bucket Truck Safety

A recent report regarding the death of a Kansas man after being electrocuted while working in a bucket truck highlights the importance that employers and employees understand proper safety guidelines. According to media reports, the 58-year-old man was working in a bucket truck when he came in contact with a live power line. The power line reportedly was charged with more than 7,000 volts of electricity. The man was taken to a nearby hospital where he died of his injuries. The local Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the accident.

It is common after accidents like this one for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to also investigate the cause of the accident, and whether the employer and employee were using proper safety guidelines. OSHA has strict guidelines for bucket truck safety designed to prevent similar accidents. Bucket trucks are dangerous for several reasons, with the most common accidents caused by a fall, tip-over, collision, electrocution, or improper use.

It is important that anyone working in a bucket truck be mindful of the possible dangers, and how best to avoid injury. Safety website www.buckettrucks.org recommends the following concerning avoiding common injuries:

  • Falls – Always keep both feet on the floor of the bucket. Never climb, stand, or lean over the edge. Never place any work item, such as a ladder, in the bucket in order to increase height. Before climbing into the bucket, be sure that there is no debris present. Always wear protection designed to prevent falls.
  • Tip-Over – Never pull the bucket toward another object, or push it away from an object while the bucket is raised. Do not place any item in the bucket that exceeds the standard weight capacity of 300 pounds. Always park the truck on level ground, and do not attempt to move the truck with the bucket raised. Do not raise the bucket in windy conditions.
  • Collision – Bucket trucks are large and have several blind spots. Be aware of blind spots and pay attention to nearby vehicles. Travel slowly when approaching gravel or uneven ground, hilly or curvy roadways, or sidewalks occupied by pedestrians. Be mindful of overhead obstructions and limitations.
  • Electrocution – Always maintain safe distance between the bucket, any tool being used, and power lines. Even protected, insulated platforms are not adequate to protect the individual from electrical current, either phase-to-ground or phase-to-phase contact.
  • Improper Use – It is important that the operator of the truck and the individual in the bucket are aware of proper safety guidelines. Never leave the truck unattended or allow untrained persons to operate the truck or bucket. Never leave the engine running while refueling. Never operate the truck or bucket if there is a mechanical defect.

Get Help if You Have Been Injured

If you have been injured in an accident while working in a bucket truck, you need the support of a competent attorney who is skilled in workers’ compensation and personal injury matters including bucket truck safety concerns. Contact Lenexa, Kansas Personal Injury Attorney Michael R. Lawless now to find out what your rights and options are under our state’s workers’ compensation and personal injury laws. At the law office of Michael R. Lawless, P.A., we bring to every case more than two decades of legal experience. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. You may call our office toll-free at (800) 734-3771. You also have the option of sending us a message online, which will be reviewed and responded to promptly.