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.
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.
It is no secret that after a Kansas car crash, “anything you cay (or write) can and will be used against you” if you seek compensation from another driver. This is why you should not tell the other driver, a witness, or a police officer that you are “sorry” for the accident or somehow insinuate that the accident was primarily your fault. Similarly, you should not post any description of the accident to your social media accounts or give any insurance company a written statement unless you have discussed doing so with your attorney. When you notice that the other driver who you believed caused your car crash violates this advice, does this mean your car accident lawsuit is guaranteed to succeed? Not necessarily.
The Best Statements are Those in Writing and Clearly Made by the At-Fault Driver
When a “confession” or “admission of responsibility” is made following a car accident, its persuasive power will depend on how the admission is recorded and whether it is clear that the at-fault driver made that admission. The most powerful and persuasive admissions are those that are made by the at-fault driver in writing and that are clearly attributable to the at-fault driver. Some of the least persuasive admissions are those made orally to you alone, as the at-fault driver can deny that he or she ever made the statement. For example, an allegedly at-fault driver who posts a statement on his Facebook account shortly after returning home from an accident in which the driver admits he was not looking when he entered the intersection just before the crash will have a difficult time explaining in court why this statement should not be held against him. Conversely, if that same driver only said to you that he was “sorry” for the accident and no one else heard him but you, it will be challenging to get the driver to admit in court that he made this statement to you.
What if All I Have is an Oral Admission of Fault?
To be certain, an oral admission of fault by the other driver is better than no admission at all. But to maximize the impact of an oral admission of fault made by the other driver in your car crash, consider the following:
- If you are speaking to the other driver the presence of the third party, ask the third party if he or she heard the other driver’s admission. If so, be certain to obtain this third party’s contact information so he or she can be called as a corroborating witness, if needed. You may also ask if that witness will provide a statement to law enforcement officers about what the other driver said to him or her;
- Write down what the other driver said as soon as possible after the crash, along with all other details about the crash that you can remember. The sooner you make this written report and the more details you include, the more credible your written recollection may appear to a judge or jury. Be certain to write down the exact words the other driver used.
Provide this information to your Kansas car crash lawyer, Michael R. Lawless. Seasoned Kansas City Car Crash Attorney Michael Lawless’ experience and knowledge means he is well-equipped to make the best use of such statements in your trial. Call Michael R. Lawless today at (800) 734-3771.