Answers to Your Personal Injury, Workers Compensation, and Medical Malpractice Legal Questions
Your Questions Answered - Your Legal Options Explained
At KCAIA we know that it is essential for every injury victim to get good information about how to pursue their accident claim. Following an accident that causes serious injury to you or a loved one, there are often many unanswered questions.
Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from new clients. You can browse by category using the dropdown menu. Alternatively, for a quicker, more customized search, try typing your question into the search bar above.
Don't see what you are looking for? If you don't find the answers you need, contact us today for answers to your specific questions. Remember, the consultation is FREE and there is no obligation.
- Page 3
Do all truck drivers need a commercial driver’s license?
It depends on the vehicle. Because large commercial vehicles are more complicated to drive and more dangerous than passenger vehicles, many operators are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to safely maneuver large trucks and buses. Federal regulations require each state to set requirements for obtaining a commercial driver’s license.
However, you may be surprised to learn that not all operators are required to have a special license to drive certain types of trucks in Missouri.
Who Needs a Commercial Driver’s License in Missouri?
The weight of a vehicle determines whether or not a commercial driver's license is required for operation. Individuals driving the follwoing vehicles must have a CDL:
- A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 pounds or more
- Combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001. pounds, as long as the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
- A vehicle of any size transporting hazardous materials in a quantity that requires a hazardous material placard, which are federally-required warning labels placed on the truck when transporting these dangerous substances.
Truck drivers in Missouri required to obtain a commercial driver’s license must hold the correct classification of CDL for the vehicles they intend to operate. These classifications apply:
- Class A: Towed unit with GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more
- Class B: Truck with GVWR of 10,001 pounds or more
- Class C: Vehicle transporting 16 or more passengers, which includes the driver; also trucks required to utilize a hazardous material placard
Not all trucks require an operator to hold a CDL. Lesser-weight trucks, passenger vans with fewer than 16 passengers, small delivery trucks and vans, and rental trucks can be driven without this license. While this may make it easier for drivers to have versatility, you and your family may be in danger due to less-experienced drivers who aren't used to a vehicle with a greater size and weight making a truck accident more likely.
Missouri's Requirements to Obtain a Commercial Truck Driver’s License
Missouri law requires an individual to complete a number of requirements to receive a commercial truck driver’s license:
- Knowledge test. An individual must take a general skills written test and could be required to take additional tests involving factors such as air brakes, tanks, and hazardous materials, depending on the type of truck he plans to drive.
- Skills test. A driver has to take a skills test that includes a vehicle inspection examination to show that he or she knows whether his commercial vehicle is safe to drive; and a basic control test to determine whether he or she can control the vehicle.
- On-road test. The driving test requires the individual to drive his commercial truck or bus safely in a variety of on-road situations. This could include making left and right turns, driving near railroad crossings, navigating curves, and traveling on the highway.
- Medical certification. Many prospective commercial vehicle drivers are required to provide certification from an examining doctor indicating they are medically fit to drive a bus or truck.
Commercial Driver’s License Disqualifications
Truck and bus drivers can be disqualified from holding a commercial driver’s license in Missouri by their actions. Some reasons include:
- Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .04 percent or more
- Refusing BAC testing
- Driving when under the influence of a controlled substance
- Leaving the scene of the accident involving a commercial vehicle
- Committing a felony while using a truck or bus
- Driving with a suspended commercial driver’s license
- Causing a fatality in a commercial vehicle accident
- Committing serious traffic violations, such as speeding in excess of 15 mph above the limit, reckless driving, and erratic lane changes
- Violating an out-of-service order by driving a truck or bus when it was in need of repairs
Our Experience Helps You
Did the trucker who caused your crash have a proper commercial license? An experienced truck accident attorney can determine this as part of his investigation of the incident. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to learn about your legal options and how we can help you obtain the compensation that you deserve.
Will obtaining the semi truck’s black box help me in my accident case?
If you were injured in a commercial vehicle accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you will need to obtain as much evidence as possible that proves the driver’s responsibility for compensating you. A valuable piece of evidence that you need is the data from the big rig's black box. If you're able to obtain it, this can be extremely useful in convincing the insurance companies for the driver and transportation company that they are liable for providing compensation for your injuries.
What Is A Truck's Black Box?
A semi's black box, also referred to as an event data recorder (EDR), is similar to the data unit installed on airplanes.
Since the 1990s, most large trucks were equipped with a black box, so it's likely there was one in the vehicle involved in your truck crash. These devices were originally designed by commercial vehicle manufacturers to combat invalid warranty claims.
However, they have since become more useful to truck accident victims. The black box records a variety of information about the rig's operations, including:
- Average and highest speed, as well as speed at the time of the wreck
- Time the trucker drove
- Time spent driving 65 mph or faster
- Average engine RPM
- Seat belt usage
- Airbag performance
- Truck’s idling time
- Hard braking and sudden stops
- GPS coordinates and location information
- Usage of the cruise control
How Black Box Data Can Help Your Truck Accident Claim
Data from the black box can help an experienced truck accident attorney or another expert determine what the truck was doing before, during, and after your collision.
For example, data can show the speed of the vehicle and whether the truck driver made a hard stop. In addition, the EDR will confirm the operator's drive times his or her written log. If there's a discrepancy, this may help establish that your wreck was caused by trucker fatigue or a violation of hours of service rules regarding how long he or she could drive. Information from the EDR can also demonstrate when the trucker isn't a credible witness or the trucking company had a pattern of violating federal safety regulations.
Beginning December 18, 2017, most trucks are required to be equipped with an electronic logging device that provides additional information to a black box. This device can be installed in the truck or connect through a cellphone or tablet. It provides data on the date and time, miles travelled, and other crucial factors. The electronic logging device may also help prove your right for injury compensation, and you'll need legal assistance to get it.
Why You Must Act Quickly to Obtain the Truck’s Black Box
After your truck accident, it's imperative to obtain the data from the truck’s black box before it's lost. The data is usually recorded over in about 30 days, and some older black boxes record data for a much shorter period of time. Unfortunately, the trucking company won't provide this information voluntarily.
You'll need assistance from a knowledgeable legal partner so he can take steps to preserve this vital evidence. He can send the transportation company a spoliation letter advising it of your claim and to not destroy documents and other evidence—including the truck’s black box. Once the fleet company receives this notice of your claim, federal regulations prohibit it from destroying evidence that could help your case.
In some cases, a trucking company won't be cooperative in providing the information requested by the attorney. If you're in this situation, your truck accident legal team may need to file an immediate lawsuit and obtain a temporary restraining order from a judge ordering the company not to destroy the black box data and other evidence.
Do you need help filing your claim and gathering evidence following a truck accident? Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation today.
Should I use mediation to settle my car accident injury claim?
Mediation is an informal process in which two parties that are in dispute meet with a neutral third party—known as a mediator—to help resolve the conflict. The process is usually cheaper and quicker than a full-blown trial, but it may not get you the result you're hoping for. When should you agree to mediation, and when is it not in your best interest?
Mediation can be used for many different types of conflicts, including neighborhood disputes, landlord/tenant disagreements, and consumer complaints. More often, it's also a preferred method for resolution of personal injury claims. In most cases, the parties involved in a car accident claim both have to agree to try to resolve their dispute through mediation. As a car accident victim, you can opt out of mediation if you don’t think your interests will be served.
However, in other cases, a judge will order that two parties attempt a resolution through mediation before the claim can go to trial. In court-ordered mediation, you won't be able to opt out. Car accident claims can be settled amicably through mediation, but the process is often used by insurance companies to discourage victims from seeking the full damages they deserve.
How Mediation Works
Whether mediation is voluntary or court-ordered, the two parties should have the freedom to choose their mediator and must agree on the choice. Mediators should be neutral third parties, so you wouldn't want to agree to an in-house mediator for an insurance company, for example.
Mediators are often attorneys or retired judges. They don't make decisions or give opinions. Their role is to facilitate a conversation between the two parties and help them come to an agreeable resolution. Both parties must agree to the settlement. If one party doesn't agree, the parties go back to where they were before mediation. Nothing that is said in mediation can be used by either party in future negotiations or in court.
In general, mediation for a personal injury claim proceeds as follows:
- A mediator is chosen and the parties agree to a time, place, and date.
- At the meeting, the mediator introduces all parties in attendance.
- Everyone is required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
- The attorney for the plaintiff presents information regarding the value of his case. This may include photographs of the crash scene, medical records, and other evidence. This opening statement gives everyone an idea of the strength of the plaintiff’s case and what would be heard at a trial.
- The attorney or insurance adjuster for the defense makes an argument as to why he or she should pay less than what's being requested by the plaintiff.
- Once opening statements have been made, the parties are separated into different rooms.
- The mediator goes back and forth between the parties, asking questions and relaying information. He or she should also point out weaknesses to each party and remind them of the risks involved in going to trial. A good mediator keeps both sides talking and does his or her best to help them reach a compromise.
- If a settlement is reached, the agreement is signed by both parties and filed with the court. The plaintiff is required to sign a release barring him from pursuing any further legal action.
- If a settlement cannot be reached, negotiations may continue between the plaintiff’s attorney and the insurance company, but if this is unsuccessful, the case goes to trial.
Do You Need an Attorney for Mediation?
Although mediation is an informal process, you should still have an attorney representing you as the victim of a car accident. The insurance company will send an experienced negotiator, and you don't want to take him on by yourself. Your attorney will prepare you for mediation and will speak on your behalf as much as possible.
To protect yourself from being cheated out of the compensation you deserve, speak with our experienced car accident attorneys before agreeing to mediation. We will help you make decisions that are in your best interest. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.348.2616 for your free, no obligation consultation.
Who is responsible for compensating me if I am in a crash involving an Uber or Lyft driver?
Unfortunately, the quick answer to this question is the multi-billion dollar companies behind these ride-hailing services cannot be held liable for damages if you're injured in a car accident due to the actions of one of their drivers. This is because Uber and Lyft drivers are independent contractors and not employees of the corporation.
However, that doesn't mean these drivers aren't regulated and insured. In this article, we discuss your options when you are injured in a ride-sharing accident.
How Do Ride-Sharing Services Work?
Thanks to legislation signed in April of 2017, ride-sharing services are now permitted to operate throughout Missouri and have become popular in Kansas City. Nationally, these services have taken off, answering a demand for transportation that traditional taxicabs and public transportation were unable to meet.
Unlike taxis, which you have to hail in the street or call a central number to request, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft offer customers the ease of requesting a ride via an app on their smartphone. The app notifies the closest drivers of your request, and when one accepts your request, you're given the driver’s information and arrival time.
Payment is also handled through the app, so you do not have to have cash on hand to pay the driver. While Lyft has always offered a tipping option through the app, Uber just added this feature in the summer of 2017, but informs customers that it's entirely optional.
Not only have these companies provided a convenient transportation option to residents of Kansas City and other cities, but they also have given many unemployed and underemployed adults an easy way to make extra money. Who are these drivers, though, and how do you know if your driver is going to be safe?
Regulations for Uber Drivers
In order to drive for Uber, you must be at least 21 years old and have at least three years of driving experience in the U.S. A valid U.S. driver’s license is required, as is access to an approved 4-door vehicle. Drivers must complete an online application that includes a criminal background check and a clean driving record. It's also mandatory that drivers have valid car insurance.
Because many car insurance companies will not cover drivers who “drive for hire” on personal insurance policies, these drivers often must purchase commercial auto insurance. Uber also offers supplemental policies for its drivers, but they're only valid when the driver is “on duty”—meaning his or her Uber app is running and accepting requests.
Here’s how Uber’s supplemental insurance works:
- When the driver has his Uber app off, he's only covered by his personal auto insurance policy.
- When the driver has his Uber app on but isn't carrying a paying passenger, a low-level liability policy kicks in. This would cover pedestrians or passengers in other vehicles injured by the Uber driver’s negligence.
- When the driver has a paying passenger, a higher level of coverage is activated and will cover any injuries incurred as a result of a crash caused by the Uber driver.
Both Uber and Lyft provide supplemental insurance policies of $1 million during the active duty drive times.
What to Do If You're Injured by an Rideshare Driver
If you're seriously injured as a pedestrian or passenger by an Uber or Lyft driver, your source of compensation will be the driver’s personal or commercial auto insurance policy and any supplemental polices active at the time of the crash.
Because of the added complications in this type of case, it would be wise to hire an attorney to assist with it, but in the meantime, you should write down the name and phone number of the driver—if it’s not already in your phone—and take a screenshot of the Uber trip and receipts on your phone. This could become valuable evidence of which level of insurance was active at the time of the crash. If you're a pedestrian who was hit by an Uber driver, you must get the driver’s name and number, as you will have no record of it on your app.
Have you been injured in a car accident while using one of these ride share services? If so you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation today.
What is a workers’ compensation Independent Medical Exam?
When you're injured at work or become ill due to exposure to a toxic substance in the workplace, you're entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is an insurance program employers are required to enroll in that is designed to cover the medical expenses and other damages suffered by employees while on the job.
However, these insurance payouts are expensive for companies, so representatives do everything they can to make sure the claims are legitimate, and then enable workers stop collecting benefits and return to their jobs as soon as they are able. To ensure this, your employer may require you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). We explain what that means and why you may need an attorney.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work?
There are many ways to be injured at work—it's not just construction workers and warehouse employees who get hurt on the job. People in healthcare, food service, retail stores, and even offices can suffer slip and fall or repetitive use injuries, or experience toxic exposure illnesses.
Whether or not the accident that left you injured was your fault, if it happened at work or while you were offsite but on the clock, you should receive workers’ comp benefits to cover your medical bills and pay you while you are unable to work. Your employer wants proof the accident occurred at work and that you're actually injured or ill.
To fulfill the first requirement, you should report the incident to your supervisor as soon as possible. You may also need witness statements or surveillance video footage to support your claim. To prove you're actually injured or ill, you'll need medical tests and a doctor’s report. However, you employer or his insurance company may not trust your personal physician’s diagnosis and may require you to see one of their own doctors for an IME.
How Does an Independent Medical Exam Work?
If you want to receive workers’ comp benefits, you have to follow your employer’s instructions to have an IME. You'll be sent to a doctor of the workers’ comp insurance company’s choosing. Most states maintain a list of doctors approved to conduct IMEs and your employer tells you where to go.
The insurance company is legally obligated to ensure its requirement is “reasonable.” This means you shouldn't have to travel a great distance or submit to an excessive number of examinations. If you're required to travel to see the approved doctor, worker’s comp benefits should reimburse you for your travel expenses.
Some employers require you to have an IME before approving your benefits. Others accept your incident report and emergency medical treatment report as sufficient to grant your initial benefits. In either case, if your recovery is lengthy, you'll likely be asked to attend follow-up IMEs as deemed necessary by the insurance company. Again, the insurer is required to be “reasonable” in its request, but may require you to submit to multiple medical evaluations.
In an IME, the doctor is determining the following:
- Were you injured?
- Is your injury as serious as you claim?
- Is your injury consistent with your description of the workplace accident?
- Have you fully recovered?
If the doctor concludes as a result of the IME that you've recovered and are capable of returning to work, your benefits may be revoked, and you'll be required to return to work, despite how you feel or what your personal physician might say.
When You Need A Workers' Compensation Attorney
As a no-fault system, workers’ comp programs are designed to be fairly straightforward. However, if your employer denies your claim following an IME, or an IME determines that you're ready to return to work and you and your doctor disagree, you should consider hiring an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
We know many of the approved workers’ comp doctors in the area and we know when you may have legitimate grounds for an appeal. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation.
Am I covered by workers’ comp when I'm injured on the way to or from my job?The simple answer to this question is no—but there may be exceptions. Workers’ compensation insurance is provided to cover employees for injuries or illnesses they suffer while on the clock at their jobs. Because workers aren't being paid for the time it takes to and from their jobs, they're not covered by workers’ compensation during that time.
However, some workers are paid for travel time, which makes them eligible for workers’ comp if they are injured while traveling. There may be other exceptions as well.
Why the Limits on Coverage?
The purpose of workers’ comp is to cover the medical expenses and lost wages of employees who are injured on the job or made ill by exposure to a dangerous substance at work. When an employer carries workers’ comp insurance—which every company with over five employees in Kansas and Missouri must do—he is also exempt from being sued by the worker because of an accident.
Workers’ comp is considered “no fault” insurance because it applies whether the employee was injured by his own carelessness or because of the negligence of a co-worker or employer. But if a worker is impaired by alcohol or drugs or hurts himself intentionally, his workers’ comp claim will likely be denied.
In most cases, the sticking point is whether or not the worker was actually injured on the job. Workers’ comp insurance adjusters will dispute claims if they suspect the worker is trying to get benefits for an injury he sustained outside of work or for an illness unrelated to his work environment.
Exceptions to the Going and Coming Rule
Even though you could argue that commuting to and from your place of employment is “work related” and should, therefore, be covered, the going and coming rule says otherwise. If you're driving to or from work; walking from your car to the building; or out on a lunch break when you slip and fall or get in a car accident, you would not be covered by workers’ comp.
Some exceptions might include the following:
- Driving a company car. If you have a company car and are in an accident while driving it to or from work, you'll probably be covered by workers’ comp.
- Traveling as a job duty. If you're a delivery truck driver, messenger, bus driver, police officer, or have another job that requires travel, and are injured while traveling, your injuries will be covered by workers’ comp because you're on the clock and the travel is part of your job description.
- Traveling between job sites. If you work at multiple sites throughout the day and are in an accident while traveling between sites, this is generally considered job-related and will be covered.
- Running an official errand. If your manager sends you on an errand—including a coffee run or personal errand—and you're injured, you should be covered by workers’ comp.
If you're injured outside of your workplace and aren’t sure if you're eligible for workers’ comp, report your injury to your supervisor immediately and contact an experienced Kansas City workers’ compensation attorney. He or she will be able to tell you if you have a case.
Examples Of "Going and Coming" Workers' Comp Case Exceptions
Recent workers’ comp appeals in Kansas and Missouri illustrate the uncertainty involving the "going and coming" rule.
In a 2014 case in Kansas (Williams v Petromark Drilling, LLC), a young oil worker was denied workers’ comp when he suffered a rollover accident after leaving a remote job site in a co-worker’s car. Even though traveling to the site was considered work-related, he turned down a ride from his supervisor and chose to drive for his own convenience. Thus, his injuries were deemed not related to work.
In an unusual ruling in a 2011 case in Missouri (Lantie Wilson v Buchanan County), the appeals court found that an employee who slipped on ice in his employer’s parking lot on his way into work was eligible for workers’ comp, because he would not have been in the parking lot if he was not reporting for work.
These cases show the "going and coming" rule is open to some degree to interpretation.
If you're injured on your way to or from work and you believe there are special circumstances related to your accident, contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.511 for a free consultation.
Who is liable when high-speed police pursuits end in bystander injury or death?
Despite many tragic stories of innocent bystanders being injured or killed by a vehicle engaged in a high speed police chase in the Kansas City area, there's not much victims can do to hold the responsible parties accountable.
Because the police have broad powers to carry out their duties to prevent and punish criminal acts, they're often untouchable when it comes to seeking justice for innocent victims. While someone can seek damages from the driver being pursued at the time of the crash, she's unlikely to be successful in suing a police officer, his department, or the municipality that employs him.
How Bad Is the Problem?
It’s not clear just how many innocent people are injured or killed in high speed police chases each year. Statistics on this occurrence aren't gathered in a consistent manner across the country.
According to an investigative story published 2015 in The Kansas City Star, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 333 people were killed during police pursuits. Many believe that number leaves out at least 100 additional fatalities related to police chases. There's not a formal system for tracking the number of crashes or injuries nationwide each year.
According to NHTSA statistics, there were 127 deaths in Missouri and 47 in Kansas related to police high-speed chases between 2003 and 2013.
In the Kansas City area, data on police crashes is collected in Kansas but not in Missouri. On the Kansas side of the city, there were 558 pursuit-related crashes between 2003 and 2013, including 13 deaths and over 300 injuries. The data that is available from Missouri indicates that there were as many as 148 crashes in the same 10-year period, but no additional data is available.
No Consistent Policy
Perhaps because of the lack of consistent data documenting the dangers of high-speed chases, police agencies across Kansas and Missouri lack a standard policy for when a police officer should and should not pursue a suspect.
Sometimes, officers follow suspects across multiple county lines, regardless of the policies for high-speed chases in those jurisdictions. When innocent people are injured or killed in these chases, it can be difficult to know who is responsible for compensating the victims.
Following the tragic deaths of two innocent victims in separate crashes in 2014, the Kansas City, Kansas, (KCK) police department enacted a policy later that year to only pursue suspects who had already committed a serious felony.
However, in June 2017, the KCK revised that policy, pledging to pursue anyone fleeing the police as long as there is probable cause. This change was the result of a spike in crime caused in part, according to KCK, by suspects knowing they wouldn't be chased if they fled.
Police Are Usually Protected from Prosecution
A police officer must be able to do what he feels is necessary to protect the public. That's his duty. However, when an officer pursues a fleeing suspect through busy city streets at high speeds, running stop signs and red lights, he's not protecting the public by catching a criminal:
He's putting the public in danger of a high-speed collision. The police argue—and the Supreme Court has agreed—they cannot fulfill their duties to protect the public if they cannot pursue criminals.
Whether the victim is hit by the fleeing suspect or the pursuing police car, the question is: who's at fault? Courts often reach the conclusion that—no matter which car hits you—it's the suspect who's to blame because by committing a crime or fleeing from the police, he initiated the chase. However, the family of an innocent victim may argue the police officer shouldn't have continued the chase once it became dangerous to bystanders. This argument, while valid, isn't often successful in being awarded compensation from police departments or municipalities.
Our Accident Attorneys Will Steer You in the Right Direction
If you or a loved one was injured in a police chase, schedule a consultation with the accident attorneys in our Overland Park office. We'll look at the facts of your case and help you decide what to do. We stand by victims, but won't send you on a wild goose chase.
Can I sue a third party when I'm injured at work and still receive workers’ comp benefits?
No matter what your work environment is, you can have an accident that leaves you injured. Some of these accidents are just that—an accident that's no one’s fault. Other accidents are caused by the worker’s carelessness and still others are caused by employer negligence.
Regardless of the injury cause, an employee is entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are considered to be no-fault benefits, so the worker doesn't have to show he wasn't at fault to receive them.
However, when an employee is injured due to defective equipment, in a car or truck accident, or on property not owned by the employer, he or she may be able to sue a third party for negligence and receive compensation. The employer may also be entitled to some of that money.
Third-Party Liability for Work Injuries
When you suffer an accident at work, it's a good idea to determine the cause of the accident to see if you can hold a third party liable. In general, if your employer has workers’ comp insurance, you cannot sue him for an on-the-job injury, but you may be able to seek compensation from a third party.
If you're injured on faulty equipment, during a slip and fall on a dangerous surface, or through some other way, another party may be partially to blame for your injury. Some examples of third-party liability include the following:
- You're hit by another motorist while driving on company business. You would qualify for workers’ comp because you're performing work duties, but you could also sue the driver who hit you for additional compensation.
- While working on an assembly line, the machinery jams and your hand is crushed. Worker’s comp will cover your medical expenses up to a point, but the manufacturer of the machinery could also be held liable for your injuries.
- You fall from an unstable scaffold as a contractor on a construction site. Your employer should be carrying workers’ comp insurance, but the owner of the construction site may be held liable for creating an unsafe work environment.
- You're attacked and injured by a co-worker. If the incident happens at work, you'll be eligible for workers’ comp, but you can also take civil action against the person who attacked you.
It can be difficult to prove third-party liability, and it often takes a long time to settle a claim. Workers’ comp benefits will become important in the meantime, allowing you to pay your medical bills and make up for lost income if you have to miss work.
However, if you're successful in your third-party lawsuit, your employer may be entitled to a portion of your settlement to reimburse his company for the workers’ comp benefits.
Workers’ Comp Subrogation
Your employer’s worker’s comp insurance representative is likely paying close attention to any additional legal action you choose to take. If you file suit against a negligent third party, your employer will probably also file a subrogation claim. This filing will place a lien on the proceeds you get from any third-party award. The purpose of this is to recoup the losses the company experienced through your workers’ comp payout.
If you win your suit against the third party, your employer will first be reimbursed for workers’ comp benefits before you receive your settlement. This only happens when the employer files a subrogation claim. If a claim isn't filed, you'll keep the whole settlement.
Working With an Attorney Can Help
When you hire the workers’ comp attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, you'll get trustworthy advice about filing a third-party claim and learn about your chances for success. If your injuries aren't serious and your workers’ comp benefits will cover your expenses, it probably isn’t worth filing a third-party claim. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.348.2616 to learn more about workers’ comp claims.
Will permanent facial scarring affect the value of my car accident injury claim?
Following a car or truck accident, any sort of catastrophic or permanent injury will increase the value of a claim. After all, the costs of treating a person with a life-long condition or permanent disability are significantly higher than treating and curing a less serious injury. A person with a permanent physical disability may need care and assistance for a lifetime.
However, when a car, truck, or motorcycle crash results in permanent scarring or disfigurement which doesn't technically affect the victim’s abilities, will he or she be entitled to a higher settlement? Probably, but will need strong legal representation.
How Vehicle Accidents Can Cause Disfigurement
Occupants of cars and motorcycles are at risk of suffering various catastrophic injuries in a collision. Broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord damage can all have serious and permanent consequences for the victim.
Vehicle crashes can also result in facial trauma and disfiguring scars in the following ways:
- Burns. Violent crashes, especially those involving a truck transporting flammable materials, can result in explosions and fires. A person trapped in a burning car is likely to suffer burns to his face will that require skin grafts. While some damage can be repaired, the victim may carry disfiguring scars for a lifetime.
- Bone fractures. There are more than 14 bones in the face, and fractures are a common result of a collision. When facial bones are broken, reconstructive surgery is often required. While victims may successfully regain function, their appearances are usually changed permanently—and not for the better.
- Lacerations. Shattered glass or road debris can impact a face, causing multiple deep cuts, some requiring stitches. Lacerations can cause significant scarring that will never completely go away, creating a changed appearance.
- Eye injuries. It's possible for a projectile to penetrate the eye in a collision. A victim may lose that eye, resulting in partial blindness and lifelong disfigurement. Fractures of the eye sockets can also cause a dramatic change in appearance.
- Soft tissue injuries. Damage to facial ligaments, cartilage, tendons, or muscles are the most common craniofacial injuries suffered in car crashes. These types of injury can impair facial features and function and may be irreparable.
Because a person’s face is always visible, it's impossible to completely conceal facial scars and injuries. Even when these injuries don’t affect facial function such as speech, blinking, chewing, smiling, yawning, tear and saliva production, and more, the physical disfigurement can be life-altering.
What Facial Scarring Can Cost the Victim
Craniofacial injuries often result in loss of important facial functions, which can be documented and submitted as part of an injury claim. However, when no permanent loss of function occurs, it can be more difficult to calculate damages. Facial disfigurement and scarring can cause significant pain and suffering, affecting the victim in the following ways:
- Poor self-image
- Loss of confidence
- Loss of job or inability to find employment
- Constant reminder of car crash trauma
- Decrease in social interaction
- Stares and comments from strangers
It's not easy to calculate non-economic damages such as these and, without qualified legal representation, victims are often cheated out of the compensation they deserve.
How to Recover Fair Damages
If you or a loved one has suffered disfiguring facial injuries in a car crash, you'll need the assistance of a legal team experienced in calculating and negotiating for non-economic damages. Your attorney will consult with your doctors and plastic surgeons in order to understand and quantify the extent of your physical injuries. He'll also arrange for you to be evaluated by a therapist who can assess the emotional and psychological effects the injuries have had on you. An economic expert can determine the potential losses you face in your career field because of scars. Another factor your legal team will consider is the loss of potential relationships and social interactions you could suffer because of the changes to your appearance.
The insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver in your accident won't be sympathetic to your potential non-economic losses. Don't accept a settlement offer without talking to an attorney. You deserve more—don’t settle for less. Contact us online or call us directly at 888.348.2616.
Why aren’t people using their turn signals anymore?
Have you noticed this, too? It seems that fewer people are bothering to signal before they turn or change lanes. The answer may be related to another major danger—driving while distracted. The fact is, signaling your intentions to other drivers before you make a maneuver is an easy way to prevent what could be a serious collision. Yes, cars have much more sophisticated safety technology these days, but this little device—which has been common on vehicles since the 1940s—may be just as effective for saving lives.
How Many People Actually Use Turn Signals?
It’s one of the first things we learn in driver’s education courses. When making a lane change:
- Check the rear and side view mirrors
- Engage the turn signal
- Check over your shoulder to ensure clear right-of-way
- Carefully make the change
We were also taught to signal before making a turn, even when stopped at an intersection in a turn-only lane.
This simple device lets others know what your intention is—something not always easily determined. If you feel like turn signaling is a dying art, you’re not wrong. A study conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in 2012 found that 25 percent of drivers fail to signal before making a left- or right-hand turn. Even more drivers—48 percent—don't signal before changing lanes. By extrapolating their findings, the study authors estimated that failure to use a turn signal may directly cause as many as two million crashes every year.
Why Are People Refusing to Signal?
Many people aren't aware that using your turn signal to let people know you are making a turn is required by law. In Kansas, the statute reads as follows:
- No person shall turn a vehicle or move right or left upon a roadway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety, nor without giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided.
- A signal of intention to turn or move right or left when required shall be given continuously during not less than the last one hundred (100) feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
Thus, any time you make a turn or change lanes without signaling, you're breaking the law. By following the law and extending common courtesy, every driver who signals helps the flow of traffic.
So why do so many people fail to do it? Here are some common reasons:
- Simple laziness. For many drivers, signaling is simply not a habit they ever got into. They may not be speeding or making erratic lane changes, but their lazy driving can be just as dangerous.
- Aggressive driving. When people speed and drive aggressively, they don't leave themselves the opportunity to signal an action ahead of time. The last thing on their minds is paying other drivers the courtesy of letting them know where they intend to go.
- Distraction. It’s hard to activate the turn signal when you are driving with one hand and holding a cell phone or cup of coffee with the other. Even when both hands are on the wheel, if the driver is distracted by a hands-free phone conversation or something on the radio or an untethered pet in the passenger seat, he or she is unlikely to remember to signal a turn.
Whatever the reason, there's no question that failing to signal can lead to a collision.
How Signaling Protects Drivers
A good, defensive driver is aware of her surroundings and looks for clues from other drivers about what their next moves are so that she knows what's safe for her to do. Brake lights let drivers know that a car is slowing down or stopping. Turn signals are just as important.
When a driver signals appropriately, other drivers know the following:
- It's safe to pull out onto a street.
- A car is about to move into your lane in front of you.
- The car in front of you will soon be slowing down to make a turn.
Just as signaling before a turn is important, so is shutting off your signal after the turn is complete. Most turn signals are designed to do this automatically, but if yours doesn’t, it can be hazardous to leave it on because other drivers will be expecting you to do something you're not going to do.
Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys provides these helpful FAQs because we care about the safety of our friends and neighbors in Missouri and Kansas. If you have a legal question about a car wreck or motorcycle accident, do not hesitate to call us at 888.348.2626 or contact us online.