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 4
How do I determine if I'm ready to ride a motorcycle?
People own motorcycles for many reasons. For some, a bike is an economical form of transportation that uses less gas and takes up less space. For others, it’s a gateway to a thrilling experience that makes their lives more exciting. There are as many reasons as there are riders, but that doesn’t mean riding a motorcycle is right for everyone. In fact, some people shouldn't even consider buying a motorcycle.
Risks Associated With Motorcycles
Members of our team at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys ride motorcycles. We're proud to represent motorcyclists when they're denied access to fair settlements because an insurance agent or an attorney is making unfair assumptions about their characters.
However, we also believe that safety should always come first, and that a biker should never take unnecessary risks. Before deciding to buy a motorcycle, you should understand the risks that come with the territory.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), close to 5,000 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2015. The organization estimates that a motorcyclist is 27 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of passenger cars. In addition, 88,000 people were injured in motorcycle crashes in 2015.
The III cites the following as risk factors for motorcycle fatalities:
- Age: In 2014, 54 percent of the riders who died in motorcycle crashes were over the age of 40. While this age group generally engages in less risky behavior than younger riders, they tend to sustain more severe injuries because they're older. The steepest rise in injury rates were for riders over the age of 60, an age group that is increasing every year in ridership.
- Alcohol: 29 percent of riders involved in a fatal accident had blood alcohol contents over the legal limit of .08 percent, making alcohol a major contributing factor in fatalities. Riders aged 35-39 showed the highest rate of alcohol use.
- Speeding: According to data cited by the III, 33 percent of riders involved in fatal crashes were exceeding the speed limit.
- Licensing: 28 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involved a rider who didn't have a valid operator’s license. Only 13 percent of fatal car crashes involve an unlicensed driver.
- Type of bike. Not surprisingly, the faster and more powerful the bike is, the greater the risk for a rider to die in a crash. Riders of “super sport” bikes are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than riders of other bikes.
The first step in the decision to buy a motorcycle should be to eliminate as many of these risks as possible. If you are over 60, be sure you are healthy enough to ride. Avoid drinking and riding, and maintain a safe speed at all times. Obtain a valid motorcycle license and take safety courses regularly to keep your skills sharp. Finally, buy a bike that is reasonably safe. On top of these factors, you may also want to consider additional factors.
Suggestions From the Motorcycle Safety Foundation
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation also believes that motorcycles aren’t for everyone. It offers a quick self-assessment questionnaire for people considering taking the plunge. In general, the Foundation suggests motorcyclists should possess the following skills and traits:
- Not a risk-taker
- Can ride a bicycle
- Can drive a car with a manual transmission
- Has good vision
- Is mechanically-inclined
- Is safety-minded
- Shows respect for dangerous machinery
- Is not easily distracted
- Can handle a car in an emergency
- Is committed to learning how to ride properly
If you don’t feel these qualities describe you, you may be choosing a motorcycle for the wrong reasons. It's entirely possible to ride a bike your entire adult life and never have an accident, but only if you're riding for the right reasons.
We Are Here to Help Motorcyclists
While we're a motorcycle-friendly law firm, we don’t condone purposely dangerous behavior on bikes. If you were obeying traffic laws and were cut off by a car, or if you are being denied the insurance coverage you're entitled to, call our motorcycle accident attorneys today. We'll be proud to stand by your side.
Will I be protected if I report my employer for OSHA violations?
No matter where you work, you're entitled to working conditions that are free of dangerous hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides safety guidelines to employers in all industries. Business owners and managers are required to comply with these guidelines.
If you're aware of safety violations in your workplace, you have the right to request they be corrected, and to report the violations to OSHA without fear of being punished by your employer. When you face injury or illness at work due to unsafe conditions, it may be up to you to take action to ensure your safety and the safety of your coworkers.
Worker Rights Under OSHA Guidelines
Workers in industries such as construction, assembly, and food service face many dangers on a daily basis. Some of these dangers are inherent to the nature of the work, but it's up to your employer to make sure all required safeguards are in place so that the work is as safe as possible.
As a worker, OSHA guarantees certain rights for your protection, including the right to:
- Be trained in a language you understand
- Work on safe machines
- Be provided required safety gear, such as gloves, or a harness and lifeline for fall prevention
- Be protected from toxic chemicals
- Request an OSHA inspection, and the opportunity to speak to the inspector
- Report an injury or illness, and get copies of your medical records
- See copies of the workplace injury and illness log
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- Get copies of results for any tests conducted to find hazards in the workplace
Federal law permits you to report your employer for violation of these rights without fear of retaliation. Specifically, the law protects you from the following employer actions:
- Applying or issuing a policy which provides for an unfavorable personnel action due to activity protected by a whistleblower law enforced by OSHA
- Denying overtime or promotion
- Denying benefits
- Failing to hire or rehire
- Firing or laying off
- Making threats
- Reassignment to a less desirable position, including one adversely affecting prospects for promotion
- Reducing pay or hours
If you believe your employer engaged in any of these actions in response to you reporting a safety violation, you also have a right to file a complaint with OSHA.
Reporting Employer Retaliation
Reporting a violation of your rights to OSHA is simply a matter of sending your complaint to the appropriate office. You should be aware of the time limit for reporting, which differs depending on which federal act applies to your industry. For example, you have 30 days to report a violation of the OSHA Act, but 180 days to report a violation of the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Learn more about whistleblower rights.
An employee can file a complaint with OSHA by visiting or calling the local office or sending a written complaint to the closest OSHA regional or area office. The Administration accepts written complaints by email, fax, personal delivery, or U.S. mail. No particular form is required and complaints may be submitted in any language.
Your complaint will be reviewed, investigated and, if your employer is found to be at fault, a representative from OSHA will issue an order requiring the employer to make amends by reinstating you, paying wages, restoring benefits, or other remedies.
Common OSHA Violations
Many workers aren't aware of all of the OSHA's safety requirements for their industry, but OSHA doesn't require that you know the specific safety rule that was violated by your employer. Any situation that's resulted in injuries to workers, or simply doesn't feel safe, may be reported without fear of retaliation. Being aware of common safety hazards may help you understand the protections to which you're entitled.
The following are the top ten violations reported to OSHA each year:
- Fall protection
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Powered industrial trucks
- Machine guarding
- Electrical wiring
- Electrical, general requirements
If violation of these or any other safety expectation leads to your injury, you're eligible for workers’ compensation. If your employer denies your claim, you may need the help of a workers’ comp attorney. Please contact our office to share your workplace injury story and see if we can help.
How do rules against truck driver coercion protect commercial drivers and others on the road?
There's no more dangerous combination on America’s roadways than a fatigued or impaired commercial driver and a 40-ton semi-trailer truck. Unfortunately, this combination is all too common. While many commercial truckers make the poor decision to drive when they're tired independently of any other factor, some drivers report being coerced to break hours of service rules by their employers. In an attempt to eliminate this problem, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) passed an anti-coercion rule that went into effect in January, 29, 2016. We take a look at the rule and how it protects commercial drivers and motorists alike.
Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Vehicle Drivers
The FMCSA’s Final Rule, addresses a problem reported to FMSCA by commercial drivers. Some drivers claim that they exceed hours of service rules and break other federal rules because they are pushed by their employers and shippers to do so.
Drivers reported they were coerced to break the law with threats of the following actions:
- Job termination
- Denial of subsequent trips
- Reduced pay
- Forfeiture of favorable work hours or jobs
The anti-coercion rule provides the FMSCA with authority to take action against not only motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, freight-forwarders, and brokers who demand a driver meets a schedule that he cannot do so safely. It also provides drivers with a procedure for reporting incidents of coercion.
Along with violating hours of service rules, drivers report being coerced to violate the following federal safety rules:
- Commercial driver’s license requirements
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Transportation of hazardous materials
- Other commercial regulations
The rule stipulates penalties for entities that engage in coercion of drivers, including fines of up to $16,000 per incident.
Responses to the Ruling
Fleet owners and shippers initially balked at some of the components of the new regulation, fearing drivers who violate hours of service rules of their own free will would simply blame a shipper or broker to avoid punishment. However, the FMCSA ruling requires proof of coercion that wouldn't be easy to fake. There's also concern in the industry that the FMCSA is overstepping its reach by regulating not just the motor carrier industry, but also shippers, receivers, and intermediaries which have not previously fallen under its jurisdiction.
Drivers, however, have had a positive response to the ruling, as it offers more whistleblower protections than they had prior to the change in 2016. While the rule doesn't stop drivers from willingly breaking federal safety regulations of their own accord, it does give drivers the power to fight back against coercion.
Mandatory Electronic Logging Devices
Another rule that will go into effect at the end of 2017 will offer further protections against fatigued drivers exceeding hours of service rules. By December 18, 2017, all commercial truck drivers will be required to track driving hours with an electronic logging device (ELD).
Currently, many drivers are still permitted to log their hours with paper and pencil. These logs are easily manipulated, by both drivers and employers. However, ELDs are much harder to falsify. These devices are installed in the truck and automatically track trips and breaks for the driver. This rule prevents both drivers and trucking companies from falsifying records to comply with the FMCSA rules.
Investigating the Cause of the Truck Crash That Left You Injured
If you're injured or a loved one is killed in a crash with a commercial truck, you'll need the knowledge and experience a truck accident attorney can provide for investigating the cause of the crash. If the driver claims he was coerced by his employer into breaking federal safety regulations, our attorneys will further investigate the possibility the trucking company may be at fault. These cases are too difficult to navigate on your own. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation today.
Should I choose a structured settlement or a lump sum payment for my car crash settlement?
The hard part is over. You survived a devastating accident and were able to win compensation from the driver who caused the accident. You're fighting to get better and are grateful to have the money from the settlement to help in your continued recovery.
At this point, you may be faced with a question about how you want to receive the settlement. Do you want to accept the total amount now as a lump sum payment, or negotiate a structured settlement so that you're paid over a period of time? We explain your options here.
How Does a Structured Settlement Work?
In a structured settlement, the at-fault party pays out the total amount that's been determined—usually through an insurance company—but instead of compensation paid directly to the victim, it goes into an annuity. The annuity contract specifies how victim receives payments.
You may choose to receive payments from a structured settlement in any of the following ways:
- The entire amount in equal payments over a period of time.
- The entire amount in unequal payments over a period of time. For example, the payments may increase or decrease in amount over time.
- Payments until the recipient dies.
- The entire amount in payments until the recipient’s death, at which point a beneficiary becomes the new recipient of payments until the term of the agreement has ended.
- A lump sum payment after the annuity is awarded, or at a later date, such as with a deferred annuity.
- A lump sum initially for a part of the total amount, followed by recurring payments until the end of term.
- Delayed payments that may begin at a certain date or age, such as when the recipient reaches adulthood or enters retirement.
An attorney or financial advisor can help you choose the option that works best for you. In general, the major advantage of a structured settlement is that you have a better future guarantee of income than you would if you received all the money at once and then spent it quickly.
Interestingly, the whole concept of a structured settlement arose from the Thalidomide crisis of the 1970s to ensure that the babies who were the true victims of the drug would be guaranteed money for their entire lives. Today, structured settlements are often used to benefit children and to protect settlements from predatory family members. However, there may be service fees involved, and there could be penalties if you find a need to withdraw funds early.
How Lump Sum Payments Work
Most personal injury, wrongful death, and workers’ comp settlements are made as a lump sum payment. This means that the at-fault party pays the entire award amount to the victim immediately.
Some advantages of lump sum payments include immediate access to the full amount to pay all medical bills and other damages; and the ability to invest the money in ways that allow the money to grow over the years. However, lump sum payments are often subject to taxation. A lump sum payment also exposes the recipient to the temptation to spend extravagantly, rather than saving for tuition, retirement, or future medical expenses.
How to Choose Between the Two Options
If you're given the choice between a lump sum payment and a structured settlement, you'll have to examine your needs and be honest about spending habits. Some questions to consider include the following:
- Do you have upcoming large expenses such as mortgage or tuition payments? How far away are they?
- How risky are your spending habits?
- Will family members expect financial assistance from you?
- Are you financially skilled enough to manage and invest a lump sum payment?
- Will you be able to budget and spend the full award responsibly?
- Will a lump sum payment affect your tax obligations?
- Will your injuries, such as a spinal cord injury or paralysis, require lifelong care?
- Do you have young children you want to provide for in the future?
Discussing these questions with your attorney or financial advisor will help you make the right decision regarding your personal injury settlement. The car accident attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys will be by your side when you first make your claim and to help you make a decision about your settlement payout, bringing their years of experience to your case.
What can we do in Kansas and Missouri to protect motorcyclists from careless drivers?
There are many things a motorcyclist can do to protect himself on the road. Riding defensively, wearing protective gear, avoiding distractions, never drinking and riding, and keeping skills sharp by taking riding classes are some of steps a rider can take to increase his chances of arriving safely at his destination. However, despite all of these measures, riders are still vulnerable to careless and negligent drivers who fail to give them adequate space. Both Kansas and Missouri participate in the federal Share the Road program to raise awareness of motorcycles in an effort to protect them.
What Risks Do Motorcyclists Face?
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, fatality rates among motorcycle riders are on the rise. With a 10 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities from 2014 to 2015, the total number of deaths exceeded 5,000 for the first time in six years.
Despite representing only 3 percent of all registered vehicles on the road, motorcyclists account for 14 percent of traffic fatalities nationwide. Biker fatalities in both Kansas and Missouri represent 12 percent of all traffic fatalities. Per miles driven, motorcyclists have a fatality rate 26 times that of other motorists.
Clearly, some of the reason for the increased risk is that motorcycles simply have less protection for riders than cars and trucks. However, when drivers of cars and trucks fail to see bikers or refuse to grant them the same space and respect as other vehicles, that risk is magnified.
What Can Motorists Do?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) promotes the Share the Road program to raise awareness of everyone who is less protected on the roads, including pedestrians, bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles. Both Kansas and Missouri participate in this program through driver awareness campaigns, traffic stops, and road signs.
NHTSA offers the following tips to help motorists share the road with motorcycles:
- Never drive distracted. An increase in driver distraction could help to explain the increase in motorcycle fatalities. Driving while distracted can result in tragic consequences for motorcyclists.
- Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a car and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Don't share the lane.
- Always use turn signals. Motorcyclists expect that you don’t see them, so signaling your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic allows them to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
- Check blind spots. Because of its smaller size, a motorcycle can be hidden in a vehicle's blind spot. Always scout for motorcycles by checking mirrors and looking over your shoulder before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.
- Pay attention to motorcycle turn signals. Although a biker's turn signal may be harder to see, look for it before proceeding to pass or make a lane change in front of him. Also, understand that turn signals on motorcycles are not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Allow enough time to determine the motorcyclist's intention before you proceed.
- Understand motorcycle hazards. Remember that road conditions which are minor annoyances to motorists can pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders may change speed or adjust position within a lane suddenly in reaction to potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad crossings, and grooved pavement.
- Allow more following distance. Motorcycles are capable of much quicker stops than cars, so allot for three or four seconds when following a motorcycle. This also allows the motorcycle rider enough time to maneuver around a hazard.
The most important thing to remember is that motorcyclists are just like you—they've simply chosen a different way to get to their destinations. They deserve the same space and respect on the road that you regularly give to other cars and bigger trucks.We hope you'll remember and share these tips with other drivers so we can all work together to share the road in the Kansas City Area.
How safe will autonomous vehicles be once they hit the market?
Recent crashes involving semi-autonomous cars have raised concerns about just how safe these vehicles are now and in the future, when some models are fully autonomous. While the new technology is exciting, it's also raised questions about how the government will approach regulating the industry. Some of these questions were answered in the fall of 2016 when the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a detailed set of guidelines for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles to apply as they develop the technology.
What Is an Autonomous Car?
Currently, several automotive manufacturers offer cars with semi-autonomous technology. These are vehicles that automatically assist the driver with things such as braking, accelerating, steering, and maintaining a safe following distance—while the driver remains fully in control of the car.
A fully autonomous car, however, is capable of navigating without human input of any kind. While these cars exist and are being tested on public roads, they're not yet commercially available. Most experts agree these vehicles will be on our roads in the future, and the DOT is concerned with doing what it can to make sure they are safe.
DOT Guidelines Address Several Areas
When the average driver thinks about what could go wrong with a self-driving car, he may think of things such as the potential for a crash if there is a technological glitch in the car. However, there are many other concerns raised by this technology.
The DOT’s guidelines include 15 areas of concern that manufacturers of self-driving cars will be asked to report on. These areas include everything from cybersecurity to crashworthiness. As part of a safety self-assessment, the DOT will ask manufacturers to report on the following areas:
- Data recording and sharing. How will crash data be collected and reported?
- Privacy. How will consumers’ privacy be protected?
- System safety. What safety measures are in place if the system malfunctions?
- Vehicle cybersecurity. What safety measures are in place to protect cyber systems from attack?
- Human machine interface. When and how will human input be needed while driving?
- Crashworthiness. Does the vehicle meet existing NHTSA crashworthiness standards?
- Consumer education and training. What guidelines ensure a driver knows how to operate the vehicle?
- Registration and certification. How will software updates and recalls be communicated to owners?
- Post-crash behavior. What will be done to ensure safety of a vehicle for use after a crash?
- Federal, state, and local laws. How will vehicles adapt to conform to various local laws throughout the country?
- Ethical considerations. How will the vehicle be programmed to handle ethical dilemmas, such as breaking a traffic law in the name of safety?
- Operational design domain. In what environments and at what speeds is the vehicle safe to operate, e.g. types of roadway, weather conditions, and so on?
- Object and event detection and response. How is the vehicle programmed to handle normal and emergency obstacles?
- Fall back. How will the vehicle warn the driver when systems have failed and human control is needed?
- Validation methods. Are testing methods valid and reliable?
With these guidelines, the DOT is attempting to steer manufacturers of self-driving cars towards taking all potential safety issues into consideration before releasing a car.
Are Self-Driving Cars the Answer?
While many people are frightened by the idea of self-driving cars, manufacturers point out that the leading causes of highway deaths are mistakes made by humans. Whether a driver becomes distracted by a cellphone; chooses to drive while intoxicated; or simply cannot react to an emergency situation fast enough, autonomous cars would solve those problems.
However, when something goes wrong with a car that's doing all the driving, who's to blame? Will the driver—or his insurance company—bear any responsibility for a fatal crash caused by a robot car? If the driver overrides the system and causes a crash, will the manufacturer bear any responsibility? These are questions Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys are sure to be asking in the future.
Who is responsible for my construction site accident injuries?
Construction jobs are often a complex hierarchy of owners, contractors, sub-contractors, and engineers. If you're injured while working on a site, it may be difficult to determine who could be held liable for your injuries. Unsafe conditions, faulty equipment, negligent coworkers, and many other factors can cause serious injuries and even deaths on a construction site. Understanding who is responsible for the various operations on a site can help determine who can be sued to recover compensation for your injuries.
Potentially Liable Parties on a Construction Site
In general, the more responsibility a party has over the day-to-day operations on a site, the more liable that party is for things that go wrong. Whoever is directly responsible for the specific failure that led to the injury or death will be one party that could be held liable, but there may be others as well.
The following are some of the parties often involved in construction sites that could be responsible for injuries to workers:
- Construction site owner. The owner of the land upon which the construction is taking place may be liable for injuries to individuals involved in the project if the owner has maintained control of the property to a significant degree, rather than handing control over to the contractor. If an injury is caused by a potentially harmful condition on the land that the owner knew or should reasonably have known of, he could be held liable. If, however, the injury was caused by conditions created by the contractor that the landowner is not aware of, he is likely not liable.
- General contractors. Contractors have a duty to create a work environment that's reasonably safe, and ensure that the work over which they have control is being performed in a safe manner, including the hiring of competent workers and following safety regulations. If a worker is injured due to unsafe conditions or the carelessness of a co-worker, the general contractor—or sub-contractors—may be sued for compensation.
- Prime contractors. While general contractors are responsible for an entire project, special work may be contracted out to other companies, known as prime contractors. These contractors are only responsible for the work identified in their prime contracts, and would be responsible for the site conditions and safety of employees involved in that work.
- Architects and engineers. An architect or engineer can be held liable for any injuries suffered by construction workers as a result of failure to meet required safety standards during the design or construction phases of a project. Depending on a designer’s or engineer’s contract with the site owner, he may bear some responsibility for an accident caused by a failure in his services.
- Manufacturers of construction equipment or machinery. If a defect in equipment or machinery causes injury to the operator or another worker, the manufacturer of the machinery could be held responsible for the resulting damage.
- Multiple parties. In some cases, all or some of the above parties could be held liable for the same accident. If, for example, equipment failure causes injury to a worker, the manufacturer of the equipment could be sued as well as the contractor who failed to identify the defect and the engineer who chose the equipment.
It's not always easy to know who's liable for the injuries you sustained on a construction site. The case depends on the cause of the accident, who else was involved, and who was directly responsible for ensuring the safety of those engaged in the particular activity.
It Will Come Down to Your Legal Representation
Determining liability for a construction accident won't be easy. You'll need an experienced construction accident attorney to evaluate the situation and identify all potentially liable parties. Construction injuries can be serious and may require expensive medical care. Securing all possible sources of compensation could be vital for achieving a complete recovery. Contact the work injury experts at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys with your construction accident questions today.
How are trucking companies held accountable for safety violations?
You see them all the time on your long-distance road trips—truck weigh stations and inspection points. But how do these random checks keep unsafe trucks and truckers off the road? The fact is, these inspections are only a small part of an ongoing system of tracking violations and holding motor carries accountable for violations and crashes. Whether an individual driver violates the law or there's evidence of more widespread violations throughout a business, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system is in place to track and intervene when a trucking company does not adhere to safety regulations.
Areas Being Measured: The BASICs
The CSA established seven categories for safety evaluation, known as the Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs). Carriers are measured in each of the following categories by the Safety Measurement System:
- Unsafe driving. Operation of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) by drivers in a dangerous or careless manner. Example violations include speeding, reckless driving, improper lane change, and inattention.
- Hours-of-Service (HOS) compliance. Operation of CMVs by drivers who are ill, fatigued, or in non-compliance with the HOS regulations.
- Driver fitness. Operation of CMVs by drivers who are unfit due to lack of training, experience, or medical qualifications. Example violations include failure to have a valid and appropriate commercial driver’s license and being medically unqualified.
- Controlled substances/alcohol. Operation of CMVs by drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription or over-the-counter medications.
- Vehicle maintenance. Failure to properly maintain a CMV and/or properly prevent shifting loads. Example violations include brakes, lights, and other mechanical defects, failure to make required repairs, and improper load securement.
- Hazardous materials compliance. Unsafe handling of hazardous materials.
- Crash indicator. Histories or patterns of high crash involvement, including frequency and severity, based on information from state-reported crashes.
How the Safety Measurement System Works
While the CSA outlines evaluation areas for carriers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also uses its Safety Measurement System (SMS) to track all of the information gathered in one place to identify carriers with recurrent or ongoing problems. The SMS tracks data on violations from roadside inspections, state-reported crashes, and the Federal motor carrier census to quantify performance. If it's determined that the safety record of a particular carrier is questionable, that carrier will be recommended for interventions.
The SMS considers the following:
- The number of safety violations and inspections
- The severity of safety violations or crashes
- When the safety violations occurred, with recent events weighted more heavily
- The number of trucks/buses a carrier operates and the number of vehicle miles traveled
- Acute and Critical Violations found during investigations
After a measurement is complete, the carrier is then placed in a group with other carriers with similar numbers of inspections. Percentiles from 0-to-100 are then determined by comparing the BASIC measurements of the carrier to the measurements of other carriers in the peer group. A percentile of 100 indicates the worst performance. The SMS then decides the best type of intervention based on their safety problems.
Based on data gathered by the SMS, the CSA takes appropriate action against problematic carriers to see to it that they improve their safety records or face severe consequences.
Possible interventions include the following, in order of action:
- Warning letter
- Targeted roadside inspection
- Offsite investigation
- Onsite focused investigation
- Onsite comprehensive investigation
- Implementation of a Cooperative Safety Plan
- Notice of Violation
- Notice of Claim
- Operation Out-of-Service Order
The final step, the Out-of-Service Order, shuts down a motor carrier’s operation completely.
How We Can Use the SMS to Help Your Truck Crash Injury Claim
If you were injured by a negligent truck driver or trucking company, we'll fully investigate the possible causes of the crash and the potential liable parties. This investigation may include a look at the carrier’s Safety Measurement System data to see if it or their drivers have significant violations. When you're fighting a big trucking company, you need experienced truck accident attorneys on your side. Contact us online or call us directly at 816.471.5111 for your free consultation today.
How much does it cost for long-term care of a spinal cord injury?
One of the most devastating outcomes of a serious car or truck accident is a spinal cord injury (SCI) that leaves a victim paralyzed. This kind of catastrophic injury requires the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the astronomical costs of such an injury and will fight to get the maximum compensation possible from all liable parties.
Many advances have been made in the care and assistance available to those suffering from an SCI, but they all come at a cost. Learn more about what you or your loved one will need to live your best life following an SCI caused by a car or truck accident.
Caring for an SCI Survivor
Every year, an estimated 17,000 people survive a spinal cord injury and require treatment and care. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, the majority of these injuries—about 38 percent—are the result of motor vehicle accidents. While the treatment and follow-up care needed varies according to the severity of the injury, medical expenses can easily exceed $500,000 in the first year alone.
Victims and their families can expect to incur the following expenses:
- Emergency services. The medical care needed immediately after the accident may include an air ambulance, use of a specialized trauma center, and life-saving surgical procedures.
- Spinal surgery. Additional surgeries may be required for spinal stabilization, spinal fusion, and respiratory care.
- Rehabilitation. Most SCI victims require a period of rehabilitation to regain some function or to learn to use assistive devices.
- Long-term care. Severe cases may require moving to an assisted living facility or bringing in home healthcare workers.
- Medical equipment. Wheelchairs, respirators, and other assistive devices will be necessary for almost all SCI victims.
- Medications. Antibiotics to fight infection and painkillers will be required by many patients as they recover or for the rest of their lives.
An attorney experienced with catastrophic injuries such as an SCI knows that the cost of the initial medical interventions is only a small part of what will be needed to make the victim “whole.” That is why an attorney may wait until the prognosis is clear. Only at that point can he know what kind of a settlement he needs to try to negotiate.
Estimated Lifetime Costs of an SCI
According to the Christopher & Dana Reed Foundation, the average costs associated with an SCI vary greatly depending on the particular injury. Nearly half of all new SCI cases each year result in incomplete tetraplegia, an injury which affects all four limbs, but the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost and some sensation and movement is possible below the level of injury. Twenty percent of SCIs result in incomplete paraplegia, meaning functioning below the waist is affected.
The foundation estimates the following costs for each type of injury:
- Tetraplegia originating in the upper spine: $1,064,716 for the first year, $184,891 a year for each subsequent year.
- Tetraplegia originating below the neck: $769,351 for the first year, $113,423 a year for each subsequent year.
- Paraplegia: $518,904 for the first year, $68,739 a year for each subsequent year.
The lifetime expenses for a 25-year-old who suffers a high-level spinal cord injury can reach nearly $5 million. A 25-year-old whose SCI results in paraplegia can expect lifetime expenses exceeding $2 million. These figures don't account for the victim’s loss of ability to earn a living due to his or her injuries. These losses average an additional $72,000 per year.
A Catastrophic Injury Attorney Can Make Sure Your Needs Are Met
When you or a loved one suffers a spinal cord injury in a car or truck crash that was not the victim’s fault, you need an attorney who knows what your family requres to live the best possible life with partial or total paralysis. These negotiations can take time, but given the costs victims face, it'll be worth the wait. Contact us at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys to learn more about spinal cord injury claims.
How much motorcycle insurance should I carry?
The quick answer to this question is that you should carry as much liability, personal injury protection, and uninsured motorist coverage for your motorcycle as you can afford. Since many people hesitate to pay a lot for insurance coverage because they don’t intend to be injured in an accident, we'll explain why it's so important to carry the maximum coverage you can afford.
Insurance Laws and Fault Differ by State
At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we're proud to serve the residents of both Kansas and Missouri in their motorcycle accident claims. However, residents should understand that laws regarding fault in motor vehicle crashes as well as insurance requirements differ according to the state in which your vehicle is registered. We'll discuss the laws and your options in each state individually.
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements in Kansas
Kansas is one of a dozen states that follows a no-fault car and motorcycle insurance system. Under this system, it doesn’t matter who is at fault in an accident—a motorcycle rider’s insurance policy will cover his or her medical expenses. That's why it's especially important to carry adequate insurance to cover the injuries and recovery that could result from a motorcycle crash. Under Kansas law, motorcycle owners are required to carry certain minimum coverages for personal protection (or no-fault), liability, and uninsured motorist coverage.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
The first coverage tapped after your motorcycle crash is your PIP coverage. The minimum amount you're required to carry by law includes the following:
- $4,500/person for medical expenses
- $900/month for one year for disability/loss of income
- $25/day for in-home services
- $2,000 for funeral, burial, or cremation expense
- $4,500 for rehabilitation expense
- Survivor Benefits: Disability/loss of income up to $900/month for one year
Injuries resulting from a motorcycle crash can be catastrophic and require thousands of dollars in medical care and years of recovery and rehabilitation. Keep in mind these minimum coverages will clearly not be enough to get you through your accident recovery
Even though Kansas is a no fault state, if you suffer serious bodily injury, you may sue the other driver for coverage once you have used up your personal injury protection coverage. Under Kansas law, a serious injury is one that causes permanent disfigurement; fracture of weight-bearing bone; compound, comminuted, compressed, or displaced fracture of any bone; permanent injury; or permanent loss of a body function.
Every driver in Kansas is required to carry liability insurance in the following amounts:
- $25,000/person for bodily injury
- $50,000/accident for bodily injury
- $10,000/accident for property damage
The victim of a motorcycle accident can suffer injuries requiring more than $25,000 in medical care, so if the at-fault driver is carrying the minimum coverage, you'll be even more reliant upon your PIP coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
If the at-fault driver in your motorcycle crash is uninsured, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay for medical expenses. Minimum coverage in Kansas is as follows:
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements in Missouri
Unlike Kansas, Missouri is a fault state, which means once fault is determined and assigned to a driver in an accident, that driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying the medical costs of the victims. Fault can be shared in Missouri as well, so if it's determined that each driver contributed in some way to the crash, they'll each be responsible for some percentage of the damages. Minimum insurance requirements in Missouri, like Kansas, will likely also be inadequate to cover catastrophic injuries resulting from a motorcycle crash.
In Missouri, you must carry the following minimum coverage amounts to pay the victim of the crash for his or her medical expenses if you're determined to be at fault in an accident:
- $25,000/person for bodily injury
- $50,000/accident for bodily injury
- $10,000/accident for property
As the victim of a negligent driver who is carrying the state minimum, you won't be able to collect nearly enough to cover your medical costs. This is why the state also requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist insurance.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If your medical costs exceed the liability coverage of the at-fault driver, you will have additional coverage from you own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
State minimums are as follows:
- $25,000/person for bodily injury
- $50,000/accident for bodily injury
This additional amount will help, but still inadequate to pay all of your expenses if you suffer a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury.
How Much Insurance Should You Carry?
Insurance laws in Kansas and Missouri are the same for car owners as they are motorcycles owners, despite the potential for much greater injuries in a motorcycle crash. Determining how much insurance you should carry above your state’s minimum depends in large part on what you can afford.
However, knowing that a serious motorcycle accident can lead to permanent and catastrophic injury, it's not difficult to calculate what you may need. In a no-fault state like Kansas, if you have excellent health insurance coverage, you may not need to increase your PIP coverage. Most insurers recommend carrying liability insurance of $150,000 per person/$300,000 per accident to protect other assets such as your home if you are at fault in an accident. The bottom line is to discuss all of your options with your insurance agent and purchase the maximum amount you can afford.
Regardless of Your Coverage, We Can Help With Your Accident Claim
As a motorcyclist, the system often works against you. We understand that. If you're the victim of a crash that was someone else’s fault, contact our motorcycle crash attorneys today. We'll seek maximum damages, no matter what kind of insurance the other driver carries.
- States With All-Rider Helmet Laws See Fewer Motorcycle Deaths
- Seven Myths About Motorcycle Safety
- Safe Motorcycle Riding Practices for Rallies and Group Rides