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.
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I was injured working in a big box store over the holidays. Can I get workers’ comp?
Many people pick up extra work over the holidays. Stores need temporary workers to meet the demands of shoppers, and qualified workers are happy to pick up extra hours and make a little more cash for their own holiday shopping. Whether you are a student home on break, a part-time worker picking up extra hours, or a stay-at-home parent supplementing the household income, seasonal work can be very helpful at this time of year. However, the work is not always easy and the kinds of jobs offered to temporary workers over the holidays can lead to on-the-job injuries. If this happens, you need to be aware of your right to collect worker’s compensation.
What Is Worker’s Compensation?
Often referred to as workers’ comp, this is an insurance program that most employers in Kansas and Missouri are required by law to provide to their employees. If a worker is injured or disabled while performing his or her job duties, he or she may make a claim and will be paid benefits to cover medical expenses and partial lost wages. In both Missouri and Kansas, all workers, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees, are covered by workers’ comp.
How Seasonal Workers Are Likely to Be Injured
The most common seasonal jobs are in the retail industry. Inexperienced temporary workers are often assigned to restocking tasks and they are rarely trained adequately in the safest procedures to avoid injury. As a result, seasonal retail workers are prone to overexertion injuries caused by lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing, holding, and carrying. Temporary cashiers are exposed to repetitive-use injuries caused by retrieving and scanning items for long stretches of time. Other seasonal work includes assisting with package deliveries, loading large items into cars, working on Christmas tree lots, and doing light assembly—all of which can lead to similar overexertion and repetitive-use injuries. Just because your job ends with the new year doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to medical care if you are injured on the job.
What to Do If You Are Injured on the Job
In order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits when you are injured at work, you must follow these steps:
- Get medical attention as soon as possible
- Notify your employer immediately
- Fill out a workers’ compensation claim form
- Make an appointment with a doctor designated by your employer
- Seek legal assistance if your employer does not cooperate at any stage of the claim
At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we understand your rights as a seasonal employee, even if your employer doesn’t. If your claim meets with resistance from your employer, contact one of our Kansas City-area offices. We will make sure your rights are respected.
Who is most likely to drive under the influence of drugs?
When you picture a drunk driver, you probably picture a young guy leaving a bar on a Friday night, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Statistically, that is the typical drunk driver, although there are always exceptions. Profiling a drugged driver, however, is a little trickier.
As recent data has shown, people driving while under the influence of various drugs—both illicit substances and legal medications—is on the rise and the impairments they experience are very similar to those of drunk drivers. But who is most likely to drive while on drugs? You might be surprised to find out.
Who Takes Drugs and Drives?
In general, drugged driving trends are similar to drunk driving trends. More men than women tend to drive under the influence of drugs, and more young drivers, ages 18 to 24, are guilty of the dangerous practice. However, many of the drivers involved in accidents while under the influence of legal medications or prescription drugs, which can impair driving just as much as alcohol or illegal drugs, are over the age of 50. Consider the following facts:
- In 2010, over 25 percent of drugged drivers in fatal accidents were age 50 and older.
- Illicit drug use among people aged 50 to 59 has doubled in recent years.
- 90 percent of people over the age of 65 take one or more prescription drug and nearly 40 percent take five or more.
- Older adults are more likely to make mistakes with prescriptions that could lead to unintentional intoxication.
The most common prescription drugs found in people involved in fatal accidents include Xanax, Vicodin, OxyContin, and Valium. Young people are much more likely to drive under the influence of illegal drugs than prescription drugs, most commonly marijuana. Surveys of younger drivers have found the following startling results:
- In one study, 12.4 percent of high school seniors report that they drove after smoking pot at least once in the two weeks before the survey.
- In a study of college students with cars, 17 percent reported driving under the influence of a drug other than alcohol. Of those, over 30 percent reported doing so over 10 times in the previous year.
Given these statistics, the likelihood that you are sharing the road with a drugged driver is high. If you are in an accident, the responding officer will have no way to test the at-fault driver for drugs other than alcohol, and he may not be held responsible for his actions. If you suspect this has happened, start a live chat with us now to see how we can help.
Who is entitled to file a wrongful death suit in Kansas and Missouri?
Many people can be deeply affected by someone’s untimely death. Of course, immediate family members are usually the people who most feel the loss, but other relatives, close friends, and even co-workers or employees can suffer emotionally and financially because of the death. When the death is caused by the negligent or intentional actions of another person, legal action may be pursued in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. However, state law is very clear about just who is entitled to file such a claim and who is not.
What Missouri Says About Wrongful Death
The Missouri wrongful death statute outlines a very specific list of people who may file a suit. The statute also makes it clear that only one person may file a suit against one defendant for the death of a person. In the first group of eligible plaintiffs are the following:
- Spouse of the deceased
- Children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, of the deceased
- Grandchildren of the deceased, if the children of the deceased are also deceased
- Father or mother of the deceased, natural or adopted
If there is no one in any of these categories to file suit, then the following family members may take action:
- Brother or sister of the deceased
- Descendants of siblings of the deceased
- In both cases, the plaintiffs must prove that they will suffer financial or emotional loss because of the death
Finally, if there is no one in either of these groups to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the court may appoint a plaintiff ad litem chosen from any applicants who feel they have a legitimate claim to proceeds from the suit. It is important to note that stepchildren are not permitted under Missouri law to file a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of a stepparent.
Kansas Statute Is a Little More Restrictive
The Kansas statute governing wrongful death claims is short and sweet: “The action may be commenced by any one of the heirs at law of the deceased who has sustained a loss by a reason of the death.” An heir, according to Kansas law, is one who takes intestate succession, so if the deceased leaves behind a spouse or children, the parents and siblings of the deceased are not eligible to make a claim. Unlike in Missouri, where a biological connection is enough, in Kansas, the plaintiffs must also be financial dependents who will be harmed by the loss.
Don’t Try to Figure it Out on Your Own
If you have lost a loved one at the hands of someone else’s negligent or criminal actions and are not sure if you’re eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, contact our office to get your questions answered. Click on our live chat link now.
How can hospitals protect workers from back injuries while lifting patients?
If you are a healthcare worker, you know that it’s very difficult to do your job without moving or lifting a patient. Assisting patients to the bathroom, shifting them to change bedding, taking them out of the room for tests, and helping them when they have fallen are all tasks you face every day. It’s no wonder that twice as many healthcare workers are injured on the job than workers in any other industry. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospital orderlies suffer more musculoskeletal injuries each year than firefighters and nurses’ assistants are injured on the job more often than police officers and correctional officers.
Safer Patient Handling Would Reduce Injury Rates Significantly
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 34 percent of all reported healthcare worker injuries are a direct result of patient handling. As healthcare workers age and as obesity rates among patients increase, these injuries will just become more frequent. There are things hospitals and nursing homes can do, however, to protect workers. The three most effective interventions include:
- Patient lifts. Special machinery designed to lift patients, lifts may be portable so that they can be wheeled from room to room or they may be permanently affixed to the ceiling above a patient’s bed. Hospitals that use this equipment report a drastic reduction in worker injuries, but not all hospitals have the devices available to workers.
- Lifting sheets. Mobility and transfer sheets are a less costly option for moving patients, but require multiple staff members to use them safely. These bed pads are designed to be slick so that patients can be easily slid from one side of the bed to the other and have handles on the sides so that four or more assistants can lift the patient to transfer him to another bed.
- Lift teams. Many hospitals have had success by implementing lift teams. Lift teams are groups of hospital personnel assigned to do all patient lifting and moving. Specially trained and provided with assistive devices, these teams are called in as needed and have resulted in fewer injuries.
If You Injured Your Back While Doing Your Job, We Can Help
As experienced workers’ compensation attorneys, we are here for you if you are a healthcare worker injured on the job. We know you are devoted to patient care, but you shouldn’t suffer as a result. Call us now to see how we can help.
How can I help my loved one accept his spinal cord injury diagnosis?
You thought the hardest part was hearing the news of the crash that left your loved one seriously injured. Once you learned that he had survived, you believed it could only get better. After a diagnosis of partial paralysis due to a spinal cord injury, however, both of your lives got much harder. After finding out all you can about the injury from his medical team, finding ways to help your loved one come to terms with his injury can make life a little easier for both of you.
Accepting the Diagnosis
As with any loss or traumatic experience, a debilitating injury requires the victim to work through the stages of loss and grief. It is important that you support your loved one as he progresses through the following stages:
- Denial. Victims of paralysis often refuse to believe the doctors when they are first told of their prognosis. This reaction is a very common defense mechanism that is actually serving to protect the victim from the initial shock.
- Anger. Once the victim begins to accept his or her new reality, the next response is often anger. The anger may be directed at the doctor or it may come down on family and caregivers.
- Bargaining. In an effort to regain control, the victim may go through a stage in which he or she attempts to make deals with family members, doctors, or even God to undo the damage that has been done.
- Depression. It is easy for a victim of traumatic injury to get stuck in this stage of grief. Feelings of hopelessness and frustration can be overwhelming. A great deal of support and professional help will be needed to move through this stage.
- Acceptance. Hopefully, the victim is eventually able to accept his or her situation and can begin to move forward in his or her rehabilitation and recovery.
There is no standard timeline for an accident victim to come to terms with his condition, so it is important that you are patient with him and seek outside help whenever you feel that progress is not being made.
Once a spinal cord injury victim has accepted his prognosis, you can offer support in the following ways:
- Empower him and yourself by gathering as much information about your specific injury and prognosis as possible.
- Check out local and national support groups such as the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.
- Avoid random Internet surfing for information. You will come across a lot of misinformation that could be discouraging and delay progress.
Let Us Help With the Rest
You will have enough on your plate helping your loved one accept his injury and make a plan for recovery. Let the attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury take care of seeking the justice and monetary award he deserves from the negligent driver who caused the crash and his spinal cord injury. Our experienced car crash attorneys are here to help you.
How can a car crash result in a spinal cord injury?
When you or a loved one suffers a spinal cord injury in a car crash, it probably doesn’t matter a great deal to you how it happened. You are focused on recovery and facing a future of permanent impairment. However, when it’s time to look into seeking a recovery for an accident that was not your fault, how the injury occurred could become very important.
Your Spinal Cord Is Vulnerable in a Crash
While it may seem obvious that traumatic injuries are a likely outcome of high-speed, violent crashes, spinal cord damage can also be caused by less dramatic accidents. The following are examples of accidents and failures that could lead to a spinal cord injury:
- Rollovers. Most common in SUVs with a high center of gravity, rollovers are the likeliest cause of spinal cord injury in car accident victims. If the roof collapses, it can come in contact with the occupants’ head, neck, and spine even if they are wearing their seatbelts.
- Seatbelt failures. Faulty seatbelt design can lead to seatbelts that rip apart, don’t fit tightly enough, or unlatch during impact. If this happens, the occupant can be thrown about the car, or even out of the vehicle, where the impact can damage the spine.
- Power windows. Power windows do not retract when they come in contact with an object. As a result, young children suffer serious neck injuries every year by being caught in a closing window.
- Seat back collapse. A faulty seat back can collapse on impact, either causing the occupant to be thrown from the vehicle or crushing the occupant’s back as it collapses.
- Suspension defects. Suspension defects can affect the steering, causing the driver to lose control and crash.
- Tire tread separation. When tire treads separate unexpectedly, the driver can lose control of the car. looking at legal action against a negligent driver or against a manufacturer for a defective product. Either way, the attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys can help you. Call today for a free consultation.
How should my employer make sure I am safe when working with dangerous substances?
Knowing what we know now about the dangers of asbestos, it’s hard to believe that workers once handled the material with no protection and no concern for their own safety. It makes you wonder—what is the next asbestos? Is there a material we are working with today that will prove to be deadly down the road? There may be no way to know that, but we can make sure that all precautions are taken whenever workers are handling potentially harmful substances. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers guidelines for controlling exposure to toxic substances and chemical hazards that every employer should be aware of.
OSHA’s Recommendations for Controlling Exposure
The best case scenario, according to OSHA, is to eliminate the dangerous material from the workplace altogether by finding an alternate method of production or a substitute, safer, material. If that is not possible, the next step is to limit exposure. OSHA’s recommendations are in the form of a pyramid or hierarchy of desirable steps for worker protection as follows:
- Elimination or substitution. Through careful consideration, testing, and evaluation, employers may be able to find alternative materials that are safer for their employees and save them money in healthcare and workers’ compensation costs later on.
- Physical changes to the workplace. If elimination of the material is not possible, employers should implement changes to the way the material is handled. Contact with the substance should be minimized or isolated. Wet methods may be used with substances that create dangerous dust or other particulates. Finally, ventilation and fume hoods can reduce exposure to harmful gases.
- Work practice controls. Limiting exposure to an individual worker by rotating employees through more dangerous jobs and adjusting schedules to limit contact should be considered.
- Personal protection equipment. If there is no way around employees handling the dangerous material, then employers must make sure they are provided with state-of-the-art protective equipment such as chemical protective clothing, respiratory protection, gloves, and eye protection.
If you believe you may have contracted a serious illness due to exposure to toxic materials in the workplace, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys. Put our years of experience working with victims of workplace negligence to work for you. Call us now at (888) 348-2616.
What can I do to make sure I’m as safe as possible on my motorcycle?
Every motorcyclist knows the dangers he or she faces out on the road: being cut off by cars entering from side streets, potholes and soft shoulders, wet or icy pavement, shoddy safety equipment, semi-truck drivers that don’t see them—the list goes on. What can a driver do to stay safe? For one thing, they can avoid risky behaviors as they ride. For another, they can check out these safety recommendations.
Safety Measures Bikers Should Take
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), nearly 5,000 motorcyclists are killed in crashes each year. That’s 56 riders per every 100,000 registered motorcycles, compared to only nine drivers killed per 100,000 registered passenger cars. In their recent report, the III identified the following four safety recommendations that, if heeded, could save lives:
- Motorcycle Training Courses. Taking a motorcycle training course can make all the difference. Many hazards to riders can be avoided with skilled riding. Knowing when and how to accelerate out of dangerous situations, how to maneuver your bike around obstacles, and how to stop a fast, heavy bike on a dime can all be life-saving skills. Training courses also stress the importance of helmets and safety gear.
- Antilock Braking Systems (ABS). Because motorcycles have front and rear brakes that operate independently of each other, it is easy to lock the brakes and flip a bike. With ABS, the rider can brake as hard as he needs without locking up the brakes. The proof of the effectiveness of this fairly new safety feature is in the numbers: bikes with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash and 30 percent less likely to have a collision claim in the first 90 days of an insurance policy than bikes without ABS.
- Helmets. The importance of wearing a helmet cannot be overstated. It is estimated that, in 2013, helmets saved 1,630 lives. An additional 715 riders would have been saved by wearing a helmet. Given the hazards you are already facing on the road, this life-saving gear is a no-brainer.
- State Helmet Laws. No one likes to be told what to do, but the fact is that in states that require helmet use, 89 percent of riders wear a helmet. In states with no law, only 48 percent wear helmets. While Missouri does have a universal helmet law, Kansas does not. Make the right choice and wear a helmet.
We Are the Experts
If you have done everything you can to be as safe as possible on your motorcycle and are still injured by someone else’s carelessness, call the motorcycle accident experts at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys. We know bikers and we know the law. Contact us now.
Are there ways my employer could have prevented my crane accident?
Crane accidents are common on construction sites and are one of the leading causes of construction workers’ deaths. Sadly, many of these tragedies could be prevented if employers implemented the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) safety guidelines for crane operations.
12 Safety Practices That Would Prevent Crane Workers’ Injuries
While employers may not be able to eliminate all crane-related injuries, they can take steps to reduce the number and severity of these accidents. Twelve OSHA guidelines they need to follow include:
- An inspector should inspect the crane thoroughly for any mechanical problems before it is used.
- All cranes should be inspected more comprehensively on a regular basis for cracks, faulty wiring, worn ropes, and defective parts that could lead to an accident.
- All repairs should be performed by a qualified repair person.
- Cranes should always be placed on a flat and level surface at least 10 feet from electrical cables.
- Cranes should not carry loads beyond their weight capacity. It is safest to limit the load to no more than 75 percent of the crane’s tipping weight.
- Fences should be installed around the construction site to prevent outsiders from going near the crane.
- The crane’s safety devices, such as the level operator, must be in good working condition whenever the crane is being used.
- A qualified “signal” person should help the crane operator maneuver the loads.
- Crew working at least six feet above the ground should use a fall protection system.
- A qualified “rigger” should set all loads to ensure the loads do not become loose and fall onto other workers.
- The crane manufacturer or an engineer should design the foundation for the crane tower and any other structural supports.
- Crane operators should consider the wind as a major safety concern as it is the leading cause of crane accidents.
If your employer did not follow these OSHA guidelines, it could have contributed to your crane accident and injuries. However, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits while you are off work healing. Start an online chat to schedule a free consultation to learn about your important worker rights.
Are there ways my employer could reduce janitorial workers’ injuries on the job?
If you are a janitorial worker, you face the risk of many injuries or illnesses on the job from slip and fall accidents, performing the same repetitive motions while cleaning, and being exposed to hazardous chemicals and infectious diseases. However, your employer could take steps to make your workplace safer and reduce the likelihood that you could be injured and need to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Three Ways Employers Could Provide a Safer Workplace for Custodial Workers
Employers could develop safer, more ergonomic ways for janitorial workers to perform their work—reducing the hazards for workers and the high costs of injuries for workers and employers. Ways employers could reduce workers’ injuries include:
- Chemical hazards. Workers need to be trained regularly in the hazards of the cleaning chemicals they use, how to use them safely, and the dangers of improperly mixing cleaning chemicals. In addition, employers need to provide proper safety equipment to prevent workers from inhaling dangerous fumes or exposing their skin to chemicals.
- Repetitive motion and overexertion. Employers could reduce the risk of repetitive motion and overexertion injuries by using lighter, microfiber head mops, adjustable mop poles, bottom-draining buckets, and buckets that can be filled with a hose. In addition, “no-touch” cleaning systems, such as movable tanks and carts of water, and newer, more lightweight vacuum cleaners could prevent musculoskeletal disorders.
- Slips and falls. Employers need to ensure that passageways and storerooms are kept free of debris. Signs and other warning systems should be used where slip and fall hazards are present. In addition, employers should provide workers with slip-resistant footwear and a reasonable workload that does not require them to unnecessarily rush to get to the next task.
If you are a janitorial worker injured at your job, do not delay in seeking the workers’ compensation benefits you could be entitled to. Call us at (888) 348-2616 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.