Schmitt Mulhern, LLC

Kansas City Personal Injury Law Blog

Distracted drivers are increasing your car insurance premiums

Distracted driving is an epidemic. More and more people are finding more and more ways to multitask behind the wheel, and it's putting us all at risk.

But there is another problem with distracted driving, and it has to do with the financial side of things: Insurance premiums are going up - and people who engage in distracted driving are partly to blame.

Commercial truckers put Missouri motorists at risk

Behaviors that are obviously dangerous for cars and SUVs are even worse for commercial trucks. The sheer size of a semi-truck amplifies common hazards, such as stop-and-go traffic, poor weather conditions, objects in the roads and other adverse conditions.

Lower speeds are always advisable, especially for large trucks. This was made clear in a 2012 American Transportation Research Institute study that linked reduced speed with fewer crashes.

Despite the research, far too many commercial vehicle drivers continue to drive above the speed limit. Their reckless behavior puts all other drivers - and their passengers - at risk. The Missouri State Highway Patrol Statistical Analysis Center reported that 109 people died and 3,185 were injured in commercial vehicle crashes in 2014. While these numbers are slightly fewer than in previous years, there is much room for improved safety on roads in the state.

Boredom is a big risk on the highway

Many people think aggressive drivers who are very engaged with the experience are the ones who pose the greatest risk. They tend to speed, pass when there's just barely enough room and do other things of this nature.

Of course, aggressive drivers can cause accidents and they do every day. However, one study found that one of the biggest risk factors was just the opposite: boredom. Drivers who were bored behind the wheel caused 1.5 more crashes than others.

How long can a trucker legally drive?

If you've been in an accident with a commercial vehicle, like a semi truck, and you found out that the driver caused it by nodding off behind the wheel, you've probably found yourself wondering just how long that trucker was driving. Had he or she been on the road endlessly, trying to make deadlines, until it was just a matter of time before an accident happened?

While this is absolutely possible and does happen, it's also worth noting that it's illegal for truckers to drive over certain amounts of time.

Crossing a deadly threshold for car accidents

In 1963, the United States saw more than 40,000 people killed in motor vehicle accidents. Unsurprisingly, Americans traveled more miles by car that year than any year before, more than 805 billion miles. Total car accident fatalities only fell below the 40,000 mark once between 1963 and 2007. Then, starting in 2008, the U.S. began an unprecedented run of eight years with fewer than 40,000 fatalities. That is despite Americans driving more 2,950 billion miles in each of those years. Unfortunately, the run of lower fatalities has ended. In 2016, deaths on U.S. roads once again rose over the 40,000 mark, according to the National Safety Council.

Unsafe driving habits to blame

The increase in fatal crashes has led some experts to call for renewed emphasis on preventing texting and driving. The NSC released a survey reporting that nearly half of all drivers are comfortable texting while driving. Multiple studies have demonstrated that texting and driving is an unsafe activity. Still, motorists are more likely to text and drive than engage in other unsafe activities, including drinking and driving, speeding on residential streets and driving or riding without a seatbelt. 

Who is liable if you're hit by a driver on a test drive?

You're just driving across town, running errands, when another driver runs a stop sign and hits the front corner of your car. You get rushed to the hospital and don't see the aftermath of the crash for long, but you later find out that driver wasn't even in his or her own vehicle. The driver was on a test drive, in a car owned by a local dealership. Who's liable?

Typically, the driver is still liable, just like he or she would be in a normal accident. That driver still ran the stop sign and caused the crash. If you're trying to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other costs, you're going to take that driver to court. Test drive accidents are often viewed the same way the authorities look at rental car accidents.

5 things to know about motorcycle defects

With Groundhog Day in the rear-view mirror, better weather for riding your motorcycle is in sight.

How can you be sure, however, that your motorcycle doesn't have a defect that could increase the risk of an accident? And if you did get into an accident that may have been caused by a defect, what claims could you bring?

Here are five things to know as you consider these questions.

When the shelves come tumbling down

warehouse-T.JPGOne of the big ideas in retailing in the last 20 years has been the warehouse store. The idea is that, by combining stacked-high storage with aisle shopping, the store is more efficient and merchandise costs less.

A good business idea poses dangers to shoppers

Today there are hundreds of warehouse stores in our region: Walmart, Staples, Sam's Club, Lowe's, Costco, major grocery chain outlets, home centers and other "big box" stores.

There is only one problem with the warehouse retail idea: gravity. Warehouse stories have higher ceilings, to accommodate pallets of merchandise stacked above eye level. Most of the time these towers of merchandise are quite safe.

Occasionally, however, they come tumbling down. Because of the enormous weight of shelving and merchandise, people are killed or catastrophically injured - paralyzed, brain-damaged or crushed.

Complications from a broken leg

If you're involved in a car accident, a broken leg may seem like a relatively minor injury compared to what could have happened. Yes, it's painful and can take months to heal, but you escaped without a head injury or other more serious issues.

However, it is important to note that there can be significant complications that can make a broken bone a bit more serious than it first appeared. Some examples include:

Crush syndrome - a catastrophic injury

anvil-T.JPGThere is a class of injuries that are daunting even to skilled orthopedic surgeons. They are called severe compression injuries, or crush syndrome.

The most severe cases of crush syndrome occur after earthquakes. Buildings collapse and people are smashed under the weight of concrete and steel. But crushings occur in more everyday settings as well:

  • When a person is caught between two large objects, like a car backing into a parking space.
  • When a person is run over.
  • When an elevator car falls.
  • When a worker is caught by an industrial machine, like a stamping press.
  • In cave-ins at construction and excavation sites.
  • When heavy objects fall on a person - merchandise in a warehouse store, or a roof collapse.
  • Multiple crushed bones can also occur when an individual falls from a significant height.

Consequences of crush injuries

Crushing accidents often result in death. It is not unusual to have to amputate hands, legs and arms to save the individual. When the entire body suffers this trauma, surgeons must meticulously restructure skeletal and organ systems, sometimes requiring many operations.

Ben Schmitt

Attorney Ben Schmitt

Mr. Schmitt has over 25 years of legal experience in Missouri and Kansas, and he has been first chair in over 100 jury trials in state and federal courts. He is recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal, Super Lawyers, Avvo.com and Martindale Hubbell as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.

Matt Mulhern

Attorney Matt Mulhern

Mr. Mulhern has over 25 years of legal experience and a 100 percent success rate arguing before the Missouri Court of Appeals. He has a unique knowledge of the inner workings of insurance companies and how they will dispute your injury claim. He practices in both Missouri and Kansas.