It's hard to imagine the sheer magnitude of life-altering events that follow a truck accident. The pain, the confusion, and the overwhelming legal complexities can feel like a heavy burden to bear. We understand. At Hinrichs & Scott Injury Trial Lawyers, we've dedicated our practice to easing such burdens for victims in Kansas City, Missouri, and throughout Missouri and Kansas counties. Our commitment is to guide you, providing comfort, clarity, and professional counsel throughout the process.
Legal Guidance You Can Count On
Laws Affecting Truck Accidents in Missouri & Kansas
Truck accidents fall under a complex network of both federal and state regulations. One key federal regulation is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), which govern hours of operation, vehicle maintenance, driver qualifications, and cargo securement. These regulations play a pivotal role in ensuring safety in commercial trucking operations, and any violations can significantly impact liability in a truck accident case.
Missouri's Truck Regulations
Truck drivers in our state are governed by both federal and state laws. These rules cover a wide array of areas, including the hours of service, weight limits, equipment maintenance, and insurance requirements.
Hours of Service: One of the key federal laws that Missouri truck drivers must follow relates to the hours of service. This law dictates how long a truck driver can operate their vehicle without taking a break. For property-carrying drivers, they're limited to 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty. Moreover, these drivers can't drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Weight Limits: Missouri also has specific weight limits for commercial vehicles. These include restrictions on single axle, tandem axle, tridem axle, and gross weight limits.
Equipment Maintenance: Another critical aspect of Missouri's truck regulations involves the regular inspection and maintenance of vehicles. Truck drivers are required to carry out routine checks on their vehicles and keep detailed records of inspections, repairs, and lubrication.
Insurance Requirements: Missouri law also mandates specific insurance requirements for commercial trucks. These include coverage for bodily injury and property damage. Having adequate insurance is crucial as it provides financial protection in the event of a trucking accident.
Kansas Truck Regulations
As personal injury lawyers, we understand how important it is to be familiar with the rules of the road. In Kansas, regulations regarding trucks are comprehensive and designed to ensure the safety of all road users.
Hours of Service: Kansas adheres to federal laws regarding the hours of service. For property-carrying drivers, shifts are limited to 11 hours after 10 hours off duty. Passenger-carrying drivers are limited to 10-hour shifts with 8 hours of rest between shifts.
Weight Limits: Kansas also has specific weight limits for commercial vehicles. The limits vary depending on the type of axle.
Equipment Maintenance and Inspection: Regular inspection and maintenance of vehicles are critical aspects of Kansas's truck regulations. Truck drivers must maintain detailed records of inspections, repairs, lubrication, and tests conducted on emergency exits in buses.
Drug and Alcohol Testing: Kansas has strict regulations regarding drug and alcohol testing for truck drivers. These rules are designed to promote safety on the road and prevent accidents caused by impaired driving.
Insurance Requirements: Kansas law mandates specific insurance requirements for commercial trucks. These include coverage for bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, rehabilitation, funeral expenses, loss of income and disability, and in-home services.
Damages in a Trucking Accident
If you've been injured in a trucking accident, you may be entitled to both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can cover your medical expenses, property damage, and loss of earnings. Non-economic damages provide compensation for pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Statute of Limitations
The statutes of limitations in Missouri and Kansas dictate the timeframe within which a personal injury claim must be filed. In Missouri, this timeframe is generally five years from the date of the accident, while in Kansas, it's typically two years. It's crucial to comply with these statutes to ensure your claim remains valid.
Who Can Be Liable?
Determining liability in a truck accident case can be complex, as several parties could potentially bear some responsibility. The following parties may be held liable:
The Truck Driver: A driver's negligence, such as driving while fatigued, under the influence, or distracted, can contribute to an accident. Violating traffic laws or regulations related to commercial driving can also result in the driver being held liable.
The Trucking Company: The company that employs the truck driver can also be held responsible for an accident. This can be due to their failure to properly train the driver, enforce safety regulations, or adequately maintain their fleet of vehicles.
The Cargo Shipper and Loader: If improperly loaded or unsecured cargo contributes to an accident, the party responsible for loading the truck could be held accountable. This could be the shipper who contracted the trucking company, or it could be a third-party loader.
The Truck and Parts Manufacturer: If a defect in the truck or one of its components caused or contributed to the accident, the manufacturer of the truck or the faulty part could be held liable for any resulting damages.
Local Government or Maintenance Contractors: If poor road conditions or inadequate signage played a role in the accident, the local government entity responsible for maintaining the roads—or a contractor they hired—could potentially be held liable.
Factors in Determining Liability
Several factors come into play when determining liability. For the truck driver, fatigue, and inadequate training are common issues. Other vehicle drivers' actions may also contribute to an accident. Road conditions, including weather and road design, can play a significant role as well.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Whether you're the victim of a truck accident or representing a loved one who was incapacitated or lost their life, it's crucial to understand the steps involved in filing a personal injury claim. This process includes gathering evidence, obtaining witness statements, seeking medical attention, and consulting with a personal injury attorney.
Truck Accident Attorneys Serving Kansas City
At Hinrichs & Scott Injury Trial Lawyers, we're committed to serving the victims of truck accidents in Kansas City and surrounding areas. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys understands the intricacies of Missouri and Kansas laws governing truck accidents. We fight for your rights and work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.