Archive for January, 2011

Distracted Driving vs. Drunk Driving: Which Is a Greater Risk of Causing Fatal Auto Accidents in Kansas?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Most people have known for years that drunk drivers exact an enormous toll in the form of loss of life, permanent injuries and staggering financial costs in the form of medical expenses, rehabilitative and long-term nursing care as well as property damage. Many organizations and massive societal resources have been devoted to reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road and to reducing drunk driving fatality rates. However, a new epidemic may pose an even greater risk of causing serious Wichita auto accidents. Distracted driving may soon usurp drunk driving as the leading cause of serious motor vehicle accidents. Car accidents caused by distracted drivers continues to become more prevalent as the number of handheld electronic devices continues to grow.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has identified distracted driving as one the most pressing safety issues facing drivers. Drivers can be distracted by a multitude of causes including:

• Talking on cell phones

• Reading newspapers or books in print or on E-reader devices

• Using laptop, net book or tablet computers

• Adjusting iPods or other MP3 or multi-media devices

• Texting on cell phones or other mobile devices

• Playing handheld games

• Using GPS devices

While these are just a few examples common driver distractions, it is clear that advances in electronic technology have resulted in a corresponding increase in driver distractions. While many people are aware that driver distraction creates a substantial risk of causing serious Kansas auto accidents, few people are aware that scientific research has quantified the seriousness of the danger. A study comparing the accident risks associated with distracted driving and drunk driving produced surprising results. The study evaluated the differences in reaction time when drunk drivers apply the brakes to that of distracted drivers and found the following:

• Braking Time with No Distractions or Alcohol: 0.54 seconds

• Reaction Time of Drivers Whose Blood Alcohol Level Exceeds Legal Limit: 4 additional feet

• Braking Distance of Drivers Reading a Text Message: 36 additional feet

• Braking Time When Sending a Text: 70 additional feet

Surprising scientific research results like these can help traffic safety experts develop new policies that improve Kansas roadway safety and is important in helping Kansas judges and juries understand the seriousness of distracted driving behaviors.

Many people feel instinctive outrage when they are faced with fatal Kansas car accidents caused by drunk drivers and commonly award punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish particularly egregious behavior and provide a deterrent to such behavior in the future. Punitive damages may exceed all other types of damages combined. This same sense of outrage is not necessarily instinctive when a judge or jury must decide whether to award punitive damages for a Kansas car accident caused by a distracted driver, which means that experienced Kansas distracted driving attorneys must provide evidence like this to help juries understand that distracted driving practices are at least equally deadly and preventable.

We routinely use state of the art litigation tools, cutting edge-edge scientific research, accident reconstruction expert testimony and other sophisticated litigation tools to present the most compelling case to a judge or jury.

In personal injury cases, we work hard to get our clients the maximum amount of compensation possible.  Our clients can rely on the three decades of courtroom skill and experience we have to offer them. For a free consultation with one of our experienced Wichita accident lawyers, stop in and see us at our conveniently located downtown Wichita law office or contact us directly right now.

Cummings & Cummings, L.L.C.

129 East 2nd Street
Wichita, KS 67202
Phone: (316) 264-1548
Fax: (316) 264-4704

Kansas Trucking Accidents: Overloaded or Improperly Secured Loads

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Although tractor-trailer accidents are often the most deadly form of motor vehicle accident, the complexity and potential devastation associated with a commercial trucking accident increases substantially when an improperly secured load or an overloaded truck is involved.  A fully loaded truck is more difficult to control, requires substantially increased braking distance and may decrease the ability of truck drivers to see other vehicles or obstacles.  The massive weight of an overloaded tractor-trailer means not only increased probability of a trucking accident, but a resulting accident is likely to result in much more catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.  Despite the trucking industry’s awareness of these risks, it is not uncommon for trucking companies to overload a tractor-trailer so that it can transport more in less time to increase profits.

The Wichita truck accident lawyers at Cummings & Cummings, L.L.C., have been representing trucking accident victims throughout Kansas who suffer serious injury or wrongful death in Kansas trucking accidents for years.  If you or someone you love has been injured in a Kansas tractor-trailer accident, our attorneys will investigate whether the trucking accident was a result of overloading the commercial truck or other practices that violate federal or state trucking regulations or industry standards.

The weight and size of the load transported by a tractor-trailer has a significant impact on the probability that the commercial truck will be involved in a Kansas trucking accident as well as the seriousness of any resulting motor vehicle collision.  Although federal regulations permit a tractor-trailer to be loaded up to 80,000 pounds, a truck loaded to this weight increases accident risks substantially.  A tractor-trailer, which only weighs 50,000 pounds, is only half as likely to be involved in a trucking accident as one fully loaded.  Although trucking companies are well aware of the dangers posed by heavily loaded tractor-trailers, they will often exceed even the 80,000 pound limit.  When a tractor-trailer weighing in excess of 80,000 pounds collides with a passenger vehicle, which may weigh 3,000 pounds, the results are predictable.  Commercial trucking accidents cause over 12% of all motor vehicle fatalities with a passenger or driver in the other vehicle being the person killed 98% of the time.

The legal issues that arise when a tractor-trailer transports oversized, overweight or over-length items can be even more complex.  Transportation of these types of cargo requires a special permit and special restrictions apply.  Generally, these items must be transported during daylight hours and on non-legal holidays.  Tractor-trailers transporting oversized, overweight or over-length items are also required to avoid urban areas during rush hour traffic.  An extensive regulatory framework is imposed on the transportation of such articles to ensure the safety of others on the roadway and surrounding areas.  One such requirement that may apply is a requirement that an escort vehicle accompany the oversized, overweight or over length load.  Commercial trucks transporting these loads also require specialized marking, and special financial responsibility is imposed when transporting this type of cargo.

Some serious Kansas trucking accidents are caused by cargo loads that are improperly loaded or secured.  Cargo that is not properly secured can fall into the roadway and cause obstructions or fall directly onto other vehicles.  When a cargo load is not properly loaded even a slight shift in the load can cause the truck to jackknife or the truck driver to otherwise lose control of the big-rig.  If the tractor-trailer has not been correctly loaded, the tractor-trailer’s center of gravity may be off causing the driver to lose control of the truck or the truck to tip or jackknife.

When a massive 80,000 tractor-trailer is involved in a collision with another vehicle, there is no such thing as a minor fender bender.  The results are typically catastrophic injuries including traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, broken bones or fractures and wrongful death.  Trucking companies have teams of trucking accident experts that may be dispatched to the accident scene immediately, and critical evidence can disappear.  The liability of trucking companies for tractor-trailer accidents often involves violations of the complex matrix of federal and Tennessee trucking regulations.  An experienced Kansas trucking accident lawyer must have a thorough understanding of these special requirements.  If you are involved in litigation with a trucking company, it is important to have experienced Kansas tractor-trailer accident lawyers on your side who will examine all of the causes that contributed to the trucking accident including traffic violations, hours of service violations, driver fatigue or drowsiness, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, exceeding the maximum permissible load and other violations of trucking regulations and/or trucking industry standards.

In personal injury cases, we work hard to get our clients the maximum amount of compensation possible.  Our clients can rely on the three decades of courtroom skill and experience we have to offer them. For a free consultation with one of our experienced Kansas 18 wheeler accident lawyers, stop in and see us at our conveniently located downtown Wichita law office or contact us directly right now.

Cummings & Cummings, L.L.C.

129 East 2nd Street
Wichita, KS 67202
Phone: (316) 264-1548
Fax: (316) 264-4704