Archive for January, 2013

Unique Challenges of Drunken Driving Litigation in Kansas

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Kansas drunken drivers claim the lives of many other vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians each year.  While victims of drivers who commit DUI may seek compensation for their injuries, Kansas law provides fewer options than the law of virtually all other states.  While most other states have dram shop statutes that permit those injured in collisions with a drunken driver to seek compensation against a restaurant, store or bar under certain circumstances, Kansas relegates the victims of drunken drivers to suing intoxicated drivers.  The disadvantage of Kansas not recognizing dram shop liability is that it may limit the access of DUI accident victims to sufficient insurance to satisfy a judgment or settlement.

Dram shop liability in the majority of jurisdictions is a response to the devastating toll caused by alcohol impaired drivers.  Over 1.4 million drivers per year are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Approximately a third of all fatal motor vehicle accidents are alcohol related, which means that someone dies in a drunken driving accident in the U.S. every 57 minutes.  An average of one in three people will be involved in a collision involving a drunken driver at some point during their lifetime.

The function of dram shop liability laws is to prevent proprietors of businesses that sale or serve alcohol from turning a blind eye to the danger of serving a minor or intoxicated driver.  While dram shop laws may vary from state to state, they generally impose liability on owners of bars, restaurants or shops that sale or serve alcohol to someone they know or should know is obviously inebriated or under the age of 21.  Under Kansas law, there is no cause of action against businesses that provide alcohol in such situations.

Kansas atypical position on dram shop liability can work enormous unfairness for the victims of drunken drivers.  Many intoxicated drivers that cause fatal DUI accidents and catastrophic injuries are repeat offenders who may be operating their vehicle without a license or insurance.  Drunken driving arrest statistics reveal that between 50-75 percent of drunken drivers continue to drive even though their driving privileges have been revoked or suspended.  If drivers do not have a license, it also is likely that they do not have auto insurance.

Because Kansas does not impose liability on businesses that sale and/or dispense alcohol, other sources of compensation may be critical if a DUI accident victim is to receive full recovery.  Our experienced Kansas drunken driving accident attorneys frequently look to a range of parties who may have insurance when a drunken driver is uninsured including:

  • Public entities responsible for inadequately maintained or poorly designed roadways
  • Vehicle manufacturers of cars, trucks or SUV’s with defects
  • Vehicle owners who entrust vehicles to unsafe drivers
  • Employers of those who cause alcohol-related crashes while engaged in employment functions
  • An accident victim’s own uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury or a loved one has been killed by a drunken driver in a Kansas DUI car accident, experienced drunken driving accident lawyer William Cummings is committed to representing the victims of intoxicated drivers in Wichita and throughout Sedgwick County and the surrounding areas of Kansas.  We offer a free initial consultation so that we can answer your questions and evaluate your legal claim so call us today at 316-264-1548.

Improperly Loaded and Overloaded Trucks Increase the Risk of Kansas Semi-Truck Crashes

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

While the length and weight of semi-trucks creates a potential hazard for other motorists, improperly loaded big-rigs increase this danger by impacting the balance and total weight of these massive vehicles.  The maximum weight for a fully loaded tractor-trailer under federal law is 80,000 pounds.  However, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) has conducted research revealing a big-rig loaded to capacity is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal trucking accident as a truck weighing 50,000 pounds.  The UMTRI also has conducted other studies revealing that commercial trucks exceeding 100,000 pounds are far more likely to be involved in a collision and to cause more serious injuries.

Trucking industry regulations establish requirements for maximum loads and securing of loads.  These standards are designed to limit the risk of trucking accidents caused by improper loads.  When 18-wheelers are overloaded, they are less responsive to sharp steering maneuvers in response to potential hazards.  Big-rigs that are overloaded also necessitate longer braking distances.  The excessive demand on tractor-trailer brakes from an overloaded truck may also cause the brake system to malfunction or fail entirely.

When commercial trucks are improperly loaded or the load is not secured properly, the load may shift during transit so that the semi-truck is unbalanced.  When the tractor-trailer is not properly balanced, the truck is prone to rollover and jackknife accidents.  A tractor-trailer’s handling may also be adversely impacted when the vehicles center of gravity is distorted by a load that is not properly balanced.

Loads that are not properly secured also might fall from a semi-truck causing an obstruction in the roadway or might fall directly on a vehicle causing a collision.  There are specific requirements that a load be tied down properly to prevent these types of mishaps.

Trucking accident litigation caused by improperly secured loads can be extremely complex.  Improperly secured loads may be the result of negligence of the original shipper or any party involved in packing and loading the cargo which may happen multiple times before it even is loaded on the tractor-trailer.  The trucking company may also improperly load the vehicle so that it is not safely secured.  Our experienced Kansas trucking accident lawyers use trucking experts so that we can identify all potential defendants when a crash is caused by an improper load.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a semi-truck accident in Kansas, experienced commercial trucking accident lawyer William Cummings is committed to representing big-rig accident victims in Wichita and throughout Sedgwick County and the surrounding areas of Kansas.  We offer a free initial consultation so that we can answer your questions and evaluate your legal claim so call us today at 316-264-1548.