Archive for June, 2013

Why Kansas Construction Accident Injury Claims Can Be Complicated

Friday, June 21st, 2013

If you work in the construction trades, you are probably well aware of the many dangers that can result in devastating injuries to those working on a construction project.  Legal claims for financial compensation that arise out of construction accidents can be extremely complicated because of factors, such as the severity of injury, applicability of workers compensation law and the changing environment on a construction site.  Our experienced Kansas construction accident attorneys analyze these factors below:

Severity of Injury: The construction trades have long been considered one of the most dangerous occupations.  The rate of serious injury and fatalities is much higher in the construction industry than most other sectors of the economy.  When construction accident victims suffer permanent debilitating injuries or a family loses a loved one, the financial hardships of a work-related injury increases exponentially.  Financial recovery will be important to cover lost earnings, future diminished earning capacity and medical bills as well as to compensate one for pain and suffering and an impaired quality of life.  However, the more extensive the injuries or loss, the harder insurance companies fight to avoid or minimize liability.

Workers Compensation vs. Personal Injury Law: Generally, workers compensation will be the exclusive remedy against an employer for injuries incurred during a fall, motor vehicle collision, heavy equipment accident, trench collapse or other construction site mishap.  This is both a good news and bad news scenario.  On the one hand, workers compensation claims do not require that you establish the injury occurred because the employer was negligent.  Essentially, workers compensation will cover the claim provided the injury occurred in the “course and scope” of employment regardless of fault.  On the other hand, there are many types of damages that would be available in a personal injury case that are not available through a workers compensation claim, which include pain and suffering and diminished quality of life.  Our experienced Kansas construction accident attorneys investigate construction site accidents to determine if a third party, such as a general contractor, sub-contractor, heavy equipment rental company, landowner, engineer or other may have contributed to a client’s injury.  We may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the third party to supplement a workers compensation claim.

Evolving Environment on a Construction Project: Because construction sites often change quickly in terms of the entities working on the site and the physical environment, potential defendants and witnesses can disappear and evidence can be altered or destroyed.  When you are injured on a construction site, you should seek immediate legal advice because an experienced Kansas construction accident law firm will have the resources to promptly investigate construction accidents before evidence or relevant parties are no longer readily available.

If you or a close family member have been injured of a loved one has died in a Kansas construction accident, experienced Sedgwick County DUI construction accident attorney Bill Cummings works diligently to obtain the compensation his clients need to re-build their lives.  We offer a free initial consultation that is absolutely confidential so call us today at 316-264-1548 to learn how we can help.

What Should I Do When I Am Asked to Take Field Sobriety Tests in Kansas?

Friday, June 7th, 2013

While many people have seen field sobriety tests (FSTs) portrayed for laughs on television and in the movies, the reality is that these awkward and unfamiliar tests that require both physical coordination and mental concentration can have very serious consequences.  If you are stopped in Kansas, the police officer will probably ask you to perform these tests if he suspects that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 or higher, which is the legal threshold at which you are considered impaired.  These tests serve dual functions in a Kansas DUI prosecution as both part of the evidence supporting probable cause for arrest and as evidence of alcohol impaired driving.  If you or someone you know is stopped for DUI, there are some important facts that you should know about FSTs in Kansas.

Many police officers make it seem as though a motorist has no option but to participate in field sobriety tests during a stop.  The officer will make it sound like he is giving a command rather than making a request.  Since the officer has the power of arrest, many people feel that under these circumstances the only option is to agree to perform FSTs.  This confusion is compounded by the fact many people inaccurately assume that the Kansas Implied Consent Law extends to FSTs and portable roadside breath testing.  However, you are not required to perform FSTs because the implied consent law applies only to the formal BAC test after you have been arrested.

There is little to be gained by agreeing to participate in field sobriety tests because the tests have a significant false positive rate for indicating people are intoxicated that are not over the legal limit for driving.  Further, the officer’s perception of your performance will be impacted by the fact the officer has already made up his mind that you are under the influence (DUI) so he is really looking for evidence to support an arrest rather than to make an impartial determination of whether you are legally impaired.

If you refuse to perform FSTs, the officer will have less evidence to use to justify his arrest and the prosecutor will not have the officer’s evaluation of your performance on FST testing to use as evidence at trial.  While there is really nothing to be gained by submitting to field sobriety testing, it can be intimidating to refuse to cooperate with a request from a law enforcement officer.

One approach to such a refusal is to request an opportunity to talk to a lawyer before you perform the tests.  When this request is declined, you can indicate that you are not comfortable participating without legal advice.  Another approach to decline to perform FSTs in Kansas is to ask if all of the tests have been proven to be completely accurate.  Each of the field sobriety tests has a substantial rate of inaccuracy based on testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) so the officer will not be able to confirm that each test is completely accurate.  Concerns over the lack of accuracy can then be used as a way to decline to take the tests.  It is also important to be aware that the tests were standardized based on the level of intoxication being a BAC of .10 percent so you may have a basis to oppose use of the FSTs if your BAC was between .08 and .10 percent.

If you or a close family member have been arrested for DUI, experienced Sedgwick County DUI defense attorney Bill Cummings provides a diligent defense to protect his clients from the harsh penalties of a Kansas DUI conviction.  We offer a free initial consultation that is absolutely confidential so call us today at 316-264-1548 to learn how we can help.