Merging truck accident

Kansas City Big Rig Trucks Can Create Massive Damage When They Merge Into Passenger Vehicles

Truck merging accidents are a serious concern on Kansas City highways. They can be responsible for severe injuries and lead to complex legal battles. It is prudent for truck crash victims to dive into the dynamics of these collisions and outline the steps needed to prove liability if they hope to secure compensation and justice. Consulting with the Kansas City truck accident lawyers at Foster Wallace can be instrumental in recovering damages after you’ve been struck by a merging semi-truck. 

Why Semi-Trucks Can Cause Car Accidents While Merging

Sometimes also called sideswipe accidents, merging accidents with semi-trucks can result in significant property damage and major injuries. Truck accidents can be much worse than car accidents due to the differences in size and weight. Commercial semi-trucks and tractor-trailers can be several times heavier and larger than passenger vehicles. In these types of collisions, the smaller vehicle almost always sustains more damage.

A seemingly minor bump from a large commercial truck can send a regular sedan, SUV, or truck reeling. The driver of the smaller vehicle can lose control, leading to even more dire consequences. Revised Statute of Missouri § 304.351 states that drivers approaching an intersection must yield the right-of-way to vehicles that have already entered the intersection from a different highway. This extends to trucks merging onto a highway, including from the highway shoulder or an entrance ramp. 

Common Causes of Truck Merging Accidents

Dangerous driving maneuvers can be intentional or nonintentional. Regardless of intent, they can cause horrific crashes and devastating injuries, especially when heavy-duty trucks and tractor-trailers collide with passenger vehicles. 

Many of the most common causes of merging accidents are more generally related to common causes of truck accidents

  • Merging too slowly or too quickly
  • Failing to use a turn signal in a timely fashion
  • Failing to check if the lane is clear before merging
  • Crossing more than one lane in a single maneuver
  • Driving while intoxicated, impaired, or distracted
  • Driving while overly fatigued, like working for too long at a stretch
  • Speeding or other dangerous driving actions
  • Poor visibility due to mechanical defects
  • Unfavorable road, traffic, or weather conditions

Proving Liability in Missouri Truck Accident Cases

Depending on the specific circumstances, several parties may be partially or completely to blame for causing a truck merging accident. Liable parties may include the truck driver, trucking company, or maintenance company. The other driver may be partly at fault, or part of the responsibility may extend to city services if road conditions or improper signage are to blame. 

In all cases, the commercial truck's insurance provider is motivated to minimize its liability and the amount it has to pay in damages. Defense tactics in truck accident cases include blame shifting or challenging causation. For example, the provider may argue that the car driver was speeding excessively or dangerously blocking the lane for the merging truck. 

Relevant laws may also be applicable. Revised Statute of Missouri § 304.015 states that no trucks with a registered gross weight of over 48,000 pounds can drive in the far-left lane on highways with three or more lanes of traffic in the same direction. A semi-truck trying to merge into the far-left lane should be held at least partly liable for any damage it causes. 

Generally, the vehicle already established in a lane has the right of way. It is the responsibility of the merging vehicle, whether it’s a large commercial truck or a small hatchback, to find a safe gap to enter that lane. They cannot force their way into the lane, even if large semi-trucks can be decidedly intimidating. 

Steps to Take After a Truck Merging Accident

If you or a loved one has been hurt or even killed in a truck accident, it is important to educate yourself on what you should do next. 

Seek Continuing Medical Care

First and foremost, continue to seek the medical care you need. Visit with your doctor or a primary care unit to get a full assessment of your injuries. Follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment and rehabilitation. Refusing recommended treatment is a major mistake after a truck accident. Insurance companies may assert you are faking or exaggerating your injuries. Keep all copies of all documentation and receipts. 

Call an Established Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyer

As soon after the truck merging accident as possible, call the law offices of Foster Wallace to book your free consultation. Our experienced accident lawyers will assess your case and advise you on protecting your legal rights to fair compensation. The typical statute of limitations in Missouri for auto accident claims is five years. Starting as early as possible can help preserve evidence and provide leverage in negotiations. 

Collect Evidence to Prove Who Is at Fault

At the core of proving liability and fault in truck accidents is trustworthy evidence. Your attorneys at Foster Wallace will work with you to collect strong evidence to support your claim. Types of evidence may include the following:

  • Physical evidence at the crash scene, like debris and photos of skid mark placement
  • The type and extent of physical damage to all affected vehicles
  • Testimony and insight from accident reconstruction experts
  • Eyewitness statements describing vehicle movement, speed, signaling, and other factors
  • Information from the on-board data recorders found on some commercial trucks
  • Dashcam footage and other photo or video evidence of the truck merging accident

Estimate Possible Compensation for Damages

It is easy to look only to the present when considering truck accident damages you may recover in settlement. You may be worried about mounting medical bills and lost wages. It is equally crucial to consider long-term consequences when calculating possible compensation. Recoverable damages may include reduced earning potential, emotional trauma, and long-term rehabilitation costs.  

Your personal injury lawyer can carefully tabulate the full extent of your losses and expenses. Settlements can be substantial. In one case, Foster Wallace co-counseled a client after his wife and unborn child were killed when a truck driver recklessly merged into their lane. After nearly three years of litigation, the case concluded with a $7.25 million wrongful death settlement

Explore Legal Options for Recovery

Notably, truck merging accidents in Kansas City, Missouri are governed by the principle of pure comparative negligence. Determining the distribution of fault directly impacts the recovery of damages. A driver who is partly to blame can recover damages from the accident, but their recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault. Your lawyer can explain how this may apply to your injury claim. 

Get Legal Help After a Semi-Truck Crashes Into You

You don’t need to make your way through complex accident claims alone. Don’t let insurance companies bully you into settling for less than you deserve after a devastating truck merging accident in Kansas City. With intersecting issues and nuanced negotiation, these cases call for the knowledge and insight of an experienced attorney. Trust Foster Wallace to advocate for a fair settlement for your injuries and losses. 

Brian Wallace
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Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney