I-70 Auto Accidents – Septemeber – Kansas City

Recent I-70 Auto Accidents during September in the Kansas City area have stunned our community. The I-70 auto accident, located in Blue Springs earlier in the month, involved a family of four and what police report an intoxicated man. Reports say that the man rear ended the family of four, killing two children, and paralyzing the father.

The mother and father, David and Jennifer Beaird, are now coming to terms with this tragedy. They hope to have the community remember their children Gavin and Chloe. The parents believe the focus isn’t just on their children, but on their family as a whole, since their lives have changed forever since the auto accident.

The intoxicated man was 60-year-old James Green. He’s being held at the Jackson County jail on a $200,000 bond. Jennifer says the anger is still there, that Green, who already had two DWIs on his record, would still be foolish enough to continue. The family is not only seeking indefinite jail, but for Green to understand the pain he has caused the family.

I-70 Auto Accidents in Kansas City
I-70 Auto Accidents in Kansas City

About Horn Law

Attorney Doug Horn, Kansas City’s Injury Lawyer, realizes that because you only have one chance at settlement, our top priority is to maximize your injury compensation, obtaining the best possible money recovery for your total personal loss, including medical bills, lost income, pain, suffering, and other damages. Like the Beaird family, recovery will be a journey the family will take together.

For over 25 years, the Horn Law Firm has an extensive track record of success in a wide variety of personal injury and wrongful death claims. We won’t stop until you get the recovery you deserve.

Because selecting a personal injury lawyer and law firm is an important decision, we invite prospective clients to visit the Choosing An Injury Lawyer page for more information.


Drunk Driving Down, But Proportion of DUI Fatalities Remains the Same

The Insurance Institute for Safety recently undertook a study to find the answers to one of the great mysteries of traffic safety – the high rates of drunk driving fatalities vis-à-vis lower drunk driving rates. The percentage of American motorists driving under the influence of alcohol has dipped significantly over the past few years. However, the proportion of drivers who are involved in alcohol-related accident fatalities remains more or less the same.

The researchers compared the results of roadside breath test surveys from across the country conducted on weekends in 48 states in 1986, 1996 and 2007. They also analyzed alcohol-related fatality data taken from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

The researchers found that the percentage of alcohol-impaired motorists actually continue to decline in each roadside survey. However, the proportion of drivers who were killed in alcohol-related car accidents has remained the same since 1994.  While the number of people driving under the influence is down, the number of people killed in alcohol-related car accidents remains more or less the same. Why is there no change in the number of motorists dying in drunk driving accidents while the incidence of intoxicated driving is down?

The researchers believe that it could have something to do with a number of factors. For example, they found in their analysis that motorists in fatal accidents who were driving under the influence of alcohol, were much more likely to be driving an older vehicle. They were also much less likely to be wearing a seatbelt at the time, and much more likely to be speeding, have prior traffic violations or license suspensions on their record, or have a history of crashes.

Seatbelt usage rates are low among drunk drivers, and this could be one of the major reasons why fatality rates have remained the same in spite of declines in DUI rates.

Doug Horn is a Missouri drunk driving accident lawyer  dedicated to the representation of victims of car accidents across Missouri.


Increase in Drunk Driving Accident Deaths Boosts Missouri 2012 Fatality Numbers

A significant increase in the number of people killed in alcohol-related accidents is possibly linked to an increase in overall traffic accident fatality numbers in Missouri last year. According to new data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, overall traffic accident fatality numbers nationwide actually spiked by 3.3% in 2012 over 2011.

The same trend was seen in Missouri as well. In this state, there were 826 traffic accident fatalities in 2012, an increase in fatalities from the previous year. A sharp increase in the number of people being killed in alcohol-related car accidents could possibly be to blame for that increase.

In 2011, the number of accident fatalities linked to impaired drivers in Missouri was 258. That number increased to 280 fatalities in 2012.   Drunk driving accident fatalities accounted for approximately 30 % of all traffic accident fatalities in 2012.

The statistics indicate that Missouri may need to step up drunk driving prevention programs.   The greater use of sobriety checkpoints could help reduce the number of impaired motorists on our roads, and help reduce those fatality numbers. The Missouri law makers should also look at why the overall number of traffic accident fatalities in 2012 is so markedly higher than the previous year.  Stronger laws and enforcement could be instrumental in reducing teen driver-related accidents and accidents caused by distracted drivers.

In addition to state efforts, private programs like Drive By Example, help keep driving safety high on the public safety agenda.  Drive By Example is working with schools, community organizations, and driving safety advocates to improve the present driving culture and reduce roadway fatalities.

Doug Horn is a Missouri car accident lawyer, dedicated to the representation of victims of car accidents across Missouri.

Drugs, Alcohol Combination Increases Accident Risk by 23 Times

Drugged driving or driving under the influence of narcotics may not receive as much attention as driving under the influence of alcohol, but contributes to thousands of accidents every year. New studies conducted by researchers at Columbia University finds that driving after consuming a combination of alcohol and drugs, could increase the risk of an accident by as much as 23 times.

According to the research, driving under the influence of drugs increases the risks of being involved in a fatal accident by as much as three times. Drugged driving is still much less common than driving under the influence of alcohol, but that may be because there are very few standard tests to judge whether a motorist had drugs in his system at the time of an accident.

Different drugs affect a person in different ways. Further, it can be days before the results of tests arrive, and therefore, determining whether a person had drugs in the system, becomes more challenging.

According to the Columbia University Study, depressants, stimulants, narcotics and marijuana contribute to some of the highest rates of drugged driving-related car accidents.

A common misconception is that drugged driving only involves driving under the influence of narcotic drugs. It can also include driving under the influence of prescription drugs. In fact, driving under the influence of prescription drugs is fast taking over from drunk driving as one of the primary causes of fatal car accidents involving impaired driving.

The risk of prescription drug-fueled driving is even greater among senior citizens, or people who are on more than one medication. Very often, these medications may interact with each other, causing side effects like drowsiness, fatigue, disorientation, confusion and other consequences that increase the risk of an accident.

Doug Horn is a  Kansas City car accident lawyer, dedicated to the representation of victims of car accidents across Missouri.


The Million Dollar Advocates Forum is pleased to announce that attorney Laura Louise Del Percio of Independence, MO has been certified as a member.

The Million Dollar Advocates Forum is recognized as one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United State. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards and settlements. The organization was founded in 1993 and there are approximately 4000 members located throughout the country. Fewer than 1% of U.S. lawyers are members. Forum membership acknowledges excellence in advocacy, and provides members with a national network of experienced colleagues for professional referral and information exchange in major cases. Members must have acted as principal counsel in at least one case in which their client has received a verdict, award or settlement in the amount of one million dollars or more. Please see The Million Dollar Advocates Forum website for further information.

Ms. Del Percio is a graduate of University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Law and leads the Horn Law litigation team. As the lead litigation attorney, Ms. Del Percio regularly litigates complex injury and death cases involving auto and truck collisions, medical error, premises liability and work/industrial accidents.

Ms. Del Percio joins her partner, Douglas R. Horn, as a Million Dollar Advocate. Their law firm concentrates in personal injury and wrongful death cases and has a track record of success dating back to 1992.

Junior Service League of Independence Brings Defense Class To Independence Events Center

Many people in the Kansas City are familiar with the Ali Kemp tragedy involving a 19 year old Kansas State University student who was abducted and murdered while working at an area pool in June 2002. While nothing can ever replace Ali, her parents, Roger and Kathy Kemp, have kept her memory and promise alive through their foundation dedicated to their daughter’s life.

In 2005, “Take Defense” was founded by the Kemp’s with the goal of providing young women with self-defense education. Over the years the program has been wildly successful, training women to protect themselves against abuse and violent acts of crime.

I want to commend the Junior Service League for making this training available last Sunday at the fabulous Independence Events Center. I was proud that Horn Law could be a sponsor, using our own “Drive By Example” driver safety awareness programs to promote public safety. I was pleased to associate with Detective Kevin Boehm of the Kansas City Police Department. Detective Boehm is the Coordinator for the Crime Stoppers Greater Kansas City. Crime Stoppers advances the public safety primary through their TIPS hotline.

Crime Stoppers has a close relationship with the Ali Kemp Foundation and are frequently at the Take Defense training that is conducted around the Kansas City Metro. At the event, I was honored to meet Roger Kemp, Ali Kemp’s father. In my view, Mr. Kemp is a national hero and represents what public service is all about.

Please keep the Kemp Family in your prayers as they continue to serve all of us through their loss.

Court Allows Jury to Consider Evidence of Truck Driver’s Cell Phone Use in Accident Case, Excludes Witness Testimony as to Whether Driver Was “Distracted”

A federal judge ruled on a pair of motions in limine seeking to exclude evidence relating to two truck drivers’ alleged cell phone use prior to a 2011 accident that killed two people. McLane, et al v. Rich Transport, Inc., et al, No. 2:11-cv-00101 (E.D. Ark., Sept. 6-7, 2012). The judge allowed the jury to see records of one driver’s cell phone use on the day of the accident, but granted a motion to exclude witness testimony regarding whether either driver was distracted at the time of the accident.

The accident occurred during the morning of February 9, 2011 during snowy conditions with limited visibility. A tractor-trailer driven by defendant Jerry Smith reportedly struck a Jeep traveling west on Interstate 40 near Brinkley, Arkansas. The Jeep went into a spin, and another tractor trailer, driven by defendant Florentino Campos, collided with it. The Jeep’s driver, a twenty-three year old woman, and her one year-old son were killed in the crash. Two other passengers, the woman’s six and three year-old daughters, were injured.

The victims’ family sued the two truck drivers and their employers for negligence. They alleged that Campos had been talking on his cellphone just before the collision. In the two hours before the accident, Smith admitted that he had sent about twenty-four text messages from his phone. McLane, opinion and order at 3 (Aug. 9, 2012). Defendant Rich Transport, Smith’s employer, reportedly had 237 documented violations of fatigued driving rules in the three months before the accident. Evidence also suggested that Smith was in violation of hours-of-service rules when the accident occurred. Id.

The plaintiffs and defendants filed motions in limine seeking to exclude various types of evidence during the trial. Campos and his employer, defendant AAA Cooper Transportation, moved to exclude provider records and fact witness testimony regarding Campos’ cell phone use the day of the accident. The court ruled on September 6, 2012 that the records were admissible, as the question of whether he was distracted at the time of the collision was a key issue in the case. The court held that its probative value was greater than the risk of unfair prejudice towards Campos. The court excluded the fact witness’ testimony, however, holding that even if the witness saw Campos using a cell phone near the time of the collision, testimony as to whether he was “distracted” would require speculation as to his mental state.

In a separate order dated September 7, the court excluded testimony from an expert witness retained by the plaintiffs. It ruled that the expert could not testify that Campos or Smith were “distracted” by their cell phones, nor that either driver was “preparing to text or anticipating a text when the accident occurred.” McLane, order at 3 (Sept. 7, 2012). The expert’s testimony, the court stated, would have been based on testimony by representatives of the defendant trucking companies regarding a lack of cell phone policies for drivers or a lack of specific instruction not to text while driving. The court ruled that the jury could draw its own inferences from the representatives’ testimony.

Auto accident attorney Doug Horn is an advocate for safe driving in the greater Kansas City area. He represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to the negligent or reckless conduct of others. Contact us today online or at (816) 795-7500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Photo credit: dee from morguefile.com.

2011 Sees Drop in Traffic Fatalities, but Spike in Bicycle, Truck Accident Deaths

According to data from the federal administration, traffic accident fatalities in 2011 dropped to their lowest levels since 1949, touching an all-time low of 32,367 deaths last year. However, there was an increase in the number of people being killed in bicycle, truck and motorcycle accident fatalities, indicating that more work is needed to keep these groups safer.

Missouri saw a drop in traffic accidents deaths, with the number of people being killed in traffic accidents falling from 821 in 2010 to 784 in 2011. That was a respectable decline of 4.5%.

The overall drop in national traffic accident deaths was close to 2%, but there was a spike of 8.7% in bicycle accident fatalities, and a staggering 20% increase in large truck occupant fatalities last year. There was also an increase of more than 2% in motorcycle deaths in 2011.

The federal administration is yet to begin investigating the reasons for this increase in bicycle and truck occupant fatalities. Those numbers are fairly surprising, because they come after a couple of years of declining bicycle and truck fatality numbers.

One of the theories out there is that the increase in bicycle accident fatality numbers has to do with the increasing number of bicyclists compared to just a few years earlier. In several states including Missouri, there has been a spike in the number of people who prefer to ride not just for work, but also for recreational purposes.

The increase in motorcycle accident fatalities was not surprising to any Kansas City motorcycle accident lawyers. Those numbers have been on the rise over the past 14 years, and have been a great source of worry to the federal administration as well as to motorcycling safety groups.

Truck Accident Lawsuit is the First Use of State’s Fetal Death Statute

A lawsuit arising from a fatal automobile accident in Nebraska is believed to be the first time a civil lawsuit has cited that state’s unborn child wrongful death statute. The lawsuit, Baumann v. Slezak, et al, also alleges violations of federal truck driving regulations related to the length of time behind the wheel without rest, negligent maintenance of semi-trailers, and general negligence. Missouri may also allow in utero wrongful death claims, although establishing damages in such cases may be difficult.

Traffic was stopped for more than a mile along westbound Interstate 80 in western Nebraska during the early morning of September 9, 2012. A semi-trailer had become disabled and pulled to the right side of the highway. The driver, Vladimir Zhukov, reportedly left the trailer in a lane of traffic. At about 4:30 a.m., a semi-trailer driven by Keith Johnson crashed into the Zhukov’s trailer, killing Johnson and shutting down all westbound lanes. The situation put other stopped vehicles at risk of further collisions.

At the rear of the line of traffic, Christopher and Diana Schmidt were stopped in two vehicles. Diana Schmidt was in a Toyota Corolla with the couple’s two children, and Christopher Schmidt was directly behind her in a Ford Mustang. She was seven-and-a-half months pregnant, and the couple had named the unborn child Ethan. At approximately 5:19 a.m., a semi-trailer traveling west on I-80 at about seventy-five miles per hour collided with the back of the Mustang. The driver, Josef Slezak, allegedly did not attempt to slow or stop the vehicle before the collision. The Mustang collided with the Corolla, pushing the Corolla under another trailer. All four Schmidts and the unborn child died in the crash.

Diane Schmidt’s parents and Christopher Schmidt’s mother filed suit in federal district court on behalf of the couple, the children and the unborn child. They named as defendants Slezak and his employer, Zhukov and his employer, the owner of Zhukov’s rig, unnamed individuals with responsibility for maintenance of Zhukov’s rig, Johnson’s employer, and the owner of Johnson’s rig. The lawsuit pleads causes of action for negligence and negligence per se against the drivers, and vicarious liability against the employers. It also accuses Slezak and his employer of violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.

This is reportedly the first time a civil lawsuit has used the 2003 Nebraska statute extending the wrongful death cause of action to unborn children “at any stage of gestation.” The statute is part of a controversial series of laws giving various rights to unborn children in cases of injury or death. Missouri’s wrongful death statute does not explicitly mention unborn children. The Missouri Supreme Court recognized a parent’s cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child in Connor v. Monkem Co., Inc., 898 S.W.2d 89, 93 (Mo. 1995). It described the plaintiff’s victory in that case, however, as “pyrrhic,” as it expressed doubt that the plaintiff could establish damages upon remand. Id.

Also of note in the present lawsuit is the applicability of FMCSA hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. The complaint alleges that Slezak began driving shortly before 2:00 p.m. the day before the accident, meaning he had been driving nearly nineteen hours at the time of the accident. He had only had about three hours of rest before he started driving. HOS regulations require ten hours of rest for every fourteen hours “on duty,” and those fourteen hours may only include eleven hours of driving.

Auto accident attorney Doug Horn is an advocate for safe driving in the greater Kansas City area. He represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to the negligent or illegal conduct of others. Contact us today online or at (816) 795-7500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Web Resources:

Complaint and Jury Demand (PDF file), Case No. 8:12-cv-00383-FG3, Baumann, et al v. Slezak, et al, U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, October 29, 2012

Fatigued Driving Accident Lawsuit Moves Between Missouri State and Federal Courts – Phelps v. Schwab

A lawsuit arising from an accident between a pickup truck and a tractor trailer, Phelps v. Schwab, has bounced around between state and federal courts in Missouri for several years. A federal judge remanded the case back to state court earlier this year, finding that the case no longer had diversity of citizenship. The suit alleges that the tractor trailer driver was operating his vehicle while fatigued or otherwise distracted, which caused an accident that resulted in the death of the plaintiffs’ father.

According to the plaintiffs’ second amended petition, filed in the Circuit Court of Carter County, Missouri on November 2, 2011, the accident occurred on June 5, 2009 on U.S. Highway 60. While Robert Lee Phelps was driving west on Highway 60 in a 1992 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck, Douglas W. Gresham was driving a 1999 Peterbilt Conventional tractor trailer pulling a flatbed trailer. Gresham allegedly pulled out of a private driveway and into the westbound lanes of Highway 60, attempting to cross the highway and turn into the eastbound lanes. Gresham’s vehicle collided with Phelps’ truck, and Phelps suffered fatal injuries.

Phelps’ two adult daughters filed suit, alleging that Gresham was negligent in his operation of the trailer, resulting in Phelps’ death. The lawsuit alleged that Gresham breached a duty of care to others on the road to maintain a lookout, to avoid a foreseeable collision, and to yield to oncoming traffic. The failure to yield the right-of-way, according to the plaintiffs, constituted negligence per se. They also alleged that Gresham violated a duty of care by driving while “fatigued, inattentive, and impatient,” and that he violated statutory duties of care as a commercial vehicle operator.

Gresham died in December 2010, before the plaintiffs filed suit. Shortly after the suit was filed, Clark Gresham filed an unopposed motion to substitute himself as a defendant in place of the deceased Douglas Gresham. Clark Gresham, who resides in Illinois, then removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. When the probate court appointed a public administrator, Phyllis Schwab, as the representative for Douglas Gresham’s estate, the plaintiffs moved to substitute Schwab for Clark Gresham. The court granted the motion, then remanded the case to state court because, since Schwab was a Missouri resident, diversity had been destroyed. Schwab removed the case back to federal court and filed a motion to substitute Clark Gresham for her as defendant. The plaintiffs responded with a motion to remand the case once again to federal court.

The U.S. District Court held that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case because of the lack of diversity. It found that Schwab sought to restore diversity of citizenship by replacing herself with Clark Gresham, but that it lacked the authority to hear her motion. The determination of diversity is based on the status of the actual parties at the time of removal, the court said. Because Schwab was still a party at the time of the second removal to federal court, there was no diversity of citizenship and the federal court lacked jurisdiction.

Auto accident attorney Doug Horn is an advocate for safe driving in the greater Kansas City area. He represents the rights of people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones due to the negligent or illegal conduct of others. Contact us today online or at (816) 795-7500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Web Resources:

Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Petition (PDF file), Case No. 11AK-CC00010, Phelps, et al v. Schwab, Circuit Court of Carter County, Missouri, November 2, 2011