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Kansas City Missouri Legal Blog

Understanding the limitations of liability waivers

Many of the attractions offered in Kansas City require you to sign a liability waiver before experiencing them. Most would assume that the waiver that you are signing protects property owners from any issues that may arise related specifically to the activities they offer. You may not then think that they would cover an accident due to unforeseen circumstances (say, slipping on a wet surface). Many come to us here at The Nail Law Firm in such scenarios questioning just how far a liability waiver extends protection to property owners. 

Typically, a property owner would be liable to any accident you suffer while on his or her premises. When a liability waiver is signed, its language must be specific in detailing what legal protections it offers a property owner. Things like spills, water and ice buildup due to weather or damaged flooring may not be addressed in such waivers. Thus, they may not protect property owners should such conditions cause accidents. 

Distracted driving: the facts and the risks

Most Missouri drivers have heard the age-old warnings of driving while distracted, but not everyone takes those warnings into consideration when getting behind the wheel. Although it is possible to enjoy some level of entertainment while making those commutes, it is all too easy to become immersed in them. Below, some of the experts consider which driving practices are safe, and which ones could ultimately result in disaster.  

It can first prove beneficial to look at the statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention share that more than 1,000 drivers are injured each day due to distracted driving. Nine out of these 1,000 drivers are killed as a result of accidents. CDC breaks down distracted driving into three categories: cognitive, manual and visual. When a driver's mind is on other topics, other important surroundings do not receive attention. Manual distractions can happen when a driver takes his or her hands off the wheel. Visual distractions are the most common, and occur when a driver's eyes leave the road. 

How does elder financial abuse happen?

Stories of nursing home abuse both in Kansas City and throughout the rest of the country may have you on the lookout for bruises, scars or any other indicators that your loved one could be experiencing such treatment at his or her facility. Unfortunately, not all forms of elder abuse leave visible marks. Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the financial exploitation of the elderly, both by those close to them and their caretakers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that an estimated $2.9 billion was stolen from the elderly in 2010 alone (although experts believe those numbers are actually much higher, as many of these cases go unreported). 

You might wonder how a caretaker at a nursing home can get access to your family member or friend's finances. He or she is likely there because you or others are unable to dedicate the time needed to care for him or her. This reliance on others makes him or her ripe for exploitation. In some cases, caretakers may steal money, checks or credit cards from purses or wallets, or valuable items from amongst a residents' possessions. They may also use their position to influence residents into making financial decisions that benefit them, such as offering them access to bank accounts, applying for loans or credit cards or even signing over power of attorney. 

Drivers who are likely to fall asleep behind the wheel

Driving seems like such an intensive activity that some people may find it hard to believe that someone can simply fall asleep at the wheel. Yet driving while drowsy is actually a serious problem in the United States, and not just for people who consume alcohol. Depending on your job or current state of health, you may actually be at risk at falling asleep while driving on a Missouri road and getting into an auto accident as a result.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists several groups of people that are likely to fall asleep at the wheel. If you are a shift worker who has put in long hours at the workplace, or if you are someone who works the night shift, you might get behind the wheel in a fatigued state. Additionally, you may become exhausted by the act of driving itself. Employed drivers who handle commercial vehicles like buses and tractor trailers are behind the wheel for long periods of time. Whether you work outside a vehicle or inside it, a long period of work can drain your stamina and leave you at risk for falling asleep while driving.

Analyzing the dangers of eating and drinking while driving

Impaired drivers are among the greatest threats encountered on Kansas City's roads. When people hear the term "impaired driver," they likely automatically assume it to mean a motorist that is intoxicated. Yet drivers can be impaired by things other than alcohol. Distractions can greatly inhibit one's driving skills. The use of cell phones while driving is typically pointed to as the most common type of distraction plaguing drivers today. There may be another, however, that is even more widespread yet still equally as dangerous. 

Many motorists will not think twice about eating or drinking while driving. Drive-thru fast food restaurants seemingly invite this activity, as do automakers themselves by incorporating cup holders into vehicle designs. However, there is an inherent danger in eating and driving. Most assume eating and drinking to be such natural and instinctive actions that they would not cause distractions, yet that is not the case. Information shared by the website edriving.com shows exactly how these activities effect people while behind the wheel: 

  • Slowing reaction speeds by 44 percent (when eating)
  • Slowing reaction speeds by 22 percent (when drinking)
  • Inhibiting the ability to stay in the same lane by 18 percent (when drinking)

A look at the safety of hands-free cellphones

Although it is not illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving in Missouri, a number of people have turned to using hands-free cellphones in an attempt to reduce distracted driving. Hands-free devices allow motorists to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel while driving. Yet are hands-free cellphones really safer to use than their hand-held counterparts? A study released by AAA found that the hands-free cellphones still create a significant amount of cognitive distraction, which can lead to motor vehicle accidents.

During the study, researchers measured participants’ heart rate, brain activity, response time and eye movement as they operated a simulator vehicle and an actual car. Participants were asked to perform a number of tasks, including talking on a hand-held cellphone, talking on a hands-free cellphone, listening to the radio, listening to an audio book, maintaining a conversation with a passenger in the car and composing an email using a voice-activated device. The results showed that people experienced a significant amount of cognitive distraction when they used the hands-free cellphone. In fact, the hands-free cellular device was only slightly less distracting than using a hand-held cellphone.

How do I choose a good nursing home for my relative?

If you find yourself contemplating nursing homes in the Kansas City area for an elderly relative, you might have a few questions in mind, such as: “How do I know if the place I choose for my family member is right?” Or, “How will I know it is safe?” These are valid questions anyone should have when considering nursing home living. You are aware of the dangers of nursing home and assisted-living center abuse, which is why you want to ensure the home your relative moves into protects him or her from it. 

Choosing a good nursing home might seem like an overwhelming and confusing task. Here are some questions to ask yourself to improve your chances of selecting the right assisted-living center for your loved one. 

Applying slip-and-fall liability to different property types

Slip-and-fall cases in Kansas City may seem fairly straightforward: someone slips, falls, is injured, and then sues. Yet there is actually a lot more to these types of liability claims. Every misstep on a slippery surface does not warrant legal action. It may, therefore, help many to avoid any undue stress or concern by understanding which if these situations may merit legal action. 

Slips and falls can occur anywhere, yet for legal purposes, accidents typically must be listed as occurring on either residential, commercial or government properties. While each property type has unique restrictions related to liability, generally one needs to prove the one of the following basic elements in order to pursue a liability claim: 

  • A property owner created a fall hazard
  • A property owner knew of a fall hazard yet did nothing to fix it
  • A hazard existed long enough that the property owner should have known about it

Signs That a Nursing Home May Be Negligent

If you have a loved one in a Kansas City nursing home, you no doubt expect top-quality care in all respects. While many facilities take the health and safety of their residents seriously, in some cases serious neglect can occur. Being able to identify potential issues, such as those listed by NextAvenue.com, helps family members make sure that loved ones are being treated with love and compassion. The following are just a few things to be on the lookout for.

Lack of Cleanliness

Collision with pedestrian results in Sugar Creek man's arrest

While the side of a busy road or freeway in Kansas City is certainly not a preferable place to stop and exit a vehicle, sometimes drivers may be left with no choice. Their close proximity to speeding vehicles puts them at a heightened risk for an accident. Thus, many states have enacted "move over" laws which require passing motorists to move over as far as safety permits in order to provide drivers stranded on the side of the road with a wide berth. Unfortunately, not everyone on the road may be aware of this obligation. 

It is unclear whether a Sugar Creek man was aware of this law or not when he struck a woman walking along a freeway in Nebraska. The woman had been traveling as a passenger in a car that struck a deer. The collision with the animal rendered the vehicle inoperable. Thus, a tow truck was called to assist them. The man (who was driving a semi-truck) hit her as she was walking to the tow truck. The man has since been charged with vehicular homicide along with failing to comply with the state's move over law. 

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