Slip and Fall Claims on Private vs. Public Property

Slip and fall accidents can occur in a variety of different places, including public buildings, private residences, stores, restaurants, and more. Depending on the location where an accident occurred, the legal process may vary. While working with a slip and fall accident attorney is the most effective way of having a successful claim, it’s also important to understand how these claims are affected by the incident’s location.

Slip and Fall Claims on Private Property

If a slip and fall injury occurs on private property, the homeowner could be liable for any injuries that occurred due to their negligence, and the injured individual may pursue a claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy. In order to prove liability in this instance, it must be demonstrated that the owner of the property knew or should have known about the hazardous condition and failed to take action to remedy it.

This extends to commercial properties as well, such as restaurants or stores. Since these properties are largely privately owned, they must adhere to the same premises liability standards as homeowners.

Slip and Fall Claims on Public Property

When a slip and fall accident occurs on public property, such as in a government building or park, the laws of premises liability may still apply. These laws state that property owners must exercise reasonable care when protecting visitors from hazards. In contrast to private property claims, however, an injured individual may be able to bring a claim against the government. This may make cases more complex and require different evidence.

For example, public records and government policies and regulations can be taken into account. Additionally, if there is prior communication between a government agency or municipality regarding the property the incident occurred on or its hazards, this may be used to show that they were not diligent in remedying the issue. This can make these cases challenging, so it’s important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the complexities.

Recovering Compensation After a Slip and Fall Accident

Injured individuals may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering after a slip and fall accident. If the other party is found to be liable, they may be required to pay damages in order to cover these costs. An experienced personal injury attorney can help injured individuals pursue their claim against the responsible party, gather essential evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies for a fair settlement.

Bretz Injury Law aims to help injured individuals recover and protect their future following a slip and fall injury. Call today to request a free consultation to discuss your case.

Are Slip and Fall Accidents More Common During Winter?

As the temperature drops, many people are gearing up for the winter season. However, it’s often overlooked that colder weather increases the risk of specific injuries, especially those resulting from slip and fall accidents. This blog will explore some of those risks and how to stay safe this winter.

Winter Slip and Fall Accidents

One of the most common injuries during winter is a slip and fall. As snow and ice accumulate on sidewalks and other walkways, it becomes easier to lose your footing and take a tumble. To avoid this, remember to wear shoes with good traction and take time walking on potentially slippery surfaces. Also, look for ice and snow that may have accumulated in hidden places, such as on steps or parking lots.

Can Cold Weather Worsen Slip and Fall Injuries?

In addition to making it more likely a slip and fall injury will occur, cold temperatures can also increase the odds of sustaining a severe injury. When your body is cold, it keeps your core temperature steady, resulting in less blood flow to your arms and legs. This can cause your muscles, tendons, and ligaments to have less elasticity, increasing the risk of pulls, tears, and other musculoskeletal injuries. If you are going to be working or playing outside this winter, please remember to warm up properly and stretch your muscles before doing any strenuous activity. Warming up and stretching significantly reduces the likelihood that you’ll be injured doing activities in the cold weather.

Preventing Winter Slip and Fall Accidents

There are a few things you can do to prevent slip and fall accidents this winter. First, as mentioned above, wear shoes with good traction. Second, try to avoid walking on icy or snowy surfaces if possible. If you must walk on these surfaces, take your time and be careful. Third, make sure to warm up and stretch before doing any prolonged outdoor activities as it will decrease the risk of getting injured. Finally, when going into a business during this time of year, be cautious as floors may be slippery from excess water from clothing and shoes.

Kansas Slip and Fall Attorney

Even in the winter months, businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure their premises are safe for visitors. If you’ve been injured due to a slip and fall or other premises liability incident, we can help protect your future by fighting for the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. Schedule a free consultation with Bretz Injury Law by calling .

5 Premises Liability Hazards Holiday Visitors Should Know

Potential Injury Hazards During the Holiday Season
The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and fun. But it’s also a time when liability risks can be at their highest. Whether you’re traveling to a new city or just shopping for family and friends, it’s important to understand the potential injury-causing hazards that may arise. Here are five premises liability hazards to keep in mind this holiday season:

  1. Unkempt Lawns or Sidewalks
    When a property is not well-maintained, it can be a premises liability hazard. This is especially true during the holiday season when people are traveling and may not be as aware of their surroundings. Unkempt lawns and sidewalks can cause trips and falls, leading to serious injuries. Property owners should take steps to ensure that their property is well-maintained at all times, especially during the busy holiday season.
  2. Poorly Maintained Facilities
    While you’re out shopping for holiday gifts, be aware of the potential hazards in the parking lot and around the store. If the property owner doesn’t maintain the premises well, it could result in a slip/trip and fall accident. Make sure to watch out for puddles, spills, cracked flooring, and ice.

Additionally, if you’re attending any holiday gatherings at restaurants or another facility, be on the lookout for other potential hazards. Frayed wires, water hazards, and torn carpet/uneven flooring can all contribute to serious injury.

  1. Inadequate Lighting
    Inadequate lighting can be a serious hazard both inside and outside buildings. Inadequate lighting inside a building can lead to trips and falls, especially in areas such as stairways and hallways. Poorly lit parking lots and sidewalks can also be dangerous, making visitors vulnerable to tripping hazards and violent actions due to negligent security, depending on the area. When visiting a new city or business, be aware of the lighting conditions and take extra caution in areas that are not well-lit.
  2. Fire Hazards
    Fire hazards are one of the leading causes of premises liability accidents. Not only can a fire cause significant damage to property but it can also lead to serious injuries for those in the area. If a property owner doesn’t take steps to address fire hazards, they can be held liable for any injuries that occur as a result.

Some common fire hazards include clutter blocking exits, improperly stored flammable materials, defective wiring or appliances, faulty smoke detectors or fire extinguishers, and poorly maintained heating systems.

  1. Holiday Decorations
    While holiday decorations can be a festive and bright addition to any home or business, they can also pose a serious threat to your safety. If decorations are not installed and maintained properly, they can lead to fires, trips, falls, and other injuries.

As a visitor or guest in a space with holiday decorations, be mindful of open flames and wires on the floor. Many of these hazards are easily avoidable but can lead to serious injury if overlooked. Be especially cautious when entering or exiting spaces, as many decorations are often placed near doorways. Keeping a close eye on children and pets is also helpful, as they are often more prone to injuries caused by decor mishaps. If you notice any hazardous decorations, report them to the property owner or manager immediately.

Where to Turn to Protect Your Future
If you’re injured during the holiday season, our team at Bretz Injury Law can help ensure that you receive compensation to recover from your accident. Injuries can happen in a second, but our team aims to protect your future by considering the long-term implications. Get started with a free consultation by calling .

Truck Crashes Are Highest During Fall Harvest Season

Significant Factors in Fall Trucking Crashes
It’s unsurprising that the seasons can impact a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely—especially where large trucks are concerned. Time changes, weather patterns, and holidays can all be influential. However, these only have a small impact on why fall is the most dangerous time of year for truck drivers.

According to the most recent data from the National Safety Council (NSC), there were 1,277 fatal truck crashes during the fall season, with October accounting for about 38%. When considering what potentially influences these rates, it’s important to acknowledge that this is the harvest season. Starting in mid-September through late November, this time of year is booming for the agricultural industry, and large trucks play a major role.

How Harvest Season Can Impact Truckers
Large trucks are essential for making harvest season deliveries, transporting both equipment and product. They play such a role that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has specific regulations for drivers who are making deliveries for the agricultural sector this time of year.

Although making agricultural deliveries does not appear to be inherently dangerous, there may be some aspects that may make collisions more likely. Here are some of the most significant contributing factors:

Time Constraints
Since most agricultural products are perishable, they need to be delivered quickly, which often means drivers are on the road for longer hours than usual. In fact, the FMCSA has hours of service exemptions for drivers making these deliveries, and they are not required to log their hours via ELD during this period. This increase in time on the road leads to more opportunities for driver fatigue, one of the most dangerous conditions for any large truck driver.

Traveling Longer Distances
During harvest season, drivers may also be traveling longer distances than usual as they deliver products to different parts of the country. This increase in travel time can also lead to driver fatigue and makes it more likely that a driver will make a mistake.

Unsecured or Overloaded Cargo
With these time constraints, there is a great likelihood that cargo may not be properly secured or trucks may become overloaded. This puts both the driver and other motorists at risk as it increases the chance of the cargo shifting or falling off of the truck, which can cause a serious accident. Overloaded cargo may also cause the truck to not be maneuvered properly, such as making an overturn accident more likely or requiring more time to stop because of the added weight.

Rural Roads
NSC data shows that nearly 55% of trucking accidents occur on rural roads. These roads are typically not maintained or refurbished as often, tend to be narrower, and have less visibility than highways or city streets. Since routes for truck drivers making harvest season deliveries typically require navigating rural areas, these factors may increase the likelihood of a crash.

Adverse Weather Conditions
Another factor that can lead to increased trucking accidents during harvest season is the weather. This time of year often brings more severe weather conditions, such as high winds, rain, and even snow in some parts of the country. These adverse weather conditions make it more difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles and increases the chance of an accident.

Increased Traffic
Finally, the increased traffic in agriculture-heavy areas during harvest season can also lead to more accidents. With more vehicles on the road, there is a greater chance of a collision. When you factor in the other potential risks associated with harvest season trucking, it’s not surprising that this time of year sees the highest number of large truck crashes.

Kansas Truck Accident Attorneys
With agriculture being one of the most significant industries in Kansas, it’s important for all motorists to take the necessary precautions this time of year. Truckers should be mindful about how they are driving and the impact it can have on others. Vehicle drivers should also be aware of trucks on the road (particularly in rural areas) and understand that during this time they may need extra stopping distance, a wider berth for larger loads, and additional space when turning.

The team at Bretz Injury Law is prepared to help protect your future when negligent drivers cause harm. If you need legal assistance following a collision with a large truck, call for a free consultation.

Drunk vs. Drugged Driving

The Dangers of Driving Under the Influence

When the term “driving under the influence” is used, people often associate it strictly with drunk driving. However, this can also mean being under the influence of drugs, an issue that is steadily growing in the United States.

According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drug use among fatally injured drivers increased by 17% from 2007 to 2016. Among these fatalities, cannabis, polydrug use (more than one type at a time), and stimulants were the most commonly found in the driver’s system. Despite the lack of conversation surrounding drugged driving, all motorists should be aware of the effects drugs can have on their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Comparing the Effects of Drunk vs. Drugged Driving

It’s important to understand how both alcohol and drugs can affect your body and, as a result, your driving ability. While they can both impair judgment and reaction times, there are also other issues that may arise.

Alcohol Use

When alcohol is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and quickly travels to the brain where it begins to affect the central nervous system. This can lead to:

  • Slower reflexes
  • Reduced coordination
  • Decreased ability to track moving objects
  • Difficulty multitasking
  • Poor short-term memory

All of these effects can make it extremely dangerous to get behind the wheel. According to the NHTSA, drunk driving is responsible for nearly 30% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the United States.

Drug Use

While the effects of alcohol use on driving ability are widely known, the influence of drugs is not as commonly discussed. This may be because different drug classifications impair the body in different ways. For example, cannabis (or marijuana) causes reduced coordination, poor lane tracking, and impaired visual function. In contrast, stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines may make drivers more aggressive, reduce concentration, and increase risk-taking.

These impairments, whether through alcohol or drug use, can have fatal consequences. To stay as safe as possible when behind the wheel, driving sober is always the best option.

Kansas Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney

Drivers who endanger others should be brought to justice. The team at Bretz Injury Law aims to protect your future by holding these negligent individuals accountable for their actions and help you obtain the compensation needed to seek medical treatment and replace lost wages. When you’ve been injured, Matt Bretz is here to help. Get started with a free consultation today by calling .

What Are the Most Common Crashes in Kansas?

Kansas Crash Facts from 2016 to 2020

Each day, millions of vehicle miles are traveled in Kansas by people commuting to and from work, going on road trips, or running errands. Although no one anticipates being involved in a collision, with so many motorists on the road, this is a reality for thousands of drivers and passengers each year.

From 2016 to 2020, Kansas averaged 60,602 motor vehicle accidents. When examining this data from the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), there are many consistencies throughout this five-year period. Keep reading to learn more about the different circumstances that occur most frequently in these car crashes.

Driver Error Contributes to Most Crashes

Throughout the study time period, the top five contributing circumstances related to crashes were driver inattention, animals, right of way violations, following too closely, and speeding. On average, these five factors were involved in 56.42% of crashes, with the four “driver error” categories making up about 43.56%.

It’s important to note that these driver errors are all preventable when remaining attentive to the road and reducing speeds. Likewise, when driving at night, especially in rural areas, drivers should be mindful to slow down and check for animals that could likely dart into the road.

Over 20% of Crashes Result in Injury

In terms of crash severity, Kansas had about 12,865 injury crashes on average in this period. This makes up about 21.2% of crashes in the state. In contrast, there was an average of only about 379 fatalities.

The fatal crash rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was on a steady decline until 2020. And despite about 5 billion fewer vehicle miles traveled during this year, there was a 6% increase in fatal crashes. Although there is not a definitive answer for why fatal crashes increased during this time, incident rates of speeding were much higher, which likely was a contributing factor.

More Fatal Crashes Occur in Rural Areas

KDOT defines urban areas as those with more than 5,000 people within the boundary lines. Considering this distinction, it makes sense that over 60% of crashes occur in these areas. However, higher rates of fatal crashes occur in rural areas. In 2016, about 62.7% of fatal crashes happened in a rural area.

There may be several reasons why this is the case. Higher speed limits on highways and less traffic are likely contributing factors. Additionally, rural areas may have much lower law enforcement and emergency response presence, increasing the amount of time it would take for someone to arrive on the scene of a crash.

SUVs are Involved in Second Highest Number of Crashes Annually

KDOT distinguishes between vehicle types when reporting crash data. Although standard cars are involved in the most crashes each year, sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have the second-highest number, averaging about 19,526 crashes annually.

Considering this, it may be easy to assume that there are just more SUVs registered in the state; however, this is not the case. Recent reports show that the Ford F-150 is the most popular vehicle in Kansas when looking at new and used car sales.

Nearly 10% of Fatal Crashes Involved Motorcycles

Despite making up less than 1% of vehicles involved in traffic crashes, motorcycles account for about 10% of fatalities on average. Many reasons can contribute to this. For one, motorcycles provide very little protection to the rider, and even if they are wearing all the appropriate safety gear, it may not be enough to completely reduce the risk of severe injuries.

Additionally, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to being hit by other vehicles because they are much smaller and can be harder to see. It’s important for all drivers to be aware of their surroundings and always check twice for motorcycles before changing lanes or making a turn.

Learn more: How Cars Cause Motorcycle Crashes

Tips for Crash Prevention

The best way to prevent crashes is to be a defensive driver. This means being aware of your surroundings, obeying all traffic laws, and not driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Don’t forget to put away any distractions so you can focus on the task of driving.

It’s also important to always buckle up and make sure everyone in your vehicle is properly restrained before setting out on your trip. This has proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the possibility of sustaining fatal injuries in a crash.

Kansas Car Accident Attorneys Protecting Your Future

The team at Bretz Injury Law is here to help all Kansas drivers seek justice for injuries sustained in a crash with a negligent driver. Backed by 30 years of experience, Attorney Matthew L. Bretz has what it takes to help you achieve a successful result. Get started today by calling to schedule a free consultation.

What are the ‘100 Deadliest Days of Summer’?

As the summer season approaches, families anticipate some much-needed rest and relaxation. However, this time of year does not come without its downsides. A phenomenon known as the “100 deadliest days of summer” reminds parents to encourage teen drivers to practice defensive driving techniques whenever possible.

What are the “100 Deadliest Days”?

This term refers to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen drivers are most likely to be involved in a fatal car accident. Data from AAA found that from 2010 to 2019, an average of seven teens sustained fatal injuries each day during this period.

Local governments around the country often launch annual campaigns regarding these 100 days, highlighting certain risk factors that may make these crashes more likely. Some of these risk factors include increased traffic on the roads, driving under the influence, and distractions such as cell phones. With this increased risk, it’s important to have thoughtful conversations about teen driver safety.

Tips for Teen Drivers

There are several things that teen drivers can do to stay safe during this time. First, it is important to always wear a seatbelt and encourage passengers to do the same. Additionally, teens should avoid driving late at night or early in the morning when fatigue is more likely to set in.

Parents may also consider having a conversation with their teen about responsible driving habits such as obeying the speed limit and avoiding distractions. If you are teaching your child how to drive during this time of year, take the opportunity to model these behaviors and discuss the importance of keeping safety at the forefront.

Kansas Car Accident Attorneys

Keeping loved ones safe is always a priority, and the team at Bretz Injury Law understands that a loss can be devastating for the whole family. If you are seeking a car accident attorney for the loss of a loved one, we can help you pursue justice and secure your future. Schedule a free consultation today by calling .

3 Tips for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Being a safe driver is essential no matter the vehicle. For motorcycle riders, taking precautionary measures to improve personal safety can help decrease the risk of being involved in a collision.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and there are many things a rider can do to contribute to this. Here are three simple tips that a motorcyclist can use daily to improve their safety.

#1. Increase Visibility to Other Drivers

Ensuring that a motorcycle rider can be visible to other road users no matter the time of day is important for ensuring their safety. While every street-legal motorcycle is required to have a headlight, taillights and turn signals, several other visibility options are available. Some options to consider include wearing high visibility or reflective gear and avoiding lingering in a driver’s blind spots.

#2. Take Safety Courses

Taking safety courses or other motorcycle education classes can help build confidence and reinforce ways to keep riders safe—even if they have ridden for decades already. Some programs even offer courses explicitly designed for experienced riders aimed at improving finesse and risk management.

This can also be a great option for riders who have recently relocated to a new state or area with unfamiliar terrain.

#3. Keep Up With Routine Maintenance

As with any other vehicle, having a regularly maintained and well-kept motorcycle can reduce the possibility of preventable accidents. Especially if the bike was recently stored for winter, it’s important to keep maintenance up-to-date and ensure everything is in proper working order.

Your Kansas Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

The team at Bretz Injury Law is dedicated to protecting the rights of motorcycle riders who’ve been injured. Since 1997, we have fought for injured motorcyclists throughout Kansas and can help protect your future. Schedule a free consultation today by calling .

Distracted Driving and Motorcycle Crashes: Who Is At Fault?

Distracted driving is one of the most common hazards on roadways nationwide. The impact that seemingly simple actions can have often goes overlooked, and it extends far beyond just using a mobile device. Nearly every action taken behind the wheel that takes a driver’s focus away from driving can be considered a distraction.

Where this is especially concerning, however, is when non-automobiles are involved. Motorcycle riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians can fall victim to distractions or distracted drivers and suffer potentially fatal consequences.

According to data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), there were 2,872 police-reported fatal crashes in 2019 that were caused by distracted drivers. Distractions were a factor in about 8% of overall motorcycle fatalities.

Motorcycle riders can be especially vulnerable to drivers becoming distracted or being inattentive to the roadway. When an automobile driver is unaware of riders on the road and is distracted, they may change lanes without checking blind spots, brake too hard, or turn in front of a rider at an intersection.

Several studies show that distracted driving is often one of the most underreported crash causes worldwide, possibly due to the fact that using a handheld electronic device while driving is illegal in most places. Along with this, many people don’t classify several other things they do behind the wheel as distractions and may not admit that they were inattentive at the time of the crash.

What is Distracted Driving?

Driving distractions fall into three categories: manual, visual, and cognitive. How they’re classified depends on how they affect the driver. A manual distraction takes one or both hands away from the wheel, a visual distraction takes eyes off the road, and a cognitive distraction diverts focus away from driving. Some examples include:

  • Manual: Changing the radio station, reaching for something on the floor, or reaching into the glovebox.
  • Visual: Texting, using the phone, looking at GPS, or looking at passengers.
  • Cognitive: daydreaming, thinking about a work schedule, or driving while tired.

It’s important to note that most distractions may be a combination of the three. Texting and driving, for example, encompasses all categories and is considered one of the most dangerous things a person can do behind the wheel.

How Can I Prove Liability?

The circumstances leading up to the crash will be the biggest indicator of who should be held liable. Was an automobile driver talking on the phone? Were they paying attention to the road and fully aware of their surroundings? It is best to get any injuries treated first and then obtain a police report. The police report should list any evidence observed by the officer and the accounts from all parties.

It is important to hire an attorney as soon as possible to start gathering evidence. There may be evidence on the road itself, like skid marks, that fade over time.

Along with this, if mobile phone use was likely a factor, your attorney may be able to request the phone records of the opposing party. Witness statements and photos/videos can also provide more context. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you obtain all of these things.

Kansas Personal Injury Attorneys

At Bretz Injury Law, we’re dedicated to improving roadway safety throughout Kansas and to holding distracted drivers accountable for injuring others. We’ve spent decades protecting the rights of injured victims and protecting their futures. Schedule your free consultation with a member of our team today by calling .

Why are Road Fatalities Increasing in Kansas?

Highway Fatality Rate Increased by 19% in 2020

As part of the state’s Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) annually releases a performance report that highlights the changes in roadway accident severity year-over-year. The most recent report, released in 2021, showed that the fatality rate for the last five years has been trending significantly higher than previously. From 2019 to 2020, the fatality rate increased by about 19%; however, since 2012, the average year-over-year has only been about +2.56%.

So what is causing this steady increase? Here are a few factors to consider:

Accident Locations

When looking at the five-year averages of factors influencing the number of fatalities on Kansas roads, where accidents are occurring plays a large role. Comparing 2012-2016 to 2016-2020 shows that there is a steady increase among accidents at intersections, local roads, and on roads with horizontal curves.

Driver Age

The reports indicate that older drivers and pedestrians are increasingly becoming more involved in accidents resulting in severe injuries and fatalities, while the teen rates are actually decreasing. Comparing the five-year averages from 2012-2016 and 2016-2020, the number of fatalities among individuals aged 65+ are 90 and 109.6, respectively.

Vehicles Involved

Motorcycles/mopeds and large commercial vehicles involved in fatal accidents have also increased since 2012. For motorcyclists/mopeds, the five-year average number of fatalities was 46 from 2012-2016, while this has increased to 55.6 from 2016-2020; for commercial vehicles, these numbers are 64 and 81.2, respectively.

Looking ahead to 2022, the state is aiming for a fatality rate of 1.28, which would be about a 15.6% decrease from 2020. Although KDOT estimates that it is on track to achieve this, the statewide changes from 2021 (like return to in-person schooling and lifting curfews) may influence how effective the new HSIP may be.

Kansas Car Accident Attorneys

Since 1997, Bretz Injury Law has been dedicated to protecting the rights of injured individuals throughout Kansas. With seven convenient office locations, you can get the legal assistance you deserve when you need it most. Schedule a free consultation today by calling .