A Man of His Word
Jeff didn’t set out to become one of the most respected truck crash attorneys in the nation. He became involved in truck safety literally, by accident. “Many years ago,” Jeff recalls, “in my first truck crash case I represented a client who had lost his wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 9, in a crash caused by a fatigued truck driver. I had a daughter about the age of the younger girl at the time,” he notes, “and the more I learned about the trucking industry by working on that case, the more I was afraid of putting my family on the highway.”
“That first case was a life-changing event for me,” states Jeff. “Standing in the weeds next to the highway at the scene of the crash, I promised the girls’ father their deaths would not be in vain; that I would make sure that their loss would make a difference.”
To help remind him of what his practice is all about and the promise he made, he keeps a broken pair of one of the girl’s white roller skates with pink wheels in his office.
Changing the Trucking Industry for the Better
Jeff’s goal is to help trucking companies see the light and realize there can actually be a remarkable return on investment when they institute or strengthen safety programs. There is less litigation, and drivers stay with companies longer when they see stronger safety rules as a genuine commitment to help protect them.
Jeff believes we need a quantum shift in the way trucking companies, their customers and consumers look at the industry. “We need to get big shippers to include a good safety record as part of their service expectation,” he says, “and consumers need to hold companies accountable for the carriers they choose in the same way they now hold retailers accountable for the working conditions of people who make the products they sell.”
“Our firm tries to do the right thing,” Jeff points out, “we cannot sit back and work on these tragic cases and not try to do something about the problem.”
Jeff is at the front of the national movement for increased safety in the trucking industry. He serves on the Boards of Directors of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), both grassroots safety advocacy organizations. He is a former director for the Center for Truck Safety (C.T.S.) and also served in the Alliance for Safe Highways. Burns has served as National Transportation Counsel for P.A.T.T. since shortly after the organization was founded in 1994.
He was appointed as a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board’s Truck and Bus Safety Committee (ANB70), and the Secretary of Transportation has appointed him as a member of the National Freight Advisory Committee.
Finally, he has also served on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City.
Areas of Practice
University of Missouri School of Law, Colombia, Missouri
University of Leicester Facility of Law, Leicester, England
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid Spain
Truman State, Kirksville, Missouri
Professional Associations and Memberships
Transportation Research Board, Current Member and Former Friend of the Board
Commercial Transportation Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section, Vice-Chair
Truck Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice; Current Member, and Former Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and Secretary
National Freight Advisory Committee, Former Member
Alliance for Safe Highways, Missouri/Kansas, Former Director
Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), Board Member
Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), Board Member
Center for Truck Safety (C.T.S.), Former Director
Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City, Former Director
National Registry of Who’s Who
The Missouri Bar, Member
American Bar Association, Member
Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Member
American Association for Justice, Member
Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Member
Awards and Honors
Super Lawyers – 2005-2018
American Trial Lawyers Association – Top 100 Trial Lawyers in America – 2008-2016
Best Lawyers in America – 2005 and 2017
National Registry of Who’s Who – Lifetime Member
Truck Safety Coalition – Distinguished Service Award – 2005
Parents Against Tired Truckers – Lifesaver Award – 1998
Missouri Laywers Weekly – Unsung Hero Award – 1996