Personal Injury Lawsuits and Liability
Personal injury law covers a wide range of situations, all involving at least one person being injured allegedly because of the fault or negligence of another. Probably the most well-known type of personal injury involves car accidents. There are approximately 6.5 million car crashes in the U.S. each year, and almost half of them involve some sort of injury. About 43,000 of those accidents are fatal. Numerous factors can cause car or truck accidents. Driving while under the influence, driving while drowsy, inexperienced drivers, faulty car systems due to improper production or lack of maintenance, and distracted driving are just a few of the factors that can cause an accident.
Sometimes, the actual driver that appears to have caused the accident is not entirely at fault. If, unbeknownst to the driver, the car they are driving has been manufactured improperly, they may have little to no control over avoiding an accident. Such was the case when numerous cars from Toyota appeared to accelerate on their own. These incidents were allegedly the result of the gas pedals becoming stuck, particularly under the floor mat. If someone is injured in this type of accident, it is likely that they can file a claim against the driver of the car that caused the accident and the manufacturer of the car that was defective. Trucking companies and bus companies may also be held liable if one of their drivers causes an accident. If it is determined that the company did not train the drivers properly, did not maintain their trucks or buses properly, or required their drivers to be on the road longer than federal regulations allow, they may be at least partially at fault if some is injured by one of their drivers. Someone seemingly unrelated to the accident may be responsible for an accident as well. If a company has a sign up that blocks visibility, or if landscaping is not maintained and blocks the views of drivers, the owner of the sign or the landscaping could be found to be at fault if an accident occurs in that location.
However, the liability for injuries sustained in an accident has to stop somewhere, and a couple of lawsuits in 2012 tested those boundaries unsuccessfully. In one case in New Jersey, an attorney attempted to sue the girlfriend of a man who seriously injured two people in a motorcycle accident. The girlfriend wasn’t even in the car with him, but she was texting him while he was driving. The attorney argued that she was knowingly distracting him while he was driving because she knew her schedule. The judge disagreed and said she was not liable. In West Virginia, a wrongful death case was brought against the driver of a car who had collided with a 79-year-old man in 2009. There was no report of serious injuries at the time of the accident. However, when the man died 22 months after the accident, his attorney argued that the orthopedic injuries suffered in the accident had made him so inactive that he had a fatal heart attack. This case went all the way to the West Virginia Supreme Court, which agreed that the driver was not liable for the man’s heart attack.
These two cases show that there are limits to liability when it comes to personal injury accidents. If you are injured, a Kentucky personal injury attorney like Steve Frederick can help you determine who may be responsible for your injuries and the best way to obtain compensation.
Court rejects argument that car wreck made man inactive, caused heart attack; West Virginia Record; Nathan Bass; December 4, 2012
Judge Clears Texting Woman From Boyfriend's Texting-and-Driving Lawsuit; ABC News; Marisa Taylor; May 25, 2012