January 18, 2013

How Kentucky Texting and Driving Laws Compare to Other States

Texting and driving has become a very hot topic over the last few years, and many states have passed laws prohibiting texting and driving in an attempt to reduce the number of car accidents and wrongful deaths caused by this dangerous habit. Some states have pretty stiff penalties, while others are fairly lenient; and many of the laws are just plain hard to enforce.

In Virginia, it is currently against the law to text while driving. However, law enforcement agencies cannot stop a driver simply for texting and driving because it is only a secondary offense. The texting driver has to be pulled over for some other reason – a primary – offense before they can be charged with texting and driving. Even if they are charged as such, the penalty is only a $20 fine. Two delegates have introduced a bill that would make texting and driving a Class 1 misdemeanor, equal to reckless driving. Drivers found guilty of this offense could face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

At the opposite extreme of Virginia’s current law is Utah’s texting and driving law, recently amended in 2012. A driver can be pulled over in Utah only for texting and driving; no other offense is needed. However, when the law was first passed in 2009, the driver had to be actively sending a text at the time of the accident in order to be charged. That is no longer the case. As of 2012, any driver who is using their phone for anything other than making a phone call or using the GPS is breaking the law. This includes surfing the Web, reading a text, or using an app.

Another significant factor in the Utah law is that it puts texting and driving in the same category as drunk driving. Instead of being considered an “accident” if someone is texting and causes a crash, the law states that someone who texts and drives is being inherently reckless, similar to a drunk driver who knows the dangers of drinking and driving, but does it anyway. Drivers are very aware of the dangers of texting and driving, so if they still do it, they are knowingly putting themselves and others in harm’s way. Utah drivers who are caught texting and driving can be charged with a misdemeanor and may face up to a $750 fine and a year in jail. If they kill another person while texting and driving, the penalty may be as harsh as 15 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

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January 11, 2013

Kentucky Car Accident Deaths Increased in 2012

After seeing the number of Kentucky car accident deaths steadily decline from 2008 to 2011, there was an unfortunate increase in the number for 2012. According to Kentucky State Police, 737 people were killed on Kentucky roadways last year, up from 720 in 2011. Hardest hit by the increase was Northern Kentucky. Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties had 13 more deaths in 2012 than in 2011, with Boone County nearly doubling its numbers from 10 deaths in 2011 to 19 in 2012.

A spokesman for the Boone County Sheriff’s department said there was no particular reason for the increase. Every month the Sheriff’s office reviews the car wreck data and concentrates on areas that seem to have an unusually high number of incidents. But there was no rhyme or reason to the sharp increase in fatalities. “There’s not one thing we can point to to say here’s what we are experiencing in Boone County and here’s what we’re going to do about it,” said the sheriff’s spokesman. The crashes were spread throughout the county and were attributed to a number of different factors.

The State of Kentucky has a highway safety plan titled “Toward Zero Deaths.” According to State Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock, the plan is named that because “There is no such thing as ‘acceptable losses.’ Every highway death is a tragedy.” The department continually strives to reduce car accident deaths through enforcement and education.

Unfortunately, the only way to truly make Kentucky’s roads safer for drivers is for the drivers themselves to take on the responsibility. The transportation department can hold seminars and make posters and talk until they are blue in the face, but it will not decrease the number of fatalities on the roadways unless Kentuckians themselves want to change their driving habits. These changes are obvious, and actually relatively easy, considering they could save a life.

1. Don’t drink or use drugs and drive, ever.
2. Put your cell phones down. And your lipstick. And your breakfast. And your GPS. Pay attention to the road, the traffic signs, and those around you.
3. Wear your seatbelt, always. Make sure your passengers wear them too.
4. Slow down. No meeting or appointment is more important than your life or someone else’s.
5. If the weather is bad, stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary that you be somewhere.

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December 10, 2012

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.

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December 6, 2012

Drunk Drivers in Louisville, Kentucky Acquitted More Often by Judges than Juries

When one thinks of a judge, images of a harsh, unrelenting, robe-wearing, gavel-yielding individual likely come to mind. So it may come as a surprise to hear that judges in Louisville, Kentucky appear to be more lenient on drunk drivers than a jury made up of the driver’s peers. According to the Courier-Journal, 73% of drunk drivers that have bench trials – trials decided only by a judge – are acquitted, while only 45% of drunk drivers that are tried by juries are acquitted.

At first glance, it may seem that one attorney has an in with three of the judges. In the last three years, he represented 30 clients in bench trials – mostly in front of the three judges – and all but three were acquitted. The attorney has contributed to all three of the judges’ political campaigns, but all four parties deny that has had any bearing on the DUI trials the judges have presided over where the defendants have gone free. According to one judge, “He’s completely changed the way I look at DUIs, honestly. He is very creative, very inventive. It just amazes me his ability to take a case and pick it apart.” The attorney attributes his success to his experience and his intense preparation before each case.

Many of the drunk drivers are acquitted on technicalities, one of the biggest being denied the chance to contact an attorney before taking a breathalyzer test. In Kentucky, a driver is allowed to have up to 15 minutes to contact an attorney before being tested at a jail. The drivers also should be given access to their cell phones during this time. It used to be that suspects were allowed only one phone call, but that has changed over the years. Drivers who have failed field sobriety tests, been caught driven erratically, and have even been tested at over two times the legal limit, have still been let go by judges because they weren’t given enough time to contact an attorney.

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November 18, 2012

Drowsy Drivers v. Drunk Drivers - Which is Worse?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) states drunk drivers might be a little worse than drowsy drivers, but not by much. That is why police in California and the National Sleep foundation spent the last week trying to convince drivers not to get behind the wheel if they are tired. According to the NHTSA, over 1500 deaths and 70,000 injuries occur in car accidents caused by sleepy drivers. And with the holidays fast approaching, the number of drowsy drivers is set to increase, as travelers leave early in the morning and drive long hours to reach their holiday destinations.

Signs of a tired driver are similar to those of a drunk driver. They tend to drive under the speed limit to the point where they are holding up traffic. They may swerve across the yellow lines on the road or onto the shoulder. Running red lights, but at a slower speed is also an indication. Police officers frequently pull drivers over because they appear to be driving under the influence only to discover the person behind the wheel just hasn’t had enough sleep. While there is not a specific charge for driving while tired, sometimes tickets are given for the erratic driving that made them appear drunk.

The best way to avoid drowsy driving is to make sure you have had enough sleep before you head out, and to get off the road when you begin to feel tired. If you are traveling with someone, have them take a shift behind the wheel. If you are alone, don’t bother blaring the music or rolling down the window; these tricks don’t really work. Your best bet is to pull over and sleep for about 15 minutes to help recharge your batteries.

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November 7, 2012

Faulty Car Products or Incorrect Maintenance Can Cause Kentucky Car Accidents

In a recent car accident in Washington County, Kentucky, a woman lost her life and her passenger was critically injured. Police believe the accident can be attributed in part to a tire blowing out on the car. They theorize that when the tire blew, the woman lost control and the car went off the road and rolled upside down.

Generally, when a car accident occurs, it is the result of driver error, and the at-fault driver is normally not entitled to any type of compensation for their injuries. However, in car wrecks such as the one mentioned above, the accident may have been caused in part by a defective or faulty part. Investigators who determine the causes of car accidents need to consider at all of the possible reasons an accident may have occurred. Investigators in this accident will most likely look at the tire to determine if it was defective, if it was improperly inflated or installed, or if something on the road caused it to blow.

If the tire was defective, a product liability case could be made against the manufacturer that made the tire or the company that sold the defective product. These companies should not be offering products to consumers unless they are properly made and tested to ensure their safety. If the tire had been improperly installed or inflated, the shop or garage that did the work may be partially liable for the accident. In these situations, both the family of the deceased driver and the injured passenger may be entitled to compensation from the companies that were at fault. If the tire had been improperly maintained by the driver of the car, her family probably would not be entitled to any compensation because the tire failure would be no one’s fault but hers.

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October 1, 2012

Indiana City Worker Will Not Go to Jail for Fatal Truck Accident

In May, 2010, traffic was stopped on State Road 60 near Sellersburg, Indiana. The cause, as is often the case in spring and summer, was ongoing road construction. Unfortunately, one driver did not stop. To make matters worse, he was driving a large garbage truck. He crashed into five cars, killing one 19-year-old girl.

The truck driver, Roger Crum, faced criminal charges because of the truck accident, including multiple counts of felony criminal recklessness and homicide. When questioned by police about the accident, he told them he did not see the flagger or the road work signs. He admitted to police that he had taken prescription pain killers before getting behind the wheel of the truck. However when he was tested for driving under the influence, no drugs or alcohol were found.

Rather than going to trial, Mr. Crum pleaded guilty to the felony criminal recklessness counts and the homicide charge was reduced to misdemeanor criminal recklessness. He avoided jail time with his guilty plea and reduced sentence. He will be on probation for four-and-a-half years. Family members were very dissatisfied with the sentence, and grudgingly agreed to the deal. Because the drugs were not found in the driver’s system, they were afraid if they went to trial that he wouldn’t receive any punishment. In addition to the probation, Mr. Crum’s commercial driver’s license was suspended for the duration of his probation. He also lost his personal driver’s license for one year.

In addition to the criminal charges that were brought against Mr. Crum, a civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of the deceased victim against the City of Jeffersonville, who employed Mr. Crum at the time of the accident. The city had already terminated Mr. Crum shortly after the accident because he failed to notify them that he was taking the prescription pain killers, which may have prevented him from being allowed to drive the truck at the time of the accident. Even though the city claimed they were unaware that the driver had taken the drugs before driving a city vehicle, they still agreed to settle with the victim’s estate for an undisclosed amount. The wrongful death lawsuit allegedly had asked for $700,000 in damages.

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August 9, 2012

Kentucky and Indiana Drivers May Be Affected by Hyundai Car Recall

Hyundai is the latest car maker in the news for a large recall on two of their vehicles. Recalls occur when a potential problem that affects numerous cars, trucks, or SUVs is discovered either through company testing or driver complaints. Obviously it is better if these issues are discovered by the company before any type of car accident occurs, but that is not always the case.

The smaller of the two recalls affects over 22,000 2012-13 Hyundai Sonatas. The company has received 16 complaints of the side airbags deploying without a car accident occurring. While airbags can save lives during an accident, they can cause injuries such as bruising or burning. These injuries are certainly better than broken bones or organ damage that might happen in an accident without airbags, but if an accident has not occurred, these injuries cause unnecessary pain and potential scarring and cost the victim in lost wages in medical expenses. A deployed airbag, whether front or side, can also limit the visibility of the driver, which may cause a serious accident.

The larger product recall involves the 2007-2009 Hyundai Santa Fe. Almost 200,000 are being recalled in the U.S. These vehicles have the opposite problem from the ones above. In these vehicles, certain airbags may not deploy, even when involved in an accident. The issue stems from faulty sensors that may not detect a light passenger sitting in the front seat. Originally designed to keep the front passenger seat airbag from deploying if a child is in the front seat, these sensors may not cause the airbag to deploy if a smaller adult is in the passenger seat.

How do these recalls work? Anyone who owns one of the affected vehicles will receive a recall notice by mail. The owner will need to set up an appointment with their local Hyundai dealer and the side airbags will be replaced in the Sonatas and the Occupant Classification System software will be updated in the Santa Fe SUVs.

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August 3, 2012

Do Kentucky Residents have to worry about Distracted Walking?

By now, everyone has heard of distracted driving. While distracted driving has been around probably since the first car hit the road, it has become even more of a concern as technology has placed more and more gadgets into our hands that should be on the steering wheel when we are driving. Even something as commonplace as the radio in the car can cause a driver’s eyes to leave the road long enough to cause a car accident. Navigational systems are so handy when you are lost or attempt to take a detour to avoid a traffic delay, but they can take your attention off the road as well. And of course, there is the ever-present cell phone, tempting us to talk, text, email and surf as we are driving down the road.

Numerous groups have done everything in their powers to make people aware of the dangers of using the cellphone while driving. Some places have made it illegal to talk on a handheld device while driving, and many others have laws against texting while driving. But how about those individuals that use their electronic devices while walking?

The Associated Press reports that the number of hospital visits attributed to pedestrian accidents caused by walking while distracted has quadrupled in the last seven years. And they believe the number is probably even greater because not all cases are reported. While some distracted walkers simply bump into another walker or trip over something and catch themselves, others are putting themselves in very dangerous situations. Last year, a Philadelphia man was distracted by his cellphone conversation and fell off a train platform. Luckily he was pulled to safety before a train approached. In a study in Maryland, they found that 116 pedestrians lost their lives or suffered serious injuries while walking with headphones on.

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July 18, 2012

Lawsuits Claim Stores Responsible for Two Indiana Car Accident Deaths

The Kentucky dram shop law was discussed in one of our 2011 posts. Indiana also has this type of law. A dram shop law may make a bar, restaurant, or other establishment partially liable for a car accident caused by a drunk driver. This doesn’t mean every time someone has a drink at a bar and wrecks his car that the bar is responsible. Employees of the establishment serving alcohol to a patron have to be aware that the patron is intoxicated, continue to serve alcohol to the patron, and allow the person to drive away instead of providing alternate transportation in order to be considered partially liable. If an underage drinker is served in a bar or restaurant and causes an accident, the bar or restaurant could be liable as well because it should not have served any amount of alcohol to a minor.

In an interesting twist to this law, an attorney has filed two wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of families who lost loved ones in car accidents in Muncie, Indiana. But the targets of the lawsuits are not the drivers that caused the accident. In fact, one of the victims was driving the car himself when he was killed. And there was no alcohol involved in either accident. Instead, these lawsuits have been filed against two convenience stores and the owners of the stores. How were they supposedly involved in these victims’ deaths? The lawsuits claim both of the stores sold illegal drugs to the individuals that caused the accidents that killed the victims.

In the first incident, the victim allegedly bought bath salts at one of the stores on May 25, 2012. Bath salts have an effect on the user similar to cocaine or LSD and it is illegal to possess, make, or sell them in Indiana. The lawsuit claims that the victim ingested the bath salts sold to him by the store and crashed on his motorcycle as a result of the drug’s effect.

In the second incident, which occurred on February 1, 2012, the victim purchased spice, which is like synthetic marijuana, from the second store named in the lawsuit. He and a female friend took some before getting in a car with her at the wheel. The driver crashed the car into a tree and the victim was killed.

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June 27, 2012

Family of Kentucky Woman Files Wrongful Death Suit for Car Accident

On June 30, 2010, a woman from Thomasville, Kentucky was killed in a car accident in High Point Kentucky. She was driving a minivan when she was struck by a car pulling out of a parking lot. Police did not file charges against the driver who allegedly caused the accident, but that does not mean a civil lawsuit cannot be filed, which is what the estate of the victim did on June 15, 2012.

The wrongful death lawsuit names both the driver of the vehicle and a paving company as defendants. The suit claims the driver of the vehicle was negligent because she did not look in all directions before turning across five lanes of traffic. The suit also states she did not stop or turn her car or to avoid the accident or honk her horn to alert the victim that she was in harm’s way. This part of the lawsuit is pretty straightforward.

One might wonder how a grading and paving company could be blamed for an accident when none of their trucks were involved and the accident was not blamed on road conditions. The lawsuit claims one of the company’s signs caused the accident, stating "The sign was constructed of inadequate materials and was placed too close to the ground." Because the company’s employees did not consider the placement of the sign, it obstructed the view of the drivers trying to enter the intersection of the highway. This caused the other driver to run into the victim because she couldn’t see around the sign, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit requests a trial by jury and is asking for over $10,000 in damages. The amount of damages is often left to the jury to decide in a jury trial. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim – or in this case the victim’s estate – for lost income, medical bills, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and mental distress of both the victim and her family. Another type of award called punitive damages is sometimes requested as well. This amount is meant to deter the defendant from acting in the same manner again. Oftentimes people think jury awards in personal injury or wrongful death trials are excessive, but that is not usually the case. This victim in this case was only 29 years old and had children. When one considers the amount of income she would have made throughout the rest of her life and how much will be needed to care for her children, the amount of damages seems more reasonable.

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June 15, 2012

Wrongful Death Suit Will Soon Be Filed in Fatal Hit-and-Run Accident

A 22-year-old man will soon be facing a wrongful death lawsuit in a hit-and-run accident that occurred on May 3, 2012. A 24-year-old pregnant woman had been called by a friend to come help her on the side of the road with her car that had stopped running around 1:30 a.m. While they were investigating the car, a 45-year-old neighbor came home from working a late shift and offered to get some gas from his lawnmower to put in the car’s gas tank. The three people got the car running again and were hugging goodbye when the 22-year-old hit the pregnant woman and the neighbor in an SUV. Both adults and the woman’s unborn child were killed.

To make matters worse, the driver that caused this fatal car crash did not stop at the scene. Witnesses say they saw him stop further down the road to look at the damage on the front of his car, but he got back in and drove away instead of returning to the accident scene. He abandoned the SUV and a little while later and told his roommates that he had hit someone with his car. Police were able to match hair and blood on the front of the SUV to the victims and they traced the vehicle back to the driver’s parents, who own the car.

Much to the dismay of many, the police did not arrest the driver immediately. Instead they waited for a grand jury to indict him. The attorney for the female victim believes that was the right thing to do because it gave police more time to interview witnesses and collect information that might have been harder to obtain if the suspect had been arrested sooner. The driver has now faces numerous charges including three counts of vehicular homicide due to intoxication and reckless conduct and leaving the scene of the accident.

Although this accident occurred in Tennessee, some aspects of the case are also relevant to victims of Kentucky car accidents as well. The attorney for the pregnant victim said they will be filing a wrongful death lawsuit soon because there is a one-year statute of limitations on this type of lawsuit. Kentucky residents who wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit have two years from the date of death or one year after a representative has been appointed to file in court.

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June 1, 2012

Dramatic Increase in Kentucky Motorcycle Accidents in 2012

Unfortunately, it appears that motorcyclists are being involved in more accidents this year than in 2011, according to Kentucky State Police. About 40 more people have been involved in a motorcycle accident and six more have been killed in 2012 than in the same months of 2011. The latest tragic fatality to be added to this total occurred on May 30, 2012 on Fern Valley Road in Louisville, KY. A 23-year-old rider collided with a pickup truck while turning in the intersection. Fog and speed may have contributed to the accident. Even though he was wearing a helmet, he did not survive the crash. Charges were not filed and it does not appear that his family wants to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit at this time.

Not all of this year’s crashes have involved another vehicle. On May 27, 2012, a motorcycle ran off the road in Monticello, Kentucky and hit a house, killing both the driver and the passenger. The cause of the accident is still being investigated. Neither victim was wearing a helmet. While helmets do not always save lives, such as in the first accident mentioned above, they often do. On the same day as the Monticello accident, two people were riding a motorcycle near Frankfort, Kentucky on I-64. When the driver tried to get off the highway, he ran the motorcycle into the grass and hit some trees. While the driver and passenger were both thrown off the bike, the driver who was not wearing a helmet was unresponsive and had to be transported by helicopter to the UK Medical Center. On the other hand, the passenger, who was wearing a helmet, was conscious and suffered less serious injuries.

What has caused this dramatic increase in accidents? It may be due in part to the unusually warm weather that Kentucky residents have been enjoying since the first of the year. The warmer weather has allowed more riders to be out on their motorcycles earlier in the year. Some also believe higher gas prices have contributed to the larger volume of motorcycle riding since they use very little gas. Instead of being used just for pleasure riding, they are being used as commuter vehicles, increasing their time on the roadways.

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May 29, 2012

Texting to a Driver Does Not Make You Liable for a Kentucky Car Accident

In 2009, a New Jersey teen was texting with his girlfriend while driving home from work. His car crossed the center line and he crashed into two motorcyclists. The husband and wife he hit both lost part of a leg in the motorcycle accident. The teen has admitted he was distracted by his phone while he was driving and has pleaded guilty in his criminal case to using a cell phone improperly, failing to stay in his lane and careless driving. He is on probation and was required to talk to teens about the dangers of texting and driving. A civil case against him is still pending.

As cell phone use has increased, many states have created laws to prohibit using cell phones in certain ways while driving to prevent car accidents. Currently 38 states prohibit texting while driving, with an additional five states prohibiting new drivers from texting behind the wheel. In Kentucky, no drivers are allowed to text while driving, and if they do, it is a primary offense, which means a driver can be stopped by a police officer just for texting while driving. A Kentucky driver that is pulled over for texting while driving, which includes reading or sending messages, can be fined $25.00 plus court costs. A second offense will cost $50.00 plus court fees.

New Jersey currently has a law against texting and driving too, but the attorney representing the victims in the above accident tried to take it a step further. On behalf of his clients, the attorney filed a lawsuit against the teen’s girlfriend who had been texting him while he was driving. The attorney’s argument was that the girlfriend knew the teen was driving, so she knowingly distracted him with texting while he was behind the wheel, thereby helping to cause the car accident. The lawsuit attempted to charge her with aiding and abetting, which occurs when a person does not actually commit the crime, but is marginally involved. Because she started the text messaging exchange and she testified during a deposition that she may have known the teen driver was in the car at that time, she was partially at fault.

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May 25, 2012

Intoxicated Teen Driver Causes Kentucky Single-Car Accident

A very tragic Kentucky car accident claimed the life of a nine-month-old infant on Saturday in Carroll County. Two teens and one adult were in a car with the infant. The driver was only 17 years old. According to the Kentucky State Police, the teen driver ran off the road at a curve and hit a tree. The infant was killed and the other two passengers were taken by helicopter to University Hospital in Louisville with very serious injuries. The driver was not injured.

There are so many factors that could have prevented this horrible accident. First, the driver of the car had no driver’s license or insurance, so he should have never been behind the wheel of a car in the first place. Second, he was drunk when the accident occurred, which is doubly concerning since the crash happened at 9:15 in the morning. Third, the only person allegedly wearing a seatbelt was the driver. No one else, including the infant, was properly restrained in the car.

Needless to say, all of these young lives have been changed forever. If the passengers survive, the one who was the mother of the infant will have to live with the fact that she got in a car with a drunk driver and did not put her infant in a car seat. The other passenger may likely have lifelong issues from his injuries because he decided to ride with an unlicensed drunk driver. The driver of the car faces a laundry list of charges including driving without a license, driving under the influence, wanton endangerment and manslaughter. Even though he is only 17, he may be tried as an adult, which makes all of the charges more serious with stiffer penalties.

Even though all of the people involved made bad choices, one can’t help but feel bad for what they and their families have gone through already and what they will continue to go through in the upcoming days and months. If you have teenage children, please remind them of the dangers of riding with an inexperienced or intoxicated driver. As seen in the above accident, a combination of the two can be deadly. And reiterate the importance of wearing a seatbelt, even it isn’t cool and no one else is wearing theirs. It could save their lives.

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May 17, 2012

Indianapolis Woman Charged in Car Accident that Caused Construction Worker’s Death

On May 8, 2012, a construction worker was hit by a car while he was walking at a repaving project site on East 10th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. His injuries were critical, and he unfortunately passed away the next morning.

The victim was doing everything right. He was on the job and was wearing a bright yellow safety vest. But the same cannot be said of the driver that caused the car accident. The 24-year old female was driving drunk and failed at least two sobriety tests administered at the crash scene. This would have been bad enough on its own, but it gets worse. Witnesses say she stopped briefly to check on the man, then got back in her car and drove away. She also had her young daughter in the car with her while she was driving drunk. When police found her, she gave them a false identity for herself and her child. All of this occurred while she should not have been driving at all because her license had been suspended.

All of these actions add up to a long list of charges including not stopping after a fatal accident, driving while intoxicated, driving with a minor in the car while intoxicated, giving a false identity and driving with a suspended license. Most people are familiar with the majority of these charges. But one may be a little more unknown – driving drunk with someone under the age of 18 in the car.

According to Indiana drunk driving laws, having a minor in the car with you while you are driving drunk raises the severity of the charge. A first-time offender may be charged with a misdemeanor and the minimum amount of jail time is five days or 180 hours of community service. If a minor was in the car, the charge is automatically upgraded to a class-D felony, and the minimum jail time jumps to 10 days or 360 hours of community service.

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May 11, 2012

Indiana Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed for 12-Year-Old Car Accident Victim

Teen and pre-teens hanging out at a friend’s house is commonplace on the weekends. Often lacking money to go out, they congregate at a home to visit, play video games, or listen to music. That is probably how the evening of December 9, 2011 started for a group of Indiana kids. Unfortunately, a few people made some bad decisions, and the night ended in tragedy.

Somehow, a 14-year-old boy obtained the keys to a car and took a 13-year-old and 12-year-old for a joyride around 1:00 a.m. A combination of inexperienced driving, a slippery road, and perhaps speed caused the driver to lose control of the car. It slid off the road, rolled over, and landed in a deep ditch. The 12-year-old passenger was killed. The driver and other passenger had some broken bones, but no life-threatening injuries. No one in the car was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

The parents of the deceased victim have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, both to request damages and to find out what really happened that night. Because the investigation is still open, the victim’s parents do not have access to any police information about the car accident. Their attorney states, “No one really knows the truth. There’s so many different stories about what happened that evening.” Once a lawsuit is filed, witnesses can be called to testify as to how the 14-year-old ended up with the keys to a car and what happened in the moments leading up to the crash.

While no charges have been filed against the driver or the owner of the car, it is possible that both may be charged when the investigation is complete. The driver was operating a car without a valid license, and if speeding was a factor, that could lead to another charge. If it is discovered that the owner of the car knowingly gave the keys to an unlicensed driver, he could be charged with “permitting a violation” under an Indiana state statute.

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February 10, 2012

Kentucky Car Accident Fatality caused by Drunk Driver

On Sunday, February 5, 2012, Robert Kempf was driving on I-71 near the Watterson Expressway in Louisville, Kentucky when a fatal accident occurred. Based on a preliminary investigation, this tragic car accident could have been avoided.

Robert Kempf and his friend had been watching the Super Bowl that Sunday, visiting with friends, drinking some alcohol. Later that night, Mr. Kempf got in his 1995 white Corvette with his friend. Once on I-71, he started speeding and lost control of the vehicle. Investigators are unsure if he ran off the road and rolled the car or if the car rolled over until it left the road. Either way, his 49-year-old passenger was killed when the car rolled onto its roof. How Mr. Kempf survived the crash is a mystery.

What is not a mystery are the factors involved in this crash. First, Mr. Kempf was driving over the posted speed limit, which makes it more difficult to control a vehicle. Second, Mr. Kempf had been drinking prior to driving the vehicle. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol seriously hinders a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Apparently this was not the first time Mr. Kempf had driven while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He has been charged with DUI at least three times in Louisville since the 1980s and had his license revoked at some point. He also faced drug-related charges in the past, which may mean some of his DUIs were drug-related instead of alcohol-related.

Unfortunately, this accident adds to the death toll on Kentucky roads that so far this year has exceeded 2011. According to Kentucky State Police, 64 people have died on the roads since the beginning of the year. This is an increase of five deaths over last year. Nine of the victims were killed in crashes caused by drunk drivers.

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February 5, 2012

Kentucky Pedestrian Killed by Drunk Driver may be at Fault

On Monday, November 28, 2011, a Kentucky woman was crossing National Turnpike in Louisville early in the morning when she was struck by a pickup truck. She was seriously injured and was taken to University Hospital. Four days later, she died from her injuries caused by the truck accident, making her the 18th pedestrian killed by a vehicle in Louisville.

The 33-year-old driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene and was given a sobriety test. She tested at more than twice the legal limit and admitted to drinking 10 beers. She also had an open beer in the truck at the time of the accident and did not have a driver’s license. She was charged with driving under the influence, having an open container of alcohol in the truck, and driving without a valid license.

One would think that with all of the above charges brought against her, the driver would also be responsible for the death of the pedestrian, but that may not be the case in this particular accident. Preliminary investigations show that the pedestrian stepped into the road in front of the pickup truck, which would mean she caused the accident. “Someone walking in front of you, stepping in front of you, you can’t charge somebody for something that wasn’t their fault and was an accident,” according to LMPD Traffic Unit’s Lt. Doug Sweeney.

As of the end of January, the driver had only been charged with the issues listed previously, which carry a penalty of up to one year in jail. The pedestrian’s family does not think this is anywhere near harsh enough for the woman that killed their relative. They would like to see a wrongful death lawsuit filed. But the Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which is handling the case, said that is the strongest charge they can bring against her. The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office may be able to press felony charges, but will need to review the case to make that determination.

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January 24, 2012

Black Boxes Help Investigators Determine Kentucky Car Accident Causes

Most people are aware of the event data recorder devices, or “black boxes,” that are found in airplanes. They frequently provide clues to what may have gone wrong in a plane crash. However, many people do not know that this type of device is also found on many automobiles, particularly those manufactured more recently. These black boxes are constantly processing information regarding the operation of the vehicles the entire time they are running. If an airbag deploys, the information 15 seconds prior to deployment is saved.

This 15-second snippet of information can be very helpful in determining what happened just before and at the time of a car accident. The data recorded includes the rate of speed, whether the accelerator or brake was being applied, the steering direction, and if the seatbelts were in use. Because these data recording devices were originally installed in vehicles as a way for manufacturers to track their performance and diagnose any issues, some manufacturers claim they own the recorded data. However, the data can often be obtained through legal channels to be interpreted by a qualified forensic accident reconstructionist.

This type of information was used in a Louisville, Kentucky wrongful death case that stemmed from a car accident in 2011. Bryan Lee was test-driving a new Dodge Challenger when he ran into a Mercury Sable, killing both passengers on impact. After the accident, Mr. Lee stated that he was only going 60 mph in the 45 mph zone. However, data from the black box showed that the car had reached 102 mph just before the accident and hit the victims’ car at 86 mph.

Another recent case involved Lt. Governor Timothy Murray from Massachusetts. After totaling a government-owned vehicle at 5 a.m. in November, he passed a sobriety test and the police concluded the accident was caused by ice on the roads. When people continued to question him about the accident, Mr. Murray had the data pulled from the black box. Not only did it show that he was driving 10 miles over the speed limit initially, but it also showed that he pushed the accelerator and was traveling 106 mph when the accident occurred. Mr. Murray then changed his story and said he must have fallen asleep at the wheel. He was charged with speeding and not wearing a seat belt, another fact that the black box brought to light.

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January 4, 2012

Kentucky and Indiana Head-on Collision Accidents Deadly

In the last two weeks of 2011, there were at least two head-on collisions in Indiana and Kentucky that resulted in death. On December 16th, a 17-year-old driver crossed the median near Evansville Indiana and struck an oncoming car, killing herself, her 8-year-old passenger, and the two people in the other vehicle. A Danville, Kentucky man was killed when his car crossed the center line and collided head-on with a box truck near Bryantsville on December 30th.

Car accidents that result from head-on collisions are among the most deadly. Although they account for only two percent of all accidents, they cause ten percent of all car accident fatalities. One reason they are so dangerous is because of the amount of speed involved. If two cars moving at 50 mph collide, the actual speed at impact is 100 mph since the rate of speed is combined. Running head-first into a stationary object can also cause serious injuries or death because a tree, lamppost, or other hard object will not give way upon impact like another vehicle will. Head-on collisions are even more dangerous if the occupants are not wearing seatbelts because they can be ejected from the vehicles. Injuries caused by head-on collisions include head and neck injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding or bruising, and spinal cord damage.

Head-on collisions between generally occur in one of three ways. A vehicle traveling in one direction crosses the middle of the road and ends up in the lanes of oncoming traffic; a vehicle drives the wrong way down a one-way street; or a vehicle enters a highway from an off-ramp instead of an on-ramp, causing the vehicle to travel in the wrong direction.

One might ask how a driver could drive across a median, down a one-way street the wrong way, or up an off-ramp. Several factors can cause these situations to occur. Drivers who are distracted may allow their vehicles to veer to one side enough to cross the double yellow lines. No one can forget the Kentucky truck accident earlier this year that took the lives of 11 people when a semi driver was distracted by his cell phone and drove into oncoming traffic. Intoxicated drivers may be confused and unable tell an off-ramp from an on-ramp. Neither of these appears to be the cause of the accidents mentioned above.

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December 22, 2011

Hundreds of Kentucky DUI Cases Potentially Affected

Earlier this month it was discovered that four Breathalyzer technicians were no longer certified to give the tests commonly used to determine whether or not a driver is intoxicated. Currently Breathalyzer technicians that work for the Louisville Department of Corrections are responsible for their own certifications, but the department will be taking over that responsibility and will make sure technicians are recertified at least two months before their certifications expire. The four technicians involved will not be allowed to administer any tests until after they are recertified in the beginning of January. The department of corrections says there are six other people with current certifications.

Because their certification expired in September, around 600 Kentucky car accident cases may be affected. Mike O’Connell, attorney for Jefferson County said many of the cases may end up being thrown out because the Breathalyzer test is “the single most important piece of evidence in the trial” when a drunk driver is involved. Prosecutors can still attempt to use other types of evidence to prove the driver was intoxicated, such as witness accounts, video taken at the time of traffic stop, or field sobriety tests, which are given by police officers at the scene. They may also seek charges other than DUI that do not rely so heavily on the Breathalyzer test, such as public intoxication and wanton endangerment. Meanwhile, defense attorneys are reviewing all of their DUI cases in the hopes that their clients’ Breathalyzer tests were administered by one of the technicians with an expired certification. Judges are expecting a large influx of motions regarding these cases in the coming weeks, but realize it was important that the truth be told about the situation.

James Ronald Brown was arrested for allegedly striking a man in the road and killing him on November 22, 2011. His Breathalyzer results showed his blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. But because his test was given by one of the technicians in question, this evidence may not be allowed to be entered in court. Prosecutors may have to use police video taken of his sobriety test and other evidence instead. The Breathalyzer issue was not discussed at the pretrial hearing, and Mr. Brown was released to house arrest and instructed not to drive or consume any alcohol.

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November 29, 2011

Fatal Kentucky Accident Highlights Debate on Amish Buggy Signs

812926_amish_carriage.jpgIn recent months, a debate has arisen in Kentucky regarding the Amish, a group of religious individuals known for their quiet, unassuming lifestyles. Because of their religious beliefs, certain Amish sects are refusing to display signs on their buggies that designate them as slow-moving vehicles and make them more visible. The sign is an orange reflective triangle. Some of the more traditional Amish sects, such as the Old Order Swartzentruber Amish, feel the color of the sign is too bright and contradicts their religious beliefs against wearing bright colors. Relying on manmade signs to keep them safe also goes against their beliefs. Several men have been fined for not displaying the signs on their buggies, and some have landed in jail, refusing to pay the fines because that would be admitting their guilt and putting governmental laws above their religious laws.

On November 17, 2011, a 19-year-old Amish man was driving a horse-drawn, two-wheeled cart in Hart County in southern Kentucky. He stopped in the road near his home and was rear-ended by an SUV and thrown from the buggy. He was flown to a hospital, but died en route. Although his sect normally displays the reflective sign on their buggies, his cart did not have a sign. This car accident is still under investigation and it is unclear whether the reflective sign would have prevented the accident.

Kentucky is not the only state struggling with this situation. In Iowa, the Swartzentruber sect also refused to display the slow-moving reflective triangle and some of the members were fined. The sect and the state reached a compromise by allowing the sect to use reflective tape and brighter lanterns to make the buggies more visible. In Michigan, officials refused to post slow-moving vehicle signs because the Amish community refused to use the reflective slow-moving triangles on their buggies. Perhaps because of these differing views, accidents involving Amish vehicles are all too common. There were 140 accidents involving cars and buggies reported in Ohio in 1998, four of which were fatal.

Whether or not horse-drawn carts or buggies have reflective triangles, drivers of motorized vehicles can take certain precautions to help avoid accidents with them. If you are driving in an area that has a large Amish population, be aware of potential slow-moving vehicles. Look for signs depicting Amish buggies that mark roads that are heavily traveled by these vehicles if you are unfamiliar with the area. Do not become distracted by cell phones or radios in the car. Do not drive above the posted speed limit. If you are driving behind a horse-drawn vehicle, allow plenty of room to stop if the vehicle in front of you stops since buggies or carts may not be equipped with taillights. Allow extra time for buggies to cross intersections or turn corners before proceeding.

Continue reading "Fatal Kentucky Accident Highlights Debate on Amish Buggy Signs" »

November 24, 2011

Bars and Restaurants May be Liable for Damages in Kentucky DUI Car Accidents

Car accidents caused by drunk drivers are doubly tragic. First, innocent victims are injured or killed. Second, the accident probably would have been avoided if the driver had exercised restraint and did not attempt to drive while intoxicated. In 2008 in Kentucky alone, 226 of the 826 car accident fatalities were related to alcohol. Obviously, in these cases the driver who was under the influence and caused the accident should be held liable for damages to the victim’s car and any injuries sustained. However, many states have laws that make the bar or restaurant that served the alcohol to the intoxicated individual liable as well.

Currently, 43 states have “dram shop laws.” The name comes from a reference to a small drink of alcohol. Bars and taverns that sold alcohol were once called “dram shops.” These laws pertain to any establishment where alcohol is sold, whether a bar or restaurant. The laws state that businesses can only be considered liable for an incident if the employees knew that the patron was intoxicated and continued to serve him alcohol or allowed him to drive a vehicle rather than find him alternate transportation.

In the last two months, at least one dram shop case has ended and two more have been filed in three different states. In Mississippi, a $15 million judgment was handed down against Slippery Nick’s Saloon and Grill in a case involving the 2007 wrongful deaths of three young adults caused by a drunk driver. The case alleged that the intoxicated driver was served alcohol even though she was visibly drunk. She was also allowed to drive away in her vehicle. Although the parents of the young adults killed do not expect to receive any of the judgment money since the bar did not have liability insurance and has since closed, they felt it was important to file the suit to hold the bar owner accountable and hopefully prevent this tragedy from happening to someone else.

In Florida, a woman has filed a lawsuit against the Suite Nightclub in Pensacola after her husband was killed by a drunk driver leaving the nightclub. The suit alleges that the employees knew the driver was an alcoholic, but still allowed the band performing at the club to pour shots down his throat. Damages requested in the suit include lost wages of the deceased, pain and suffering for his widowed wife, and damages and attorneys’ fees.

An Ashville, North Carolina couple have filed suit against four separate bars after their daughter was killed by a drunk driver who was served at all four locations. After her last stop, Jennifer Kessler left Temptations Red Room around 2:45 a.m. on October 2, 2010, and drove westward in the eastbound lanes of I-240, colliding head-on with the victim. Her blood-alcohol content was 0.262, three times the legal limit. All four establishments state they did not know Kessler was drunk and are seeking to have the charges dismissed.

Continue reading "Bars and Restaurants May be Liable for Damages in Kentucky DUI Car Accidents" »

October 24, 2011

Recent Kentucky Car Accident Involving Teens Highlights Need for Safer Driving

On Monday, October 17, 2011, three teens were involved in a fatal car accident in Bloomfield, Kentucky. The accident report states the 17-year-old driver was going east on Old Bloomfield Road after school when she lost control of the car, causing it to go off the right side of the road. The driver over-corrected, sending the car across the center line and into the ditch where it rolled over multiple times before stopping. The driver’s sister, who was located in the back seat, was pronounced dead at the scene. A friend riding in the front seat was ejected from the car and remains hospitalized with head trauma and other injuries. The driver’s injuries were moderate.

Police are investigating the crash to determine the cause. Alcohol is unlikely, especially in light of the fact that the students had just been released from school for the day. Speed is being considered but has not been established as the cause. The hilly, curvy road may have contributed to the accident, as police and those who live in the area both say it is dangerous and has claimed lives in other accidents. Whatever the cause, it is important to note that the one who was least injured, the driver, was wearing her seatbelt. The others were not. This tragic accident again highlights the importance of seatbelt use.

Ironically, the week this accident occurred was also National Teen Driver Safety Week. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) took part in Safety Week and continues to raise Kentucky teens’ awareness of the dangers of driving throughout the year. One of the largest contributors to teenage driving accidents is distraction. KOHS uses a Distracted Driving Simulator to show teens how dangerous distracted driving is by allowing them to talk or text on a cell phone while they attempt to drive safely in the simulator. Director Bill Bell says “All too often, the devices are winning and our kids our losing, with tragic results.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 691 fatalities in 2009 were caused by a distracted teen driver.

Distractions are not the only cause of teen accidents. There are many other causes and ways for teens to stay safe on the road.

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May 13, 2009

Kentucky Wrongful Death Plaintiff Seeks to Amend DUI Lawsuit

The widow of a man who was killed in a 2008 Kentucky drunk driving accident wants Madison Circuit Court to consider her motion to amend her wrongful death lawsuit against driver Elmer Ray French.

French is accused of crossing the center line of a road on December 3, 2008 and hitting head-on the vehicle that Jason Isaacs was riding in. The 71-year-old motorist was indicted for driving under the influence (with a BAC of over .18%) and murder for his alleged role in causing the deadly Kentucky car accident. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday. If convicted of these charges, he could end up serving a life prison sentence.

Now, Sandra Marie Isaacs wants the court to let her amend her Kentucky wrongful death complaint to include claims made for her two children with Jason Isaacs. She wants to claim loss of parental consortium for her 9-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter.

Sandra Isaacs is seeking compensatory damages plus interest for funeral costs, medical bills, loss of spousal consortium, and loss of future income and earning capacity. She is also seeking punitive damages.

Loss of Parental Consortium
In Kentucky, a claim seeking compensation for loss of parental consortium can be filed for the time that a child loses with his or her mother or father because of the parent’s death. This claim is limited to the period between the parent’s death and when the child turns 18.

The death of a parent is never easy. Losing one’s mother or father in a tragic car accident when one is very young can scar a person for life. While no amount of money can bring a parent back or make up for time that is lost, there are ways to hold the liable party responsible for your child’s loss.

Hearing set to amend DUI death lawsuit, Richmond Register, May 4, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Kentucky Revised Statutes, Kentucky Legislature

Car Accidents Overview, Justia

May 8, 2009

Louisville Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Parents of Two Girls Killed in Kentucky Hit and Run Accident

In Jefferson Circuit Court, the respective parents of Claudia Wadlington, 5, and the Riley Lawrence, 4, have filed a Kentucky wrongful death lawsuit for the girls' hit-and-run deaths. The two girls were killed in Louisville on July 25, 2008 as they were walking to swim class. They were holding hands with Claudia’s mom, Angela, as they crossed Floyd Street when a Pontiac Grand Am hit them. The driver of the car, Kenielle Finch, also hit Louisville Metro Police who attempted to apprehend him following the deadly hit and run accident.

Named as defendants in the Kentucky pedestrian accident complaint are Kenielle Finch, who was charged with their murders (in addition to 12 other related charges) and Keynisha Butler, who lent Finch the car that hit the girls. Finch entered a not guilty plea to the criminal charges and will stand trial.

The families’ Louisville wrongful death lawsuit seeks to recover hospital expenses, burial costs, and other accident-related expenses, including Angela’s hospital expenses for her injuries, as well as punitive damages from both men.

Reasons Why Motorists Hit and Run
Not only is it considered negligent conduct to cause an auto accident, but so is leaving an auto accident site after causing a motor vehicle crash—especially if someone was seriously injured. Staying at a crash site to provide assistance and contact emergency medics to let them know that someone has been hurt can determine whether an auto accident victim lives or dies.

Some reasons why people hit and run:
• Driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.
• Driving without a license or proper insurance or documentation.
• Driving a stolen vehicle.
• The driver may have just committed a crime.
• The driver is scared of the legal consequences.

If you were seriously hurt in Kentucky hit and run accident and the driver has not been apprehended, an experienced Louisville car accident law firm can help you pursue your uninsured motorist claim and make sure that you receive a settlement from your insurer that takes as much of your accident-related expenses and recovery costs into consideration. If the driver has been apprehended, then your Kentucky personal injury lawyer can push to recover from the negligent party.

Slain girls' parents sue accused hit-and-run driver, Courier-Journal, May 5, 2009

Kenielle Finch indicted, charged with murder after alleged hit and run, Newsnet14, September 1, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Hit And Run Drivers Kill Nearly 1500 People Annually With Pedestrians At Greatest Risk, According To AAA Foundation Analysis, AAA, May 17, 2004

Pedestrians, Safekids.org

April 28, 2009

Lexington Teen Driving Accident: One Kentucky High School Student Dies and Three Others Are Seriously Injured

At Bryan Station High School, students are anxiously waiting to find out the condition of three of their classmates who were seriously injured in a Lexington motor vehicle crash on Monday night. One of their other classmates, 15-year-old Nathaniel Lee Stuckey, died in the collision on Russell Cave Road on Monday night.

The driver of the car, Nicoli Petitfrere, 17, and passenger Jasmine Marks, 16, are still in critical condition, while Kierra Fulz, 17, is in fair condition. According to Lexington police, speed may have been a factor, with the teenagers' car going faster than the 55 mph speed limit.

The Kentucky teen driving accident took place around 7pm when Petitfrere lost control of the white Toyota Camry and drove off the narrow two-lane road, striking a rock wall and hitting a tree head-on. Three of the Kentucky car crash victims had to be extricated from the Toyota. Stuckey, who was sitting in the front-passenger seat of the car was pronounced dead at the crash site.

Dangers of Speeding
• Speeding is a contributing factor in over 30% of deadly US traffic accidents.
• It occurs on freeways and on local streets.
• You can be speeding even if you are abiding by the posted legal limit if the weather conditions warrant that you drive slower.

Speeding Facts by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
• Speeding played a role in than 13,000 motor vehicle fatalities in 2007.
• 88% of traffic fatalities where speeding was involved took place on Interstate highways.
• 24% of speeding-related deaths occurred on roads with speed limits posted at 35 mph or lower.

If you were seriously injured in a Kentucky car crash, retaining the services of an experienced Lexington car accident lawyer can make obtaining your financial recovery a lot easier. Your Kentucky personal injury team can work with accident reconstructions and other accident experts who can help determine whether speed or another factor was the cause of your deadly Lexington auto accident.

Students grieve after crash kills, injures Bryan Station classmates, Kentucky.com, April 28, 2009

Related Web Resources:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Teen Drivers

Continue reading " Lexington Teen Driving Accident: One Kentucky High School Student Dies and Three Others Are Seriously Injured" »

April 20, 2009

Kentucky Brain Injury Law Firm: 16-Month-Old Girl Dies from TBI Caused by Jefferson County Multi-Vehicle Collision

A Kentucky multi-vehicle collision in Jefferson County has claimed the life of a 16-month-old girl. Daphnie Mangrum was pronounced dead from a traumatic brain injury at a local hospital on Saturday. Mangrum’s mother and two siblings were also injured in the catastrophic Kentucky car crash, which occurred on the Dixie Highway on Thursday afternoon. The three of them are expected to recover.

According to Louisville Metro Police, at about 4:48pm, a Mazda drifted into the center lane, hitting a Dodge Caliber, which then struck a Chevy Lumina before hitting a Dodge Ram truck. Daphnie and her family members were riding in the Lumina. The children in the car were reportedly not properly restrained. The driver of the Mazda and the Lumina were transported to hospitals. West Point resident Janet Crowell, who was driving the Dodge Caliber, was pronounced dead at the crash site.

Traumatic Brain Injuries
• Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of TBI’s, followed by fall accidents and athletic injuries.
• Every 15 seconds, someone sustains a TBI.
• TBI’s occur when there has been a jolt or blow or a penetrating injury to the head.
• 1.4 million people sustain TBI’s each year.
• 50,000 people die from TBI’s annually.
• About 2,685 kids, ages 14 and under, die from TBI's each year.

While traumatic brain injuries can range from mild (approximately 75% of TBIs are mild TBI’s) to severe to fatal, there are those who do survive and continue to live with catastrophic TBI’s that require them to receive long-term, specialized care. A TBI can affect one’s senses, memory, and the abilities to communicate, comprehend, and reason, as well as result in personality changes, depression, and changes in behavior.

Living with a serious TBI can be costly and life changing. Losing someone you love because they sustained a fatal TBI can be incredibly traumatic.

16-month-old dies from injury in Dixie Highway crash, Courier-Journal, April 18, 2009

Traumatic Brain Injury, CDC

Related Web Resources:
Brain Injury Association of America

Brain Injuries Overview, Justia

Continue reading "Kentucky Brain Injury Law Firm: 16-Month-Old Girl Dies from TBI Caused by Jefferson County Multi-Vehicle Collision " »

April 15, 2009

Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm: Grand Jury Indicts Kentucky Teenager for Motor Vehicle Deaths of Four Other Teens

In Kentucky, a Jefferson County grand jury has charged Herbert Lee III with four counts of murder for a deadly Louisville auto accident that killed four teenagers. Lee was 16 at the time of the crash.

Injured in the catastrophic Kentucky auto collision on December 18 were 15-year-old Arron Shields, 16-year-old twins Demar and Jemar Claybrooks, and their 14-year-old brother Marc Claybrooks. All of them were riding in the stolen motor vehicle that Lee was driving.

Police spotted the stolen auto and tried to make Lee pull over. The teenager reportedly refused, resulting in a short police chase and then the fatal accident.

NHTSA Teen Driver Facts
• Motor vehicle accidents is the number one cause of teen driver deaths.
• 6,982 young drivers, ages 15 to 20, were involved in deadly auto accidents in 2007.
• 3,174 teen drivers died.
• 252,000 others were injured.

CDC Teen Driving Facts
• Having other teenagers in the car with a teen driver increases the chances of deadly auto accident occurring.
• Teens with new driver's licenses are a crash risk for the first year that they are allowed to drive.
• Teens lack the experience that older drivers have of assessing potentially dangerous situations on the road.
• Teens are more likely to speed or engage in distracted driving than their adult counterparts.

If someone you love was seriously injured or killed in a Louisville auto crash, you should speak with an experienced Kentucky injury attorney to determine if you have grounds for filing a personal injury claim or a wrongful death lawsuit. Suing for personal injury won’t bring back the person you love, but it can provide you with some comfort to know that the negligent party has been held liable.

Grand jury indicts Ky. teen in quadruple fatal, Kentucky.com, April 15, 2009

Young Driver Traffic Safety Fact Sheet, NHTSA

Teen Driving Fact Sheet, CDC

Related Web Resources:
Teen Drivers, Insurance Information Institute

Teen Driving

Continue reading "Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm: Grand Jury Indicts Kentucky Teenager for Motor Vehicle Deaths of Four Other Teens " »

April 8, 2009

Kentucky Motor Vehicle Crash Attorney: Number of Traffic Deaths Declining in 2009

The Kentucky’s Office of Highway Safety says the number of highway motor vehicle deaths occurring in the state appears to be decreasing. According to early figures, there were 158 Kentucky traffic deaths in 2009 through March 31—21 less fatalities than for the same time period in 2008. Kentucky Transportation Secretary Joe Prather says that 81 of the 158 traffic victims that died this year were not using seat belts.

The state also experienced its lowest number of Kentucky motor vehicle deaths last year with 823 fatalities. This decline reflects the overall decrease in motor vehicle deaths on a national level.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,313 people died in US traffic accidents in 2008. This is the lowest number of US motor vehicle deaths to occur in a year since 1961. The report notes that states that have weaker seat belt laws tend to have higher death tolls.

Prather says that Kentucky will take aggressive action during next month’s “Click It or Ticket” Campaign. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that seat belts can decrease the number of front-seat occupant traffic deaths by 45% and by 50% for traffic deaths involving occupants of SUV’s, pickup trucks, and minivans.

Common Causes of Car Crashes:
• Driver negligence
• Distracted driving
• Drunk driving
• Speeding
• Driver exhaustion
• Defective auto or auto parts
• Cell phone use while driving
• Text messaging

If you have been injured in a Kentucky car collision, an experienced Louisville car crash lawyer can help you investigate your case and pursue your claim in a manner that allows you to obtain the maximum recovery possible.

Kentucky highway fatalities declining in 2009, Examiner.com, April 7, 2009

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Record Low Traffic Deaths, Improved State Seat Belt Use, NHTSA, April 6, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Fatalities in 2008 (PDF)

Seat Belt Use in 2008, NHTSA (PDF)

Kentucky Office of Highway Safety

Continue reading "Kentucky Motor Vehicle Crash Attorney: Number of Traffic Deaths Declining in 2009" »

February 25, 2009

Kentucky Car Accident Lawyer: State Police Reports at Least 87 Auto Accidents Deaths So Far for 2009

The Kentucky State Police is reporting that through February 22, there had been 87 fatalities on state roads for 2009. 82 of these deaths occurred as a result of motor vehicle accidents. 46 of the victims that died were not using seat belts, while alcohol is suspected to have been a contributing factor in 23 of the fatalities.

The state police also said that on Kentucky roads last week, there were seven motor vehicle fatalities. Four of the people who died were not using seat belts and alcohol is a suspected contributing factor in three of these Kentucky auto accidents.

If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident accident, you may be entitled to file a Kentucky personal injury claim or lawsuit against all negligent parties. Whatever you do, do NOT settle with the negligent party’s insurer without contacting an experienced Louisville car accident lawyer first.

Reckless or negligent driving can be grounds for a civil lawsuit against a liable party. Drunk driving is one form of reckless driving that can result in serious injuries and deaths.

Here are a couple 2007 facts provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about drunk driving:

• 12,998 people died in US drunk driving accidents.
• 1 drunk driving death occurs in the US every 40 minutes.

Drunk driving can impair the driver’s senses, perception, reflexes, and ability to process information, which can make it hard for the motorist to pay attention, stop the vehicle when necessary, notice that he or she is driving at excessively high or slow speeds, obey street and traffic signs, and assess how much distance there is between his or her car and other motor vehicles.

Too many lives are destroyed in Kentucky drunk driving accidents.

KSP Releases Accident Statistics From Last Week, WBKO, February 23, 2009

Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA

Related Web Resources:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Continue reading "Kentucky Car Accident Lawyer: State Police Reports at Least 87 Auto Accidents Deaths So Far for 2009" »

February 3, 2009

Kentucky Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney: Ban Motorists from Driving with Cell Phones, Says NSC

This year, the National Safety Council wants all US states and Washington DC to impose a total ban that would make it illegal for all drivers to use cell phones when operating their motor vehicles. The NSC says drivers who talk or text message on cell phones increase their chances of getting involved in a motor vehicle crash by four times. The NSC says cell phone use is a form of distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports is the cause of 80% of US traffic accidents.

According to the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis:
• 636,000 US motor vehicle crashes a year involve a driver who was using a cell phone.
• These accidents make up 6% of all US auto crashes, resulting in 330,000 injuries and 2,600 fatalities.
• Over 100 million people drive and use cell phones at the same time.

A number of US states have a partial ban on certain kinds of cell phone use. For example, Kentucky completely bars school bus drivers from using cell phones while driving. The state also has legislation under consideration that would ban drivers from using handheld devices.

The NSC, however, wants all states to bar drivers from using even hands-free phones.
A study by University of Utah researchers shows that just because a driver isn’t using his or her hands to hold or operate a cell phone while driving doesn’t make it safer to operate a motor vehicle. Talking on any kind of cell phone while driving reportedly places a motorist’s concentration elsewhere rather than on the road.

Driver Inattention
Distracted driving is one of the reasons why so many US motor vehicle accidents happen. It can also be grounds for a Kentucky personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if someone gets hurt or dies as a result. If you or someone you love was seriously hurt in a Kentucky motor vehicle crash, an experienced Louisville auto accident attorney can help you prove negligence so that you can recover the maximum compensation that you are owed.

National Safety Council Calls for Nationwide Ban on Cell Phone Use While Driving, NSC.org

Cell Phone Use While Driving Fact Sheet, NSC

Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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December 9, 2008

Kentucky Accident Attorney: Woman Dies in Hit-and-Run Accident Involving Louisville Dentist

A Louisville dentist is pleading not guilty to charges of leaving an accident and reckless homicide following a deadly hit and run auto accident on Friday. Dr. Michael B. Mathis claims that he did not know he hit his ex-girlfriend until he got home.

According to his criminal defense attorney, Mathis’s ex-girlfriend Pamela Fay “attacked” his client at the Clark County Casting and Conservation Club on Friday. Mathis then tried to leave a parking lot in his pickup truck but she attempted to block his vehicle.

One witness says that Fay continued pounding on the truck hood as Mathis tried to drive around her. Fay, who was conscious after the auto accident, told police that Mathis struck her with his vehicle. She later died from internal injuries.

While Mathis says he never intended to “hit and run,” the local prosecutor says investigators are looking into whether the Louisville dentist purposely left the accident site. If evidence surfaces to show that the Kentucky dentist intentionally struck Fay with his car, more serious criminal charges could be filed against him.

Hit and Run Accidents
• According to AAA Foundation for Safety in 2006, 11% of all auto crashes reported to police in the US involved a hit and run accident.
• 60% of hit and run fatalities are pedestrians.
• Between 1994 and 2003, 14,914 people died in hit and run crashes in the US.

Leaving a crash scene is against the law and considered negligent behavior—especially when someone is injured or killed in an auto collision—and could be grounds for a Kentucky personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Motorists involved in traffic crashes are supposed to stop at the crash site and exchange contact information, as well as take reasonable action to help anyone who is injured.

Police seek information on fatal hit-and-run, Courier-Journal.com, November 25, 2008

Louisville dentist charged in death of southern Indiana woman, December 6, 2008

Hit And Run Drivers Kill Nearly 1500 People Annually With Pedestrians At Greatest Risk, According To AAA Foundation Analysis, AAA Foundation for Safety

Related Web Resources:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Car Accidents Overview, Justia

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August 10, 2008

Kentucky Motor Vehicle Accidents Leave Over 420 Dead So Far in 2008

According to preliminary statistics, 16 people died in 12 motor vehicle accidents in the Kentucky Counties of Breckinridge, Henry, Calloway, Hopkins, Leslie, Jefferson, Marshall, and Logan from July 21 to 27, 2008. 11 of the deaths involved motor vehicles, 2 of the fatalities were child pedestrians, and 3 of the deaths involved motorcycles. The death toll for that week increased the number of total motor vehicle deaths on Kentucky roads this year to 422 fatalities (327 car crash victims, 47 motorcyclists, 35 pedestrians, and 11 ATV victims), with more traffic-related deaths and injuries happening since then.

If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a car crash, a motorcycle accident, a truck accident, a bus collision, a pedestrian accident, or a bicycle crash, it is important that you speak with an experienced Kentucky motor vehicle crash lawyer before trying to negotiate a settlement agreement with the liable party’s insurance company. An experienced Louisville car crash law firm will know how to investigate your case to determine causation and liability. Your motor vehicle crash lawyer can work with experienced accident reconstructionists who can examine the crash scene and investigate all evidence.

Another reason it is important that you do not try to settle an injury case on your own is that you or your loved one may not be able to determine the extent (and costs) of the medical and recovery care you may require. A good Kentucky motor vehicle crash lawyer can work with medical experts who can help you get a better sense of all medical and recovery expenses, and assess other damages, such as pain and suffering, reduced income potential, lost wages, and disability, that you may be entitled to receive.

Depending on the specifics surrounding your Kentucky auto crash, the statute of limitations for filing your personal injury lawsuit may be one or two years, which is another reason that it is important to speak with an experienced Louisville car crash lawyer.

Our Kentucky personal injury law firm helps clients with injury claims involving truck crashes, car collisions, motorcycle accidents, hit and run accidents, drunk driving collisions, automobile rollovers, motor vehicle crashes caused by defective autos or auto parts, and crashes involving insured and uninsured drivers.

16 People Died In 12 Crashed Last Week, Kypost.com, July 29, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Chart: Statutes of Limitations in All 50 States, Nolo.com

The Kentucky DMV

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