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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November 30, 2012

Financial Cost of Motorcycle Accidents Incredibly High

In early November, 2012, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report regarding the costs of motorcycle accidents in 2010, which is the most recent year data are available for. While it is common knowledge that motorcycles are generally more dangerous to operate than cars or trucks, some of their findings were a bit more shocking.

Their data show that about 95,000 motorcycle accidents occurred in the U.S. just in 2010. In those crashes, 4,423 people lost their lives. These accidents not only take a physical and emotional toll on those involved, they also take a financial toll. The GAO estimated that the motorcycle accidents in 2010 cost at least $16 billion. In reality, the costs are likely even higher because some factors are difficult to determine. These factors include the long-term cost of medical care for someone who has ongoing medical issues as a result of their injuries, and the long-term loss of income for both the injured or deceased riders and their families.

Those who don’t ride motorcycles may think this statistic isn’t relevant to them, but it is. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), those directly involved may only be responsible for one-quarter of $16 billion, with society covering the rest.

Data from the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) show that there were 1,370 motorcycle accident injuries in Kentucky and 72 people were killed in 2011. What can be done to reduce these numbers? As far as the number of people killed, the GAO report states that “Laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets are the only strategy proved to be effective in reducing motorcyclist fatalities.” Many motorcycle riders are against mandatory helmet laws because they feel they infringe on their personal right to decide whether to wear a helmet or not. In Kentucky, riders who are over 21 and have held a motorcycle license for over one year are not required to wear helmets. Those who reject helmet laws say better education regarding motorcycles is the key to saving lives. But the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety disagrees, “It's like saying if you take a driver's ed class, you don't have to wear your seat belt. Now how silly is that?" Kentucky used to have a mandatory helmet law for all riders. When it was repealed, NHTSA data show that the number of motorcycle crash fatalities increased 50%.

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September 6, 2012

Driving Tractors Dangerous for Kentucky Kids

Keeping a farm requires hard work and long hours, and when the farm is family-owned, most of the family is involved. This means kids who are not even old enough to drive a car may be operating farm equipment such as tractors. While officials at the Department of Transportation think this is dangerous enough to be outlawed, those who farm for a living argue that it is an unavoidable fact of life. So in lieu of banning kids from operating farm machinery, researchers are working on ways to ensure kids are prepared before they get behind the wheel of a tractor.

The University of Iowa is working with the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin on a study to determine how kids use information at different ages while operating tractors. Similar to the driving simulators used to safely teach teens how to drive cars without actually putting them behind the wheel, the study is using a tractor simulator to determine how kids react to certain situations that may occur when they are driving a tractor. Researchers plan to have 88 kids of different ages and 10 adults drive in the tractor simulator so they can compare how different age groups respond. Based on their findings, current guidelines regarding age limits on operating farm equipment may be revised.

Currently children as young as 12 are considered able to drive a tractor on their family farm, and 16-year-olds can drive them on public roads, according to the North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks. The university study may help confirm that these ages are high enough to keep children safe, or it may show that the age limits need to be increased. Statistics currently show that tractor accidents are the most common cause of death of children on farms, with about 24 children being killed by tractors each year.

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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 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 20, 2009

Kentucky Motorcycle Accident Attorney: State Police Mark Motorcycle Awareness Day on May 21

Kentucky State Police will be holding Motorcycle Awareness Day on Thursday, May 21. The day is intended to promote motorcycle safety throughout the state and will be marked by a full day of activities, including a "Cruise for Awareness" ride involving over 200 motorcycles escorted by Lexington Police and KSP through Frankfort. This event is just one of many activities taking place throughout the US this month, dubbed Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Federal, state, and local transportation safety officials want to remind both motor vehicle drivers and motorcyclists that they share the roads with each other. This means motorcycle riders, car drivers, bus drivers, and truckers must all do their part to prevent US motorcycle accidents from happening.

According to Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rod Brewer, the KSP wants to decrease the number of Kentucky motorcycle fatalities that occur each year.

2008 Kentucky Motorcycle Accident Statistics:
• There were 2,109 Kentucky motorcycle crashes last year.
• 102 of these accidents resulted in fatalities.
• 64 of the Kentucky motorcyclists involved in these accidents were not using motorcycle helmets.
• 40 of last year's Kentucky motorcycle collisions involved passenger vehicles.
• 108,602 Kentucky motorcycles were registered in the state.

Motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic for a rider, who only has his or her protective clothing and gear to serve as a buffer from the impact of colliding with a car, a bus, a large truck, a wall, or another nonmoving object. Spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and internal injuries result all too often from motorcycle crashes.

Earlier this month, a rider died in a Kentucky motorcycle crash when his bike was in a traffic crash with a white box truck in Prospect. Police say that the motorcyclist was making a right turn onto Timber Ridge when the deadly collision happened. The rider ended up under the truck and was pronounced dead at the accident site.

If you or your loved one was seriously hurt in a Kentucky motorcycle accident that was caused by a careless driver or another negligent party, you may have grounds for filing a Kentucky personal injury lawsuit.

KSP Announces Motorcycle Awareness Day, WOWK, May 14, 2009

Man killed in motorcycle crash, WAVE, May 8, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Kentucky State Police

Motorcycle Safety Awareness, NHTSA

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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,, 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

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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

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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,

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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August 20, 2008

Danville Motorcyclist Dies in Kentucky Motor Vehicle Crash Collision on US 27 Near the Jessamine-Garrard County Line

On US 27 close to the Jessamine-Garrard County Line, motorcyclist David Ballard died on Monday morning after being struck by a car. Kentucky State Police say that Danville resident Rita Pradhan, 24, lost control of her vehicle before striking the oncoming motorcyclist. Her car then spun around before striking the vehicle following her.

Ballard, a 52-year-old Danville resident, was declared dead at the accident scene. Prior to his death, there were 57 reported motorcycle fatalities in Kentucky so far this year.

Motorcyclists are prone to serious injuries whenever they are involved in traffic collisions. Even when a motorcyclist does wear a helmet and protective clothing, he or she does not have a great deal of protection to act as a buffer from the impact of colliding with a car, bus, or 18-wheeler truck.

Many motorcycle accidents can result in catastrophic if not fatal injuries that may include road burn injuries, broken bones, severed limbs, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. The medical and recovery costs can be very expensive.

Unfortunately, many people attribute motorcycle accidents to the “recklessness” of the motorcyclist. It is important, if you are a motorcyclist who was injured in a traffic accident caused by another driver’s negligence in Kentucky, that you speak with an experienced Louisville motorcycle crash law firm that can inform you of your legal rights and advocate for your right to financial recovery.

According to the “Hurt” Report:

• About 75% of motorcycle collisions involve another motor vehicle.
• 2/3rds of all motorcycle accidents involving multiple vehicles resulted in a driver violating the motorcyclist’s right of way.
• Defective roadways is the cause of about 2% of all motorcycle crashes.

Garrard Co. Accident Victim Identified, Action News 36, August 19, 2008

The "Hurt" Report (PDF)

Related Web Resources:

Motorcycle Safety, Kentucky Government (PDF)

Kentucky Motorcycle Laws, DMV.Org

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