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Articles Posted in Tractor Trailer Accidents

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By Kyle Roby, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Tractor-trailer accidents are the most dangerous and destructive collisions on our country’s roads – and the problem is only getting worse. When trucks collide with a car, more often than not, people die.

That’s because big rigs usually travel at a high rate of speed on interstates, and if they crash into another vehicle, it’s going to be much smaller. Braking time for large, heavy vehicles is substantially more than that of cars, so even if a truck driver can see the potential for an accident, they can’t necessarily avoid it.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are high-tech solutions that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could require trucking companies to install, but so far, they have not.

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By Kyle Roby, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Chances are, we’ve all been stopped on a road by a person holding a brightly colored flag as roadwork commenced in front of us. It’s so common it’s unremarkable, and expected whenever there is construction on roads (which seems like most of the year in Kentucky).

In a recent case we handled in Edmondson County, a stopped truck didn’t have a spotter or flagger directing traffic around a cement truck blocking the roadway, and it nearly resulted in the death of our client. The general contractor did not have temporary traffic control devises in place and the concrete truck company did not train its drivers on what to do when the required devices are not present.

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By Kyle Roby, Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

commercial vehicle accidents Kentucky

Roads throughout Kentucky, but particularly in our area, are snow-covered, ice-packed and impassable at places today. Many work places, including our own, closed today so our employees can stay home and be safe.

While we have that option, not everyone exercises that much caution when dealing with hazardous weather. It’s somewhat understandable. Some businesses, such as hospitals, don’t ever close for any reason.

There are also some people who think the rules don’t apply to them, and they don’t exercise due caution, and that is much more concerning.

Today, we are hearing news reports of a multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 65 in Hart County. Police scanner traffic indicates the accident involves a Greyhound bus, two commercial vehicles and two passenger vehicles. I follow Joe Imel on Twitter (who doesn’t?) and he gave out details as he heard them, as well as posted a Kentucky State Police report on the accident.

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truck-on-highway-KY-300x225Generally, when someone is hurt due to another party’s negligence, the injured person has a right to seek fair compensation in a court of law. When the alleged breach of duty was by a governmental entity or government employee, however, different rules apply.

At common law, the government could not be held liable for injuries caused by negligence. This was because of the “sovereign immunity” doctrine, which held that “the king can do no wrong.”

While it is now possible to file suit against the government and be awarded money damages under some circumstances, such cases tend to be much more difficult than if the defendant had been a business or individual without government ties.

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truck accidentBecause of the disproportionate size and weight between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, people in the smaller vehicles tend to suffer more serious injuries in a tractor-trailer accident.

However, as a recent case illustrates, truckers also can be injured – especially when both of the involved vehicles are 18-wheelers.

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tractor trailerLawsuits arising from 18-wheeler accidents can be very complex. One reason for this is that the tractor and trailer may be owned by or insured by different entities. This greatly complicates the path to recovery of a fair settlement or judgment for a person injured in a semi-truck wreck.

In a recent case, a rather unique issue arose. The owner of a certain tractor-trailer requested liability insurance on both the tractor and the trailer, but the insurance agent accidentally left the tractor off of the list of the trucking company’s vehicles when she sent the application to the insurance company.

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Kyle Roby

Attorney Kyle Roby

Attorney and partner Kyle Roby recently settled a truck accident case for $850,000 on behalf of a Kentucky client. We have posted about this case on our main firm web site, and are sharing with our audience here as well.

Here is a summary of the case. For more details, read the main post on our web site. You can read the post here.

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big rigsWhen it comes to claims arising from an 18-wheeler accident, an injured person is often wise to “cast a large net” and name as many defendants as possible. This is because insurance coverage issues and policy limits can restrict the ultimate recovery from a particular defendant, but, if several defendants are named, it is more likely that the plaintiff will be fully compensated for his or her medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Of course, the defendants named in a tractor-trailer wreck case may have a viable defense, and they have a right to seek the dismissal of the case against them on procedural grounds. In such cases, it is up to the courts to decide who stays and who goes.

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distracted driving, phones, carWe live in an increasingly fast-paced society in which people take on multiple activities at once to get more things done. The level of risk that accompanies this habit varies according to the tasks at hand. For instance, if a person decides to drink coffee while reading a book, the worst thing that will probably happen is that the book will get ruined by spilled coffee. But in distracted driving cases, the level of risk goes up substantially.

When a driver attempts to do another task, such as sending a text message, changing music, or applying makeup, the risk of a serious injury or death is high.

Our firm has seen multiple accidents in which people were seriously injured or even died due to distracted drivers. In an Atlanta case that’s gotten national attention, a teenage driver was using SnapChat while driving and became involved in an accident in which a man was left with traumatic brain injuries. Part of the evidence in the case is a SnapChat screen shot that indicates the teen was driving more than 100 miles per hour. You can read about this case in an article on the TechCrunch news web site.

If you’re not familiar with it, SnapChat is a social media application for smart phones that allows users to record video or photos and add more information, drawings and writing over the photos. One of the ways to use SnapChat is to add a filter over the photo that shows more information about where the photo was taken. One option is a filter that shows speed. While that’s fine to use if you’re a passenger, and kinda fun to use if you’re traveling 400 miles per hour on an airplane, it’s a terrible idea to use this feature while driving. We feel like this should go without saying – but obviously, some need to hear it.

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A close up of a tractor trailer as it speeds down a road. The bottom of the truck and two tires are shown.

In lawsuits involving motor vehicle accidents, it is not unusual for there to be multiple defendants. Sometimes, this is because two or more drivers’ negligence may have contributed to the accident. It can also happen when a driver was on the job at the time of the accident. In this tractor-trailer accident case, just getting to the heart of who was responsible was difficult.

Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be held liable for the tortious acts of a servant, agent or employee. This includes negligent driving. Discovering all of the possible defendants in a case can be a complex endeavor that may take some time. This is one of the reasons that it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

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