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Articles Tagged with accident

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Attorneys who routinely handle personal injury cases often tell clients that it can take anywhere from a few months to several years for their case to make its way through the courts or settle.

Typically, however, the litigation process does not take anywhere near as long as it did in a case decided in March by the Kentucky’s highest court. In that case, a decade passed between the plaintiff’s initial injury and the court’s decision.

One factor that extended the case’s time in the courts was a change in the applicable law while the case was pending. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, the court’s decision required their case to, once again, be remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

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Our civil justice system is built on the premise that a jury of disinterested individuals is in the best position to determine matters such as the credibility of witnesses and the amount of money that a person injured by another person’s negligence should receive in compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and so on.

Unfortunately, no system is perfect. Even juries sometimes get it wrong. When that happens, it is the trial judge’s job to grant a new trial so that justice may prevail.

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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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parking areaIn a pedestrian accident involving a motor vehicle, most people would assume that the pedestrian’s medical expenses and other damages would be paid by the driver’s insurance carrier. If for some reason that did not happen, most would assume the injured person’s own uninsured motorist insurance would honor its contractual obligation and pay the medical claim.

Unfortunately, those assumptions proved to be wrong in a case arising from an incident that occurred in 2012. Instead, the injured man had to file a lawsuit and take his case all the way to the state supreme court in order to obtain relief under uninsured motor vehicle provisions in his insurance.

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How much do you know about your insurance coverage? For instance, if you have two cars insured under separate uninsured/underinsured motorist policies, do you assume that you are covered under both policies for an accident in either vehicle? Or do you know that there may be an insurance exclusion that applies?

This issue was the subject of a recent Kentucky Supreme Court case in which the justices strongly disagreed about whether an “average American” could understand certain exclusions in two insurance policies issued to a man who was later hurt by an underinsured driver.

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Pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act, certain governmental entities can be held liable for damages resulting from their negligence. In this bus injury case, the plaintiff won the first round, but a higher court overturned the ruling.

In order to succeed in such a negligence case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that the defendant engaged in conduct that amounted to a breach of that duty, that the plaintiff sustained an injury or loss, and that there was causation (both causation in fact and proximate or legal causation). If any of these elements fails, so does the plaintiff’s cause of action.

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When a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident, he or she typically expects there to be a dispute about who was at fault or how much the claim is worth. What most people do not expect, however, is that a “routine” car accident case can quickly escalate into a battle with one’s own insurance company.

A recent case decided by Kentucky’s intermediate court of appeals illustrates the difficulties that can arise when an insured’s expectations as to what is provided under a policy do not line up with the language of the actual document. The case came down to what type of insurance would be paying the claim: uninsured motorist or liability insurance coverage.

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car doorIt is always a good idea to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage insurance, but settling a UM/UIM claim can be more complicated than it might initially seem. This is true even when the claimant is the insured person, but settlements can be even more difficult when a person other than the insured is seeking to recover UM/UIM benefits.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals was recently presented with a rather unusual UIM case filed by the friend of the insured under a policy issued by State Farm.

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rodeo riderThe obvious defendant in a motor vehicle accident case is the person whose negligent driving caused the wreck. However, for a variety of reasons, it is possible that other defendants may be named in some lawsuits. In a fatal drunk driving accident, the plaintiff may want to sue those besides the driver who the plaintiff believes is partially responsible for the state of intoxication the driver was in.

It is usually to the plaintiff’s advantage to name as many potential defendants as possible in order to increase the chances of a settlement or judgment, especially if some defendants may be be uninsured, underinsured, or immune from suit.

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One of the first things that future attorneys learn in law school is that a court must have jurisdiction before it can act in a particular case. This power of the court to act is two-fold. The court must have both personal jurisdiction (power over the persons or corporations named in the suit), and it must have subject matter jurisdiction (authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter). If either is missing, the court lacks the power to adjudicate the matter and must dismiss the case.

In the recent unpublished opinion of Taylor v. Bristol West Insurance Company, the Jefferson Circuit Court was called upon to decide whether a Kentucky trial court had jurisdiction over an insurance company that issued a motor vehicle insurance policy to an Indiana resident who was later involved in a car accident in Jefferson County, Kentucky.

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