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Articles Tagged with car accidents

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If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you should talk to your insurance agent about purchasing this very important coverage as soon as you can. Such coverage can mean the difference between a fair recovery and financial ruin in the event of a serious accident with a driver who has no insurance or who has only the minimum policy limits.

However, should you ever need to actually use your uninsured or underinsured coverage, do not expect your insurance company to be on “your side” of the case.

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Insurance companies have certain duties not only to their insureds but also to those who file legitimate claims against those who they insure.

A company’s failure to uphold these duties can result in a finding of liability under Kentucky’s bad-faith laws, but the claimant has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. This is not always an easy task, since there those involved may not agree about who is at fault or the amount of damages to which the claimant is entitled.

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Uninsured motorist insurance coverage can help pay for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in the event that an insured is involved in an accident with an uninsured (or underinsured) driver.  An uninsured driver is just what you would think it means – a driver that does not have insurance. Underinsured driver means the at fault driver has insurance, but they do not have enough insurance to cover your damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If an insurance company makes payments to its insured under a uninsured motorist policy, the insurance company has a right to file suit against the uninsured driver in order to assert its subrogation rights. In such cases, the insurance company essentially stands in the shoes of the insured and is held to the same procedural rules as the insured if he or she filed the lawsuit.

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By Kurt Maier, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Many people drive a company car as part of their work. If you drive often, chances are, at some point, you’ll be involved in some kind of vehicle accident.

After you’ve made sure you’re not injured and that everyone else involved is OK, too, one of the first things that might come to mind is whether or not you’ll be liable for the damage caused by the accident. If you’re driving your employer’s vehicle with your employer’s permission, you are not liable in most circumstances for a work-related vehicle accident.

I address this very topic in a recent video I created. You can watch it here:

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When someone is injured in a car accident, there are several different types of damages that can be included in a settlement or judgment, assuming that a case of negligence can be made against the negligent driver. Depending upon the circumstances, possible damages include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity and property damages.

Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, are more difficult to calculate than economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages. Often, these are the most heavily contested elements of a car wreck case, once liability has been established. Sometimes, those types of damages are even the subject of an appeal.

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accidentCar wrecks occur every day by the thousands. Sometimes they’re slight fender-benders, but other times these accidents cause injuries that can impact the quality of life of those involved.

Having a plan in place if you’re involved in a car wreck can help you if you are not severely injured. Talking through your plan with your family can prepare you and is an excellent step to take.

We’ve outlined eight steps we would tell any clients to take if they are involved in an accident.

  1. If anyone in your vehicle is injured and needs immediate medical attention, call 911 as soon as you can. It’s important to get an ambulance headed your way as soon as possible, particularly if you are in a rural area. This can take time, as can the ambulance ride to a medical center, and time is your greatest enemy when you’re injured.

If you or someone in your vehicle is severely injured, the rest of this list doesn’t matter. Nothing is more important than getting them the help they need to survive and recover.

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donot_enterA recent accident on Interstate 65 has claimed the life of a Brownsville man, and once again highlighted the dangers of drunk driving.

Michael Campbell, 41, was driving a Chevrolet Corvette north on Interstate 65 when his vehicle was hit head-on by another driving in the wrong direction. He was killed in the accident, which occurred on Sunday, January 11, 2015.  His passenger in the vehicle, Terry Anderson, 32, is still in the hospital recovering. According to news accounts, the driver going the wrong way on Interstate 65 told police that she had had too much to drink. She was also injured and was hospitalized, and is expected to be charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication and vehicular assault. News accounts indicate the accident with Campbell was the second accident that night the alleged drunk driver was involved in.

No one has been convicted of any crime in this case, but because of the statements the driver allegedly made, the accident has thrown a new spotlight onto the importance of always having a designated driver, a taxi or some other form of safe and sober transportation when you’ve consumed alcohol. Make arrangements ahead of the time in which you expect to be drinking alcohol so that you will not be tempted to drive after drinking. Even one drink can impair a driver, and you could face very serious consequences. Statistics from MADD show that 10,322 people were killed and another 345,000 injured in accidents involving drunk drivers in 2012.

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2012-11-04 12.59.31A 2011 accident involving a tree-trimming crew resulted in the death of one worker and injuries to another. The Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled on a lawsuit concerning the accident after it was appealed from Warren County Circuit Court in Bowling Green, Kentucky. You can read the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling in the case here: http://opinions.kycourts.net/coa/2013-CA-000078.pdf

The accident involved three men: James Coleman, Davison Crocker, and Dale Cherry, all of whom were employed by A&G Tree Service, Inc., which is located in Leitchfield, Kentucky. In August 2011, they were sent to a job site in Tennessee, and traveled together to the job site in a company vehicle. On the way back, an accident occurred that took the life of Cherry and injured Crocker. The employment handbook for A&G indicates that their employees are considered to be at work once they arrive at the site where their work is to occur. The workers may use company vehicles for their convenience and carpooling is permitted.

After the accident, Crocker received workers’ compensation benefits, and Cherry’s estate received workers’ compensation death benefits. Crocker sued Coleman and his personal insurance carrier, Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, arguing that Coleman’s negligent driving had caused the accident. Progressive argued that workers’ compensation should be the sole source of benefits for Coleman and Cherry’s estate, but Crocker argued that the men were not on the clock, so tort relief was also possible.

The Warren County Circuit Court did not agree. Kentucky law says that the either an employee may recover workers’ compensation benefits, if in fact their injury occurred while the employee was on the job, or the worker may recover tort damages if the employee was not on the clock at the time of the injury or damages, but the person may not recover both.

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In Wright v. Carroll, a woman who was seriously injured in a tractor-trailer crash filed a lawsuit in Elliott County Circuit Court against the driver of the big rig that struck her automobile. In her complaint, the woman accused the semi-truck driver of negligently maintaining the vehicle. She also alleged that the wreck occurred because the truck driver operated the vehicle in a negligent manner when he lost control of the 18-wheeler and entered her driving lane after navigating a blind curve in the road. In the initial trial, the jury sided with the tractor trailer operator, but that verdict was overturned by the Kentucky  Court of Appeals due to improper jury instructions.

According to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, the jurors should not have been instructed on the sudden emergency doctrine, since the tractor-trailer collision did not constitute an emergency that the driver could not have anticipated. As a result, the personal injury case was remanded for a new trial. Following a second trial, jurors again entered a verdict in favor of the truck driver. The trial court denied the woman’s motion for a directed verdict, and she appealed the jury’s decision. The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the trial court should have granted the woman’s motion and ordered the lower court to hold an additional trial only on the issue of damages. The tractor-trailer driver then sought review by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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The Kentucky case Estate of Ferrell v. J & W Recycling, Inc. involved a semi truck and car accident in which both drivers died. The two drivers were killed when an automobile and a tractor-trailer collided in Greenup County, Kentucky, in 2011. The driver of the semi-truck was apparently operating the commercial vehicle during the course of his employment for a recycling company. When the accident occurred, the recycling business carried commercial general liability insurance. Still, the company’s insurer refused to honor the policy and indemnify the business after the fatal accident.

Following the tragic wreck, the wife of the automobile driver filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the recycling business. According to her complaint, the accident resulted in part from improper truck loading by a forklift operator. After nearly two years of litigation, the man’s wife and the recycling company agreed upon a settlement in which the business admitted fault for the deadly collision. As part of the agreement, the decedent’s wife accepted the recycling company’s rights under its liability insurance policy. When she filed a petition with the court to “adjudge the existence of coverage” under the policy the insurer sought to move the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky based upon diversity jurisdiction.

28 U.S.C. § 1332 allows a party to a lawsuit to remove a case from state court where the parties are residents of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. The Federal Declaratory Judgment Act, however, allows a federal court to refuse jurisdiction where appropriate. After examining several factors, the federal court declined to hear the case.

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