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Articles Tagged with car wrecks

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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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What happens if you’re in a funeral procession an involved in an accident? In a recent Ashland, Kentucky, case, a plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that the funeral home was at fault for the accident. The case is Christian v. Steen Funeral Home.

The accident involved a man who was a passenger in a private car that was participating in a funeral procession. The car he was in collided with another vehicle at an intersection. According to the injured man, the crash occurred because the funeral home that organized the procession failed to clearly mark the vehicles involved in the procession with flags or other markers.

Following the collision, the injured man filed a negligence lawsuit in Lawrence County Circuit Court against both drivers and the funeral home. He also accused the funeral home of negligence per se.

In response, the funeral home filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The funeral home argued that the man failed to state a cause of action, and that the funeral home did not owe him a duty of care under Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 189.378. Under Kentucky law, vehicles involved in a funeral procession do not have to be marked with any sort of special flag or other marking.

The man countered by claiming the funeral home owed him a duty of reasonable care, and the company breached that duty when it failed to require the driver of the vehicle in which he was riding to turn on his headlights or otherwise indicate the vehicle’s participation in the procession.

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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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Earlier this year, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky in Bowling Green refused to certify a question of law to the Kentucky Supreme Court in a tractor-trailer accident case. The case was Meherg v. Pope. The case centered on a semi-truck accident in which the tractor-trailer allegedly struck a stopped car from behind on Interstate 65 in Hart County. The force of the impact apparently caused the stopped car to hit another vehicle that was carrying three people. As a result of the crash, five individuals were reportedly injured, and a child was killed.

About one year after the big rig collision, several of the injured victims filed a gross negligence claim against the truck driver and a respondeat superior claim against the trucking company that employed the truck driver. The doctrine of respondeat superior allows an employer to be held responsible for the negligent acts of an employee when the acts were performed during the course of the worker’s employment. In addition, the plaintiffs accused the trucking company of negligent hiring, training, and supervision of the driver. Three years later, the federal court held that the driver did not commit gross negligence and stated the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate he was reckless. The court also ruled that punitive damages were not warranted in the case. Punitive damages are normally awarded by a court in an effort to punish particularly egregious conduct. They are also designed to deter others from acting similarly in the future.

Since the driver admitted to acting negligently, and the trucking company admitted to respondeat superior liability, the Western District of Kentucky stated a trial would be held on the sole issue of any personal injuries sustained by the plaintiffs as a result of the 18-wheeler accident. The federal court also refused to allow the plaintiffs to offer evidence related to the trucking company’s alleged negligent supervision or hiring of the trucker. According to the federal court, most Kentucky courts had previously refused to hold that a negligent training and supervision claim could survive an employer’s admission of respondeat superior liability. The doctrine of respondeat superior allows an employer to be held responsible for the negligent acts of an employee when the acts were performed during the course of the worker’s employment.

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The U.S. Department of Transportation‘s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just released statistics for 2012 for auto and large truck fatal accidents. There are three reports, which provide a wealth of information about fatal accidents in the U.S.

Links to the reports are available here:

In this blog post, we’ll concentrate on the first report, which analyzes all data from all of the accidents combined.
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In Big Spring Assembly of God, Inc. v. Stevenson, a youth minister for a church organized a camping trip with several teens. At one point during the trip, the minister took two children to his apartment in his personal automobile. While returning to the campground, the minister apparently allowed a 13-year-old to drive the vehicle. Sadly, the child lost control of the car and caused a wreck. The child died as a result of his injuries.

Before law enforcement officials arrived, the minister allegedly asked the surviving youth to state the minister was driving at the time of the fatal accident. The child initially complied with the minister’s request but later admitted to police that the deceased 13-year-old was behind the wheel when the crash took place. After that, the estate of the deceased child filed a vicarious liability lawsuit against the church that employed the minister and sought damages as a result of the organization’s alleged negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of the man. The decedent’s parents also sought damages for loss of consortium.

A trial court found that both the minister and the child committed negligence as a matter of law and asked jurors to apportion damages over the child’s death. Since Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state, the amount of damages an at-fault defendant is required to pay will normally be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the injured or deceased person. Although the jury determined the church was not vicariously responsible for the minister’s negligence because he was acting outside of the scope of his job duties when the deadly wreck occurred, it did hold the organization liable for its negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of him. As a result, jurors awarded the child’s estate $1 million in damages and attributed 80 percent of the fault to the minister’s actions. Since the jury found that the child was 20 percent to blame for his wrongful death, the damages award was reduced to about $800,000. The child’s parents also received approximately $60,000 for their loss of consortium claims.

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