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Articles Tagged with Kentucky Court of Appeals

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Most people who own an automobile know that it is important to obtain a copy of the insurance policy. However, many consumers do not fully understand all of the different options that may be available to them, much less the many limitations and exclusions contained in a typical policy.

When an accident happens, a misinformed consumer can be extremely surprised and disappointed to find out what exactly is and, perhaps more importantly, is not covered, especially after years of faithfully paying monthly premiums to the insurance company.

As the plaintiff in a recent insurance dispute lawsuit found out, just a few words in an insurance policy can make a tremendous difference in the insurance company’s responsibility to pay out certain benefits in the event of an accident.

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

Even car accident cases that seem simple in the beginning can grow complicated very quickly. In a recent Kentucky fatal car accident case, who was driving the car at the time of the accident was the legal question. The alleged operator of a car involved in a fatal collision accused his passenger of being behind the wheel, even after the operator had pled guilty to manslaughter in criminal court.

It was up to the trial court – and the court of appeals, on review – to decide whether the issue was to be resolved by judicial admission or by the jury at trial.

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The Kentucky Court of Appeals has found that Virginia law applied in an uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage dispute arising out of a Kentucky tractor-trailer crash. In an unpublished opinion, a Virginia truck driver sued the insurance carrier for another motorist who struck his big rig head-on. The tractor-trailer wreck occurred on Interstate 65 in Jefferson County, Kentucky, in 2009. At the time of the collision, the other motorist was allegedly intoxicated and traveling in the wrong direction on the freeway. Following the accident, the truck driver settled with the at-fault driver’s liability insurer for the full policy limits of $25,000.

After that, the semi-truck driver’s motor vehicle insurer waived its subrogation rights against the other driver.  The trucker then sought $25,000 in UIM benefits from his own auto insurer. The truck driver’s UIM insurer denied his claim because the at-fault driver was not an underinsured motorist according to the definition included in his insurance policy. In addition, the company claimed that Virginia law allowed it to offset the $25,000 payment the truck driver received from the other driver’s insurer against his potential UIM benefits. Because of this, the trucker’s insurer claimed that he was not entitled to receive additional payment as a result of his UIM coverage.

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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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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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2014-10-17 09.29.48Earlier this year, the Kentucky Court of Appeals made a significant ruling that’s largely viewed as favorable to plaintiff’s attorneys. The court ruled that the statute of limitations begins on an Underinsured Motorists claim when the insurance company turns down the insurance claim, rather than from the date of the accident or the date of the last Personal Injury Payment (PIP) was made.

Underinsured Motorists provisions are included in most insurance policies. The provisions allow motorists to cover the costs of property damage, physical injuries, rehabilitation and other issues caused by another driver who is underinsured or does not have enough insurance to compensate someone for their injuries and damages. Those involved in such an accident file a claim with their own insurance company seeking compensation. The provisions vary by company and by policy, and some accident victims seek the assistance of an attorney to file such a claim.

The recent Kentucky Court of Appeals case cited here was Amberee N. Hensley v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

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