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By Kyle Roby, Partner

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Kyle Roby

English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

All too often I get calls from people who have been rear-ended by a distracted driver. Most of the time, when no one was injured with only damage to the vehicle, there is not a need for a personal injury attorney like me to get involved, but I am always happy to provide information on how one should proceed after being rear-ended and provide a warning for potential pitfalls that may arise.

What often complicates matters is when the person that rear-ended the vehicle does not have insurance, leaving the person who got hit to fix their car out of their own pocket. In these situations, whether you are trying to seek payment for damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or your own to get your car fixed, this can be an extremely frustrating experience. Here are five tips that I often share to help ease your frustration: Continue reading

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What is disputed liability and what impact does it have in the state of Kentucky?

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By: ELPO Law Attorney J.A. Sowell (jasowell@ELPOLaw.com; 270-781-6500)

Disputed liability is a term used by insurance companies when negotiating bodily injury claims made against their insured after there is an injury resulting from a car wreck. Insurance companies want to limit the amounts of money that they must pay out to injured parties. One way to accomplish this goal is by disputing that their insured is at fault in what occurred.

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By J.A. Sowell, Attorney

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J.A. Sowell

Reprinted from SOKY Happenings article 4.30.20

Picture this – it is Monday evening. You are driving down Campbell Lane with your two children in the backseat headed to grab a quick dinner after soccer practice. As you approach the intersection with Scottsville Road, you have the green light. Then, out of nowhere, a pick-up truck unexpectedly tries to turn left in front of your vehicle. Despite going the speed limit and paying attention to the road, there is nothing that you can do to avoid the collision. Boom! The pick-up truck rams into your vehicle, causing it to spin out and incur significant damage. You and your kids sustain neck and back injuries from the impact. The other driver is clearly at fault. No big deal, though… his insurance will surely cover the property damage, as well as the medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you endured, right?

Well… maybe. According to the Insurance Research Council, there is a 13% chance that the driver who hit you does not have any insurance at all – even though Kentucky law requires every driver to maintain a certain level of insurance coverage. There is also a good chance that while the driver has car insurance, he only carries the minimally required coverage, which may not be enough to fully cover the damages you sustained from the accident he caused.

So, what can you do to make sure your family is protected in a situation like this? You can prepare for these unimaginable situations by obtaining uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage on your automobile insurance policy.

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

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Kyle Roby

A recent Kentucky Supreme Court case addressed the issue of PIP or BRB payments, which are also called no-fault payments. This is part of a class action lawsuit against insurance giant GEICO. The company denied PIP benefits based on a doctor reviewing medical records and not examining the individual. This is known as a peer review of medical records by an out-of-state doctor.

This procedure is not found in the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA). The plaintiffs argued that this procedure should not have been used as a standard for denying benefits and the Kentucky Supreme Court agreed.  In fact, the Kentucky Supreme Court compared the arguments made by the attorneys and the trial court to coon dogs leading a hunter in the wrong direction or as the old saying goes “they were barking up the wrong tree.”

The case is Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) vs. Jordan Sanders and Anita Houchens (individually and as class representatives). The court handed down the ruling on November 1, and ordered that the ruling was to be published, which means it can be used as a standard in future cases.

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The burden of proof is initially on the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. In order to prevail, he or she must prove each of the four elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages) by a preponderance of the evidence. This is usually done through a combination of expert witnesses and lay testimony.

For instance, in many car accident cases, the basic facts of the crash may be explained by lay witnesses (“I saw the blue car run the red light and hit the side of the white van”). Evidence regarding certain damages, such as injuries and the reasonableness and necessity of medical expenses, requires testimony from an expert witness such as a physician.

In the middle of these extremes are cases in which expert witness testimony would prove helpful but is not strictly required in order for a case to go forward. Sometimes, the parties disagree as to whether such testimony is an actual requirement under the circumstances, and the court must make a decision.

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

IMG_0338For someone who has little experience with law firms or the court system, meeting with a personal injury lawyer can be intimidating. The question we’re asked the most often by our clients is “What do you need me to bring?”

For my personal injury clients, I’ve condensed it down to a short list that you can use as a guideline. These are all documents that are not essential, but they’re very helpful to have with you so your attorney can get to work right away.

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There’s an old riddle that asks, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?” We may never know the answer to that question, but it seems that, if a tree located on state property falls onto a car passing over a bridge, there is a good chance that the state’s high court will eventually hear about it, especially if there is any question as to whether the injured person’s lawsuit was promptly filed.

As we’ve mentioned before, the statute of limitations is important in any lawsuit, but some cases have other time limitations and procedural requirements that must also be complied with. In cases involving governmental entities, the timing can be especially tricky.

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In Barnes v. Saulsberry, a man sued a taxi cab driver and the owner of the taxi cab following an accident on the side of the highway. The man was standing on the shoulder of a Tennessee highway waiting for emergency personnel to arrive following a traffic collision. While the man was outside his vehicle, a taxi cab struck a parked automobile. The parked vehicle collided with the man’s car, which then hit the man. As a result, the man allegedly sustained permanent and disabling harm.

About one year after the automobile accident, the injured man filed a negligence lawsuit against the taxi cab driver and its owner in Shelby County, Tennessee. According to the man, the defendants caused him to suffer numerous broken bones, ongoing pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. Following a jury trial, the man received a damages award of $1 million. After unsuccessfully seeking a new trial, the defendants filed an appeal with the Tennessee Court of Appeals in Nashville.

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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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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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