Kentucky Auto Accidents
If you or a loved one are suffering the consequences of a Kentucky car accident, you are not alone. Car crashes deprive all too many Americans of their life or health. After years of declining numbers, traffic fatalities in the United States are once again on the rise. Lower gas prices encouraging people to get out on the road, and a surge in risky behaviors like texting and drinking behind the wheel, have brought an end to that positive trend, with 35,092 people losing their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2015, representing a 7.2 percent increase from the previous year. Preliminary statistics for 2016 indicate that the number has continued to rise—to as many as 40,000 deaths. This is a horrific loss of human life at a huge cost to society—both financially and emotionally. Kentucky alone reported 161,393 traffic collisions, 707 of which resulted in fatalities.
The damage goes far beyond the tragedy of traffic fatalities, however. Car accident injuries take a great toll in human pain and suffering, lost productivity and earnings, medical expenses, property damage, and more. In addition to those killed in traffic accidents, preliminary data for 2016 show that 4.6 million people were injured on U.S. roads.
When the Crash Was Caused by Someone Else
In a perfect world, everyone would remain alert and aware of conditions on the road at all times, focused on the task of driving, and would drive with consideration for the safety of others. But in the real world, people make mistakes, drive carelessly, allow themselves to become distracted, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or vent their rage in aggressive and high-speed driving. And no matter how careful you are to drive responsibly, you have no control over the actions of others on the road, and you can become the victim of someone else’s bad driving.
Most traffic accidents can be prevented; they are the result of human error, bad driving, poor judgment, or deliberate wrongdoing.
If you or a member of your family have suffered a serious injury, or if you lost a family member to a fatal traffic accident in Kentucky that was caused by another driver or a hazardous road condition caused by another party’s negligence, your suffering undoubtedly seems unjust. Why must you and your family pay the price in pain, suffering, loss of income, disability, or bereavement for someone else’s wrongdoing?
Kentucky law recognizes the injustice of an accident victim having to suffer for another person’s wrongdoing and allows you to make a claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for injuries in excess of your personal injury protection (PIP) or no-fault insurance. This is best accomplished with the help of an experienced Kentucky car accident attorney.
Types of Car Accidents
These are some of the types of car accidents that often result in injuries and fatalities in Kentucky:
- Head-on collisions: These are the deadliest, but thankfully the least frequent car accident type. Head-ons are often caused by a fatigued, drunk, or otherwise impaired driver drifting out of the proper lane and into the path of an oncoming vehicle, traveling the wrong way on a one-way street, or entering a highway from the wrong entrance ramp.
- Side-impact collisions. Side-impact accidents can be either T-bone collisions or sideswipes. T-bone crashes occur when one vehicle hits another in the side at roughly a 90-degree angle. These are often very serious accidents and frequently result in fatalities. They often occur at intersections when a vehicle fails to stop at a stop sign or traffic light or turns across a lane into the side of an oncoming vehicle. Sideswipes occur when both vehicles are traveling in either the same or opposite directions, and one grazes the side of the other while passing. A sideswipe in itself is somewhat less likely to cause fatalities than a T-bone but may cause one or both drivers to lose control of their cars and precipitate another accident.
- Rear-end collisions: Rear-end crashes are typically the result of one vehicle following another too closely. They are nearly always presumed to be the fault of the driver of the car in the rear. Rear-end accidents are statistically less likely to result in fatalities than some other accident types, but they can cause painful whiplash injuries, and may sometimes result in brain trauma.
- Roll-over accidents: Roll-overs are extremely serious accidents that are more common in older SUVs and minivans. They can often be attributed to a design flaw when the vehicle’s center of gravity is too high. Fortunately, this flaw has been corrected in many newer vehicles. Rollovers may be precipitated by a crash with another vehicle or may be single-car crashes resulting from loss of control when rounding a sharp curve, losing traction in slippery road conditions, or hitting an obstacle in the roadway. Rollovers often result in fatal or catastrophic injuries.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists struck by cars: It is the duty of every driver to be alert to others who are sharing the roads, including pedestrians and people on bicycles. A driver is required to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and allow three feet of clearance when passing a bicycle on the road.
- Hit and run accidents: A driver who is involved in an accident with another vehicle is required by law to stop, identify himself, and render aid when necessary. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. Hit and run accidents create a special issue for accident victims if the at-fault driver is never identified, so having an experienced car accident lawyer is especially important in these cases.
Causes of Car Accidents
A majority of car accidents are caused by driver error. The most common causes of accidents are distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and aggressive driving.
- Texting While Driving and other Distractions: Distracted driving is the number one cause of car accidents in America, and driver distraction has increased tremendously since the advent of the Smart Phone. Drivers using a hand-held electronic device are four times as likely to get into a car accident as those who are not. Drivers sending or receiving text messages are 23 times more likely than others to be involved in an accident.
- Other distractions include rubbernecking at police stops or accidents, grooming, eating, reading, adjusting the GPS or radio, pets in the car, interacting with children, or leaning over to pick up an item from the floor or rear of the car.
- Drunk Driving: It is not news to anyone that alcohol or drug-impaired driving causes crashes, injury, and death, but many people still routinely get behind the wheel after having a few drinks. A person who has been drinking may not feel impaired, but even a few drinks can reduce reaction time sufficiently to make a driver a danger to others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 28 people die every day as a result of someone driving under the influence.
- Speeding: According to U.S Department of Transportation data, speeding is a top cause of car accidents; in fact, speeding is a contributing factor in about a third of all traffic accident in the United States. Often combined with speeding is aggressive driving. Aggressive drivers may weave in and out of traffic at a high speed and exhibit impatience and even rage at others who are driving more slowly, which can result in serious accidents.
What to Do to Protect Your Rights Following a Kentucky Car Accident
It is helpful to know the steps that you should take if you have been involved in a car accident. Following these steps following a crash can be helpful when you are pursuing a legal action for compensation and can help you to achieve the best possible outcome. Much will depend on the extent of your injuries, which may preclude you from doing much of anything, but if you are ambulatory and able to communicate with others, these are some things you should do and some to avoid:
- If your car can be driven, get it off the roadway. Never, ever push it manually.
- Don’t talk to anyone at the scene about how the accident happened or who was at fault.
- Never say anything that might be construed as an apology. It may later be used against you and wrongly interpreted as an admission of fault.
- Call the police to report the accident. Ask to have an officer dispatched.
- If you or another person at the scene requires an ambulance, tell the dispatcher. If you are feeling any signs that you have been injured, or if you are feeling shaken up by the accident, go to the nearest hospital by ambulance.
- While waiting for the police to arrive, write down the names of all others involved in the accident and obtain insurance information, plate numbers, and contact information for all drivers.
- Obtain names and contact information for witnesses to the accident, if any.
- If possible, use your phone camera to take photos of the accident, including all cars and points of impact. Include geographical indicators such as street signs, buildings, etc. to identify the accident location.
- Once law enforcement arrives, write down the name and badge number of the responding officer, the accident report number, and the jurisdiction where you can request a copy of the report.
- Notify your insurance company of the accident, without discussing how it occurred, who was at fault, or the details of your physical condition. Just provide the location and the names and insurance companies of the other drivers.
- See a doctor. Go by ambulance to the nearest hospital emergency room, or have someone drive you to your own doctor or an Urgent Care center. Even if you think you are okay, get checked out. Many car accident injuries are not apparent at first. You may not be aware of certain types of injuries for several hours or days following the accident.
- Continue to see your doctor as long as you have any symptoms at all. Unless your doctor tells you that you have reached your maximum medical improvement, keep all appointments and continue to see your doctor religiously. Fill every prescription and follow the doctor’s orders precisely. If the doctor says not to lift heavy objects, don’t carry your garbage can to the curb, and get help carrying grocery bags.
- Be aware that you are probably under surveillance by the defendant’s insurance company.
- Call the Bowling Green, Kentucky law offices of Lowder & McGill, PLLC to schedule an appointment for a free consultation as soon after the accident as possible.
Who Pays My Medical Bills?
Kentucky is a no-fault state, so every insurance policy included personal injury protection (PIP) which will cover your medical bills and a portion of your lost earnings up to your policy limits. In most serious injury cases, this will not be sufficient to cover the full cost of treatment, and PIP does not compensate you for non-economic damages. If your medical bills exceed your PIP coverage, you will make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, including a claim or both economic and non-economic damages. In the meantime, you may use your personal or public health insurance policy if you have one. If not, most doctors will treat you without payment but will place a lien on your recovery award. Insurance payments will be reimbursed, or medical liens will be satisfied at the conclusion of your legal action from the proceeds of your settlement or verdict.
Dealing with the Insurance Company: Should You Talk to the Adjuster?
It is very important to understand that the insurance company for the at-fault driver is not on your side. The insurance adjuster is not your friend, but an adversary. Insurance companies exist to generate profits—not to help accident victims. Their adjusters are well trained in employing various tactics designed to get you to say or do something to compromise your case. When the adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, refrain from engaging in conversation. Do not give a recorded or written statement, and do not sign anything. Refer the adjuster to your attorney. A car accident lawyer knows how to handle the adjuster and when to provide required documentation of your accident and injuries. Allow your lawyer to handle all negotiations with the insurance company, and only sign authorizations or releases when your lawyer instructs you to do so.
This advice applies to your own insurance company as well. If the other driver is uninsured, underinsured, or can’t be identified after a hit and run, your own insurer may stand in that same adversarial relationship to you under your uninsured motorist provision, if you have this important coverage.
Get the Legal Help You Need in Western Kentucky
The Bowling Green, Kentucky law firm of Lowder & McGill, PLLC offers a free, no-obligation car accident consultation. One of our experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorneys will review the circumstances of your accident and your damages and will provide straightforward answers to all of your questions. At Lowder & McGill, we are focused on your needs and getting you the results that will help you pick up the pieces of your life after suffering injuries and other losses, including both economic and non-economic damages that affect your quality of life. As a client-focused and results-oriented firm, we are deeply committed to obtaining the best possible outcome for each client we represent while providing personalized attention to your case at every phase of the legal process. Your best interests are always our primary concern. If you can’t make it to the office because of your injuries, just let us know and we’ll come to you.
If you choose our firm to represent you, we will conduct our own investigation and review of the evidence, interview any witnesses, and bring in civil engineers and accident reconstruction specialists to assist in analyzing the data and when necessary, to provide expert testimony in depositions or at trial. We will obtain and review your medical records, document other expenses arising from the accident, get payroll statements and tax returns to document your lost wages, and make a case for your non-economic damages—including pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and more. We will use the information we have assembled to negotiate on your behalf with the adjuster or the attorneys for the at-fault party. We can often secure an award for you without your ever having to appear in court, but we will always be prepared to take your case to trial if necessary to get you the money you deserve.
Statutory Time Limits on Filing Your Kentucky Car Accident Case
Kentucky law limits the amount of time you have to file a legal action for compensation, so it is in your best interest to contact Lowder & McGill, PLLC right away. Call us today to protect your right to the recovery award you need and deserve. We accept car accident cases on a contingency fee arrangement, so you will never pay us anything unless and until we win money for you. That way you risk nothing, but potentially have a great deal to gain!