Home > Index May 13, 2013
Earlier this year, six people from Wisconsin were tragically killed in a truck accident involving an SUV and a semi. The crash occurred on I-65 near Elizabethtown, Kentucky, about 15 miles from where a 2010 truck accident killed 11 people in a van. In the most recent accident, the SUV caught fire after being rear-ended by the semi, and only two children survived.
In April, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed by an attorney representing four of the victims who were killed. Even though the victims were all from Wisconsin, the lawsuit was filed in Kentucky because that was where the accident took place. While this arrangement seems very inconvenient for those affected by the accident, it is fairly standard across the U.S. for any legal action to be taken in the same state in which the accident occurred. Because most people do not have connections with out-of-state attorneys, many personal injury law offices can recommend someone in another state. If the referring attorney stays involved in the case, they may act as co-counsel to the other firm.
The lawsuit named both the driver of the semi and the company he works for as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that the truck driver had been on the road without a break longer than federal regulations allow, and that he kept two sets of log books to keep regulators from finding out. The lawsuit most likely claims that the company he worked for knew he was doing this and perhaps even encouraged the behavior to decrease his downtime. Their claim is certainly strengthened by the fact that the company and the driver have both been declared imminent hazards by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and are prohibited from moving freight. An investigation by the agency in March determined that the driver was indeed driving longer than he should and that the company knew about it and didn’t stop him.
February 4, 2013
Within the last few days, there have been two bus accidents involving charter buses that injured numerous people. The first happened in Boston, Massachusetts, and involved a bus filled with high school students returning from an outing at Harvard. The bus driver allegedly got lost and was attempting to use his GPS when the bus crashed into a low-hanging overpass, injuring 35 people. The second accident happened a day a later and across the country in California. In that accident, a speeding charter bus hit a car, flipped over, and landed on a pickup truck. Eight people have been confirmed dead, and the total may rise to ten as the wreckage is cleared and additional victims are found. About 36 others were injured.
When you hire a charter bus for an excursion, you assume that the drivers are well-trained, the buses have been properly maintained, and that you will arrive at your destination and back home safely, without the hassle of driving yourself. Unfortunately this is not always the case. In the first accident the driver admitted he was lost and was paying attention to his GPS instead of watching the roads. As a result, he missed the signs warning of the low overpass and many people were injured. Investigators say the driver will most likely face charges in the accident and they will try to determine if he was driving longer than federal laws allow. If that is the case, he may be liable for the injuries his passengers sustained, and the company may be partially at fault if they scheduled him to drive longer than allowed.
It appears that speed was a major factor in the fatal California accident. Investigators are still trying to determine why the bus was going so fast. The driver, who survived the accident, said there was something wrong with the brakes, so that will definitely be considered. A brake issue could mean that the bus company may be partially responsible for the crash if the bus had not been maintained properly; or a product liability issue might make the manufacturer of the bus at least partially liable if there was a defect that caused the brakes to malfunction.
December 10, 2012
Personal injury law covers a wide range of situations, all involving at least one person being injured allegedly because of the fault or negligence of another. Probably the most well-known type of personal injury involves car accidents. There are approximately 6.5 million car crashes in the U.S. each year, and almost half of them involve some sort of injury. About 43,000 of those accidents are fatal. Numerous factors can cause car or truck accidents. Driving while under the influence, driving while drowsy, inexperienced drivers, faulty car systems due to improper production or lack of maintenance, and distracted driving are just a few of the factors that can cause an accident.
Sometimes, the actual driver that appears to have caused the accident is not entirely at fault. If, unbeknownst to the driver, the car they are driving has been manufactured improperly, they may have little to no control over avoiding an accident. Such was the case when numerous cars from Toyota appeared to accelerate on their own. These incidents were allegedly the result of the gas pedals becoming stuck, particularly under the floor mat. If someone is injured in this type of accident, it is likely that they can file a claim against the driver of the car that caused the accident and the manufacturer of the car that was defective. Trucking companies and bus companies may also be held liable if one of their drivers causes an accident. If it is determined that the company did not train the drivers properly, did not maintain their trucks or buses properly, or required their drivers to be on the road longer than federal regulations allow, they may be at least partially at fault if some is injured by one of their drivers. Someone seemingly unrelated to the accident may be responsible for an accident as well. If a company has a sign up that blocks visibility, or if landscaping is not maintained and blocks the views of drivers, the owner of the sign or the landscaping could be found to be at fault if an accident occurs in that location.
October 1, 2012
In May, 2010, traffic was stopped on State Road 60 near Sellersburg, Indiana. The cause, as is often the case in spring and summer, was ongoing road construction. Unfortunately, one driver did not stop. To make matters worse, he was driving a large garbage truck. He crashed into five cars, killing one 19-year-old girl.
The truck driver, Roger Crum, faced criminal charges because of the truck accident, including multiple counts of felony criminal recklessness and homicide. When questioned by police about the accident, he told them he did not see the flagger or the road work signs. He admitted to police that he had taken prescription pain killers before getting behind the wheel of the truck. However when he was tested for driving under the influence, no drugs or alcohol were found.
Rather than going to trial, Mr. Crum pleaded guilty to the felony criminal recklessness counts and the homicide charge was reduced to misdemeanor criminal recklessness. He avoided jail time with his guilty plea and reduced sentence. He will be on probation for four-and-a-half years. Family members were very dissatisfied with the sentence, and grudgingly agreed to the deal. Because the drugs were not found in the driver’s system, they were afraid if they went to trial that he wouldn’t receive any punishment. In addition to the probation, Mr. Crum’s commercial driver’s license was suspended for the duration of his probation. He also lost his personal driver’s license for one year.
In addition to the criminal charges that were brought against Mr. Crum, a civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of the deceased victim against the City of Jeffersonville, who employed Mr. Crum at the time of the accident. The city had already terminated Mr. Crum shortly after the accident because he failed to notify them that he was taking the prescription pain killers, which may have prevented him from being allowed to drive the truck at the time of the accident. Even though the city claimed they were unaware that the driver had taken the drugs before driving a city vehicle, they still agreed to settle with the victim’s estate for an undisclosed amount. The wrongful death lawsuit allegedly had asked for $700,000 in damages.
June 5, 2012
In response to higher gas prices, increased airline fees and the downturn of the economy, many have turned to public buses for transportation. This increase in bus riding has led to the creation of multiple curbside bus companies. These companies are called “curbside” because they pick up and drop off passengers right on the street instead of at a terminal. They offer very inexpensive fares, and tend to follow limited routes. Most of them traveled up and down the east coast along I-95.
Three Indiana bus companies were included in those that were shut down: Red Eagle Tours of Mishawaka and Eagle Bus Inc. and Sammy’s Tour Inc., both of Indianapolis. All three companies were part of a larger company called New Century Travel, Inc. in Philadelphia. None of the companies appear to have working websites to confirm where the Indiana companies’ bus routes were. The other companies involved were located in Georgia, Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
The federal government had been investigating the companies for a year before forcing them to close. They are considered unsafe for both the passengers and the drivers around them. A 2011 government report stated these companies were seven times more likely to have a fatal bus accident than a traditional bus company. According to Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary, “By ignoring safety rules, these operators put both passengers and other motorists at serious safety risk, and shutting them down could save lives.” What were these companies doing that was so dangerous?
Many of the companies employed drivers that did not have valid commercial driver’s licenses, or they hired drivers that had been cited numerous times and even fired from other companies for poor driving records. Drivers were driving more than the number of hours allowed by the federal government. This restriction applies to all commercial drivers and requires them to take breaks and have time to sleep to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. The buses themselves were subpar, lacking in maintenance and inspections.
May 18, 2012
I-75 near Williamsburg, Kentucky was tied up for hours on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 when two accidents occurred within three miles of each other. The first truck accident was caused by one commercial truck rear-ending another semi at mile marker 1 in the southbound lanes. The truck driver that allegedly caused the accident was seriously injured and taken to a hospital in Tennessee by helicopter.
The second accident involved five vehicles including two semis, an RV with a trailer, a pickup truck and a van. Four of the five vehicles had slowed down due to the accident mentioned above. However the fifth vehicle, one of the tractor-trailers, did not stop and crashed into the pickup truck. This set off a chain reaction, resulting in the RV and one semi catching fire. One person was killed in this accident and three more were injured, including two who were taken to the University of Tennessee Hospital by helicopter.
Several factors will be involved in figuring out who was responsible for what in these accidents, particularly the second one. Because multiple vehicles were involved, investigators will need to determine who caused which part of the accident. Currently it appears that the second semi caused all of the damage in the second crash because news reports state that it hit all of the other vehicles involved. However, police and investigator reports will have to be reviewed before a final conclusion can be made. If more than one driver was at fault, separate claims or lawsuits may need to be filed against multiple drivers and their insurance carriers.
In both crashes, commercial trucks were involved, which means the companies that employed the drivers could be liable for part of the damages as well. If a truck was not properly maintained by the company and there was a mechanical malfunction, it may have contributed to the crash. Inexperienced drivers or drivers who have been driving longer than allowed by the law may cause truck accidents in which the company could be partially responsible. An inexperienced driver may not have learned how to respond in a situation involving slowed or stopped traffic. A driver who has not had enough sleep or had a break from driving may be drowsy and not able to react as quickly as necessary. The weight of the load being hauled by the truck could be a factor as well. Loads that are over the weight limit can make a truck harder to stop in an emergency situation.
January 4, 2012
In the last two weeks of 2011, there were at least two head-on collisions in Indiana and Kentucky that resulted in death. On December 16th, a 17-year-old driver crossed the median near Evansville Indiana and struck an oncoming car, killing herself, her 8-year-old passenger, and the two people in the other vehicle. A Danville, Kentucky man was killed when his car crossed the center line and collided head-on with a box truck near Bryantsville on December 30th.
Car accidents that result from head-on collisions are among the most deadly. Although they account for only two percent of all accidents, they cause ten percent of all car accident fatalities. One reason they are so dangerous is because of the amount of speed involved. If two cars moving at 50 mph collide, the actual speed at impact is 100 mph since the rate of speed is combined. Running head-first into a stationary object can also cause serious injuries or death because a tree, lamppost, or other hard object will not give way upon impact like another vehicle will. Head-on collisions are even more dangerous if the occupants are not wearing seatbelts because they can be ejected from the vehicles. Injuries caused by head-on collisions include head and neck injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding or bruising, and spinal cord damage.
Head-on collisions between generally occur in one of three ways. A vehicle traveling in one direction crosses the middle of the road and ends up in the lanes of oncoming traffic; a vehicle drives the wrong way down a one-way street; or a vehicle enters a highway from an off-ramp instead of an on-ramp, causing the vehicle to travel in the wrong direction.
One might ask how a driver could drive across a median, down a one-way street the wrong way, or up an off-ramp. Several factors can cause these situations to occur. Drivers who are distracted may allow their vehicles to veer to one side enough to cross the double yellow lines. No one can forget the Kentucky truck accident earlier this year that took the lives of 11 people when a semi driver was distracted by his cell phone and drove into oncoming traffic. Intoxicated drivers may be confused and unable tell an off-ramp from an on-ramp. Neither of these appears to be the cause of the accidents mentioned above.
December 14, 2011
In December 2010, a new regulation was proposed that would limit the amount of time truck drivers can operate their vehicles to 10 hours. Currently the limit is 11 hours. While some safety groups, such as Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, favor the new regulation, other groups are questioning its usefulness or challenging it.
Advocates of the 10-hour limit believe it will reduce the number of truck accidents and fatalities. They say the roads will be safer because fewer truck drivers will fall asleep behind the wheel, and large amounts of money will be saved in medical costs and other accident-related expenses. Currently the trucking industry has the highest number of job-related deaths than any other profession. In 2009, truck accidents caused 3,380 deaths, down from 4,425 in 2008. Anne Ferro of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says about 50 truck accident deaths could be avoided each year if the 10-hour limit is imposed.
A man who lost his wife and had his two sons seriously injured in a truck accident last year supports the new regulation. The driver of a truck pulling three trailers fell asleep at the wheel and hit the car the family was traveling in on I-90 in Ohio. The father feels the accident could have been prevented if the driver had not been so fatigued. Unfortunately, according the trucking company’s records, the driver had been driving for less than 10 hours when the accident occurred, so the proposed regulation would not have stopped this accident and wrongful death from happening.
The ones most adverse to this change obviously are the trucking companies. They estimate a $1 billion loss in productivity if the new regulation is passed. Many companies are requesting exemptions from the rule before it is even accepted based on their individual situations. The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association is requesting exemption for two reasons. They state the regulation shouldn’t apply to their drivers because they are not actually driving the whole time they are working. Typically cement truck drivers do not go further than 20 miles from the plant and they spend a large amount of time at the plant or the job site, which gets them out from behind the wheel for a significant portion of the work day. Also, once the concrete is mixed in the truck, it has to be used or it will start to set, making it impractical for a driver to call it a day after 10 hours if there is still cement left in the truck.
October 28, 2011
On Thursday evening, October 27, 2011, seven people were killed and four more were injured when a semi rear-ended a minivan. The accident occurred on the Indiana Toll Road near Bristol, Indiana. Based on witness reports, the minivan hit a deer and slowed down or stopped on the road. The semi came from behind and rear-ended the minivan. Investigators think the truck was going about 65 mph when it hit. The seven fatalities were all passengers in the minivan. The truck driver was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The other three survivors remain hospitalized in critical or stable condition. Two of the victims were children, one of whom was an infant. It appears that all of the passengers in the minivan were related.
Many factors could have contributed to the high fatality rate of this accident. The most obvious is that none of the minivan passengers were wearing seatbelts. This may have been a result of having more passengers in the vehicle than it was designed to carry. There should never be more people in a car than there are seatbelts. Unfortunately, even the infant was not properly restrained in his or her car seat. Another cause was the minivan slowing or stopping on the road instead of moving to the berm. While relocating the vehicle may not have been possible in this situation if it was severely damaged from hitting a deer, it is important to remove the vehicle from the roadway if it is drivable to avoid additional collisions.
According to the Associated Press, the truck driver did not appear to be intoxicated. Throughout the investigation, several other issues will most likely be addressed. An impairment that is common in long-distance truck drivers is lack of sleep. Operating a vehicle without enough sleep can be just as dangerous as driving after drinking. Whether the truck driver was distracted or not also could have played a part in the accident. In Kentucky in 2010, 11 people were killed when a semi driver crossed the median and ran into a van. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded the semi driver was using his cell phone at the time of the accident. Currently, it is illegal in Kentucky to be texting while driving, and banning the use of cell phones by commercial drivers is being considered as a result of this accident.
April 8, 2009
The Kentucky’s Office of Highway Safety says the number of highway motor vehicle deaths occurring in the state appears to be decreasing. According to early figures, there were 158 Kentucky traffic deaths in 2009 through March 31—21 less fatalities than for the same time period in 2008. Kentucky Transportation Secretary Joe Prather says that 81 of the 158 traffic victims that died this year were not using seat belts.
The state also experienced its lowest number of Kentucky motor vehicle deaths last year with 823 fatalities. This decline reflects the overall decrease in motor vehicle deaths on a national level.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,313 people died in US traffic accidents in 2008. This is the lowest number of US motor vehicle deaths to occur in a year since 1961. The report notes that states that have weaker seat belt laws tend to have higher death tolls.
Prather says that Kentucky will take aggressive action during next month’s “Click It or Ticket” Campaign. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that seat belts can decrease the number of front-seat occupant traffic deaths by 45% and by 50% for traffic deaths involving occupants of SUV’s, pickup trucks, and minivans.
Common Causes of Car Crashes:
• Driver negligence
• Distracted driving
• Drunk driving
• Driver exhaustion
• Defective auto or auto parts
• Cell phone use while driving
• Text messaging
If you have been injured in a Kentucky car collision, an experienced Louisville car crash lawyer can help you investigate your case and pursue your claim in a manner that allows you to obtain the maximum recovery possible.
Kentucky highway fatalities declining in 2009, Examiner.com, April 7, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Seat Belt Use in 2008, NHTSA (PDF)
March 27, 2009
In Johnson County, the father of one of three men who was killed in a Kentucky truck accident involving a Pepsi delivery truck is suing the cola maker and the truck driver for his wrongful death. Eddie Lee Patrick Sr. is seeking unspecified damages from Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. and trucker Rick Brown. The deadly Kentucky truck accident occurred last month when the pick up truck that 21-year-old William Anthony Patrick and two other men were riding were involved in a motor vehicle crash with the truck on US 460.
Also killed in the truck crash were 19-year-old Daniel Pennington and 21-year-old Dustin Lee Rodriguez, 21, who was thrown from the vehicle. Both Patrick and Pennington were burned so badly that they had to be identified using dental records.
Patrick’s Kentucky wrongful death lawsuit accuses Brown of driving the Pepsi truck in a reckless and negligent manner, which caused it to cross over the center line and hit the pickup truck. The truck driver, who also sustained serious injuries in the traffic crash, claims it was the pickup truck that drove into his lane. Also according to the complaint, William Anthony Patrick and Pennington very likely experienced severe suffering prior to their deaths and the younger Patrick might have survived the Kentucky auto accident if the pickup truck didn’t catch fire.
2007 NHTSA Large Truck Accident Facts
• 413,000 large trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds were involved in US traffic crashes.
• These large vehicles made up 8% of the motor vehicles involved in deadly accidents.
• They made up 4% of vehicles involved in motor vehicle crashes resulting in property damage or personal injury.
• 4,808 died in large truck accidents.
• 101,000 others were injured.
• Of the 1,188 deadly Kentucky motor vehicle accidents that occurred that year, 103 of them involved large trucks.
Father Files Lawsuit After Son’s Deadly Crash, WKYT.com, March 12, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Truck Accident Laws, Justia
February 25, 2009
Kentucky Car Accident Lawyer: State Police Reports at Least 87 Auto Accidents Deaths So Far for 2009
The Kentucky State Police is reporting that through February 22, there had been 87 fatalities on state roads for 2009. 82 of these deaths occurred as a result of motor vehicle accidents. 46 of the victims that died were not using seat belts, while alcohol is suspected to have been a contributing factor in 23 of the fatalities.
The state police also said that on Kentucky roads last week, there were seven motor vehicle fatalities. Four of the people who died were not using seat belts and alcohol is a suspected contributing factor in three of these Kentucky auto accidents.
If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident accident, you may be entitled to file a Kentucky personal injury claim or lawsuit against all negligent parties. Whatever you do, do NOT settle with the negligent party’s insurer without contacting an experienced Louisville car accident lawyer first.
Reckless or negligent driving can be grounds for a civil lawsuit against a liable party. Drunk driving is one form of reckless driving that can result in serious injuries and deaths.
Here are a couple 2007 facts provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about drunk driving:
• 12,998 people died in US drunk driving accidents.
• 1 drunk driving death occurs in the US every 40 minutes.
Drunk driving can impair the driver’s senses, perception, reflexes, and ability to process information, which can make it hard for the motorist to pay attention, stop the vehicle when necessary, notice that he or she is driving at excessively high or slow speeds, obey street and traffic signs, and assess how much distance there is between his or her car and other motor vehicles.
Too many lives are destroyed in Kentucky drunk driving accidents.
KSP Releases Accident Statistics From Last Week, WBKO, February 23, 2009
Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA
Related Web Resources:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
February 3, 2009
This year, the National Safety Council wants all US states and Washington DC to impose a total ban that would make it illegal for all drivers to use cell phones when operating their motor vehicles. The NSC says drivers who talk or text message on cell phones increase their chances of getting involved in a motor vehicle crash by four times. The NSC says cell phone use is a form of distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports is the cause of 80% of US traffic accidents.
According to the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis:
• 636,000 US motor vehicle crashes a year involve a driver who was using a cell phone.
• These accidents make up 6% of all US auto crashes, resulting in 330,000 injuries and 2,600 fatalities.
• Over 100 million people drive and use cell phones at the same time.
A number of US states have a partial ban on certain kinds of cell phone use. For example, Kentucky completely bars school bus drivers from using cell phones while driving. The state also has legislation under consideration that would ban drivers from using handheld devices.
The NSC, however, wants all states to bar drivers from using even hands-free phones.
A study by University of Utah researchers shows that just because a driver isn’t using his or her hands to hold or operate a cell phone while driving doesn’t make it safer to operate a motor vehicle. Talking on any kind of cell phone while driving reportedly places a motorist’s concentration elsewhere rather than on the road.
Distracted driving is one of the reasons why so many US motor vehicle accidents happen. It can also be grounds for a Kentucky personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if someone gets hurt or dies as a result. If you or someone you love was seriously hurt in a Kentucky motor vehicle crash, an experienced Louisville auto accident attorney can help you prove negligence so that you can recover the maximum compensation that you are owed.
Related Web Resources:
Cell Phone Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association
August 10, 2008
According to preliminary statistics, 16 people died in 12 motor vehicle accidents in the Kentucky Counties of Breckinridge, Henry, Calloway, Hopkins, Leslie, Jefferson, Marshall, and Logan from July 21 to 27, 2008. 11 of the deaths involved motor vehicles, 2 of the fatalities were child pedestrians, and 3 of the deaths involved motorcycles. The death toll for that week increased the number of total motor vehicle deaths on Kentucky roads this year to 422 fatalities (327 car crash victims, 47 motorcyclists, 35 pedestrians, and 11 ATV victims), with more traffic-related deaths and injuries happening since then.
If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a car crash, a motorcycle accident, a truck accident, a bus collision, a pedestrian accident, or a bicycle crash, it is important that you speak with an experienced Kentucky motor vehicle crash lawyer before trying to negotiate a settlement agreement with the liable party’s insurance company. An experienced Louisville car crash law firm will know how to investigate your case to determine causation and liability. Your motor vehicle crash lawyer can work with experienced accident reconstructionists who can examine the crash scene and investigate all evidence.
Another reason it is important that you do not try to settle an injury case on your own is that you or your loved one may not be able to determine the extent (and costs) of the medical and recovery care you may require. A good Kentucky motor vehicle crash lawyer can work with medical experts who can help you get a better sense of all medical and recovery expenses, and assess other damages, such as pain and suffering, reduced income potential, lost wages, and disability, that you may be entitled to receive.
Depending on the specifics surrounding your Kentucky auto crash, the statute of limitations for filing your personal injury lawsuit may be one or two years, which is another reason that it is important to speak with an experienced Louisville car crash lawyer.
Our Kentucky personal injury law firm helps clients with injury claims involving truck crashes, car collisions, motorcycle accidents, hit and run accidents, drunk driving collisions, automobile rollovers, motor vehicle crashes caused by defective autos or auto parts, and crashes involving insured and uninsured drivers.
16 People Died In 12 Crashed Last Week, Kypost.com, July 29, 2008
Related Web Resources: