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Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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DSC1824Edit-DTV-1-238x300Super Lawyers has named Varellas & Varellas attorney Todd Varellas a top rated personal injury attorney in Kentucky for 2023. Super Lawyers recognizes the top lawyers in Kentucky as selected through a peer nomination process and based on the results of independent research. The lawyers selected are those who received the highest point totals during the annual nomination, research and peer review process, resulting in a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys. Super Lawyers also previously named Todd a Rising Star, when he was a younger attorney.

These lists recognize attorneys in each state “who exhibit excellence in the practice of law.”

The Super Lawyers lists recognize no more than 5% of attorneys in the state. For Rising Stars for younger attorneys, it recognizes no more than 2.5% of younger attorneys in the state. Super Lawyers is a research-driven, peer-influenced rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Attorneys are selected from more than 70 practice areas and all firm sizes which helps assure a credible and relevant annual list.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers magazines, regional magazines, and newspapers across the country.

Todd is an experienced trial attorney at Varellas & Varellas focusing on serious personal injury cases involving trucking collisions, car wrecks, fatal accidents and wrongful death, as well as  nursing home abuse and neglect.



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Collisions involving tractor trailers cannot be handled in the same manner as car wrecks since they involve laws and regulations implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) in addition to the rules of the road every other driver must follow. Truck drivers are professional drivers that are held to higher standards and these standards have been put in place for your protection on the roadway.

Hiring an attorney that’s able to turn over every stone is vital to reaching the maximum recovery for you. The attorneys at Varellas & Varellas have the knowledge and experience to aggressively pursue your claims following a collision with a tractor trailer along with a track record of results. These results put insurance companies on notice that your case will be effectively litigated to recover all the benefits due you.

In Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky alone there were 3,730 crashes involving heavy trucks between 2014 and 2018 while in Jefferson County there were 10,249. While Fayette and Jefferson Counties had the most accidents involving heavy trucks, the annual crash rate based upon each county’s population sheds light on which citizens of Kentucky are most at risk for being injured by a tractor trailer. Broken into five categories for increasing populations, the report determined Gallatin, Carroll, Hart, Scott, and Boone counties had the highest rates of collisions involving heavy trucks based on their populations.

The Kentucky Transportation Center (“KTC”) published the Kentucky Traffic Collision Facts Report analyzing crash data in Kentucky from collisions in 2019. For crashes involving trucks weighing over 10,000 pounds, which include tractor trailers, the KTC report found a recent increase in the number of crashes compared to the previous four-year average. Unfortunately, this increase in negligent driving has also increased the number of injuries and fatalities involving tractor-trailers crashes.

According to the KTC report, the most frequent contributing vehicular factors for tractor-trailer collisions in 2019 were as follows: Defective Brakes, Defective Headlights, Other Lighting Defects, Steering Failure, Tire Failure, Tow Hitch Failure, Overload/Improper Load, Oversized Load, and Load Securement. The top driver contributing factors leading to collisions were: Inattention, Misjudge Clearance, Not Under Proper Control, Failure to Yield Right of Way, Following Too Close, Too Fast for Conditions, and Distraction to name a few.

While this data focuses only on the tractor trailer and driver, it is often the negligent and sometimes intentional practices of the company that hired the driver and owns the truck which ultimately plays a major role in causing the collision. Unfortunately, the conduct of some companies frequently highlights practices aimed at earning higher profits rather than protecting your family’s safety. Inspections can be rushed and repairs can be pushed back – all aimed at making an extra few dollars while putting you at risk. Aggressively pursuing every trucking case is essential to your maximum recovery as punitive damages are often proper due to gross negligence and punitive damages can drastically increase the value of your claim.

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Varellas & Varellas has obtained another favorable verdict for its client from a Fayette County jury. After three days of trial, the jury awarded the Plaintiff raw damages of $355,000, including her past medical expenses of $105,000, as well as an additional $250,000 for pain and suffering after she sustained injuries to her face, hand, fingers and knees as an automobile passenger at the time of the collision. The verdict was reduced by 20% due to apportionment of fault. After the collision, the Plaintiff required progressive medical treatment for her knees including injections, arthroscopic surgery and eventual knee replacements.

The driver who caused the wreck was not insured so the Plaintiff proceeded directly against her own uninsured motorist policy issued by Auto-Owners Insurance Company. Auto-Owners was permitted to argue at trial that its liability should be significantly reduced because the Plaintiff was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision (despite her having a doctor’s note restricting her use of a seatbelt), but the jury only apportioned 20% of fault to the Plaintiff. William Smock, M.D., biomechanical expert, testified on behalf of the Plaintiff and Michael Voor, Ph.D., Professor at the University of Louisville, testified on behalf of Auto-Owners.

The verdict for the Plaintiff was nearly twice the limit of the Auto-Owners insurance policy and nearly 15 times the highest amount offered as settlement by Auto-Owners over the course of more than 5½ years since the claim was filed.

This Plaintiff’s verdict, along with the $2.4 million jury verdict returned in a previous case tried by Varellas & Varellas in 2015, are among the largest verdicts awarded by juries in Fayette Circuit Court in the past several years in cases involving personal injury or wrongful death. The case was tried by Sandra Varellas and Todd Varellas. Jim Varellas and Jay Varellas also assisted with the case over the course of the lengthy litigation.

Contact Varellas & Varellas to discuss your potential personal injury, wrongful death, nursing home abuse or neglect, tractor trailer wreck, dump truck accident, and motor vehicle collision claims with one of our experienced trial attorneys. Use our online form or reach us by telephone at 877-634-1519 or locally at 859-252-4473 in Lexington or 502-595-7955 in Louisville.

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Even if they are minor, car accidents can ruin the day and have significant consequences later. An accident can cause you to miss work or important events, and you may have to deal with traffic citations, liability issues, vehicle repairs, and sometimes injuries or even death of a loved one. If you’re in a car accident in Kentucky, the first thing you should do is to follow safety precautions.

As soon as possible, turn on your hazard lights, setting out flares or warning cones if you carry them. You should call the police to have an accident report prepared and get assistance with finding immediate medical care. A police report can help with the insurance process, and prompt medical care can make a difference in how fast you get better and also creates a record of the extent of your injuries.

If there is an injury, call 911; otherwise, call the Police Department Administrative number for your area. Move your vehicle only if its position puts you in danger or you are instructed to move it by a police officer. However, if the accident occurs on an interstate highway or parkway or an on–ramp or off-ramp and does not involve death, injury or hazardous material, Kentucky law requires that you move the vehicle off the roadway as soon as the vehicle can be moved without the risk of further injury or damage.

After contacting the police, exchange your name, address, phone number, and insurance policy information with the other driver. Write down the driver’s name, insurance policy number, driver’s license number and license plate number. If the driver’s name is not the same name listed on the insurance card, find out what the relationship is and take down both individual’s names, addresses and phone numbers. Note the year, make and model of the car and the location of the incident.

After a car accident, you may want to make an expression of sympathy to the other driver. While you should be polite, don’t apologize. An apology could be construed as an admission of fault in legal proceedings. You should not state that the accident was your fault or your opinions about whose fault it was. Don’t get into an argument with the other driver and if the other driver tries to get into a fight with you, stay calm. Continue reading

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In our Kentucky personal injury practice, we sometimes hear the question: I’m not the type to sue someone for injuring me, so why should I? There’s a short answer: that’s what insurance is for. People purchase insurance policies specifically to guard against the risk of being sued, and insurance companies expect to have to pay for losses. While insurers are not inclined to pay out claims easily, they do anticipate paying in the event that their insured customers’ liability for your injuries are proven. Moreover, Kentucky has a built-in protection against weak claims that should alleviate any possible anxiety you may feel about bringing a lawsuit.

Kentucky is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means that usually your right to sue someone for causing your injuries is already limited to those threshold instances set by statute. In order to sue in most motor vehicle cases, you must incur at least $1,000 in medical expenses or you must suffer a fractured bone, loss of a bodily function, disfigurement, loss of a body member, loss of a bodily function, a permanent injury, or death. “No fault” also means your motor vehicle policy will include coverage to pay the first $10,000 of your medical bills and lost wages in the event you are in a car accident; these benefits are available to you even if an accident is your fault. This coverage makes sure your medical bills are paid without delay and helps protect your credit rating.

The underwriting departments of insurance companies evaluate risk and rate an insurance company’s exposure to a lawsuit before an insured person pays a single premium. Insurance companies collect premiums from consumers based on their calculation of the risk of insuring that particular person. The risk analysis is somewhat similar to the analysis undertaken by a bank when it offers a homeowner a mortgage. Also, if an applicant purchases a homeowners’ policy, he or she will be asked about characteristics of the property, type of construction, square footage and more. Similarly, as you know if you’ve purchased auto insurance, an applicant is asked a variety of questions related to his or her vehicle, age, gender, the names of other drivers for the vehicle and geographic location in order to determine the premium to be charged. Continue reading

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In Kentucky, to bring a negligence action for personal injury damages in a car accident case, a plaintiff must prove three elements: the defendant’s duty, the defendant’s breach of that duty, and a causal relationship between the defendant’s breach and the plaintiff’s injury.

Occasionally, circumstances arise that can make it difficult to establish one or more of these elements. In 2012, the Kentucky Court of Appeals considered an automobile accident case in which the plaintiff was sitting in a parked car in a parking lot. Suddenly his car was struck by a moving vehicle that had just been hit by another vehicle on a nearby highway.

In the first accident, a driver had moved from the westbound lane into the eastbound lane of the highway, hitting the driver of another vehicle who was driving for his job. The latter’s vehicle then hit the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff filed suit against several car insurers and also the employer of the driver whose car hit him, claiming negligence.

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 Monetary awards in personal injury cases are generally intended to compensate a victim of negligence for actual past and future compensatory losses or “special damages”—whether medical bills, lost income, future impairment of ability to earn money—as well as pain and suffering. However, where a defendant has acted with  at least recklessness or gross negligence in Kentucky, an award of punitive damages by a jury is warranted. Additionally, where intentional conduct is involved—such as an intentional assault and battery—punitive damages against the one who caused the harm are similarly warranted.

Punitive damages can be used in a wide array of circumstances, whether it is to punish an individual who drives drunk or texts while driving and injures someone else, whether it is to punish and deter a bouncer and bar for an intentional assault of a patron by the bouncer, or whether it is to punish a corporate or wealthy defendant whose conduct the jury wants to deter, such as the owner of a service station who permits an attendant to possess and use a  firearm but fails to train the employee resulting in injury, just to name a few situations. A punitive damages award can also be used to deter a particular type of conduct generally, among similarly situated defendants, such as manufacturers of similar products or hospitals that employ similar policies that are detrimental to patients.

In a car accident case which went to the Court of Appeals this year, a couple that had undergone gastric bypass surgery several years earlier were driving home when another driver turned his Nissan Altima into the wrong lane and drove towards them. An SUV driving in front of them managed to swerve away, but they crashed into the Altima. The Altima driver, who was drunk, died on the scene.

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Semi tractor-trailer accidents in Kentucky can lead to some of the most serious personal injuries or death. A semi can weigh more than 80,000 pounds; compare this to the average automobile that weighs only about 3,000 pounds. Although there are fewer semi accidents than car accidents, accidents involving semis are much more dangerous and can lead to catastrophic results.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, conducted a Truck Causation Study  to determine the top 10 common causes of tractor trailer accidents. These are: issues with brakes, traffic congestion, prescription drug use, speed, unfamiliarity with a road, road problems, required stops, over the counter medication use, inadequate sight, and driver fatigue.

Just this summer, a woman was killed in a crashwith a semi near Louisa, Kentucky. She crossed over the center dividing line and collided head-on with a semi tractor-trailer. The driver claimed to have hit the brakes as soon as he saw her, but it was too late.

Because of accidents like this one, driving a semi tractor-trailer is covered by more restrictive laws than driving a car. For example, drivers of semi tractor-trailers cannot drive for more than a set number of hours before being required to stop for a rest. If you get into an accident with a semi tractor-trailer, the trucking company may have a team of lawyers already working on the case before you get a chance to consult an attorney. You may even get a tempting quick offer to settle.

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Although less common than car accidents, motorcycle accidents remain common in Kentucky. In 2009, there were 1,915 motorcycle accidents in Kentucky, which included 89 fatalities, according to the Kentucky State Police. Getting in a motorcycle accident in Kentucky can be the result of road conditions, another driver, or a variety of other reasons. While they are less common than car accidents, the personal injuries caused to a motorcyclist can be quite severe.

If you go to trial against a potentially responsible party after a motorcycle accident, prior to the trial both sides will try to limit the subjects which can be presented to a jury by making what are called motions in limine. By the time the actual trial comes around, the judge will typically have ruled on most of these motions and you will mostly know what the other side will be allowed to argue at trial. A defendant driver, for example, might argue that you were at fault as a motorcycle driver for failing to use an appropriate signal while turning or failing to stop at a stop sign. Sometimes, however, a surprising statement or unexpected issue may still  surface at trial.

A case last year illustrates the difficulty of predicting the outcome of a motorcycle accident case. In the case, two couples who went motorcycle riding together were involved in a crash. As they rode down the hill, the second couple saw the first couple crash their motorcycle. Seconds later, the second couple’s motorcycle also crashed and struck the woman motorcyclist. She was knocked into a pickup truck and badly hurt. Several witnesses testified later that the motorcyclists lost control of their motorcycles because of a slick substance, probably diesel fuel, on the road.

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In Kentucky, car drivers are required to carry basic Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. PIP benefits are also commonly referred to as “no-fault” benefits because they are to be paid to the person injured through use of a motor vehicle, regardless of whose fault the injury is. An injured driver or passenger can claim against the basic PIP of the vehicle in which he or she was riding. An injured pedestrian can claim against the PIP coverage for the car that struck him or her. Basic PIP gives coverage to each person in each accident a minimum of $10,000 to cover out of pocket costs, such as medical expenses or lost wages.

Unlike other states, in Kentucky, drivers are presumed to have limited rights to sue unless they file a special form rejecting no-fault limitations. If they are subject to no-fault limitations, they cannot recover medical expenses or wage loss from the at-fault party unless they have more than $1,000 worth of medical expenses, a broken bone, a permanent injury or disfigurement. A person’s estate may collect if they die.

If you are in a car accident and have any kind of significant injuries or pain, it is important to not only alert insurance carriers but consult an attorney as soon as possible, too. Last year, a Kentucky appellate court considered a car accident case in which a woman had been injured when her car was rear-ended. She received basic PIP benefits from her own carrier. About two months after the accident, the woman started to experience serious medical problems like projectile vomiting, vertigo and Raynaud’s phenomenon. Her physicians couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her for two years. Continue reading

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