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Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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Motor vehicle owners in Kentucky who are also parents need to pay attention to whether or not it’s appropriate to let their children drive. Even though a parent who signs the application for a minor to obtain a driver’s license accepts liability for any damage caused by the teen, a parent who doesn’t sign the application can also be held liable for damages caused if there is negligent supervision of the teen. In addition, if an underage driver without a license gets into a car crash while driving his parent’s car, those that he hurts may have a cause of action against the parents for negligent supervision.

Negligent supervision cases are based on the idea that a parent has a duty to exercise reasonable care to make sure his or her minor child does not intentionally harm another or create an unreasonable risk of bodily harm. To provenegligent supervision in the context of a car accident, a plaintiff must show (1) the defendant has a duty, (2) breaches the duty; and (3) as a result of the breach, an actual injury occurred. More specifically, to be held responsible, a parent must know or have reason to know of his or her ability to control the minor and must know or should know that it is necessary  and possible to control the child.

Foreseeability is the issue on which a parent’s responsibility to control his or her child turns. Foreseeability usually requires that the child has committed the same or a very similar act previously. Parents are not required to be fortune-tellers about their child’s behavior. But in the case of car accidents, parents who know that their child has been drunk and driven on multiple prior occasions may be liable to anyone the child injures. Continue reading

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Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky

The Georgetown News-Graphic reports that Anthony Scott Ryman, 30, from Cocoa, Florida, the driver of a car on U.S. 25 in Scott County, Kentucky, lost control of his car on July 14, 2013 and struck a culvert, killing his passenger. Ryman was driving northbound on U.S. 25 (known also as Cincinnati Pike), just north of Georgetown, when he apparently was unable to negotiate a curve. The car left the road and overturned several times after hitting a light pole. The passenger in the car, identified by Scott County Coroner John Goble, was Brian D. Armstrong, 48, from Etowah, Tennessee. Armstrong was killed in the crash and pronounced dead at the scene. Ryman survived and was transported to Lexington, Kentucky, to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital with serious injuries. High speed and alcohol are believed by state police to have been contributing factors in the accident and charges are pending against the driver. Armstrong’s death raises the total traffic fatalities in Scott County to six in just four weeks.

Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

In Lexington, Kentucky on July 14, 2013, a woman working on a road crew was struck by a hit-and-run driver. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the road crew was working for a private company on Sunday night restriping the road near Nicholasville Road and Reynolds Road when the victim was struck by a vehicle described as possibly a blue Toyota Camry. The worker sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. Police are looking for the driver and the car which appeared to sustain damage on the left side. The driver was believed to be a man with a white beard.

Liberty, Casey County, Kentucky

Late Sunday, July 14, 2013, James L. Baugh of Liberty lost control of his vehicle while driving on U.S. 27 just south of Liberty according to a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Baugh was driving a 2004 Saturn and overcorrected when he tried to regain control. The vehicle overturned and Baugh was killed. Samantha Dilbeck of Liberty was Baugh’s passenger and sustained injuries in the wreck. Dilbeck was treated and released at the Casey County Hospital. Kentucky State Police report that alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor in the fatal accident.

Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky

The driver of a 1996 Chevrolet Blazer that rear ended a tractor trailer in Franklin County on July 10, 2013 had to be extricated from his vehicle by the Franklin County Fire Department. Charles Bates was driving on U.S. 127 in Franklin County when the wreck occurred. Witnesses told Franklin County Sheriff Department deputies that Bates of Frankfort, Kentucky didn’t apply his brakes and was driving erratically before crashing into the rear of the tractor trailer. The State Journal reports that the driver was taken to Frankfort Regional Medical Center and then transported to University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center where he was listed in serious condition.

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The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2011, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver. The NHTSA further reports that for drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal accidents, 11% were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash, and for 15-19 year olds who were distracted when involved in fatal crashes, 21% were distracted by using cell phones. The National Safety Council estimates that there were more than 500,000 crashes involving drivers using cell phones and texting in the first half of 2013 and that these distracted drivers cause an additional wreck every 30 seconds.

Kentucky enacted laws that went into effect in 2010 that prohibits drivers from “texting while driving,” i.e., text messaging while a vehicle is in motion. KRS 189.292. In addition, any person under the age of 18, whether using an instruction permit, intermediate license or operator’s license, is prohibited from both texting and cell phone use while driving. KRS 189.294. Text messaging is more dangerous than talking on a cellphone since it requires the driver’s visual, manual and cognitive attention, the three main types of distraction.

In spite of the laws prohibiting texting while driving in Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported in May, 2013 that less than 1,000 citations had been issued state-wide during the more than two years since the new laws went into effect since police say it’s difficult to determine if someone is violating the law while driving down the road. Lexington police stated that in 2012 cell phones were a contributing factor in 26 accidents, but the number for 2013 had already climbed to 38 by May. The Louisville Courier-Journal reported in January, 2013 that although accidents caused by distracted driving dropped statewide in 2012, such accidents rose to the highest level in Jefferson County in a decade.

The National Transportation Safety Board found that when a driver crashed his truck into a van carrying 10 members of a Kentucky Mennonite community in March 2012, causing one of Kentucky’s deadliest highway accidents, the driver might have been on his cellphone. Continue reading

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As summer arrives and Kentuckians take to the roads for vacations and outdoor activities, drivers need to be careful to avoid car wrecks and other motor vehicle accidents. Holiday weekends are especially dangerous, and the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays were the two deadliest in Kentucky in 2011 according to the Kentucky State Police 2011 Report of Traffic Collision Facts. The report shows that in 2011, 335 people were injured over the Independence Day holiday and 327 people were injured over the Labor Day holiday. A total of 24 deaths occurred over the two holidays compared to 20 deaths during all the other holidays combined.

The personal injury attorneys at Varellas & Varellas have represented victims of car accidents for decades and have seen many sad cases of clients seriously injured in summertime crashes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that summer is a carefree time when roads are clear and safe and driving safety is less important because the statistics paint an entirely different picture.

Although drivers understand that roadways that are wet or covered with snow, ice or slush create dangerous driving conditions, the Report of Traffic Collision Facts shows that the large majority of all collisions and all fatal collisions in 2011 occurred on dry roads. According to the Report, 71.7% of all collisions and 79.6% of fatal collisions happened on dry roadways. The data also reveals that 79% of all collisions occurred on straight roads while 21% occurred on curved roads. Continue reading

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As lawyers who handle wrongful death as well as other car accident cases, we are keenly aware of the effect that motor vehicle accidents can have on insurance premiums. Every motor vehicle owner is required by Kentucky law to carry insurance for each vehicle owned, or severe penalties will be assessed. Insurance premiums are a necessity and they will likely increase if you are involved in an accident. To reduce your premiums, you may be considering new options being offered by insurance companies.

More and more insurers are offering discounts to drivers that agree to install a device in their car that will monitor their driving style. Progressive offers Snapshot, State Farm offers Drive Safe & Save with In-Drive, and Allstate has Drive Wise. The company sends you a device, called a telematic device, that you plug into the vehicle’s diagnostic port, usually under the steering wheel, and the company monitors your driving habits. The cautious driver who drives fewer miles would likely pay lower insurance premiums since they’re less likely to be involved in an accident. However, the device becomes an electronic snoop and wirelessly transmits information to your insurer detailing not only how far you drive, but also when you drive, how fast you accelerate and turn, and how hard you accelerate, brake and corner. The drawback to using these devices is a loss of privacy and possible use of the information against you.

It appears that many drivers are willing to install the telematic devices and transmit detailed driving data to their insurer in the hopes of receiving a discount, and a recent study commissioned by Ford may explain their willingness since the study found that 99 percent of drivers believe they are good drivers. Of the participants in the study, however, 76% admitted they eat or drink while driving, 55% admitted to speeding, 53% talk on handheld phones, 37% drive even when they’re too tired and 25% use their phones to search contacts. So, even though you may think you’re a safe driver, the information sent to your insurer may paint a different picture and may not get you the discount you hoped for. Continue reading

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