Thousands of Kentucky residents, workers, and travelers depend on our state’s highways and streets to drive to and from work, complete daily tasks, and make crucial deliveries. For the most part our roadways are safe, but accidents between passenger cars, trucks, and other motorized vehicles still happen at a surprisingly high rate. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car crash in the state of Kentucky, you should consider your legal options. If you feel you weren’t at fault for the accident, don’t stand by and risk becoming another statistic. Taking legal action can lessen the amount of deadly accidents that occur every day. With the help of a Louisville car accident lawyer, we can work together to make our roadways safer.
Did you know that over 23,803 car accidents happened in the state of Kentucky in 2015? This is a 3.7% increase from 2014, in fact. According to the same data, 694 of those collisions resulted in fatalities. That’s a 13.4% increase from 2014’s fatality rate. Despite the fact that vehicle safety technology is the best it’s ever been, every year more drivers and passengers alike die in crashes that may not be their fault.
These statistics don’t seem to be going down anytime soon, either. According to annual data that’s collected on a weekly basis by the Kentucky State Police Department, there have been 671 fatalities resulting from car crashes in Kentucky as of November 1st, 2016. On the same date in 2015, only 629 traffic-related fatalities had been reported.
By taking legal action against a driver who was acting negligently, irresponsibly, or recklessly when behind the wheel, we can ensure that driver doesn’t make the same mistake twice. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the only way to make some drivers behave responsibly. Car accident lawsuits, like most types of personal injury claims, can be filed in addition to any criminal charges that may already be in place and may additionally help a family recover from a tragic wreck.
Examining the Causes of Car Accidents
After looking at the above statistics, it may seem natural to wonder if any of these car accidents were preventable. The unfortunate fact is that many were, in fact, completely avoidable. Here are some facts that were obtained using 2015 data from the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety:
- 1,418 collisions in 2015 were the direct result of alcohol impairment. 162 of these crashes resulted in fatalities. Every single one of them could have been prevented.
- 13% of the auto accidents that occurred in Kentucky during 2015 involved individuals who did not wear their safety belts—including front seat drivers and passengers.
When the police are called out to assess a car crash in Kentucky, officers have the option of indicating up to three factors per driver that contributed to the crash. For the year 2015, these are the top ten reported contributing factors for Kentucky traffic collisions that caused injuries and/or fatalities as well as the percentages for how often each factor appeared:
- Inattention: 39.5%
- Failure to keep the vehicle under proper control: 13.7%
- Failure to properly yield: 11.6%
- Misjudge of clearance: 7.2%
- Following too closely: 6.6%
- Distraction: 5.4%
- Driving too fast for conditions: 4.0%
- Alcohol involvement: 3.0%
- Disregarding traffic control: 3.0%
- Overcorrecting/oversteering: 2.6%
As you can see, many of these factors such as inattention, distraction, alcohol involvement, following too closely, and a failure to properly yield are factors that can all be prevented. By simply driving with caution, not getting distracted, paying attention to the road at all times, wearing seat belts, and adhering to the proper rules of traffic, many Kentucky car accidents could have been prevented in 2015.
The same thing can be said every year and every single day. Before getting behind the wheel, remind yourself that by taking all the proper precautions, you can do your part to avoid becoming involved in a dangerous car crash.
The Implications of Serious Car Wrecks
The severity of injuries sustained during a car wreck will depend entirely on the nature of the accident, the angle/force of the impact, the speeds the vehicles were traveling at, the condition of the road and/or weather at the time of the accident, and the vehicles themselves. In major wrecks, most car accident injuries are severe in nature. In minor crashes, the injuries may be minor or more severe.
Series injuries can cause debilitating health consequences and conditions that may require expensive surgeries, rehabilitation therapies, and lifelong care. Time spent off work can cause hardship for a family and may cause an individual to lose their job. Emotional and mental hardships and struggles are also common after a serious wreck. Stress, anxiety, depression, and even PTSD may make it difficult for survivors of a serious crash to move forward afterward due to how traumatic most accidents are.
Some of the more common injuries and implications of car accidents include the following:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Burn injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, serious bruising, and amputations
- Internal organ damage and bleeding
- Brain damage caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussions
- Back or neck damage caused by whiplash
- Spinal damage caused by spinal cord injuries
Death, unfortunately, often results from an exceptionally serious car crash. If you have lost a loved one in an auto accident, you may be able to file what’s known as a wrongful death claim against the driver who caused the accident. Doing so may allow a family to recover emotionally and financially.
Kentucky’s Protection After a Wrongful Car Accident Death
Kentucky has no-fault coverage, also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), meaning that your insurance company pays for medical expenses, lost wages, and similar “out-of-pocket” costs due to an injury occurring in an automobile accident, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. However, this does not apply in cases where someone has died.
When someone is killed due to another’s negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing, the victim’s survivors may be able to sue for monetary damages by pursuing a wrongful death claim. Kentucky has a wrongful death statute that, in certain situations, allows relatives to bring a lawsuit for compensation when a loved one is wrongfully killed by another person or entity. If the death occurred as a result of negligence or recklessness, the ramifications for the responsible party can be severe. The person accountable for the death can be liable for legal action. Survivors of the deceased can sue for damages such as medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost income, and loss of companionship.
What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
Even when we do everything we can to prevent an accident, sometimes collisions still occur. Being involved in a car wreck can be terrifying, but by following a basic crisis plan and keeping a cool head, you can make it through this difficult time and begin the process of moving forward with your life. If you’re involved in an auto accident, follow these steps:
- Get to a safe area. Pull over to the side of the road if you’re able to move your car and are blocking traffic. Turn your hazard lights on.
- Prioritize the health and safety of yourself and those around you. Is anyone injured? Call 911. If you’re unsure of how severe any injuries are or if the accident was serious, you should call 911 regardless. The responding officer can decide if a police report needs to be filed.
- Obtain contact information from the driver in the other car. Don’t speak to the other driver regarding who’s at fault for the accident, however. It’s best not to mention fault at all during this time. Anything you say now could be used against you later.
- Take pictures. Smartphones are ideal for capturing evidence. Take photos of the accident scene (including any skid marks or road debris), the damages your car sustained, the other driver’s license plate, and of any serious injuries.
- Obtain contact information from any witnesses who may be willing to speak on your behalf. You may not end up needing a witness, but having one available is helpful. Get their account of what they saw happen if possible.
- Make the necessary phone calls. Contact your insurance provider as quickly as possible after the accident. Contacting a personal injury attorney at this time is also recommended. Quick timing is often essential when it comes to filing a car accident lawsuit.
- Keep records of everything. From this point forward, you will want to keep solid records of all paperwork regarding the accident. Get a copy of the police record. Everything from medical records to copies of prescriptions, treatment records, referrals, doctor’s notes, records of time spent off work, and car insurance claims should also be kept. All evidence could be potentially useful in court.
Getting Help from a Louisville Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in the state of Kentucky, you owe it to your family to find out if filing a lawsuit is an option. By doing so, you may be able to recover medical costs, loss of wage costs, and pain and suffering costs.
Filing a car accident claim also sends an important message to the driver who was at fault for the crash. It isn’t okay to get behind the wheel while intoxicated or take reckless or careless actions while driving. The lives of everyone around that driver are at stake. Some drivers don’t learn this fact, unfortunately, until it’s too late or until legal action is taken.
Don’t hesitate to contact Thomas Law Offices with any questions you may have about your potential case. Tad Thomas, Louisville car accident attorney, and his team of expert attorneys are patient, compassionate, and helpful individuals who truly care about their clients. We can help.