Most of us get into our cars every day without giving a thought as to how dangerous it really is to drive on America’s streets. There are too many other considerations – between finding time to get coffee, dress presentably, drop the kids off at daycare or school, then trying to get to work on time, the danger of an automobile accident falls into the background. But the dangers are real. With more than 250 million total vehicles registered in the U.S., every year there are 5.4 million non-fatal car crashes on average, and every day an average of 80 people die as a result.
Kentucky Car Accidents
According to the Kentucky Department of Transportation (KYDOT), between 2014 and 2015 vehicle accidents increased by 5 percent. In 2015 alone, there were 161,393 collisions, causing 707 fatalities and 23,803 non-fatal injuries. While some vehicle accidents cannot be prevented, most are completely avoidable. Sometimes we become simply the victim of circumstances, but that is little consolation when dealing with the aftermath of a collision caused by a driver who was distracted, reckless, inattentive, or ignoring important safety laws.
The Johnson Law Firm Can Help
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, The Johnson Law Firm can help by reviewing your case and discussing all available legal options. With offices in Pikeville, The Johnson Law Firm prides itself on serving the legal needs of all the people in Kentucky, and has both the knowledge and the experience to help you get the compensation you deserve after a vehicle accident. For a free consultation, contact us online or call 877.713.7765. The consultation is free, and if we move forward with your claim, we receive no money until it is successfully settled.
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Kentucky Car Accident Causes
The most common cause of traffic accidents is driver negligence. People who should be paying attention to their driving may instead be texting, eating, talking to a passenger or someone on the phone, struggling to stay awake or operating their vehicle while impaired by liquor, illegal drugs or medication. Accidents can also occur due to aggressive driving, defective parts, weather, or dangerous road conditions. Establishing who is legally responsible for a crash can be very complex and may involve multiple parties. According to U.S. Attorneys, in 2013 most accidents were caused by:
- Driver Inattention – This occurs when individuals focus their attention somewhere other than the road, whether it be a smart phone or food. Driving conditions may change rapidly, because of the weather or because of another motorist driving recklessly. Distracted driving was responsible for 39.44 percent of accidents and 135 fatal accidents in 2013.
- Failure to Maintain Proper Control – This can be caused by driver inattention or myriad other factors, but essentially means driving recklessly. This can be intentional, such as speeding, but can also refer to not controlling the car closely enough. Failure to maintain proper control accounted for 13 percent of all accidents.
- Failing to Yield the Right of Way – This behavior is easy to avoid, but unfortunately common enough to account for 11 percent of Kentucky accidents. It includes running red lights or stop signs, cutting off other vehicles, ignoring cross walks and other actions. Generally, it happens when a driver ignores the rules and laws in order to arrive at their destination more quickly, but the reality is the time saved is never worth the chance of an accident.
Why You Need Representation
Successfully navigating the legal system is a complicated process that’s best done with the help of a professional who knows how to protect your rights. With Kentucky car crash lawyer Billy Johnson, you will receive competent and compassionate representation that focuses on you. He offers attentive, experienced legal guidance to identify all potentially responsible parties in order to maximize your financial compensation. He also knows how to negotiate with insurance companies who may deny, delay, and defend claims in attempts to reduce the amount of damages they must pay. Of course, no amount of money can ever make you whole again, but it can help with the financial burden that comes with medical costs or with losing a family member.
What’s Next After the Accident?
Even if you feel alright after an accident, it is always a good idea to seek medical care, first to make sure there are no hidden injuries and next to document your actions in the event of later legal actions. Too often, people dismiss initial pain and then visit a doctor weeks later. Delaying medical treatment is not good for either your health or your chances of getting a proper legal settlement. Under no circumstances should you talk to an attorney representing any other parties to the accident or to any other party’s insurance company representative before consulting with your own attorney first.
How much money can I get?
You should pose that question to an injury lawyer who specializes in vehicle accidents. Many variables go into your claim, and your attorney must perform a comprehensive investigation of all the facts before sharing the value of your case with you. Some of the elements to that investigation include:
- A complete review of your medical records
- Understanding how long your medical treatment (or rehabilitation) will last
- Injuries to any passengers in your vehicle and the extent of those injuries
- The value of the damage to your vehicle and any personal property that was in it at the time of the wreck
- Who – in addition to the negligent driver – might share the blame for your accident, and their responsibility for compensating you
- And other elements to the accident and your injuries.
- The factors listed above are just a few of the reasons why you should never accept an insurance company’s initial settlement offer – no matter how attractive it might look – before speaking with a seasoned vehicle accident lawyer.
How do I know if I have a claim?
The first clue is that the other driver’s insurance company will likely be camping out at your door shortly after the accident. Not really — it just seems that way. Companies that insure negligent drivers who cause accidents that injure others try to settle with the victims quickly – and for pennies on the dollar. Once they call, you must protect yourself and first speak with a seasoned vehicle wreck injury lawyer before making any decisions about settlement offers.
Another huge clue is the police accident report. You can be certain that if you were injured, the police responded. Within a business day or two, the officer will file an accident report. You need to get a copy of it ASAP. It will have a preliminary cause of the accident, or a detailed narrative which paints a picture of what happened. This document is vital for any injured victim who must file an insurance claim to pay for medical bills, lost income during recovery, and pain and suffering, to name three of the legal damages the insurance company of the negligent driver must pay.
Getting Medical Treatment
It’s always in your best interest to seek medical treatment immediately after a crash. Even if you don’t appear to be seriously injured at the time, you may discover a few days later that you were injured, when some aches and pains get worse rather than disappearing. So, for your sake, visit a doctor as soon as you can. This is not just for your own health and peace of mind.
When you make an injury claim, NOT seeing a doctor as soon as possible makes the insurance company suspect that you don’t take your good health seriously. Then they can make the argument that if your own health and well-being is not that important to you, why should they pay the medical bills for treatment begun a few weeks after the wreck? They can even say that your treatment has nothing to do with the accident. And they may win that argument, which means your compensation claim goes up in smoke.
So protect your health AND your injury claim. See a doctor ASAP after the accident (or visit your doctor as soon as possible after you are discharged from the hospital emergency room). It’s the smart move.
Types of Accident Claims The Johnson Law Firm Handles
Every accident is different in its specifics, but nevertheless they can be categorized into general groups. Crashtest.org, a site devoted to vehicle safety and accident prevention, lists a few of the most common:
- Rear-end collision – This accident generally occurs when a vehicle stops or decelerates suddenly, and the vehicle following does not have time to adjust. It is most common on stretches of road, especially highways and interstates, that include high speed limits, and when the following car is too close.
- Side-impact collision – These collisions are most common at intersections when a vehicle tries to beat a red light. The collision occurs when two vehicles are driving perpendicular to one another, and one hits the other on the side.
- Sideswipe collision – Most times considered a minor accident, this accident occurs when two vehicles are driving next to each other and collide.
- Rollover – This is one of the most dangerous types of collisions and occurs usually when a vehicle drives too quickly through a turn. The vehicle often lands on its side or roof, but at times may completely flip, dangerously whipping the occupants around, as well as any unsecured items in the vehicle.
- Head-on collision – Occurs when two vehicles are driving toward each other and collide. This accident is often fatal.
- Single-car accident – This sort of accident occurs when the driver of a vehicle, for a variety of reasons, loses control and runs into another object or leaves the roadway.
- Multiple-vehicle pile-up – These accidents generally happen when a line of vehicles is driving quickly in the same direction and there is a sudden stop. These often occur when there is low visibility and the following vehicles don’t see a stoppage in front of them.
Common Accident Injuries in Kentucky
Statistically speaking, the odds are that if you sustain an injury in most car accidents they will be relatively minor ones. However, this is not always the case. If you are involved in a vehicle accident caused by someone else, you may require extensive and expensive treatment. Legal action can help you get the monetary compensation needed to pay your bills and preserve your financial security. Injuries that cause the death of a loved one may also be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Common injuries resulting from car accidents include:
- Head/brain injury – These are often the worst injuries to deal with. As the brain controls the body, any injury can have serious repercussions on cognition and other functions.
- Neck and spinal cord injury/whiplash – As the spinal cord acts as the control center between the brain and the body, any injury can interrupt the signals and, if severe enough, can inhibit or even stop movement.
- Nerve damage – Nerve damage can affect specific parts of the body, rendering the areas unreceptive to stimuli.
- Facial injury – If the injury is to the face, it can affect the eyes, the nose or mouth. While generally not life-threatening, aside from the potential loss in quality of life, it can also cause disfigurement.
- Back injury – Back injuries are often some of the most painful. As the back supports the body’s skeleton, back injuries can significantly affect a person’s ability to move.
- Burns – Depending on the severity of the burn, this type of injury can be extremely painful, disfiguring, and can cause both infections and death.
- Broken bones and fractures – While uncomfortable, these injuries generally are not life threatening. However, they may cause severe discomfort and affect movement in the fractured area for an extended period of time.
- Debilitating depression/anxiety – Psychological injuries often take the longest to heal, and are also eligible for compensation.
Even if you were injured in a crash that didn’t involve another vehicle, that doesn’t mean you don’t have a claim. There are a number of reasons someone might file a “third-party defendant” claim, which could include, for example:
- A vehicle swerved into your lane, causing you to run off the road or to hit an obstacle such as a telephone pole or parked car. Or a car being towed was somehow detached from the tow truck in front of you and you could not stop before hitting it.
- A road construction crew failed to properly warn of hazards it created which could have caused your accident.
- If your car was improperly repaired, or has a defective part which caused your car wreck, the service company that repaired your vehicle, or the manufacturer of that defective part, may be at fault and thereby the negligent defendant which caused your accident.
A thorough investigation by your lawyer will reveal any and all defendants who had a hand in your car wreck; whether it was a single-car wreck or involved multiple vehicles.
Laws Related to Car Accidents
Several laws regarding driving behavior can often impact the determination of fault for a wreck that causes injuries. A few of them are:
- Kentucky’s Impaired Driving Law – both DUI and DWI
- Kentucky’s Distracted Driving Law – covers texting and other driving distractions
- Kentucky’s Speeding Laws
The Pikeville, KY car accident lawyers at the Johnson Law Firm have extensive experience with the court system and insurance companies. Billy Johnson has represented vehicle accident victims throughout Kentucky, as well as in other states. He can help determine responsibility, establish your claim, and earn you financial compensation. The Johnson Law Firm offers prospective clients an initial case evaluation for free, in person or over the phone. Contact us by calling 606.433.0682 or by filling our this form.