Dedicated and Aggressive Louisville Auto Accident Attorney
Despite improvements in safety technology and mandatory seatbelt laws nationwide, car accidents remain one the leading causes of serious injury and death in the U.S. In 2015 alone, more than 35,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes, while another 2.35 million were either injured or disabled. The economic impact of these accidents is estimated at nearly $2.5 billion each year.
Many car accident victims find their lives altered drastically by these tragic events. Even a minor injury could need costly medical care, while a serious injury, such as spinal and head trauma, can lead to permanent disability.
Since the consequences of car accidents can be so severe, it’s often possible for accident victims to take legal action against the parties responsible for the accident. At the Ron Aslam Law Office, we understand how important this can be for victims of accidents in Kentucky, as it means financial compensation for a car accident that was not your fault.
Common Types of Auto Accidents
Unfortunately, not all car accidents are fender-benders with little to no injury or property damage. Many are much more serious, involving extensive vehicle damage, serious injury, and even death. The most common causes of auto accidents include:
- Reckless Driving and Speeding
- Driver Error
- Drunk Driving (DUI)
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Car Malfunction or Defects
Common Auto Accident Injuries
Depending on the type and severity of the auto accident, victims might suffer from many different types of injuries. Some of the most common are:
- Head and Brain Injury. Closed head injuries and traumatic brain injury are common with car accidents. These can range from a temporary concussion to permanent damage that requires lifetime care.
- Back and Neck Injury. One of the more common injuries in car accidents are spinal injuries because the spine absorbs vehicle impact. Medical care can involve physical therapy, surgery, and even accommodation of paralysis.
- Broken Bones. A hard impact can easily break bones in just about any part of the body. Depending on the injury, recovery can be painful and even involve long-term damage.
- Burns. Even with no fire, burn injuries are common in auto accidents. They can be caused by the road, vehicle parts, and even the airbag.
- Lacerations and Contusions. Cuts and bruises are often present in car accidents from impact, flying glass, and other jagged parts. If not attended to properly, these minor injuries can turn into serious infections and cause lasting problems.
- Loss of Limb. While not common, loss of a limb does occur when a body part is pinned or trapped in a vehicle. If a full or partial amputation is necessary, long-term care and vocational rehab are required.
- Death. In the most extreme conditions, someone dies in a car accident. If this accident was not your fault, this is called wrongful death, and family members have the right to recover compensation for this act.
Who May be at Fault in Auto Accidents
When you’re involved in an auto accident, it’s often a painful and confusing time. There are injuries to attend to, property damage to address, and phone calls to make. Some of the people who want to ask you questions or “help” may not have your best interests in mind. This is particularly the case with insurance companies, who could represent the parties at fault and want to minimize their payouts.
Here are just a few of the parties that could be at fault, or asked to pay, in an auto accident:
- Negligent Individuals. This is the most common scenario, where another person owns a vehicle and causes an accident by driving recklessly or making an error on the road. In these cases, the driver or the owner of the vehicle are responsible for the accident and any damages that they’ve caused due to their negligence.
- Private Business. In some cases, the vehicle might be owned by a company and the driver an employee who is engaged in work-related activities. Here, the driver is still liable, but the company may also be responsible because the driver was essentially acting on their behalf.
- Auto Manufacturers. As our vehicles become more computerized and more complicated, we have seen an increase in vehicle recalls for defective and malfunctioning parts. If one of these defects causes an accident, the manufacturer of the vehicle should be held responsible. These cases can be complicated as these accidents often appear as if the driver of the malfunctioning vehicle were to blame.
- Government. Although less common, there have been cases where improper road signage on public roads has led to some serious and sometimes fatal accidents. Also, defective traffic signals can cause car crashes on city streets. In any of these cases, the agency involved should be held responsible.
Who is Liable for a Merging Accident?
Right of Way in Kentucky
Merging accidents come down to the concept of right of way, which determines who is allowed to pass first. At highway on-ramps, drivers already on the highway have the right of way. Those attempting to merge onto the highway must yield to those already driving. Controlled intersections have signage or lights dictating right of way, and at uncontrolled intersections, the person who arrives first has right of way.
How do these concepts apply to merging? When one person is switching lanes, they must yield the right of way to the person who is already traveling in that lane of traffic.
Figuring out who has the right to seek compensation comes down to liability. In the majority of accidents involving merging, the driver who is attempting to merge onto the roadway or into another lane is at fault. This is because the people who are already in the lane of traffic have right of way over those who are trying to get into the lane of traffic. Whether the accident occurs because the merging driver doesn’t check their blind spot, misjudges the amount of space they have, misjudges another driver’s speed, or merges because they think they have the right of way, they are likely liable for the accident.
Of course, there are exceptions to this general rule. If a driver is merging and a driver further back in the lane speeds up to prevent them from merging, the first driver may not be entirely liable. The second driver may be partially liable for their intentional choice to drive unsafely. If the accident occurs on a road with three or more lanes and people from outer and inner lanes are trying to merge into a middle lane, liability is unclear without further investigation.
What Speed Is Considered Reckless Driving?
Being charged with reckless driving in Kentucky can have lasting consequences. Apart from having a mark on your driving record, you will have to pay a fine and also risk having your license suspended, depending on your past driving record and the number of penalty points you have accumulated.
Section 189.290 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes – commonly referred to as the reckless driving law – states that motorists in Kentucky are required to drive in a careful manner without endangering the safety and convenience of other motorists and pedestrians on the roadway.
The language used in the statute, as you can see, is quite vague and broad. As a result, not many people actually know what constitutes reckless driving in Kentucky.
Generally speaking, you can be charged with reckless driving if you are caught driving 15 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. Your chances of getting charged with reckless driving are higher if you are caught driving over the speed limit in a school zone, playground, park, and other areas that are frequented by young children.
You may also be charged with reckless driving under the following circumstances:
- If you change lanes unnecessarily
- If you change lanes in an erratic manner
- If you drive too close to the vehicle in front of you
- If you participate in illegal street or drag races
- If you are unable to control your vehicle
What You Can Recover After an Auto Accident
While every auto accident is different, they almost all cost drivers much more than imagined. Just a simple paint scratch and a trip to the emergency room can cost several thousand dollars. If you weren’t at fault in the accident, this shouldn’t come out of your pocket.
Car accident compensation varies, and several factors determine what will be collected in each case. Among these are the extent of injuries, property damage, and auto insurance or assets available to pursue collection. The types of damages include:
Economic Damages. These are damages that can be compensated with money and quantified. They include:
- Property Damage
- Medical Expenses (past and future)
- Lost Income (past and future)
Non-Economic Damages. These are damages that compensate you for the negative experience and aren’t necessarily something that can be quantified. They might be awarded by the insurance company to avoid a negative jury verdict. They include:
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental Anguish
- Physical Impairment
- Physical Disfigurement
- Loss of Companionship
- Lowered Quality of Life
If you have been injured in an accident, you have the right to recover both economic and non-economic damages for your injuries and suffering. Seeking the advice of an experienced Kentucky accident attorney is the first step in determining these potential damages.
Negotiating Full and Fair Compensation for Your Accident Injury
A fair settlement begins with a thorough investigation of the accident that caused your injuries. You don’t want an attorney who will take a quick glance at the accident information, make a rash judgment, and jump right into negotiations. There may be other parties at fault, and failing to identify those parties means leaving money on the table. Furthermore, a weak investigation doesn’t find all the evidence needed to negotiate a fair settlement.
Fair Assessment of Your Injuries and Expenses
Your attorney should give you a realistic estimate of what you may get, based on your injuries, what the accident will cost you, and how much evidence is available. Some people go with the first attorney to promise a huge settlement, regardless of how realistic that settlement amount is. You don’t want a promise that your attorney can’t follow through on; you want t o know h ow much you’re likely to walk away with at the end of the case.
Thorough Evidence Linking Your Injuries to the Other Party
Evidence makes up the building blocks of an effective personal injury claim. The evidence your attorney uncovers and uses in negotiations should prove that the other party had an obligation to you, they failed in that obligation, your injuries were caused by their negligence, and your injuries resulted in measurable damages. Moving too quickly through a case often means sacrificing quality evidence, leading to a lower settlement.
Strong Negotiating Skills
The negotiating table is where deals are made. Your attorney should know exactly what type of evidence to bring into negotiations to highlight the other party’s liability and push for a fair settlement. A skilled negotiator knows when to push for more, when they are close to losing the deal completely, and when they have arrived at a fair amount. They will also know when they are being taken advantage of by an insurance representative who is too rigid in their expectations, which means taking the case to court.
Willingness to Go to Court
This is perhaps one of the most important parts of getting a full and fair settlement in a personal injury case. If an insurance company knows that your lawyer will definitely settle rather than take your case to court, they have a lot of leverage they can use in negotiations. They know that, even if their final offer is way too low to be considered fair, your lawyer will likely encourage you to accept it rather than go through the time and expense of preparing for court.
For that reason, you need to work with an attorney that is comfortable going to court when the situation calls for it. If they have plenty of experience in settlements but have never taken a personal injury case to court, you may not get what you deserve during negotiations.
Auto Accident Attorneys
If you or a loved one have been injured, or a loved one killed, in an auto accident, you need an experienced and dedicated attorney on your side. The Ron Aslam Law Office has a proven track record of helping victims of wrongful injury get maximum compensation. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with our Kentucky auto accident lawyer today.