Posted on July 15th, 2016 No comments
The Kentucky Tort Journal recently posted about a decision by the Court of Appeals which discussed what “occupying” a car means for purposes of qualifying for underinsured motorists coverage (UIM). The Court decided that “occupying” a car means more than just being inside of it. The Court awarded UIM insurance to an injured person who was outside the car when the accident happened. You can read the entire post here.
Posted on July 12th, 2016 No comments
Check out the new post over at kytortjournal.com that discusses the Kentucky Supreme Court’s recent decision to uphold a $1.45 million dollar punitive damages award. These damages are meant to punish the behavior that resulted in the harm and are typically rather large. However, they are subject to review and are often overturned if they are too high for the other damages awarded. In this case the Supreme Court thought the behavior was bad enough to warrant the award.
Posted on July 6th, 2016 No comments
Recently, our office has come across instances where our clients have been in an accident but failed to get license or insurance information. In one case, the negligent driver fled the accident scene after our client informed her that she was calling the police. In another case, the negligent driver said the car belonged to someone else and claimed to have left her license at home.
In the first case, my client pursued the negligent driver who quickly left the scene of the accident (the motorist did not have insurance). My client had to abandon the chase when the negligent driver began driving recklessly. The police refused to make a report because neither car was at the accident scene any longer. Fortunately, my client did get the name of the negligent driver, her phone number, and a description of the car. However, that was all.
In the second case, my client only got the first name of the negligent driver, a phone number, and a description of the car. However, she let the negligent driver leave without getting any other information. In both cases inaccurate information was given.
Tracking down the negligent drivers in these cases is extremely difficult. More importantly, the lack of a police report may impair your ability to make a claim or prove the accident happened at all. That’s why you should never leave the accident without getting proof of the negligent driver’s identity and evidence that an accident did occur.
Here are some steps you can take after an accident to insure you get the information you need. This will protect you from negligent drivers that leave the scene of the accident or who claim to lack necessary information needed to document their identity.
Put on your flashers and stop or pull your car to the side of the road.
Be prepared to get information such as the make, color, model, license plate number of the car, and a description of the driver if they attempt to leave the scene.
If the driver does stop. Insist that you must call the police to investigate.
If the driver claims to lack insurance or driver’s license information, don’t let that prevent you from calling police.
Call the police even if the negligent driver begs for you to let them go or offers to leave their name and telephone number. This information can later be false.
Insist that the negligent driver provide official documentation and not just provide verbal information.
If the motorist leaves the accident scene do not attempt to pursue. But note as much information as possible.
Finally, if you can, take pictures with a camera or a cell phone to document information. Take pictures of the negligent driver’s license, insurance card, and registration. If they lack this information or refuse to provide it, take a picture of the person, the damage to the car, the license plate or if possible the VIN number. If the driver tries to leave take photos, or if possible, video the negligent driver and the car as it leaves the scene of the accident.
Remember that after an accident your safety and the safety of others is the most important consideration. If you are seriously injured or if you are unable to exit your vehicle because of injuries, you’re best to leave identification of the negligent motorist to other witnesses. Witnesses are more inclined to stay after witnessing a serious accident. If documenting the scene may risk causing you injury, don’t risk further injury just to document the scene.
However, if neither of these are a concern do your best to document the accident as much as possible. Do not let a negligent driver leave the scene without providing some information or documentation. This will make sure that you have the proper documentation to identify the negligent driver and pursue your claim for personal injuries.
Posted on July 5th, 2016 No comments
A Texas teen, Rowdy Radford, was gravely injured, losing a leg, and potentially his eyesight, from a homemade explosive Saturday night. Rowdy fashioned the explosive together with 180 sparklers wrapped tightly with electrical tape.
The sparkler bomb exploded in his face when he lit it behind his aunt’s house in Sargent, Texas. Now the 15-year-old is in intensive care at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. His injuries include the amputation of his left leg below the knee, scorched hands, face and chest, and his eyes heavily bandaged. Doctors won’t know whether he still has his eyesight until he wakes up from sedation to tell them whether he can see.
Rowdy’s family spoke Monday — temporarily leaving his bedside — to send a message to other kids and parents. Rowdy’s mother said; “It’s really hard to see your baby go through all this. I just want the parents to know don’t let your kids play with fireworks, it’s not worth it. It really ain’t. It hurts because I want to see my kid talk to me and he’s not because he can’t. It’s really rough.”
You can read the full report here.
As we previously posted, roughly 230 individuals are sent to Emergency Rooms each year during the weeks surrounding 4th of July festivities due to firework accidents. Children should not use fireworks. Make sure to supervise your children, including teens, around fireworks and make sure only adults are responsible for using them.
Posted on June 30th, 2016 No comments
Fireworks are synonymous with Independence Day. As the 4th of July celebration approaches, be aware that 230 people on average go to the emergency room for fireworks injuries in the month surrounding the 4th of July holiday. Fireworks are dangerous and should be handled with the utmost caution. However, fireworks injuries can be prevented.
Follow these safety tips when using fireworks:
Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.
Always have an adult supervise fireworks activities. Parents don’t realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees – hot enough to melt some metals.
Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
Never try to re-light or pick up fireworks that have not ignited fully.
Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers.
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.
Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.
The Brutscher Law Office hopes everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend. By following these simple rules you can reduce or eliminate the risk of a fireworks injury ruining your holiday fun.
Posted on June 28th, 2016 No comments
According to the National Safety Council, 16 young children have died of heatstroke this year after being left or trapped in vehicles. During the same time period last year, 8 children had died. The stories seem endless. Dozens of children die each year this way, according to NoHeatStroke.org.
In the majority of cases of child heatstroke deaths– 53% – parents simply forgot their child was in the car. It’s easier to leave a child in a car than you think. While many people would blame the child’s parent, children may sleep soundly or may make very little noise as the world around them speeds past. Many younger children may react the way many of us react to watching a TV show or movie. Quietly, sitting and watching, oblivious to our surroundings, making very little noise at all.
Add to this that many stressful parents may operate their cars on autopilot, driving the same route daily, and you have a recipe for serious injuries or deaths. However, there are steps that you can take to minimize and even prevent the risk of death.
New car seat technology is available that will sound an alarm after the driver turns off the car, reminding him or her that a child is in the back seat. SaferCar.gov offers other suggestions for keeping your precious cargo safe:
Keep a stuffed animal in the child’s seat, then move it to the front seat after you strap your child in as a visual reminder;
If your daily routine changes, always make sure your child has arrived at his destination safely;
Make sure daycare providers know to call parents or relatives if the child does not arrive;
Never leave a child alone in a car; use drive-through services and pay at the pump so you won’t be tempted to leave the child “just for a moment”;
Remember, children overheat four times faster than adults; a child is likely to die when his body temperature reaches 107 degrees, and that can happen in minutes;
Even in 70-degree weather a vehicle can reach life-threatening temperatures quickly; regardless of the outside temperature, the average increase in temperature inside a vehicle is 3.2 degrees per five-minute interval;
If you ever see a child alone in a car, call 911 immediately;
If you see a child is in distress, remove the child from the vehicle; most states have Good Samaritan laws that protect bystanders who must act to prevent the risk of serious injury or death.
Remember, that all these fatalities can be prevented if you exercise diligence and remember that the risk of harm or death is far outweighed by a few seconds of planning.
Posted on June 17th, 2015 No comments
Given it’s that time of year, I thought I would repost this from earlier.
During the summer months the chances that someone will be injured in a boating accident are very likely. Unlike cars, boat operators are not required in Kentucky to have an operating license or driver education. This increases the chances that an operator of a boat will be involved in an accident, whether or not it’s his fault.
Thousands of boats take to the lakes and rivers of Kentucky each year without insurance. Did you know that if you’re injured in a boat accident you might not be entitled to recover your lost wages, medical expenses, disability, or pain and suffering? Unlike car insurance that is mandatory, boat insurance is purely optional. Chances are you could be riding on an uninsured boat or injured by one. Operating a boat without insurance isn’t worth the risk.
Like cars, boat insurance is available. If you are considering buying boat insurance, make sure that it includes liability coverage to protect you in the event that you injure your passengers or people riding on another boat. It should also include medical payments coverage to pay medical expenses incurred by those injured on your boat that is not involved in an accident. You may also wish to purchase uninsured watercraft coverage if you or your passengers are injured by another boat that does not carry insurance.
Unfortunately, this coverage is optional and must be purchased in addition to the coverages mentioned earlier. However, many insurance policies offer discounts similar to car insurance for experienced boaters or those who have taken operation classes.
If you own a boat or plan on riding one this summer, make sure it has insurance in case of a boating accident. If it does, make sure it has the optional uninsured watercraft coverage in the event the accident is caused by an uninsured boat owner or operator. Given the speed and the lack of safety restraints or features, injures suffered in boating accidents can be catastrophic and even result in death. Don’t take chances. Make sure your boat is insured.
For more information on what you should do in case of a boat accident, visit the boater education website BOATED.
Posted on December 15th, 2014 No comments
There is no doubt that as the busy holiday shopping season gets underway that it will lead to more parking lot wrecks. If you’re involved in a parking lot wreck during this busy holiday shopping season what should you do? Your first thought is probably to call the police. While this may be appropriate in some cases, it may not be necessary. After all, who wants to wait during the busy holiday shopping season for the police to make their way to your parking lot wreck just to fill out a report?
So, what are your obligations when you are involved in a parking lot wreck? Kentucky law is certainly not clear. First, every driver operating a vehicle on the highway of this state who is involved in an accident resulting in a fatal or non-fatal injury or damage rendering the vehicle inoperable shall notify the police. However, highways of this state does not include parking lots, which are most likely to be private property. Second, every driver operating a vehicle on the highways of this state who is involved in an accident resulting in any property damage exceeding $500 in which an investigation is not conducted by police shall file a written report of the accident within 10 days. Again, this does not include parking lots. Furthermore, while it’s very easy to damage property in excess of $500 given today’s cars, many parking lot wrecks are minor. In those circumstances, it’s safe to say that a simple exchange of information would be okay.
Arguably, there is no requirement that you contact police if you’ve been involved in a parking lot wreck. However, there are some guidelines all responsible drivers should follow regardless of where you wreck occurs. If your parking lot wreck involves a fatality or a nonfatal personal injury, it would be prudent to contact police or parking lot enforcement where the wreck occurs. You should do your best to assist those injured in the wreck within your capabilities. Police have experience in handling these cases and are better equipped with skills to make decisions that most driver’s lack. While many parking lot wrecks are minor, many also involve pedestrians, which result in a fatality or a nonfatal personal injury. If you are unsure, you should err on the side of caution and contact police or parking enforcement. If there are no injuries you can still contact police if you think the damage is significant or above $500 or if one of the vehicles is disabled.
It’s possible that police will make their own determination as to whether they need to respond. It’s possible that a car will not be dispatched if police do not feel it worth the time and attention of an officer given the lack of injury or significant damage. Some police agencies simply will not dispatch a car to file a report on private property like a parking lot. This is especially true if there is no injury. You are only responsible for contacting police if the situation requires it. You are not responsible for making sure they show up.
In many fender bender parking lot cases, a simple exchange of information will be okay. In those cases you want to get the name, address and contact information for the other driver and passengers, the driver license number of the driver, license plate numbers of all involved, and auto insurance information for each car involved. You should also attempt to get the contact information for any witnesses. Given that many people have cell phones, photographs of the information, the cars involved, and of the scene of the accident may be the best evidence of what happened and who was involved. I highly suggest that if you exchange information that you file a Civilian Collision Report with the Kentucky State Police. While only legally required if the accident occurs on state highways with damage in excess of $500, there is no penalty for filing one under $500, and most damage will exceed this threshold anyway. Sometimes this may be the only official document showing that the wreck occurred. You can download the Civilian Collision Report here.
What you should never do is leave the scene of any wreck under any circumstances without contacting law enforcement or exchanging information. You should exchange information even if the car involved in the wreck was unoccupied. In those circumstances you must act reasonably in trying to find the other driver or in leaving information for the other driver, so that they can find you. Leaving the scene of a wreck without proper reporting can result in legal trouble, including suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.
There is no doubt that the busy holiday shopping season is going to lead to more parking lot wrecks. Knowing what your obligations are in a parking lot wreck will make you better prepared to handle any parking lot wreck during the busy holiday shopping season.
Posted on June 30th, 2014 No comments
Injured Accident Victims can now be contacted immediately after an accident under a new ruling by a Kentucky Federal Court. The Courier Journal has a nice synopsis of the ruling by Federal District Court Judge Charles Simpson, here. Judge Simpson ruled that the law, which prevents “anyone” from soliciting an accident victim within 30 days of an accident, was unconstitutional because it violated commercial free speech rights and also the equal protection clause, because the law exempted insurance companies.
The intention of the law was to prevent injured accident victims from being preyed upon by unscrupulous people who would try to immediately sign up the injured victim to pursue a personal injury claim or medical treatment under Kentucky’s No Fault Law. Often, these people would use “runners” who would show up at the accident scene with information from a health care clinic specializing in car accident injuries. These health care clinics would then steer these patients to lawyers who would handle their bodily injury claim.
On it’s face the law would seem to be an unobtrusive means to provide accident victims some time to review their options and determine if they even need to pursue medical treatment or hire a lawyer. However, because the law did not prevent insurance companies from contacting the injured victim immediately after the accident, it provided an unfair advantage to the insurance company. This thirty day head start gave the insurance company every incentive to resolve an injured party’s claim as fast and as cheaply as possible, before they sought medical care or hired a lawyer. This ruling seeks to limit that advantage.
Of course, one unintended consequence of the ruling is that unscrupulous people are now free to contact injured accident victims immediately, even at the scene of the accident. These unscrupulous people now have the same incentive that the insurance company previously had to pressure the injured victim to make decisions without proper information or understanding.
Perhaps even more interesting is Judge Simpson’s ruling that his decision does not apply to professionals such as lawyers or doctors, who are still prevented from contacting injured accident victims for thirty days. Given his reasoning for finding the law unconstitutional, there is no basis for treating lawyers or doctors any different from anyone else. What Judge Simpson has done is create another equal protection clause nightmare where the law is applied unequally to everyone, benefiting some while harming others. This position is untenable. The law either applies to everyone or it does not.
There is no doubt that the Judge’s recent ruling has the potential for abuse by both sides. However, it is important that injured accident victims understand that they are not required to make any decisions without proper understanding and information. You are not required to seek medical treatment from a certain provider or retain a lawyer from a certain firm. If you feel like you’ve been pressured to do either, understand that you retain the power to change providers or lawyers if you choose. The best way to avoid being a victim of unscrupulous people or companies is to educate yourself about your rights and options. If you need advice you should contact an injury accident lawyer of your own choosing who can advise you on your options under Kentucky accident law.
Posted on June 25th, 2014 No comments
It’s that time of year. The lazy days of summer. Schools are closed and kids are on summer break. Everyone is outside enjoying the warm weather. Activities such as barbecues, camping, swimming, beach vacations, outdoor concerts, and baseball occupy our time. Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day holidays all follow in rapid succession. Everyone is excited for summer. Work indoors is now a distraction.
Unfortunately, if you have a pending car, semi-truck, or motorcycle accident injury case, this is the time of year that your case might experience some delays. An accident case involves many people, including you, your injury lawyer, an insurance adjuster, and all manner of doctors, chiropractors, employers, and the like. If your accident injury case is in a lawsuit than your case involves at least one other attorney, maybe more, a judge, and other individuals, such as court reporters, and expert and lay witnesses.
These individuals are enjoying summer too. This is one of the times when your injury lawyer may be waiting on a response from these individuals. But, they have summer plans of their own.
This can be extremely frustrating for an injured person who is waiting on their case to conclude. However, while your case may be personal to you and your injury lawyer, these other individuals may only see it as part of their job. While you may have only one accident injury case, these other individuals may have many more. Summer activities, holidays, and vacations impact the amount of time these individuals have to work on your case, creating back logs and delays.
Fortunately, the lazy days of summer quickly turn into the dog days of summer, that time between late July and August when the temperatures are at their highest and most people seek the comfort of air conditioning indoors. Your accident injury case is much more likely to receive attention during this time.
It is not unusual to experience delays with your accident injury case during the lazy days of summer. Fortunately, these delays are short and activity should return to normal shortly. If your case is experiencing delays during this time, be patient and understand that most delays during this time are outside the control of your injury lawyer. Before long, you’ll likely get a call from your injury lawyer with news about your case. Until then, enjoy the lazy days of summer with your family and friends.