Kentucky court rules driver had no duty to sound horn to prevent pedestrian accident

by Mandy Hicks

Lawsuits arising from negligent operation of a motor vehicle typically involve two drivers, each driving his or her own vehicle. Passengers in one or both vehicles may also be parties to the suit if they were injured in the collision. Sometimes, the case involves a pedestrian accident.

Regardless of whether the person seeking to recover compensation following an automobile accident is a motorist, a passenger, or a pedestrian, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant was negligent. This means that he or she failed to act in a prudent manner, causing harm to the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

In the recent (unpublished) case of Adkins v. Thacker, the plaintiff was a pedestrian struck by a car in 2012. He filed suit against the defendants, the driver of the car that struck him and the driver’s alleged employer in Pike Circuit Court, seeking damages for injuries sustained in the pedestrian accident. A five-day jury trial resulted in a verdict for the defense. The plaintiff sought a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, alternatively, a new trial. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motions, and he appealed.

The Appellate Court’s Decision

The Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling. The court first noted that a new trial is only warranted in cases in which a jury’s verdict is not sustained by sufficient evidence or is contrary the law. An appellate court can reverse a trial court’s decision on such an issue only in the presence of clear error. In deciding to affirm the trial court’s decision not to grant a new trial, the court reasoned that, although there was conflicting evidence concerning the accident at trial, it was the jury’s job to determine the credibility of the evidence and the weight to be afforded to a particular witness’ testimony.

With regard to the plaintiff’s argument that the defendant had a duty to blow his horn when backing up his vehicle in the wrong direction, the court found that Kentucky law only requires motorists to sound a horn when necessary under the circumstances, not every time they back up. The question of whether or not a sound signal was required under the circumstances is a jury question. By their verdict, the jury determined that the defendant motorist exercised a reasonable degree of skill and care.

The court found no merit to the plaintiff’s arguments concerning certain jury instructions.

For Help with a Motor Vehicle Accident Case

Liability in automobile accident cases can be challenging to prove. If you have been hurt in an accident and want to talk to a lawyer about whether you have a case against another person, business, or governmental entity, the Kentucky truck accident lawyers at English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley are here to answer your questions and guide you in the right direction. For a free appointment in our Bowling Green offices, call us at (270) 781-6500. We represent clients in both Kentucky and Tennessee, including in Warren County, south-central Kentucky, and the surrounding area.

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