School bus, tractor-trailer wreck leads to lawsuit

By Kyle Roby, attorney English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP In tractor-trailer wreck lawsuits, one obvious defendant is the truck driver whose negligent driving led to the crash. The trucking company that employed him or her is usually also named as a defendant, under the doctrine of respondeat superior (which holds employers liable for the tortious acts of their employees, if the act was within the scope of the employment relationship). In some instances, the circumstances of the accident may give rise to possible claims against others with a less obvious connection to the case. For instance, in the recent case of Commonwealth v. Collins, the state was named as a defendant in a suit arising from a tractor-trailer wreck that also involved a school bus. Read More


Common Causes of Truck Wrecks in Kentucky and Tennessee

You aren't just imagining it. There are more commercial trucks on the road than ever before. According to statistics from the trucking industry, around two-thirds of the nation's freight is moved by semi-truck, and it takes about 3.5 million professional truck drivers to make it happen. Considering the tens of millions of hours these truckers spend on the road, it isn't surprising that truck accidents, too, are on the rise. Here in Kentucky and in neighboring Tennessee, news of a fatal truck accident, especially on an interstate highway, is a common occurrence. Yet, each commercial truck wreck is unique, with its own set of facts and likely causes. Read More


Amusement park accidents and injuries

By Kyle Roby English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP Amusement park rides are designed to entertain and delight adults and children. But the very nature of what makes them fun – the thrill of a fast ride that careens you up and down hills and through loops – can be the very thing that makes amusement park rides dangerous. There are well-maintained parks and those that are not, and chances are, you may not know the difference by looking at them. In Kentucky, one of the most recent amusement park accidents that comes to mind is an incident at Six Flags in Louisville, Kentucky, which is now closed. In 2007, a 16-year-old girl was riding the Superman Tower of Power ride, which takes riders straight up 20 stories and drops them towards the ground at speeds up to 54 miles per hour. A cable on the ride became loose and wrapped around the girls’ feet, severing her feet. The ride was immediately closed, and the girls’ family successfully sued the park. Also in Louisville, the Louisville Zoo faced lawsuits from patrons who were riding on a small train meant to carry children and their parents when it went careening out of control. The Zoo train was closed for four years. Although the Zoo itself could not be sued, a judge ruled, the individual employees operating the train could, and were. Injuries from that accident were severe for some of the riders. One man had his leg pinned under the train and had a series of eight surgeries to repair the damage. He had missed 18 months of work at the time of the lawsuit. A small child had disfiguring face injuries, and many others were injured in other ways. As with those cases, different legal claims are available to people who have been injured on an amusement park ride. Although the specific claim depends on the nature of the incident or accident, two of the most common are negligence and product liability. Injuries do not have to be that severe to recover. Read More


Big rigs are required to keep truck log books, but few do

By Kyle Roby, Attorney English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP Tractor trailer drivers are required to keep log books. Log books record the time a truck driver has been driving or on-duty. It's one of the first things we examine when we're called on to help someone who has been injured in an accident that involves a truck. Few drivers, however, are as dutiful with keeping those truck log books as they should be. Log books are hand-written, and simple to read, and easy to keep up with if a driver wants to do so. The truck log books require the following of a driver and the company he or she works for: Log books must be kept as the driver goes. Every time a driver begins the day, he or she is required to note the city, state, and time. The driver is to keep track of the amount of time driving - time left, time arrived, and time spent on breaks throughout the day. The name of the company that owns the truck and its headquarter's location are required at the top of each log book page. The driver must sign the log book to indicate that the information in it is accurate and truthful. If the driver is following the law, the truck log books should show that he or she abided by the time limits specified by law. Police officers, state troopers and officials from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are allowed to examine the log books at any time to check to see if the driver is following the law. Many times, though, drivers do not keep up with log books, or falsify the books to indicate he or she has abided by the law. Read More


Kentucky Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Determined by Date of Issuance of Replacement Check, Not Date of Original Check That Was Lost – Beaumont v. Zeru

Most civil lawsuits involving personal injury are subject to a statute of limitations, or time limit, after which a party has no legal recourse unless a special exception applies. When this happens, it is often said that the statute of limitations has been "tolled." Both the length of the limitations period and the possibility of tolling can vary widely, depending upon the state in which the accident occurred. The recent case of Beaumont v. Zeru discussed the extent to which an insurance company's payment of certain benefits affects the time period during which an injured motorist may file suit against the responsible party. Read More


Federal Court refuses to remand Kentucky Uninsured Motorist insurance case

In Helton v. Lelion, a couple sued a driver who was operating a vehicle in which a tire became loose and hit their vehicle. The couple initially filed a negligence lawsuit in Wolfe County Circuit Court against the driver who lost her tire. The allegedly negligent motorist with the loose tire apparently did not carry liability insurance when the accident occurred. Because of this, the injured driver also demanded the full policy limits of her uninsured motorist coverage from her own auto insurer, as well as attorneys’ fees and interest. The defendants removed the uninsured motorist case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington based on diversity of citizenship. Under 28 U.S.C. Section 1332(a), a federal court may exercise such jurisdiction when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the parties are citizens of different states. In response, the couple filed a motion to remand the case back to a Kentucky state court. Although the plaintiffs agreed that the parties were diverse, they claimed that federal jurisdiction was improper because the amount in controversy did not exceed the statutory minimum. The injured driver also signed a stipulation that the entirety of the damages she sought were less than $75,000. Read More


Kentucky Court Finds Virginia Law Applies in Tractor-Trailer Wreck Dispute

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has found that Virginia law applied in an uninsured motorist (UIM) coverage dispute arising out of a Kentucky tractor-trailer crash. In an unpublished opinion, a Virginia truck driver sued the insurance carrier for another motorist who struck his big rig head-on. The tractor-trailer wreck occurred on Interstate 65 in Jefferson County, Kentucky, in 2009. At the time of the collision, the other motorist was allegedly intoxicated and traveling in the wrong direction on the freeway. Following the accident, the truck driver settled with the at-fault driver’s liability insurer for the full policy limits of $25,000. After that, the semi-truck driver’s motor vehicle insurer waived its subrogation rights against the other driver.  The trucker then sought $25,000 in UIM benefits from his own auto insurer. The truck driver’s UIM insurer denied his claim because the at-fault driver was not an underinsured motorist according to the definition included in his insurance policy. In addition, the company claimed that Virginia law allowed it to offset the $25,000 payment the truck driver received from the other driver’s insurer against his potential UIM benefits. Because of this, the trucker’s insurer claimed that he was not entitled to receive additional payment as a result of his UIM coverage. Read More


Accident benefits provided by Kentucky Motor Vehicles Reparations Act

The Kentucky Motor Vehicles Reparations Act allows a policyholder to recover damages for an auto insurer’s denial of basic reparation benefits following a Kentucky car crash. In Risner v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. , a man sued his insurance company for payment of benefits after he was apparently injured in a Lexington, Kentucky motor vehicle collision. Following the traffic accident, the man was treated by a local chiropractor. The injured man then sought reimbursement for his associated medical expenses from his auto insurer. About six months later, the insurance company notified the policyholder that it was denying coverage for certain medical bills he incurred as a result of the crash. In Kentucky, basic reparation benefits are typically used to pay the medical bills and certain other expenses of an individual who was hurt in a car accident, regardless of fault. After the man’s auto insurer discontinued his no-fault benefits, the injured man filed a lawsuit against the company in Rowan County Circuit Court. According to the man’s complaint, the motor vehicle insurer violated the Kentucky Motor Vehicles Reparations Act and the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act. In addition, the hurt man accused his insurance company of negligence, breach of contract, fraud, and numerous other claims. As a result, the policyholder asked the court to award him both compensatory and punitive damages. In general, punitive damages are only appropriate when a court seeks to punish a party and deter similar conduct in the future. Read More


Appeals Court Overturns Negligence Case Against Kentucky Department of Highways Over Lack of Notice: Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Bunch

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has overturned a circuit court’s decision to affirm a Kentucky Board of Claims’ final order in a motorcycle accident case. In Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Bunch, a man sued after suffering multiple injuries when he crashed his motorcycle on Greenbelt Highway in Louisville. According to the man, he lost control of his motorcycle and suffered permanent harm when his tires hit an improperly patched and uneven pothole in the roadway. Following the accident, the man argued before the Kentucky Board of Claims that his accident occurred because the roadway where the pothole was patched was significantly elevated. The man also stated the condition of the road made it impossible for him to safely navigate the highway. Testimony offered before a hearing officer indicated that potholes were a recurring problem in the area where the accident occurred, due to a defect in the concrete roadway. In addition, evidence suggested the pothole in question was repaired multiple times. Still, the Kentucky Department of Highways maintained that it had no record of receiving any complaints about the patched pothole during the four-month period preceding the man’s motorcycle collision. Additionally, there was no record of other motor vehicle accidents occurring in the area during that time. After testimony concluded, the hearing officer recommended denying the injured man’s claim for damages because he failed to establish that the patch was unreasonably dangerous, that the Department of Highways maintained the roadway in a negligent manner, or that it had notice of the allegedly dangerous condition. Despite the hearing officer’s recommendation, the Board of Claims found that the Department of Highways created an unreasonable risk of harm to drivers and remanded the action back to the hearing officer to determine comparative fault and damages. Finally, the Board of Claims awarded the man nearly $90,000 in damages. The Jefferson Circuit Court affirmed the Board’s decision, and the Department of Highways filed an appeal with the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Read More


Deadly air bag problem brings huge recall of 4.7 million cars

On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report indicating that motorists who drive vehicles with airbags made by Takata could be in grave danger. The airbags are designed to inflate and protect motorists in the event of an injury, but instead, they can explode, causing the death of the driver. In at least four instances, motorists have been killed in accidents in which their airbag exploded, covering them in shrapnel. Others have been severely injured. The problems are so dangerous the NHTSA is asking people not to carry passengers in the front seats of the recalled vehicles - but you may not even want to drive these vehicles after reading about these problems. Most of the vehicles are older models, some going back to 2001. Motorists should check their vehicles as soon as possible. The NHTSA recall affects about 4.7 million vehicles throughout the U.S., though safety experts have put the number at 12 million world wide. The recall includes vehicles made by  Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, BMW and General Motors. If you are unsure if your car has been affected by the recall, you can enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on your registration paperwork and enter it at this web site to check: All drivers nationally can use this, including drivers in Kentucky and Tennessee who are concerned with this product recall. You can read the full report and find specifics on the recall here. Read More