Truck Accidents Attorney in Hazard, Kentucky
It is little wonder that accidents involving commercial trucks often result in serious injury or death. Passenger vehicles are simply no match for an 18-wheeler on Kentucky roadways. If you survive your injuries, you may never fully recover. Medical bills aren’t always temporary and could continue to accrue for the rest of your life.
When your health suffers, or when you lose someone who provided you with financial support, the financial devastation is also dire. If the crash was the result of the negligence of the truck driver, trucking company, or someone else, they should be held responsible for what they did or failed to do. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you do precisely that.
At The Law Office of Kyle S. Hall, I represent the victims of truck accidents and their families in personal injury and wrongful death claims in Hazard, Kentucky. These accidents can be complex, and the trucking company will hire attorneys to defend them against your claim. I will help you fight back. Contact me today if you need skilled representation in Letcher County, Knott County, Leslie County, or Perry County.
Laws Affecting Truck Accidents
Unlike most accidents involving just passenger vehicles, federal law comes into play in trucking accidents. The safe operation of semi-tractors and trailers on the country’s roadways falls under the purview of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These regulations dictate compliance to measures designed for safety, including:
Driver training and medical fitness
Maximum hours a driver can log on the road during a period of time
Annual safety reviews
Vehicle and trailer inspections and service
Registration and liability insurance requirements for commercial trucking companies
As is the case with other states, Kentucky requires compliance with the FMCSR as well as with state laws designed for the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. State laws, for example, govern what is referred to as the “rules of the road” designed for safety. Obeying traffic signs and signals, speed limits, passing zones, space between vehicles, and taking measures for safe driving in certain weather and roadway conditions are examples of those rules.
Kentucky Is a Choice No-Fault State
Kentucky’s status as a choice no-fault state for auto insurance will also play a role in your truck accident claim. Unless you have opted out of your personal injury protection (PIP) rights, your PIP coverage will be used to its limits before you can sue the party responsible for your accident. However, the ceiling is low. Medical bills in excess of $1,000 are all it takes to give you the right to sue. If you have not opted out of PIP coverage, though, you can immediately access your PIP benefits to help cover medical bills and lost wages until your personal injury claim is settled.
Kentucky also imposes a time limit on settling your claim with the trucking company’s liability insurer or filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. That statute of limitations is two years from the date of the crash or from the date you received your last PIP payment. In the case of a wrongful death claim, the limit is one year from the date of death.
Who Can Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
Commercial trucking involves multiple parties. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, one or all could be held legally liable for the injuries or death of others involved in the accident.
The truck driver is the most obvious responsible party. The driver might have been fatigued, distracted, speeding, inexperienced, or driving too fast for roadway conditions.
Because the driver is likely for a trucking company, the company could be liable as well. The company may have provided inadequate training and examination of the driver, allowed them to drive hours in excess of what is permitted under FMCSR, sent the driver out with an improperly inspected vehicle, or failed to take a driver with a poor safety record off the road.
If the failure of a part of the semi-tractor or trailer contributed to the crash, the vehicle or parts manufacturer could also be liable. This could include a defective tire, hitch, steering, braking, or another mechanism.
Those responsible for maintaining the semi-tractor and trailer can also bear responsibility in certain circumstances. For example, a company hired by the trucking company to replace worn tires and other parts could be liable if their failure contributed to the 18-wheeler accident.
The party responsible for loading cargo onto the vehicle could be responsible if shifting cargo contributed to the crash or the severity of the crash.
The driver of the passenger vehicle can also be held to a percentage of fault for a crash. Kentucky observes pure comparative fault, which holds each party at fault to the extent they bear it. Any settlement a party receives is reduced by their percentage of fault.
Roadway conditions may also play a role. Weather conditions, as well as flaws such as potholes, uneven pavement, and disintegrating shoulders, could have contributed to the accident.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you were injured in a semi-truck accident caused by someone else, you can file a personal injury claim. If someone you love has been incapacitated by their injuries, their agent named in a durable power of attorney can file a personal injury claim on their behalf, or the court can appoint a conservator to do so.
If the victim died as a result of their injuries, filing a wrongful death claim is also an option. The personal representative of their estate, either named in their will or appointed by the probate court, can file a wrongful death claim to recover damages incurred by the estate and its survivors.
In either case, you should immediately consult an experienced personal injury attorney. These claims require a thorough investigation of the crash, the vehicles involved, and the parties involved. Preservation of evidence, expert inspection and analysis, expert medical opinions, and valuation of damages are elements of the burden of proof.
Truck Accidents Attorney in Hazard, Kentucky
Trucking companies carry liability insurance coverage with substantial policy limits. When there is so much on the line for them, you need a personal injury attorney who understands how much is on the line for you. Contact me today at The Law Office of Kyle S. Hall in Hazard, Kentucky. I’m ready to provide you with the strong and intelligent representation you need after a serious truck accident. As your attorney, I’ll fight fiercely to help you pursue a fair and favorable result.