1. How can I be prepared in case of an accident?
2. What should I do in the event of an accident?
3. Who do I contact after an auto accident?
4. What compensation needs to be made after an auto accident?
5. What sources of compensation can be pursued?
6. What is negligence?
7. What is comparative negligence?
8. What should I know about auto insurance?
9. What is a wrongful death claim?
10. What if the person dies before the lawsuit is brought?
11. What are the elements of a wrongful death claim?
12. Who can file a wrongful death claim?
13. When must a lawsuit for wrongful death be filed?
14. What kind of damages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim?
15. How is L. Ryan Davis paid and how much does it cost?
- Be sure to have auto insurance. Keep proof (usually cards) of it in your vehicle at all times.
- Buckle Up! And if you have children, keep them belted, or secured in child seats, away from any active airbag.
- Do NOT drink and drive. Over 50% of the accident fatalities in America are alcohol related. Punitive damages are allowable in Kentucky against drink drivers.
- Know how to drive your vehicle. SUVs, for example, have a much higher center of gravity. Even with advanced anti-rollover systems, they still can tip over much easier than a car. Some SUVs can roll over at speeds as low as 35 mph if you turn too sharply. Read the manual.
Just after an accident:
- Stop your car. Failure to stop can result in serious criminal consequences.
- If it’s a minor fender bender with no injuries, move your car so it doesn’t block traffic.
- Warn approaching traffic with flares and/or your car’s flashers.
- Call 911 for the police and an ambulance if anyone is injured.
At the scene of the accident:
- Let any anger you have fade away
- Do not make any statements about who caused the accident.
- Be cooperative with police but limit your comments to simple facts.
- If an insurance adjuster arrives at the scene, refuse to give any statements and don’t sign anything.
- Call L. Ryan Davis. He has helped his clients recover the money they deserved for their injuries. 606.679.5571
- Who the drivers of the involved vehicles were?
- Get the address(es) of the driver(s)
- Did the the driver(s) appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs? (Make note of who and why you feel they were as well as anyone else who observed the same thing)
- Were there any other passengers in the vehicles? Make note of their names and addresses!
- Were any bystanders involved in the accident? Make note of their names and addresses!
- Did anyone say? “I’m not hurt”. Make note of who.
- What was the actual location of the accident?
- If there were any other witnesses to the accident (other than those involved), get their names, addresses, and telephone numbers.
- What direction were the vehicles involved traveling just prior to the accident?
- Was anything noticeably “wrong” with the vehicle(s) before the accident, such as driving with a broken headlight at night, a cracked windshield, etc.?
- Did any damage occur to the vehicles as a result of the accident? Take pictures at the scene if you have a camera or cameraphone.
- How did the accident occur?
- Did anyone accept responsibility for the accident, such as by indicating they were to blame. Be sure to write down what they said.
The more information you can gather, the better chance we have of winning your case. As time passes, memory recall isn’t perfect and tends to fade and new versions of the accident are created. Putting the basic information down on paper helps later when liability for the accident begins to be examined.
- Police- It is extremely important that an accident report be filed in your case. You should immediately call 911.
- L. Ryan Davis- If you or someone was injured, it makes sense to call us BEFORE talking to anyone or signing anything!
- Your insurance company- Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to promptly report any auto accident. The failure to notify your insurance company, in a timely manner, could result in a loss of coverage for the accident. But, you should contact L. Ryan Davis before you go any further, and certainly before you give the insurance company permission to record your conversation.
If you suffer an injury, you may require immediate medical care and need rehabilitation for long afterwards. You may lose income. You may have sustained property damage to your vehicle and other property involved. You may need to rent a car. Depending on the seriousness, you may lose the ability to perform activities of normal daily living. You may endure pain and suffering. Your long term ability to earn income may be impaired or destroyed.
The law permits you to seek recovery after an accident to “make you whole again.” The central concept is that you should be compensated in a manner that, as best as the law can arrange, places you back in the same position as you were before the accident.
In addition to normal compensatory damages designed to make someone whole, in extreme cases, “punitive damages” compensation may be available if the injury was the result of someone else’s extremely reckless or irresponsible behavior.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits
Unless you have rejected the coverage in writing and have filed it with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, you are covered under Kentucky’s “No-Fault” law for complete payment of your medical bills, and for replacement services and/or lost wages up to a total of $200 per week, until your benefits are exhausted. Standard coverage provides for $10,000 in benefits to each person, although additional coverage may be purchased through your local agent. Payment of your medical bills by your own insurance carrier eliminates the need to argue with another company about who was at fault and will greatly reduce your chances of unpaid accounts showing up on your credit report. If you were not at fault in the accident, your own carrier will recover the money it has expended from the at-fault driver’s carrier at the conclusion of the claim. To open your PIP claim, contact your agent and ask for a PIP application.
Bodily Injury Coverage
The at-fault driver’s insurance policy provides coverage for the damages you sustain as a result of an auto accident. However, you don’t expect the defendant’s insurer to call and offer you a fair settlement; remember – the adjuster’s job is to take care of HIS insured, not you. In you’re injured, our job is to work for YOU, not the other guy. Since the adjuster is a professional working for the defendant driver, you need a professional working for you.
Uninsured and/or Underinsured Coverage
Most people cannot tell us what coverages they have purchased under their own policy, and you can be certain that no one will call and tell you that there may be coverage available to you if you are hit by an uninsured driver or by someone who doesn’t carry limits sufficient to compensate you for your damages (underinsured). Insurance policies have very strict requirements which must be adhered to in a timely manner in order for a claim to be processed. Unless you are familiar with your carrier’s requirements, your claim may be denied; not because it isn’t valid, but because some minor detail was overlooked. Again, this is where it pays to have the benefit of a professional on YOUR side. If you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, this could be your only source of compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as medical bills which may exceed your PIP coverage.
Health Insurance, Medicare and/or Medicaid
Medical bills may be paid by private health insurers, Medicare or Medicaid, and your medical providers may bill one of these without telling you that it is doing so. If your PIP benefits have been exhausted, these provide means of continuing your treatment without incurring a lot of medical bills. However, private health insurance companies may have a right to subrogate, meaning that you may have to pay back from a settlement all monies that health insurer has expended for treatment for injuries sustained in the automobile accident. Medicare and Medicaid must always be repaid in order to avoid losing your medical card and/or Social Security or SSI benefits you may be receiving. Again, having a team of professionals can make the difference in getting a fair settlement and getting a fair settlement which has to be divided with another agency.
A person is negligent when he/she fails to act like the “ordinary reasonable person”. How an ordinary reasonable person should act in a particular situation can be a gray area of the law. To determine whether, or not, a person has met his/her standard is often resolved by a jury after presenting the evidence and argument at a trial.
Comparative Negligence comes into play when both parties fail to reach the “ordinary reasonable person” standard. For example, one person was driving too fast in a patch of dense fog and the person whom he hit with his car failed to have his headlights on. In a situation where each party has some degree of negligence in causing an accident, the responsibility to the other person is reduced by one’s own degree of negligence. In the example provided, the party traveling too fast for the conditions may be determined to bear 60% of the negligence and the party driving without his vehicle lights on determined to bear 40% of the negligence. If the second person driving without their headlights on would have recovered $10,000, his recovery is reduced to $6,000 because of his 40% contributory negligence.
In modern society, the orderly transfer of risk between members of our society is accomplished through insurance. In exchange for a known loss (payment of an insurance premium), the risk of a large catastrophic loss (payment of thousands of dollars for damage to our person or property) is transferred to the insurance company by having an insurance policy.
In auto insurance, there is first party coverage and third party coverage. First party coverage covers you and your property (such as medical expenses, damage to your vehicle and the insurance company’s duty to defend you in the event that you are sued as the result of your operation of a vehicle, etc.). Third party coverage is for other people, whether passengers in your vehicle, or another vehicle involved in the accident. The coverage (and its exclusions) is set forth in your insurance policy. In exchange for the payment of a premium, the insurance company promises to provide compensation in the event of certain occurrences.
In determining what Liability Limits you should purchase, you need to consider the amount of exposure that you have. As a general rule, the more property and wealth you own, the greater your exposure is, and the greater the need for protection against claims from third parties. In Kentucky, the minimum policy limits allowable is 25/50, which means coverage of loss of up to $25,000 per person and up to $50,000 for all injuries, which occur in a single accident. Often the minimum liability limit is inadequate to protect all of your property and wealth. Increased limits, such as 100/300 or 300/500 are very common and can be purchased at modest additional cost to you.
Your vehicle itself can be covered in several different ways.
Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for loss to your vehicle due to certain causes (such as fire, theft, vandalism, and acts of nature).
Collision coverage covers damage to your vehicle in the event that it collides with another vehicle of object, often regardless of whom is at fault in the event of an accident.
Both comprehensive and collision coverage may be subject to a deductible; that is, damage to the vehicle must exceed the deductible amount before the insurance company will pay you for a covered loss. Deductibles for this coverage are available is various amounts, generally the greater the deductible, the lower the premium for the coverage.
Most insurance policies require Notice of Loss be provided to the insurance company. When you are involved in an accident, the terms of most insurance policies state that you must contact your insurance company and tell them about the accident. SHOULD YOU FAIL TO TELL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY ABOUT AN ACCIDENT IN A TIMELY MANNER, THE INSURANCE COMPANY MAY TRY TO DENY COVERAGE FOR THE OCCURRENCE.
After you have notified your insurance company of an accident, the policy will require you to cooperate with the insurance company. This means that you are required to allow the insurance company to hire an attorney or otherwise participate in the settlement and litigation of claims against you by third parties. This also protects you, as the insurance company will provide a defense for you in the event that you are sued as a result of your operation of a vehicle.
Once an insurance company has provided benefits to you, such as the repair of your vehicle under collision damage coverage, you must give the Subrogation Rights arising from the accident to the insurance company. This means that once your insurance company has “made you whole” after a loss, you must give your right to pursue negligent third parties for compensation to the insurance company. This enables the insurance company to be “made whole” for its payment to you by recovering damages from the negligent third party. In other words, if your insurance company pays you for damages incurred in an accident, which was not your fault, you give them the right to sue the party at fault, and you give up that right.
A wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the part of the defendant(s), and that the surviving dependents or next of kin are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
Under “common law” (the general legal principles passed from England to the United States over hundreds of years) this type of claim did not exist. It was reasoned that the claim died with the victim, and the surviving family members could not claim damages from the person who caused the victim’s death. To correct this injustice, the individual states have passed “wrongful death statutes” over the years, and some form of wrongful death claim action exists in all state jurisdictions today. While they all follow some general principles, each state jurisdiction is unique, since each state has drafted its own form of “wrongful death statute.”
If you believe you have a valid claim for the wrongful death of a family member, call L. Ryan Davis. We have helped our clients recover millions of dollars they deserved for injuries and wrongful death claims. 606.679.5571
In Kentucky, as in many other states, a “survival statute” preserves a victim’s cause of action against a defendant after the victim dies. The estate or surviving next of kin assume the victim’s cause of action against the defendant until the matter is settled or tried.
In contrast, a wrongful death claim is a new cause of action, which arises from the victim’s death, and is brought by the surviving next of kin or dependents of the deceased victim.
For example, John Smith, (married with two children) is injured in a severe automobile accident, caused by the negligence of Defendant. John Smith is hospitalized and sues the Defendant. Before John’s case is heard, he dies as a result of the injuries sustained in the auto accident. John Smith’s surviving spouse or next of kin may “step in” and pursue John’s claim against the defendant. The surviving spouse and children may also be able to pursue a separate wrongful death claim against the Defendant for their damages incurred in John’s death. While these claims are separate, they are frequently consolidated together by the court before trial.
Generally, the death was caused, in whole or part, by the conduct of a defendant who was negligent, or strictly liable, for victim’s death and there is a surviving spouse, children, or other next of kin and monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death.
Generally immediate family members (i.e. spouses, children and parents) can pursue a wrongful death claim.
A claim, even a valid claim, may be denied if it is filed after the statute of limitation has run out. If you believe you have a valid claim for wrongful death, it is important that you call L. Ryan Davis at your earliest opportunity to preserve your rights. In addition to protecting your claim in court, early filing may be absolutely necessary to preserve evidence, locate witnesses, or to get the proper parties before the court that we may need to win your case.
The following damages may be recovered in a wrongful death action in Kentucky:
- Funeral expenses are recoverable by victim’s estate.
- Destruction of victim’s earning power is recoverable by his estate.
- Loss of affection and companionship for a minor child is recoverable by the surviving parent.
- Loss of relationship of a parent is recoverable by the surviving minor children.
- Punitive damages in certain cases.
All accident/injury cases are taken on a “contingency” basis. This means that our fee is derived solely from a percentage taken from a settlement or jury award. For automobile injury cases this percentage is usually 33.3%. It can vary, however, in certain types of cases. At no time will you be billed for legal services. We don’t get paid unless you get paid.
We will advance all the costs of litigation. At no time will you be asked for money. We will collect their costs and our fee from the settlement or injury award.