Kentucky gets its fair share of inclement weather during the winter months. Heavy rains flood the roads, hinder visibility, and make the roads slippery in places. In the case of snow, the conditions become even worse.
Drivers slipping and sliding along slick icy or snowy roads often results in car accidents. According to a recent study, Kentucky is the third most dangerous state for driving in the rain.
Winter weather doesn’t only complicate road conditions, though. It can also complicate the matter of liability in an accident case. When one driver hits another due to wet or icy roads, can they be held liable for the accident?
Negligence in Car Accident Cases
Drivers are responsible for behaving in a way that keeps themselves, and everyone around them, safe. When they fail to do so, they may be found negligent. If the courts agree that a driver behaved negligently, that driver is often then required to provide compensation to any of the accident victims for injuries resulting from the crash.
According to Kentucky Revised Statutes 277.320, the courts will also take into consideration whether or not another driver was partially responsible for the crash. This is the legal concept known as contributory negligence. Being partially at fault for an accident does not prevent an injured driver or passenger from receiving compensation; however, the insurance adjuster or a jury may assign a percentage of blame on both drivers and that percentage will be deducted from the total amount of compensation awarded for medical bills and future medical treatment.
Negligence and Winter Weather
Like in any accident case, law enforcement officials and insurance adjusters will determine who was at fault, or negligent, in cases that involve winter weather. It is quite possible they will find no one at fault. If the roads were incredibly slippery but both drivers were behaving reasonably, the cause of the accident may not have been the negligence of either.
It’s important that drivers remember, however, that winter weather does not provide immunity from negligence. Drivers are still expected to drive in a reasonable way that keeps everyone safe. While driving the speed limit may be reasonable behavior in the middle of summer, it’s not when streets are flooded, or when snow has made the roads very slippery. The courts will take the weather into consideration, but they will still consider a driver’s own actions and behaviors as the primary consideration. Drivers are expected to acknowledge dangerous weather conditions and adjust their driving behaviors accordingly.
For example, if a driver is following too closely to the vehicle in front of them and they cannot stop in time because of slick roads then the damage of the collision will be blamed on the driver that strikes another car from behind. When a car hits your vehicle from behind, it is almost always considered the rear driver’s fault. Rear end collisions, when a car hits you from behind, can cause severe whiplash and broken bones because another car approaching your car at high speeds from behind is not something most drivers would see.
Winter Weather Accidents and Insurance
Kentucky operates under no-fault auto insurance laws, which make it easier to get medical care but more complex to pursue and understand in other regards. Under the no-fault laws in Kentucky, every driver is required to first file a claim with their own insurance company in order to receive immediate medical care in the form of “basic reparation benefits” also known as “personal injury protection” (PIP) benefits. Each driver will receive a PIP claim number that they will submit to medical care providers to cover at least $10,000.00 of medical expenses, lost wages, and other necessary out-of-pocket expenses. This amount is usually reimbursed by the at-fault driver’s insurance. This process usually makes it easier to obtain immediate medical care.
However, most people in Kentucky purchase only the minimum amount of PIP insurance, $10,000.00, in order to keep their premiums slightly lower. PIP will not pay for pain and suffering and they won’t pay for future medical expenses or increased likelihood of complications. One reliable way to know if you should hire an injury professional is if you exhaust your PIP benefits.
Once the PIP benefits have been exhausted, and sometimes additional medical pay benefits, a Kentucky driver or passenger with serious injuries, such as a broken bone or broken bones or a brain injury, should then file an injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Because the liability insurance company will treat your claim with hostility, you should truly consider retaining professional representation at this stage of your claim before any mistakes are made that may be made by someone who doesn’t handle injury claims every day.
If you are able to obtain a policy limit payout from the liability insurance company then you should next review whether or not you or someone in your household had an active Under Insured Motorist (UIM) policy that you may file a claim against next, if the damages in your accident warrant such a claim.
Lastly, you should check for other potential insurance policies, such as any umbrella policies purchased by the at-fault driver, that may cover necessary medical costs and future treatments.
Contact a Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney Who Only Focuses on Kentucky Matters
Being involved in a car accident is always stressful. When winter weather and negligence are both factors in the case though, it complicates the process even more. A personal injury lawyer in Kentucky who handles serious injury claims every day can break the ice for an accident victim to make sure their past and future medical concerns are taken into account.
If you have a serious injury, or an injury that may end up being serious, then you should speak with a Kentucky injury professional who handles injury claims every day to determine whether or not you should file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Many don’t understand that if you hire THE RIGHT injury professional, they will help you receive the help you need without filing a lawsuit, when possible. Many are also unaware that an injury professional can increase an injury claim’s eventual payout by 350%.
A personal injury professional can provide the necessary help to get the necessary compensation to cover medical bills and the expensive cost of treatment to anyone injured after a car accident. In order to get it though, the injured party will have to prove that another driver was negligent. Proving this can be difficult, especially if you don’t do this every day. Additionally, the insurance company will almost always offer a very low first offer. But, how do you know whether or not their best offer is a reasonable offer that covers all the future considerations of your serious injury? An injury professional who handles these types of matters every day should be able to review the past 20 years of jury verdicts involving injuries similar to yours.
If you have been involved in a car accident this winter and you believe someone else is at fault, contact the Morrin Law Office at (859) 358-0300. We’ll help you get any compensation you deserve so you can get back to living your best life as soon as possible.