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Kentucky Semi-Truck Accident Guide 2024

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Kentucky Semi-Truck Accident Guide 2024

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The U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released their 2021 Key Findings regarding large truck accidents. The report found that 5,788 people were killed in the U.S. from traffic crashes involving large trucks. This was a 17% increase from the previous year.

Semi-truck accidents can be devastating, often leading to severe injuries and significant financial losses. It can be extremely difficult to navigate your life after getting injured, let alone deal with the intricacies of Kentucky’s legal landscape. Morrin Law has provided you with a comprehensive guide to semi-truck accidents to help you through the unique challenges posed in these situations.

We’ll start by defining what constitutes a “commercial truck” and highlight the key differences from a standard passenger vehicle accident. From rear-end collisions to jackknife accidents, we’ll examine the diverse types of collisions involving semi-trucks and what factors cause them.

Moreover, we’ll provide data on semi-truck collisions specific to Kentucky, offering a comprehensive overview of the prevalence and impact of these accidents in the state. We’ve also outlined the rules, regulations, and process for filing a personal injury claim in Kentucky. From navigating insurance claims, potential legal hurdles, and filing within the statute of limitations, we’ll equip you with the knowledge needed to pursue fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

The most important aspect of filing an injury claim? Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who can represent your case.

Stay tuned as Morrin Law guides you through every step of the journey towards justice and the recovery your injuries deserve.

Table of Contents

How is a Commercial Truck Different from a Standard Passenger Car Accident?

Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, a commercial motor vehicle is defined as any self-propelled or towed vehicle that is used on the public highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:

  1. Has a gross vehicle weight of 10,000lbs or more;
  2. Is designed to transport more than 15 passengers including the driver; and/or
  3. Is used to transport hazardous materials.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reported 176,334 registered commercial trucks during 2021. Other common terms for commercial trucks include:

  • Semi-truck (used throughout this page)
  • Semi-trailer
  • Truck and trailer
  • “Semi”
  • Big rig
  • Tractor-trailer
  • Eighteen-wheeler
  • Truck

Example scenarios of a semi-truck collision can include:

  • Under-ride collision – When a passenger car ends up underneath the trailer of a semi-truck.
  • Jackknife collision – When a semi-truck brakes hard and suddenly, causing the trailer to swing out and potentially hit other vehicles while in a V- or L-shape.
  • Rollover collision – When a semi-truck driver loses control of their vehicle and causes it to roll over.
  • Blind spot collision – When another motor vehicle is in a semi-truck’s blind spot or “no-zone” where the semi-truck driver cannot see them.
  • Override collision – When a semi-truck is tailgating a passenger car and rides over them, often caused by tailgating.
  • Head-on collision – When a semi-truck collides with the front of another vehicle while driving in opposite directions.

In comparison to semi-trucks, standard passenger vehicles only have a registered weight of 6,000lbs or less. That means there’s at least 4,000lbs of extra machinery on a semi-truck. In instances of a collision, this can create an extremely dangerous outcome for the truck driver and other motorists on the road. Common injuries sustained in a semi-truck accident can include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Can occur from injuries to the head or brain caused by direct impact to the head, whiplash, or rapid acceleration or deceleration.
  • Back and neck: Injuries can range from minor discomfort in back and neck to dislocated or herniated discs.
  • Lacerations: Can occur in forceful impact collisions where debris or objects in the vehicle can cause the passengers deep cuts or tears in the skin.
  • Internal injuries: Can occur from powerful blunt trauma or impact that causes internal bleeding or other issues inside the passenger’s inner organs.
  • Amputation and disfigurement: Can occur in high-speed or high-impact collisions that cause severe damage to, or the removal of a body part.

Were you recently involved in a motor vehicle collision with a semi-truck that fits any of the above descriptions? If so, consider consulting the personal injury attorneys with Morrin Law Office.

Main Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) identifies that motor vehicle collisions are complex events. When looking at what caused a collision, FMCSA notes that there are usually two or more reasons that a crash occurred.

When coding crash causation variables, FMCSA breaks it down into critical events and critical reasons.

A critical event is the action or event that put the commercial truck on a course that made a collision unavoidable. The three major types of critical events for commercial truck collisions include:

  1. Running out of the travel lane (whether into another lane or off-road);
  2. Losing control of the vehicle (due to too-fast conditions, shift in cargo, vehicle system failure, or poor road conditions); or
  3. Colliding with the rear end of another vehicle in the commercial truck’s travel lane.

A critical reason is the immediate cause of the collision. The four categories of driver critical reasons include:

  1. Non-performance – Driver fell asleep, was disabled by a medical condition such as a seizure or heart attack or was physically impaired.
  2. Recognition – Driver was inattentive, became distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately.
  3. Decision – Driver was operating the semi-truck too fast for the conditions, misjudged the speed of other motor vehicles on the road, or followed too closely behind other vehicles.
  4. Performance – Driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.

Further, the elements that influenced such collision may have occurred in that moment, or even hours, days, or months prior to the crash. This can include errors in driver training or the vehicle’s design or manufacturing. Elements that take place immediately before a collision can include weather conditions, lack of attention, or making a quick decision to turn in traffic.

The major factors that are likely to increase the risk of a commercial truck collision include fatigue, speeding, or being under the influence of alcohol.

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Kentucky Semi-Truck Accident Data

Every year, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet releases a Traffic Collision Report to highlight the different types of collisions that occurred.

In its 2021 Collision Report, there were a total of 196,738 reported collisions in Kentucky. The 2021 data provides the following information:

  • Total semi-trucks registered in KY during 2021: 176,334
  • Total number of semi-trucks involved in all collisions: 10,105
  • Total number of semi-trucks involved in fatal collisions: 129
  • Total percentage of semi-trucks involved collisions: 5% of vehicles in all collisions, but 10% of fatal collisions

A contributing factor is something that causes a specific result. In terms of truck collisions, this can refer to any act that led to the accident. Many factors and conditions can contribute to collisions, including factors from the vehicle or factors from the driver. Police officers may indicate up to three driver factors for each driver, two vehicular factors for each vehicle, and up to two environmental factors for each collision.

During 2021, there were 694 truck related factors that contributed to reported truck collisions in Kentucky. Out of those, 79 contributed to non-fatal injuries and 16 in fatal injuries. The following table provides the truck-related contributing factors for all semi-truck collisions, collisions resulting in injury, and fatal truck collisions:

Contributing Vehicle Factors All Collisions Nonfatal Injury Collisions Fatal Collisions
Defective Brakes 65 12 3
Defective Headlights 2
Other Lighting Defects 22 5
Steering Failure 26 2 1
Tire Failure 102 14 2
Tow Hitch Failure 41 2
Overload/Improper Load 7 1 1
Oversized Load 38 3 1
Load Securement 138 6 2
Other 253 34 6

 

In some instances, the truck driver’s actions may have caused or contributed to the collision. The following lists the driver contributing factors for semi-truck collisions in Kentucky during 2021:

Driver Contributing Factors All Truck Collisions Fatal Truck Collisions
Alcohol Involvement 119 8
Cell Phone Use 32 1
Disregarded Traffic Control 192 7
Distraction 234 4
Drug Involvement 76 7
Emotional 23 1
Exceeded Speed Limit 70 6
Failed to Yield Right of Way 792 10
Fatigue 60 2
Fell Asleep 110 0
Following Too Close 357 2
Improper Backing 160 0
Improper Passing 153 2
Inattention 3,107 31
Lost Consciousness/Fainted 32 3
Medication 6 0
Misjudged Clearance 1,762 3
Not Under Proper Control 1,394 34
Overcorrecting/Oversteering 170 5
Physical Disability 12 1
Sick 12 0
Too Fast for Conditions 271 13
Turning Improperly 135 1
Weaving in Traffic 26 1

 

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), hazardous materials are any materials designated by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation that pose an unreasonable threat to the public. This includes:

  1. Hazardous substances;
  2. Hazardous wastes;
  3. Marine pollutants;
  4. Elevated temperature material;
  5. Any other materials identified in 101 or meeting the definitions in Part 173.

In 2021, there were 150 reported truck collisions in Kentucky that involved hazardous cargo. Out of those, 32 incidents resulted in injuries, and 2 incidents resulted in fatal collisions.

The state of Kentucky has identified its rising concern for motor vehicle accidents involving semi-trucks. During 2022, the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC) ranked Kentucky as the 10th deadliest state for semi-truck related accidents.

So, what options do you have if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck?

Any person involved in a motor vehicle accident in Kentucky should be aware of the legal consequences and options the state offers to individuals injured in the collision.

No-Fault State: Kentucky is considered a no-fault state, which means injured parties would initially receive compensation through their own insurance company. An individual’s personal injury protection policy (PIP) should cover any medical bills, lost wages, or other expenses that resulted from the collision. Provided by Kentucky’s Department of Insurance, standard PIP covers up to $10,000 per person per accident for any “out of pocket” costs due to the injury.

However, if the extent of injuries and expenses exceed the PIP, the injured person can file a lawsuit to seek additional compensation from the person or party responsible for the collision. To file a claim for personal injury in Kentucky, you must first determine liability and fault.

How to Prove Fault in a Semi-Truck Accident

Proving fault in a commercial truck accident can be a complex process. First, the injured person must establish what caused the collision. Depending on the circumstances of the collision, the defendant(s) in a semi-truck personal injury claim can include the following:

  • The semi-truck driver;
  • The semi-truck owner;
  • The trucking company who employed the driver;
  • The semi-truck’s insurance company;
  • The semi-truck’s manufacturer; or
  • The shipping company who was responsible for loading cargo into the semi-truck.

To help establish fault, the injured person should consider hiring a personal injury attorney to represent their case. The attorneys with Morrin Law can conduct an in-depth investigation into the surrounding circumstances. We can reconstruct the accident scene and review evidence that may be valuable to your case, including:

  • The semi-truck driver’s logbook;
  • The semi-truck driver’s training in compliance with the trucking company;
  • Video monitoring or recording from inside the semi-truck;
  • The semi-truck maintenance records; and
  • The semi-truck driver’s records pertaining to drug and alcohol use.

How Do Personal Injury Claims Work Against a Semi-Truck Driver/Company?

Comparative negligence: An important legal aspect of motor vehicles collisions in Kentucky is comparative negligence. The state maintains that the actions of all parties involved in a motor vehicle wreck should be considered for litigation purposes. That means a driver who did not cause the collision but contributed to it in some way—let’s say, if police determine the other vehicle could have avoided or prevented the semi-truck’s collision—the degree of comparative negligence will be used to reduce the final settlement by the same percentage.

If you choose to file a personal injury claim for injuries sustained in a semi-truck collision, Morrin Law can help guide you through the process, such as:

  • Investigation – Immediately following a collision involving a commercial truck, you should document certain information for the claim. This includes an examination of the collision site, documentation of the other vehicle(s) involved, images or videos of the wreck or resulting damage, and any available witness statements. Morrin Law can assist you with the investigative methods for determining fault.
  • Claim filing – Once fault is determined, Morrin Law can assist you in filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The claim should detail any injuries caused by the collision, the resulting medical treatment, and other accounted losses that arose from the incident.
  • Negotiation – The insurance company must review the personal injury claim before offering a settlement. This is part of the process where having legal representation is incredibly helpful. Insurance companies are known to be extremely harsh in these scenarios, often playing down the extent of your injuries. They may offer you much less than you deserve. If you believe the insurance company’s offer is insufficient, Morrin Law can help you negotiate for a more reasonable outcome.
  • Lawsuit – In cases where a settlement cannot be reached through the negotiation stage, an attorney with Morrin Law can help you file a lawsuit. It’s possible that the case can go to trial, where a jury will decide on fault and the awarded amount of compensation, if granted.

Morrin Law Office is knowledgeable and experienced in representing those who were injured in unexpected collisions with semi-trucks. When you hire our personal injury attorneys to represent your case, we will help you through every step of the way.

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Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering After a Semi-Truck Accident?

The short answer is yes, in certain cases. Pain and suffering fall under non-economic damages.

Under KRS 304.39-060, in order to recover medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering from a motor vehicle accident, the injuries must have exceeded a certain threshold. This includes:

  • Medical expenses over $1,000;
  • Broken bone(s);
  • Permanent injury;
  • Permanent disfigurement; or
  • Wrongful death.

To prove the non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, a personal injury attorney can help in the discovery process to obtain documenting support such as medical records, psychiatric records, police records, photographs or video evidence of the crash site, witness testimony, and proof of economic loss.

A Kentucky personal injury attorney can help you recover the following damages that resulted from a commercial truck collision:

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses;
  • Lost earnings;
  • Future projected lost wages;
  • Property damage to the vehicle;
  • Cost of vehicle replacement;
  • Pain and suffering; and/or
  • Funeral and burial costs in a wrongful death suit.

Do Some Attorneys Specialize in Semi-Truck Accidents?

Yes! Given the complexities and severity often associated with such accidents, legal professionals often choose to focus their practice on this niche area of law.

Morrin Law is a personal injury firm that works on behalf of drivers involved in accidents involving semi-trucks in Kentucky each and every day. Our attorneys who focus on semi-truck accidents possess in-depth knowledge of the unique regulations, industry standards, and insurance intricacies that pertain to these cases. We can provide insight into the nuances of trucking regulations like driver qualifications and maintenance requirements, both which can be crucial details in a personal injury case.

Why is Choosing the Right Truck Accident Attorney Important?

Choosing the right attorney in a personal injury case makes all the difference for the case’s potential outcome.

There are several reasons why securing the right legal counsel is crucial for truck accidents. First, commercial truck collisions can involve multiple at-fault parties, including third-party entities. A personal injury attorney with experience in trucking accidents can help you navigate these complexities effectively.

Secondly, collisions involving commercial trucks often result in extremely severe injuries or death. It’s important to collaborate with a lawyer who understands the full extent of your damages and how to pursue maximum compensation.

Additionally, the trucking company and their insurance agencies will be working with their own legal teams to try and minimize their fault or compensation payout. Given the circumstances, it is essential that you have a skilled and knowledgeable legal advocate who can negotiate on your behalf.

How Soon Should You Contact a Semi-Truck Accident Attorney?

Any person recently injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a semi-truck should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Kentucky’s legal procedures for personal injury claims require a thorough understanding to ensure a proper and timely file. Morrin Law stresses the importance of Kentucky’s Statute of Limitations regarding car accident injuries:

  • You have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim for a collision involving a semi-truck. If you did not know the extent of your injuries until after the accident, you are also provided two years from the date of the discovered injury to file a personal injury claim.

You should be aware of the implications that can arise in delaying a personal injury claim. As we mentioned above, personal injury claims require specific documentation outlining the extent of the claimant’s injuries. By waiting to file or obtaining legal representation, you run the risk of losing invaluable evidence that supports your claim. Failure to file within the statue of limitations can result in the loss of your right to pursue legal action.

Take the initiative-taking choice and reach out to a Kentucky Semi-Truck accident attorney today.

Contact the Commercial Truck Personal Injury Attorneys with Morrin Law

If you’ve been injured at the hands of another person or company’s negligence, you should not be held responsible for any resulting damages. It is already hard enough to go through the physical pain of an injury, on top of the mental anguish that may come with missing work or piling medical bills. If you’ve recently been injured by a semi-truck collision, consider hiring a personal injury attorney with Morrin Law.

Our personal injury attorneys have the knowledge and legal insight to accurately represent your case. We understand the ins and outs of litigation in Kentucky and can take on the bulk of the work by negotiating with insurance companies and the at-fault party on your behalf. If your case requires going to trial, our attorneys will fight to ensure that you receive fair compensation to support your injuries.

Contact the office of Morrin Law Office today at (859) 358-0300 to receive a free case evaluation to go over the details of your Kentucky semi-truck accident. Our firm works on a contingency basis, so we only win when you do!

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Given the sheer size and weight of a commercial truck, it is no surprise that they can cause extensive damage and injuries to those involved in a truck collision. You may be facing long-term injuries that require extensive time and money. This is where a personal injury claim can benefit those who have become victims of a truck accident. If you file a personal injury claim in Kentucky and it is successful, you may be able to receive compensation for any past, present, or future damage caused by the collision.

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Funeral expenses for wrongful death; or
  • Any other accident-related expenses.

It is important to first consult with a personal injury attorney when filing a claim. An experienced attorney can review your case to help determine your injuries and the impact it has caused on your life.

File a Truck Accident Injury Claim

The attorneys at Morrin Law Office can provide legal guidance throughout the investigation, analysis, and litigation process. Receive a free consultation today when you call (859) 358-0300.