Truck accident deaths, like any other motor vehicle accident that causes a death, must be thoroughly investigated in Louisville, Kentucky and if there is reason to believe that a truck driver was at fault due to gross negligence through a criminal act, such as driving under the influence of an illegal substance or exceeding limits of legal substances or speed for example, it is possible a party could be charged with murder. Seeking qualified legal professionals directly after the accident is imperative for best outcomes with criminal and civil cases of law in this instance.
A recent case from December 2018, illustrates a situation where murder charges were brought after a truck accident took the life of Detective Deidre Mengedoht during a traffic stop when she was struck by a semi-truck causing her vehicle to burst into flames where she was trapped. The truck was driven by 60-year-old Roger Burdette who was driving under the influence and charged with murder.
Hiring a legal professional to assist with the burden of collecting and analyzing the data related to your case is a viable solution to this overwhelming task if you are an accident victim who sustained damages caused by a truck driver. Accidents may be caused by one driver, several drivers, road conditions, weather, natural or other causes. Determining the percentage of fault is a matter for those who have reviewed police reports, witness reports, car damages, roadway marks and other factors present at the time of the accident. Determining charges based upon acts of negligence that caused the truck-involved accident is a matter for the law enforcement agencies. For example, in the case of wrongful death that was caused by criminal actions such as being under the influence of an illegal narcotic, there may be criminal actions placed upon truck drivers in that situation, along with civil actions.
The United States Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Administration announced in October 2018 that 2017 highway fatality numbers are down compared to the two years prior, but still estimates over 500,000 truck accidents every year, of which 81% occur in multi-vehicle crash situations. Every 16 minutes a person is injured or killed from a truck accident. Most of the time the truck accident is caused by a passenger vehicle and approximately 16% of the time the fault falls with the driver of the truck. Kentucky state data from 2017 calculating fatal accidents involving trucks revealed 258 people were killed including 126 from accidents with light pick-up trucks, 90 from utility truck accidents, 32 from utility van accidents, and 10 of those fatalities occurring from large truck accidents.
Trucks fall into two classes, those weighing 10,000 pounds or less, and those weighing more than 10,000 pounds which may move them to the Commercial Motor Vehicle category and change some of the laws and damages to be sought after in personal injury and wrongful death claims. The size of a truck causes more damage than that of a passenger-sized vehicle and is accounted for in formal settlements between parties. Most deaths caused in large truck crashes are people in passenger vehicles due to their vulnerability based on the extreme size and weight difference where trucks often weigh as much as 20-30 times more than cars. Due to the increased load and weight on trucks, the braking ability is also compromised under emergent braking conditions.
The basis for most civil lawsuits is negligence, and settlements are based on the degree of fault exhibited to cause the injuries sustained. Negligence laws are established at the state level. Kentucky is a “pure comparative fault” state, and follows K.R.S. § 411.182, whereby damages between negligent parties in an injury claim are proportionate to their share of fault. Under a comparative fault system, the plaintiff’s negligence will not bar them from some type of recovery. The pure comparative fault rule allows a damaged party recovery even if the incident is 99% their fault. When an individual fails to exercise the degree of care expected of a reasonable person, and it results in an injury, it is called “negligence.”
What should I do if I am involved in a truck accident in Louisville, Kentucky?
- If you are able, check on the condition of the people involved in the accident;
- Call the police or emergency responders if needed;
- Get a written accident report;
- Remain at the accident scene;
- Exchange driver and insurance information;
- Get witness contact information;
- Call your insurance company to set up a claim;
- Seek out medical treatment if necessary;
- Take pictures of the scene, and the vehicle damages;
- If the truck is a Commercial Vehicle, get State Trooper report;
- Call an accident attorney to determine “fault” and actions toward a proceeding to address damages and injuries sustained.
If a truck falls in the Commercial Motor Vehicle Category, additional reports will have to be completed and filed along with a crash report in accordance with Kentucky law.