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Chain Reaction Automobile Wrecks

            It is terrifying to watch a wreck unfold before you, and know that you will be caught up in it. Many times, while stopped in traffic on interstate exits you can’t move forward because of stopped traffic. Traffic on the through lanes moves past you at highway speeds, while you inch forward, waiting for your lane to start moving again. I recently had several clients come to me who had been in this position, and watched an inattentive driver behind them shift from the through lanes into their lane and strike the driver behind them, driving them into the vehicle in front of them.

These chain reaction automobile wrecks present complicated questions of liability.Kentucky law obligates drivers to have their vehicle under control, and to leave sufficient space between them and vehicles in front of them so that they will not strike that vehicle. Generally, this duty applies when driving in traffic. If a driver leaves sufficient space between their vehicle and the car in front of them so they can stop if the front vehicle suddenly stops, the following driver has met his legal burden. In stop and go traffic, however, few drivers leave more than a car length between their stopped vehicle and the one they are following. They are still complying with the general duty imposed on everyone of “a reasonable person exercising ordinary care under similar circumstances.” If you exercise ordinary care in stopped traffic few people would believe you should leave more than a car length of space between your vehicles. This distance is not, however, sufficient to stop before you are pushed into other stopped cars, if you are struck from behind at normal traffic speeds. You have little ability to avoid the wreck, no room to maneuver, and you will then be subjected to two different collisions, the first when you are struck from behind, and the second when you hit the car in front of you. The split second it takes for your car to travel forward one car length at 35 miles per hour does not give your body time to react, time to brace, and muscles and ligaments that were hyper-extended by the first collision are further harmed by the sudden stop, when your car hits the stopped vehicle in front.

Wrecks of this sort are often the fault of the first vehicle, and seldom will the stopped cars be held responsible for the resulting injuries. If you were injured in a chain reaction wreck, contact an attorney as soon as possible, so your rights can be protected and you can receive the compensation you deserve.

Richard Head © 2017

What should you do if your accident was caused by a drunk driver.

We all have seen drunk drivers on the roadway, swerving in traffic, crossing the fog line, driving too slow, driving too fast. When we come upon them as we travel down the road, we pray that we will be able to avoid them if they come into our lane of traffic. We see people in wrecks, and our heart goes out to them. This post is about what you should do if it happens to you.

If you are driving, and see someone who seems impaired, use your cell phone and call the police. describe the vehicle, its direction of travel, its location by mile marker, its speed, and why it causes you concern. Do not try to pass a drunk driver, it increases the chance you will be hurt. If you can continue to follow the car so you can advise the police of his location.

If you are unlucky enough to be involved in a wreck with a drunk driver, and have the ability to do so, immediately call the police. Give them the location of the wreck. take as many photographs as you can of the vehicles, including the license plate of the other vehicle. If you have the capability to do so, record your conversation with the other driver.  A video record of the conversation will be important evidence of intoxication, impairment, and of any statements the driver makes at the scene. Do not engage in a confrontation, and don’t make a bad event worse.

After the police officer arrives, provide your recording to the officer. explain the facts and tell him of any statements made by the intoxicated driver, what you observed about his or her demeanor, and anything you believe is relevant to a determination of the reason why the wreck occurred.

Immediately following the wreck, contact an experienced lawyer who will help you recover for your injuries. Kentucky law allows a recovery for such injuries when caused by a drunk driver, including, in some cases, recovery of punitive damages. you deserve to be compensated for your work loss, pain, suffering, and any permanent harm you experience as a result of another persons violation of the law. Don’t let someone harm you, and bear the loss yourself, call your attorney as soon as possible.

 

AFTER A WRECK

In 2010 I was in a wreck myself, I was struck by a semi-tractor trailer. It certainly was not the right time to begin deciding on what to do, or what action to take. I honestly did not believe I was hurt, and told the investigating officer I was not injured. My car was a total loss, my daughter picked me up, and I went home, fully expecting that i would be sore for a few days and then get over it. I stayed on the sofa for about 5 days, and only then went to the doctor. Ultimately, I had surgery on my neck, fusion at two levels, and a disk removed. What should I have done differently?

  1. I am not a doctor, I should have immediately made an appointment with one, and been checked out, even if I believed I only had minor bruising. If there is an ambulance called to the scene, (which there was not), I could have been checked by them. I could have gone to the emergency room, explained my symptoms, and been treated.
  2. I should have taken pictures at the scene. Photos showing gouge marks in the roadway are important evidence. Photos showing the position of vehicles cannot be re-created later. These too are important evidence, and cannot be re-created later.
  3. I should have gotten the information of witnesses present at the scene, their version of what they saw, who hit who, where their vehicle was located, and what they saw happen. Unbelievably witnesses are often at the scene, and no one gets their contact information. Get their phone numbers.
  4. I should have called my insurance carrier. I didn’t because I didn’t anticipate making a claim. You should always call your carrier, so they can begin gathering information if necessary.
  5. I should have gotten a copy of the insurance information from the other driver. You can take a picture of their insurance card with your cell phone, and then you have their policy number if you need it.
  6. I should have taken a picture of the other driver. If he isn’t wearing glasses when he exits the vehicle, but he has a restriction on his license, it might help prove what happened.
  7. I should have gotten the investigating officer’s information. In Kentucky, after a wreck, the police officer who investigates the accident will do a report that a lawyer can purchase for $10.00. In order to do so, it is useful to have the officer’s name, the department he is employed by, his badge number, and the code he writes on the card he will give you. If you lose the card, but have the other information, you can usually get the copy of the accident report without much trouble.
  8. I should have had my proof of insurance card and my registration on top in my glove box. When the police officer shows up, he will always ask for this information first. Having it handy makes it easier to find, and that is a good thing, when you are upset, and have adrenaline coursing through your veins.
  9. I should have made notes for myself of everything I saw happen, how it happened, and what caused it. This is what lawyers call “past recollection recorded” and writing it down in close proximity to the event may result in it being admissible evidence at trial.

I am a lawyer practicing in Louisville, Kentucky. I live in Shelby County, Kentucky, and drive Interstate 64 daily. I see automobile wrecks, and the devastation they cause. I represent people injured in these wrecks. If you would like to meet with me for a no obligation first meeting, give me a call. My number is on this website.