A 49-year-old Bowling Green woman was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for causing a deadly car accident. The crash occurred when she struck a vehicle at a stop sign and killed the 24-year-old driver. The woman was found to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.26 percent hours after the crash. The driver’s BAC was more than three times the legal limit, 0.08 percent, that is permitted when operating a motor vehicle. The woman pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. In exchange for pleading guilty to manslaughter, the state agreed to reduce the initial charges of murder.
In one recent year, 724 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in Kentucky. In total, 158,171 accidents took place throughout the state in a year’s time, injuring more than 34,000. In other words, for every 128 people living in the state, one suffered injuries in a car accident.
Rear-end accidents:Rear-end accidents in Kentucky account for one-fifth of all motor vehicle accidents. However, they only represent 11 percent of fatalities resulting from traffic crashes. Rear-end accidents are frequently caused by tailgating or following too closely. Accidents occur when the front of one vehicle strikes the rear of another vehicle. In addition to tailgating, this type of accident is also commonly caused by speeding. Driving at excessive speeds reduces the time a driver has to perceive a roadway hazard, like a car suddenly stopping ahead. Further, speeding increases the distance required for a vehicle to come to a safe stop. Distracted driving commonly contributes to causing rear-end collisions.
Broadside collisions: Also known as angle-collisions or T-bone accidents, broadside collisions are the most prevalent type of vehicle accident in Kentucky. In 2018, broadside collisions represented 30.4 percent of all car accidents statewide, accounting for 41.2 percent of all traffic accident fatalities. Most often, these collisions occur in an intersection when one driver fails to yield the right-of-way to another. Broadside collisions pose an extreme risk of serious injury and fatality for occupants on the impacted side of the vehicle.
Sideswipe collisions:Sideswipe accidents account for nearly 20 percent of all accidents in Kentucky and about 4 percent of all accident fatalities. Sideswipe collisions involve the side of one vehicle striking the side of another. They’re often caused by improper lane changes. For instance, a driver may fail to ensure an adjacent lane is clear before quickly passing into it.
Head-on crashes: In 2018, about 3 percent of the car accidents in Kentucky were classified as head-on crashes. However, head-on crashes accounted for 35.6 percent of all accident fatalities in the state. Head-on collisions involve the front of one vehicle colliding with the front of another vehicle. Head-on crashes frequently result in death or serious injury. The forward motion of both vehicles coupled with their speed increases the intensity of the impact.
Single-vehicle crashes: Many accidents involve only one vehicle. Typically, a vehicle will collide with an object, animal, or even a pedestrian or bicyclist. In Kentucky, in 2018, 1,511 vehicles struck other objects. Another 1,024 accidents involved pedestrians. The majority of single-vehicle crashes, 3,073, involved a collision with a deer and only 332 involved a collision with a bicyclist.
Chain-reaction crashes: In contrast to single-vehicle crashes, chain-reaction crashes are those that involve three or more vehicles. Often, chain-reaction crashes are caused when the impact of two vehicles colliding causes one of the cars to strike a third vehicle. Pileups are a type of chain reaction crash occurring at highway speeds on the interstate. They typically involve a number of vehicles that cannot stop in time to avoid the initial crash. Pileups are particularly dangerous because a single vehicle may be involved in numerous consecutive collisions within a short time frame. In addition, accident victims may increase their risk of injury by exiting the vehicle while subsequent collisions are taking place.
Rollover crashes: Rollover crashes can happen in one of two ways. First, they may result from a vehicle colliding with an object or another vehicle, which creates an imbalance causing a rollover. Second, a rollover may result from losing control around a sharp curve, over-correcting mistakes, or running off the road. Vehicles with a high center of gravity, e.g. trucks, vans, or SUVs are especially at risk due to their inherent instability.
What Causes Car Accidents?
Many types of accidents exist, as do causes for crashes. Some of the most common causes include:
Distracted driving: A person driving at 55 miles per travels the length of a football field in only five seconds. While all distractions are dangerous, but texting and other cell phone use are among the most dangerous of driving distractions. It is not uncommon for drivers to take five seconds or more to read or reply to a text message while driving. While texting, a driver’s eyes are off the road, the mind is off driving, at least one hand is off the wheel. Some other common distractions include eating or drinking, visiting with other passengers, adjusting vehicle or stereo controls, and applying makeup. Drivers may also be distracted by external factors including billboards, people in other cars, or even previous accidents.
Alcohol impairment: In one recent year, alcohol-impaired drivers caused 4,736 collisions in Kentucky. Alcohol impairment contributed to 113 fatal collisions and 1,585 accidents involving injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one person dies in the United States every 48 minutes in an accident involving alcohol. Alcohol impairment causes significant reductions in the motor functioning required for the safe operation of a motor vehicle. The use of alcohol may decrease a driver’s ability to process information or to maintain one’s own lane of travel. In addition, alcohol can affect the ability to steer and brake effectively, respond to emergencies, and focus on the task of driving.
Speeding: In one recent year, 9,378 people died from accidents that were caused by speeding in the United States. As such, speeding is one of the most deadly driving behaviors. As mentioned, speeding reduces a driver’s reaction time and increases the distance required to stop a vehicle. Additionally, speeding prevents your vehicle’s protective features—such as the steel frame, seat belts, and airbags—from working effectively. Speeding is not only driving faster than the posted speed limit. Speeding also includes driving too fast for the conditions of the road. For example, in inclement weather or traffic congestion, it is likely hazardous to travel at the posted speed.
Fatigue: Extreme fatigue in drivers manifests many impairments similar to alcohol impairment. Fatigue may result in slower reaction times and the inability to maintain one’s lane. All drivers are at risk of fatigue without the appropriate amount of sleep each night. However, those at particular risk include long-haul truck drivers, shift workers, and individuals suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to briefly stop breathing numerous times during sleep, resulting in low quality sleep.
Failure to yield: Failure to yield includes running red lights and stop signs. In addition, turning onto a street from a parking lot or driveway without waiting for a sufficient gap in traffic also constitutes a failure to yield. A failure to yield is the most common cause of accidents occurring in intersections. Intersection accidents account for more than a quarter of all accidents in Kentucky.
Inclement weather: Rain, fog, and snow are driving hazards that may reduce visibility and create slick roads. Inclement weather can increase the risk of an accident.
Defective auto parts: Manufacturers and distributors of vehicle parts have the responsibility to ensure that those parts are safe for use by consumers. Some defective parts may result in accidents, including defective tail lights, turn signals, brake or steering systems, and tires.
What Types of Injuries Are Sustained in Car Accidents?
Every part of the body can be injured in an accident, depending on the circumstances. However, some injuries are more common than others and can be very severe. Common severe accident injuries include:
Traumatic brain injuries: Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. Mild brain injuries, commonly known as concussions, often heal after a few weeks. However, moderate and serious brain injuries may have lifelong impacts. Serious head trauma may result in the loss of skills one needs to manage day-to-day life. Brain injuries may cause impairment in mobility, memory, communication, regulation of emotions, vision, hearing, or even the sense of smell.
Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries are among the most serious injuries to incur in a car accident. Depending on the severity of the injury, spinal cord damage often results in death or permanent disability. Injuries to the spinal cord may cause paraplegia, which is loss of function and sensation in the legs, feet, and pelvis. Tetraplegia or quadriplegia causes a loss of function and sensation in the legs, feet, pelvis, torso, shoulders, neck, arms, and hands may also result from spinal cord injury. Spinal cord injuries are categorized as complete or incomplete. Complete injuries involve a total loss of function and sensation beneath the site of the injury. With incomplete injuries, the patient retains some sensation and function of the body beneath the site of the injury.
Internal damage: The internal organs are largely protected by the skeletal structure and skin. However, in a car accident, they may become injured due to broken ribs, or simply by the force of the impact. Internal damage is not always immediately obvious. Symptoms of internal bleeding may not present themselves until hours or even days after the accident.
Amputated limbs: Contact with sharp objects may amputate limbs during the accident. Alternatively, limbs may be surgically amputated to prevent infection and chronic pain if they are too damaged to save.
Broken bones: Broken bones are one of the most common injuries resulting from serious car accidents. Of particular concern are broken ribs, which can cause damage to internal organs, including the lungs.
Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries: Often regarded as a minor injury, whiplash can cause victims to experience chronic pain. Soft tissue injuries are common during accidents when bodies are jolted or slammed around in the cab of the car.
Burns: Burns in a car accident can result from airbag deployment, contact with caustic chemicals, and vehicle fires. Car accidents account for only about 5 percent of all burn injuries. Burns suffered in motor vehicle accidents can cause extensive hospitalization, scarring, disfigurement, and complications, including infection or difficulty breathing.
How Does a Serious Car Accident Injury Derail a Person’s Life?
Car accident injuries can have a profound impact on victims as well as their families’ quality of life. Undoubtedly, victims with serious injuries will endure costs associated with extensive medical expenses. In addition, suffers may also endure:
Permanent disability, resulting in lost wages and loss of future earnings.
The need for home modifications to accommodate the injuries.
The need for assistive equipment, such as a wheelchair, crutches, or vehicle modifications.
Loss of the ability to do activities that were previously enjoyed.
Severe pain and emotional distress.
Psychological issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Impacts on an individual’s intimate relationship with his or her spouse.
Feelings of humiliation or isolation due to not being able to participate in social functions.
Call Flora Templeton Stuart’s Kentucky Car Accident Attorneys Today
If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness in Kentucky, you may be entitled to compensation. Injured parties may recover expenses and losses they endured as a result of the accident. Contact us or call (888) 782-9090 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Kentucky car accident attorneys.
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