Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

GM announced yesterday that nearly 3.4 million more vehicles will be recalled in light of its review of ignition switch issues following the first set of recalls affecting 2.6 million cars earlier this year. This move brings the total number of vehicles recalled by GM this year over 20 million.

GM admitted in February that its engineers first knew of the ignition switch issues as early as 2004, leading to an investigation into the nearly 11-year delay in recalling the faulty vehicles. Less than two weeks ago, GM announced its decision to dismiss 15 employees, and to discipline 5 additional employees, in wake of the three-month investigation by former federal prosecutor Anton Valuka. While Valuka’s report did not reveal a conspiracy by the corporation to cover up relevant facts over the 11 year delay, it did point to “a pattern of incompetence and neglect” throughout the company, especially in regards to the 20 employees the report found to be the most at fault.

At least thirteen deaths have been attributed to the faulty ignition switch, which can fall out of the “run” position while the vehicle is in operation, shutting down crucial safety features such as airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has indicated that the number may, in fact, be much higher.

The company’s CEO, Mary Barra, has said that GM will voluntarily create a program to compensate those who have suffered injuries or death due to the defective cars, but she has not indicated how large that fund may be. According to GM president Dan Ammann, compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg will be in charge of determining who is eligible and to what extent. Feinberg will also be responsible for determining whether there have been more than 13 deaths caused by the defect.

GM is set to start accepting claims on August 1. Bahe, Cook, Cantley & Nefzger, PLC is currently seeking damages for a client who sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by the faulty ignition and air bag deployment. We are also currently reviewing and accepting more of these claims.

Three passenger vehicles and two commercial vehicles were involved in a crash on I-71 in Oldham County, just north of the Jefferson County line, on Tuesday morning. According to Major Jimmie Laytham Jr. of the Oldham County Police Department, 48-year-old Sherri Bray of Pendleton, the driver of one of the passenger vehicles was killed in the crash when a box truck hit her sedan from behind, forcing it under the rear of a semi-truck. Initial investigation has indicated that traffic was slowing or stopped due to road work when the box truck failed to come to a complete stop. Three other people were transported to the hospital for injuries that were considered non-life threatening.

Southbound lanes at the location of the accident were closed well into Tuesday evening, allowing police to thoroughly investigate the scene. Investigators stated that there was no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved and that no criminal charges will be filed. Although traffic due to road construction was likely a factor, it is important to remember that drivers must adjust the operation of their vehicles accordingly. Lower rates of speed and heightened alertness are often necessary to comply with the appropriate standard of care.

If the driver of the box truck failed to operate their vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner given the road conditions, Bray’s estate could potentially have a wrongful death claim against that driver for hitting Bray’s car. KRS 411.130 allows for a party with a qualifying relationship with the deceased, such as a spouse or child, to hold the party who negligently or intentionally caused their loved one’s death liable for damages. Bray’s estate may similarly have an independent claim for negligence.

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Two vehicles were involved in an accident Friday evening when a pickup truck carrying four teenagers struck a stopped semi-truck off the side of Bluegrass Parkway. Witnesses stated that the pickup truck was drifting off into the left shoulder when it took a hard right into the back of the semi. The teens were returning from a basketball game across town when the accident occurred.

One of the teens was pronounced dead at the scene. A second, who had been airlifted to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, was pronounced dead after surgery. The driver and third passenger were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. The semi driver also was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

The Anderson County Coroner has stated that drugs and alcohol are not thought to be involved in the crash. Investigators are still trying to figure out the exact cause; while driver error is always a prime suspect, things like mechanical error and product defects should be considered and ruled out. In any event, with a serious accident such as this, a full investigation should be performed, including an accident reconstruction, in order to figure out just what went wrong. No doubt, the friends and family of the victims will have questions and want answers.

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26 year old Bobby Jones received fatal injuries when the vehicle he was driving was side swiped by a vehicle driven by 27 year old Richard Taylor. The vehicle then flipped onto its top and was struck again by a vehicle driven by 62 year old Frank Berry. Jones traveled on U.S. 25 northbound and Taylor traveled southbound. The Jones and Taylor vehicles made contact close to the intersection of Frogtown Road. The Berry vehicle traveled northbound on U.S. 25 as well and collided with the Jones vehicle after it flipped on its top. Additionally, the Jones vehicle then struck 30 year old Chelsie Ketron as a pedestrian as she attempted to render aid.

The details are sparse right now and it is unclear who is at fault for the accident. The investigating police department should be performing a full investigation, including an accident reconstruction, as a matter of routine in such a serious accident. While driver error is always a prime suspect, things like mechanical error and product defects should be considered and ruled out by the investigation.

Hopefully, those who survived make speedy recoveries and all involved get answers to the questions they will certainly have regarding how this occurred.

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A five month old Louisville girl, Avani Ingram, sustained fatal injuries when a pickup truck driven by James O’Bannon ran a stop sign and crashed into the van she was riding in, according to Louisville Metro Police Department. The accident happened at the intersection of 18th Street and Cedar Street. Two other passengers, teenagers Tameka White and Dasia Frazier, were also in the van and injured, as was Avani’s twin sister, LaNiya.

Mr. O’Bannon was driving on a suspended license from a prior DUI. He has been charged with murder, DUI, driving on a suspended license, first degree assault, wanton endangerment and driving without insurance.

This is obviously a tragic accident, and it may only be compounded if Mr. O’Bannon truly did not have insurance that would cover the harms and losses suffered. Uninsured motorist coverage is available in Kentucky and covers someone who is hit and hurt by an uninsured driver, but it is not mandatory coverage, only optional. Unfortunately, far too many Kentuckians drive without insurance and leave those they cause damage and injury to without a way of remedying it unless they protect themselves by purchasing this type of coverage.

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Alexandra Bush, 17, of Grayson, Kentucky and a senior at East Carter High School, sustained fatal injuries when she was ejected from the Chevrolet Blazer she was riding in. Paige, as she was known, was a passenger in the Blazer driven by 41 year old Carmel Maggard. He and another passenger sustained severe injuries.

The wreck happened when a car traveling westbound on U.S. 60 crossed over the centerline and crashed into the Blazer. The crash sent the Blazer into a barrier wall, and then into the westbound lane of traffic where it overturned and was struck again by another car.

Although it is early on, it appears that driver error by the westbound car’s operator may be the cause of the accident. There is no indication of other causes at this time or what exactly caused the car to cross the centerline. In any event, with a serious accident such as this, a full investigation should be performed, including an accident reconstruction, in order to figure out just what went wrong. No doubt, the friends and family of the victims will have questions and want answers.

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37 year old Felipe Mata Fiscaya suffered fatal injuries after falling down an elevator shaft at the CEMEX plant in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Mata Fiscaya worked as a contract laborer for a company based in Alabama. He was performing work at the plant.

Details are sparse right now. The facts and circumstances surrounding this incident could have a significant impact on how any legal claims coming from it proceed. More than likely, Mr. Mata Fiscaya’s surviving family members will have a workers’ compensation claim, if the incident happened while he was within the scope and course of his employment. A workers’ compensation claim for death due to work injuries covers any medical expenses and provides a death benefit to the surviving family members.

His surviving family members may also be able to bring a civil claim, if someone or something outside of the employer-employee relationship was responsible for his death. A wrongful death and survival action, if possible, would pursue any damages not allowable in a workers’ compensation claim, such as loss of consortium and physical pain and mental suffering, if any.

A full investigation is necessary in order to determine exactly what happened and how it happened. Only then will the surviving family members be able to determine what claims they may pursue.

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A fatal collision in the Cody community of Knott County left one teen dead and several others injured. The accident occurred on Wednesday afternoon at the Intersection of Highway 15 and Highway 160 when a vehicle operated by Jenny Watts, 18, pulled into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Watts was pronounced dead at the scene. An undetermined number of passengers in Watts’ vehicle and the driver of the other vehicle involved in the collision were all transported to Whitesburg ARH Hospital with reportedly non-life threatening injuries.
Although the accident continues to be investigated, it is possible that Watts may be at-fault due to pulling into the path of an incoming vehicle if it is determined that she did not have the right of way. If this is the case, both the injured passengers in Watts’ vehicle and the driver of the second vehicle involved in the collision may have grounds to bring a civil claim against the estate of Watts.

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A Lexington motorcyclist died of his injuries following an accident involving a Nissan Sentra. Although it is not clear which way or how fast the vehicles were driving, 22-year-old Isaac Sanchez of Lexington was driving a motorcycle near the intersection of South Main Street and Wilfred Avenue in Lexington when he collided with the Sentra.
Both Sanchez and the unidentified driver of the Sentra were transported to the UK Medical Center. Sanchez was later pronounced dead.
Lexington police continue to investigate the accident and no charges have been filed at this time.

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Two teens were killed and another injured following a T-bone collision in Woodford County over the weekend. According to Kentucky State Police, Destinee Barr, 18 of Shepherdsville, Ky. was operating a 2005 Kia on Ky. 341 when she came to a stop sign at the intersection of US 421. According to reports Barr failed to yield to a Dodge pick-up being operated by an unidentified driver. The Dodge truck T-boned Barr’s Kia on the driver’s side as she proceeded through the intersection.
Miranda Smith, 18, of Louisville and Marissa Elmore, 19, of Louisville, were passengers in Barr’s vehicle. Barr and Elmore were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and Smith was transported to University of Kentucky Hospital. She is reported to be in stable condition. The unidentified Chevy truck driver reportedly suffered only minor injuries.
Police report that they are still investigating the accident. While it may appear obvious that Barr is as fault since the truck driver had the right of way at the stop sign, an investigation is ongoing and could reveal other factors. It is possible that the driver of the truck may have been traveling at an excessive rate of speed or failed to mitigate the accident.

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