December 2011 Archives

December 21, 2011

Fatal Indiana and Kentucky Bridge Car Accident Caused by Seizure

A Louisville, Kentucky man was killed in a car accident on the Clark Memorial Bridge between Indiana and Kentucky on December 2, 2011. He was hit head-on by another vehicle headed in the opposite direction. The driver of the pickup truck that caused the accident was not intoxicated, did not fall asleep behind the wheel, and was not distracted by a cell phone or car radio. According to an eye witness, the driver of the pickup truck appeared to be having a seizure when the accident occurred. The passenger in the truck attempted to keep it out of incoming traffic but was unable to do so. Who is at fault when an accident occurs as a result of a medical condition? Can the passenger be held liable for the accident? Both of these questions arise in this accident.

A few days after the accident, the eyewitness account that the driver had a seizure was confirmed. The Courier-Journal reported that he was on medication for epilepsy, a condition that causes a person to have seizures. While the thought of someone who might have a seizure driving a vehicle may be frightening, it is not illegal. Kentucky law states an individual who is certified by a doctor to have been seizure-free for 90 days can apply for a driver's license. The Kentucky Medical Review Board will review the application and most likely interview the applicant before deciding whether the individual can drive. If the individual is given a license, he must continue to be monitored by his physician and report any seizures that occur. There are several ways that the medical review board can become aware of a person's potential inability to drive, as shown in this excerpt from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet:

  • If the driver has indicated that he has "blacked out", lost consciousness or suffered a seizure prior to a reportable motor vehicle accident;

  • If the driver has been reported by a physician as being incapable of driving safely due to a physical or mental condition, or due to medication prescribed for an extended period of time;

  • If the driver has been reported by a law enforcement officer after being observed driving or behaving in an erratic or dangerous manner which indicates the possibility of a physical or mental impairment;

  • If the driver's official record kept by the Transportation Cabinet indicates a possibility of a physical or mental impairment;

  • If the driver has reported that he suffered an epileptic seizure or any type of syncopal episode;

  • If the driver has been reported by a commonwealth attorney, county attorney, county clerk, circuit clerk, sheriff or judge as being incapable of driving due to a physical or mental impairment.

  • If the driver has been named in an affidavit by at least two citizens as being incapable of properly operating a motor vehicle due to a physical or mental impairment.

  • Continue reading "Fatal Indiana and Kentucky Bridge Car Accident Caused by Seizure" »

December 12, 2011

Ice Causing Accidents Already on Kentucky Roadways

929304_icy_conditions_1.jpgOn the last day of November, a Hopkinsville, Kentucky car accident took the life of a woman who was riding in a pickup truck driven by her husband. According to an eye witness, the truck was not speeding, but it appeared to hit a patch of black ice on a bridge. The truck slid into a guard rail on the other side of KY 1682 bypass, went over the rail and down an embankment. The passenger side of the truck ran into a tree at the bottom of the embankment, causing the death of the passenger and multiple injuries to the driver.

In Louisville, Kentucky, multiple accidents appear to have been caused by ice on the interstates during the December 8th morning rush hour. Just on the stretch of I-64 between 9th and 22nd Streets, police responded to 18 accidents between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Fortunately only three involved injuries that were not life-threatening. Three accidents also occurred on I-71, and 265 was the scene of a multi-vehicle accident. The interstates had not been treated with brine because there was no precipitation in the forecast. National Weather Service hydrologist Mike Callahan attributed the icy conditions to moisture from the heavy rains the area experienced recently still on the roadways.

Icy roads are a fact of life in Kentucky this time of year, and extra precautions should be taken when driving on them. The Weather Channel offers the following tips for driving on ice:

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

Continue reading "Ice Causing Accidents Already on Kentucky Roadways" »

December 5, 2011

Tis the Season for Kentucky Car Accidents Involving Deer

A tragic accident that began with a minivan hitting a deer on the Indiana tollway early last month ended up taking the lives of seven people and injuring three more. The minivan struck the deer, slowed down or stopped, and was hit by a semi. While the collision with the deer did not actually cause the fatalities and injuries, it triggered the rest of the event.

October, November, and December are the worst months of the year for deer accidents because the deer are breeding. Kentucky State Police state that 47 percent of all car accidents involving deer occur in these three months. The peak times of day are between 5:00 and 8:00, both in the morning and evening. A 21-year-old was driving his Chevy pickup in Christian County in Kentucky in November of this year when a deer jumped through the windshield, killing him and injuring his 14-year-old brother. The officers that responded to the accident said it occurred around 6:00 p.m.

Generally more deer are found near wooded areas, but they can appear anywhere, even in the suburbs and industrial areas. Western Kentucky counties that normally have the highest number of deer collisions include Hopkins, Henderson, Daviess and Muhlenberg. While deer populations are higher in more rural areas, which some may think would increase the number of accidents, the number of vehicles traveling in these areas are fewer, so there are not as many cars for the deer to hit. More heavily-traveled roads may be in areas with smaller numbers of deer, but the increased number of vehicles causes the collision rate to increase.

Deer accidents are frequently unavoidable, but some precautions can be taken. Pay attention to deer crossing signs. Studies have shown that posting these signs has actually decreased the number of deer-vehicle accidents. Do not become distracted by cell phones, food, radios, or other items in the vehicle; focus all your attention on the road. Use high-beam headlights when traveling in the dark. If you see one deer cross the road, slow down and allow any other deer traveling with it to cross before you proceed. Deer are usually not alone. Always wear your seatbelt. According to Kentucky State Police, most people injured or killed in collisions with deer were not properly restrained. If you hit a deer and it remains in the road, do not approach it or attempt to help it. A scared, injured deer could injure you in its attempt to get up and get away from the vehicle.

Continue reading "Tis the Season for Kentucky Car Accidents Involving Deer" »