Kentucky Accident Fatalities

Tens of thousands of Americans and hundreds of Kentuckians are killed in traffic accidents each year. They are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, siblings, spouses and friends, lost due to some kind of vehicle accident, most of them caused by negligence by one or more parties. These deaths could have been prevented, allowing these people to continue loving their families, helping their friends and contributing to their community; instead, their lives ended on some street or highway.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in the first nine months of 2015, about 26,000 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationwide. This would be an increase of about 9.3% compared to the 23,796 fatalities that were reported in the first nine months of 2014.

The Kentucky State Police estimate that for 2014 there were 672 fatal highway accidents in the state, up from 390 the prior year.

  • A total of 680 people were killed in 2014 in vehicle-related accidents — 672 on public roads and eight in parking lots.
  • The highest number of fatalities were in the 15 to 24 age range (140); next were those 35 to 44 years old (108). Teenage drivers were involved in 9% of fatal accidents.
  • The most common fatal accidents involved a vehicle striking a fixed object (246), followed by collisions involving multiple moving vehicles (216).
  • Impaired driving accounted for 143 fatal accidents, resulting in 156 deaths.
  • State routes were the scenes of the most fatal accidents (302), followed by U.S. routes (154). The interstate with the most fatal accidents was I-65, with 12.
  • Fridays and Saturdays saw the most fatal accidents (221), compared to all the rest of the week (391).
  • October led the year with fatal accidents, at 65; June and December each had 63.
  • Christmas was the holiday that saw the most fatalities (16), followed by Labor Day (14).
  • 74% of the drivers in fatal accidents were male, and 26% were female.

The Kentucky State Police estimate that the following factors led to the fatal accidents:

  • 39% – Vehicle not under proper control
  • 23% – Inattention
  • 17% – Alcohol use
  • 11% – Failure to yield right of way
  • 10% – Over-correcting or over-steering
  • 10% – Speeding

Fayette County had 27 fatal accidents, resulting in 28 deaths in 2014. It was second highest in the state after Jefferson County, which had 69 fatal accidents and 78 deaths.

If a family member was killed in a vehicle accident due to the negligence or intentional act of another, a lawsuit may be filed which alleges the defendant was responsible for the wrongful death of the individual.

  • State statute defines a “wrongful death” as “the death of a person (that) results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another.”
  • The wrongful acts resulting in death may be unintentional, such as negligence or recklessness, or intentional.
  • A wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim in which the deceased’s family members stand in the victim’s place to bring the claim to court.

A number of parties may be named as defendants. For instance:

  • The driver of the other car if he or she was at fault
  • The employer of the driver of the at-fault vehicle if the driver was within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the wreck
  • The person or business that served alcohol to a drunk driver
  • A construction company that created a hazard during roadway repair.

Prior to filing a wrongful death claim, a probate court must name or appoint a personal representative for the estate. That person is responsible for filing the wrongful death claim. If the case is successful, damages from the case are not distributed through the estate, but to surviving family members under the Kentucky Wrongful Death Statute.

Damages in Kentucky in wrongful death cases include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Medical costs incurred after the accident and before the death
  • Conscious pain and suffering by the deceased from the injury until the time of death
  • A child’s loss of care, comfort, society and companionship (or loss of consortium) until 18 years old
  • Loss of consortium for the surviving spouse
  • Punitive damages for willful, wanton and gross negligence.

Kentucky law has deadlines for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal representative of the decedent’s estate must be appointed within one year and a wrongful death complaint must be filed within one year. If these deadlines are missed, most likely the late-filed case will be dismissed and the merits of the case will never be litigated. Because of these “make or break” deadlines, if you lost a loved one in a vehicle accident, you should seek legal help right away.

Wrongful death cases are very emotionally charged. We understand and support our clients who grieve for their loved ones while they seek justice in civil court.  We will fully investigate the case and fight hard to protect the legal rights of our clients in these difficult cases.

If your family member has been killed in a vehicle accident, the Julie Butcher Law Office is here to help you.  Call us at 859-233-3641 or fill out our contact form so we can talk about the circumstances of the accident and how we might help your family obtain justice.