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Richmond Legal Issues Blog

When you get the call that no one ever wants to receive

It's the call that no one ever wants to receive, the one informing you that someone close has been in an accident. It can be next to impossible to prepare for but can unfortunately happen to anyone at any given moment.

Losing a loved one to a fatal car accident can be difficult to accept, perhaps especially if the loss comes at the hands of the negligence of another party. If you lost someone close in a collision, the fallout may have left you in search of answers -- and justice.

The trucking industry and the battle of drug abuse

It is a well-known fact that truckers in America often suffer from exhaustion due to long driving hours. Similar to the shifts of health workers, trucking assignments can take upwards of 12 hours to complete, creating a physically and mentally draining environment. A large number of truck accidents in Kentucky occur as a result of this exhaustion. Although using amphetamines to stay awake while driving may seem a solution, the overall effects of the drug can be severely consequential.

An article in Reuters News touches upon the spreading issue of amphetamine use while driving large company vehicles. A worldwide, diverse study on the drugs truckers use while driving showed the connection between high drug use and poor working conditions. While the stimulants in cocaine and amphetamines may seem a more effective choice than marijuana or alcohol, the former can cause vertigo, agitation, hallucinations and can alter perceptions and reactions. Yet most experts agree that, regardless of choice in substance, each of the aforementioned drugs can ultimately pose risks to personal and collective health around the world.

Reviewing the concept of negligent entrustment

No one in Richmond ever anticipates being involved in a car accident, yet when one is, he or she likely holds out hope that the insurance of the responsible driver (and/or his or her own) will cover whatever expenses are associated with it. Yet in severe accidents, even the assistance offered by insurers may not be enough to meet the cost of repairs and medical bills (not to mention the emotional grief one has to go through in the immediate aftermath). In such a case, one might have little choice but to seek added compensation from the driver responsible for causing his or her accident. The question whether that person is the only one who can be held liable.

The legal doctrine of negligent entrustment allows one to assign vicarious liability to a person who entrusted his or her vehicle to an irresponsible driver. In most casses, this scenario involves teenage drivers. As such parties often do not have the funds to pay back accident victims, the law allows for such victims to hold the owners of the vehicles the teens were driving liable. Indeed, Section 186.593(3) of Kentucky's state statutes shows that any vehicle owner that allows one under the age of 18 to drive his or her vehicle is jointy and severally liable for any damages the minor causes. 

House bill 296: a positive or negative move?

Injuries and medical complications that arise from working conditions are not only limited to the construction and oil industries; many can occur in typical, day-to-day desk jobs. One issue in Kentucky, as well as in other parts of America, involves the financial aspects of workers' compensation.

For years, most of the country has grappled with workers' compensation fraud, the statute of limitations regarding injuries and the general surge in rates of insurance premiums. Recently, Kentucky has seen shifts in the ways lawmakers are handling workers' compensation, but those changes would not necessarily improve compensation procedures for workers. 

Kentucky's definition of a work-related injury

Almost all employers in Kentucky are required to carry workers' compensation insurance to cover medical costs and some of the lost wages caused by an employee's injury on the job. In fact, according to the Kentucky Department of Insurance, this includes businesses with at least one employee

The Kentucky Labor Cabinet notes that state law does have guidelines for what injuries qualify. Basically, any employee who is working his or her regular schedule and sustains an injury while performing job duties is covered by WC insurance. These straightforward circumstances are not always present. However, as long as the accident happened during the course of employment, it would still be covered, even if the employee is working off-site, outside of normal business hours or is taking care of another employee's duties. 

Was there a cognitive, manual or visual cause behind your crash?

Whether you drive on busy Kentucky roadways every day of the week or merely venture out only once in a while, you're likely aware of the many risks involved in navigating high-traffic areas. Surprisingly, even small, quiet, low-traffic neighborhood roads can be dangerous if a motorist sharing your space on the road is distracted behind the wheel. Do you know there are three main types of driving distraction?

Although there are many individual behaviors that constitute distractions while driving, most of them can be lumped into three separate categories: cognitive, manual or visual. If you stay alert, are aware of the types of distraction, and are able to recognize signs of each, you may be able to avoid collision. It's no secret, however, that no matter how careful one driver might be, if another in the vicinity is less so, disaster may strike at any time.

What is a nystagmus?

If you are a licensed driver in Kentucky, it is not only important for you to know the basic rules of the road but to also know a bit about what may happen to you if a law enforcement officer ever stopped you and then suspected you may be driving after consuming alcohol. You cannot simply be arrested immediately as the officer must establish enough evidence to support making a drunk driving arrest. Critical to this are the results of field sobriety tests.

In fact, as FieldSobrietyTests.org explains, that is precisely the point of these tests. Of the three standardized tests used, none are 100-percent accurate nor can they prove that you are intoxicated. One of these tests measures a normal and involuntary bouncing of your eyeballs, called a nystagmus. In this test, you will be asked to follow an object as the officer moves it with your eyes only. You cannot move your head at all.

Reviewing the doctrine of respondeat superior

Think, for a moment, of the feelings you experience when you pull alongside a large semi-truck traveling along Richmond’s roadways. You almost cannot help but feel a small sense of trepidation being so close to such a massive vehicle, given the potential for damage that it presents if you were to collide with it. Sadly, many of those that we here at Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks and Baechtold have worked with have seen and experienced this destructive potential firsthand. Accidents involving large trucks can cause irreparable damages to vehicles as well as extensive injuries. The net result of these may be inordinate expenses that you are left to deal with.

Say that those expenses left you needing to seek compensation from the driver that caused your accident. Are you limited to holding the truck driver responsible, or could liability also be assigned to the carrier that he or she works for? The answer to that question depends on the exact circumstances of the collision.

The benefits of a QDRO for divorcing spouses

Among the many things that divorcing spouses in Kentucky are commonly concerned about is the loss of precious assets. This is understandable because those assets deemed to be joint and part of the marital estate are frequently split in some fashion between both spouses when a marriage ends. One type of asset often included in the property division settlement is the 401K account.

The thought of losing a large share of one's hard-earned retirement savings is not easy but there are some things that may be done in order to minimize the total amount of asset loss if a couple must split a 401K account. The United States Department of Labor explains that typically only the named owner of a 401K account may withdraw money from the account. In the case of a divorce, if the owner takes money out of a 401K and pays it to a spouse to satisfy a property division agreeent, the owner may be liable for penalties and taxes.

Reviewing the process of parental relocation

Imagine being offered a job outside of Richmond that will require you to relocate with your kids. Or, picture getting a call from your ex-spouse saying that he or she wants to move to another state with your children.  Many of the past clients that we here at Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks and Baechtold have worked with have faced both scenarios. They can tell you that before you make your move (or your ex-spouse makes his or hers), state law requires that certain procedures be followed.

These procedures are outlined in the Kentucky Family Court Rules of Procedure and Practice. If, for example, you and your ex share joint custody, and you are seeking to relocate, you must provide written notice to both him or her as well as the court. An Agreed Order stating yours and your ex’s agreement to amend your custody arrangement must then be submitted to the court within 20 days. If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on an amendment, then he or she must submit a motion to the court to modify your custody arrangement within the same time frame.

Shumate, Flaherty, Eubanks & Baechtold

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Richmond, KY 40475

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