Traffic violations cause about half of the fatal vehicle collisions in Kentucky. Some of the more common ones are discussed below.
Legally, if a tortfeasor (negligent driver) violates a traffic law and causes a crash, the well-established negligence per se rule might apply. This legal doctrine holds tortfeasors responsible for these wrecks as a matter of law. Victim/plaintiffs need only establish cause.
This doctrine only applies if emergency responders ticketed the tortfeasor for a moving violation. Nonmoving violations, like an expired inspection sticker, do not trigger the negligence per se rule. However, the ordinary negligence doctrine is usually available in these cases.
A Lexington personal injury attorney typically leverages the ordinary negligence doctrine or the negligence per se rule to settle claims out of court.
Excessive velocity is a factor in about a third of the fatal car crashes in Kentucky. Speed increases the risk of a collision and the force in a collision.
Speed multiples stopping distance. At 30mph, most vehicles travel about six car lengths between the moment a driver sees a hazard and the moment the driver safely stops the car. At 60mph, stopping distance triples to eighteen car lengths.
Furthermore, according to Newton’s Second Law of Motion, speed multiples the force in a collision. Essentially, speed transforms “fender benders” into serious injury or fatal accidents.
Failing to Yield
These traffic violations are especially common in motorcycle wrecks. Many Kentuckians drive large SUVs and pickup trucks which are difficult for other drivers to see around. And, many drivers do not keep a good lookout for motorcyclists to begin with.
Other motorists fail to yield to bicyclists. As far as the law is concerned, bicycles and motorized vehicles are on equal footing. But many drivers consider bicyclists to be more like pedestrians. As such, many drivers do not yield the right-of-way to bicyclists. There is an invisibility factor in these crashes as well.
Still other motorists, typically because they are distracted in some way, do not yield to other four-wheel vehicles. These situations often involve a yield sign or another traffic control device. So, these traffic violation issues often overlap.
Ignoring a Traffic Control Device
Speaking of yield signs, many drivers consider stop signs more like yield signs. In drivers’ education classes, most people learn to stop and look both ways at stop signs. Most drivers do neither one of these things.
Drivers who go through stop signs or red lights could be liable for damages as a matter of law, as outlined above. However, some insurance company defenses, mostly last clear chance, often apply in these claims as well. If a driver had a clear opportunity to avoid a head-on, rear-end, or other intersection crash, and did nothing, that driver could be legally responsible for the wreck.
Driving While Intoxicated
Technically, DUI is a criminal matter. But for car crash liability purposes, it is a traffic ticket. This point is very significant. Alcohol or drug impairment is a factor in almost half of the fatal vehicle collisions in Kentucky.
Even if the tortfeasor “beats” DUI charges in criminal court, the negligence per se doctrine still could apply. A civil jury determines all the facts in a civil case, including innocence or guilt on a DUI charge.
Most people are intoxicated after three or four drinks. But dangerous impairment usually begins with the first drink. So, many drivers are impaired, but not intoxicated. Evidence of impairment includes physical symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes and unsteady balance, erratic driving prior to the wreck, and the tortfeasor’s schedule. If the tortfeasor just came from a restaurant that serves alcohol, it’s more likely than not that the tortfeasor had at least one drink there.
Drug intoxication and impairment cases are much the same. A DUI-drug case could mean liability as a matter of law. In other cases, victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence to establish impairment.
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road
This traffic infraction usually covers two different situations. Some motorists drift across the center line for a few moments, perhaps because they are trying to pass another vehicle. Others are going the wrong way.
These crashes could or could not involve the aforementioned last clear chance doctrine. If the tortfeasor unexpectedly drifted across the center line, the wreck is almost impossible to avoid. However, if the tortfeasor was going the wrong way, motorists could avoid these wrecks by changing lanes or stopping suddenly.
Traffic violations could affect your claim for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.