A Greyhound bus crash sent 17 people to area trauma centers Thursday, August 15, 2019. The accident happened around 4:30 p.m. on I-75 around 5 miles north of Mt. Vernon when a Greyhound Bus collided with a flatbed truck. The bus was carrying people from Atlanta to Cincinnati and had left London, KY, 45 minutes earlier.
Police at the scene say that they are looking into the possibility that the driver was distracted by his phone at the time of the crash. Investigators are looking into his phone records to see if he was texting or calling someone, and they say that this is standard procedure in a crash involving multiple injuries and commercial vehicles.
Emergency vehicles responded from Mount Vernon, Rockcastle County, Brodhead and Madison County. So far, no deaths have been reported, and the 17 people were split between three hospitals including the University of Kentucky Hospital.
Distracted Driving Crashes
Distracted driving crashes have been happening since the automobile was invented. The National Safety Council reports that 90 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by human error. In the last decade, cell phone use as a distractor has been on the rise capping, but has slightly fallen in 2017 and 2018.
The National Safety Council reports that an estimated 3,500 people die each year from distracted driving. Not all are from cell phone use as traditional distractions like eating, grooming, talking to passengers and reading, but cell phone use—especially texting—has become the face of distracted driving.
Estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say that around 25 percent of all distracted driving fatalities come from cell phone use, and at any given time, from 5 percent to 7 percent of drivers are using a hand-held device.
Multiple Injury Crashes
No matter the cause of the accident, multiple injury crashes pose problems for emergency personnel, police, hospitals and even the courts.
When multiple people are injured in single crash, all aspects of the emergency response become much more difficult. First responders have to secure the accident scene to keep secondary crashes from happening. EMT personnel have to engage in triage to provide immediate aid to those needing it the most.
Local fire departments, EMS, ambulance services, air medical flights, police, traffic investigators, DOT and possibly coroner or medical examiners all have to descend on the scene to render aid and do their individual jobs. This takes away resource from the originating localities which can endanger people in other emergencies.
Local hospitals have to get geared up and prepare for the injured. Typically, the wounded are taken to different hospitals to avoid overwhelming any one trauma center. Air flight ambulances will take the most critically wounded to the hospital best suited for the type of injury.
The wounded are separated and transported on a need basis getting the help to those most critically injured first. Hospital trauma centers can get overwhelmed in a hurry as they have locally injured people needing treatment as well.
At the scene, investigators work to reconstruct the accident and will typically issue a report of their findings. Fault is critical in the aftermath of a multiple injury wreck as it will determine how much compensation the injured will receive. In Kentucky, drivers must have a minimum of $25,000 and $50,000 for the accident.
This means that if there are 10 injured, and the at-fault driver has the minimum insurance, there is only $5,000 for each person which in many cases will be vastly insufficient. If the at-fault driver is a commercial vehicle, then there is likely more insurance coverage to go around.
In Kentucky, any for-hire passenger vehicles must have $100,000 per person bodily injury and $300,000 per accident coverage. If the vehicle is carrying hazardous material, the minimum goes to $1 million.
However, if the bus is traveling from one state to another, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration sets the minimum requirements for buses carrying fewer than 15 people at $1.5 million and 15 or more at $5 million.
Insurance Settlement/Compensation Award
In most cases, a crash involving multiple injured victims will settle with the relevant insurance companies. The high cost of a trial for multiple injuries gives the insurance company an incentive to settle. Many times, the difficulty will come in apportioning the amount of the settlement between those injured.
Many times, the injured have different attorneys which can be a good thing for the individual victims, but it can make it more difficult to settle. If a settlement is not reached, then the case will go to court, and the jury or judge will decide who gets how much and from what driver.
Do I Need my Own Attorney?
When there are multiple people injured in a crash, some of the victims think that so long as there are some people represented by an attorney, then they will benefit from the representation. While it may help some in a court case, if your specific injuries and financial losses aren’t addressed, then you may not be taken care of at all.
Each attorney is bound by the rules of their profession to protect their client’s interest even at the expense of someone who isn’t represented.
At Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, we have experience in multiple victim and multiple vehicle crashes. We offer a free consultation where you can ask questions and obtain an evaluation of your case. Don’t rely on the goodness of the insurance company or someone else’s lawyer, get your own representation.
Call the attorneys at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, and they will stand behind you to make sure that you are treated fairly and that you get the highest compensation allowed by the law.