Covington Legal Issues Blog

Applying dram shop liability to your drunk driving case

Most of those who come to see us here at The Berger Firm after having been charged with driving under the influence in Covington typically state that they would never even previously thought of getting behind the wheel after drinking. You likely share the same assumption. The trouble is that one of the methods in which alcohol effects the body is to the depress the function of the frontal cortex of your brain, which regulates judgment. Thus, when intoxicated, your inhibitions often loosen, which lay lead to you making unwise decisions. The hope is that whomever is witnessing this knows when to cut you off. 

Yet what if they do not? You may have previously heard of dram shop liability. This allows vicarious liability to be assigned to establishments for the actions of patrons to whom they served alcoholic beverages. This law may seem to be limited to those who you might have injured if your alleged drunk driving resulted in a crash, yet in actuality, you may be covered by it as well. Section 413.241 of Kentucky's Revised Statutes specifically says (in referencing an establishment serving alcohol to you) "shall be liable to that person or to any other person." This opens up the door for you to potentially pursue if you believe an establishment was negligent in serving you. 

Some viral challenges can endanger others

Social media is more than a way to keep in touch with friends and family for many Kentucky residents, especially young people. Now, social media outlets such as YouTube and Instagram have evolved into entertainment platforms for millions of devoted fans. Many online “challenges” have gone viral, and as you can guess, some have resulted in injuries.

You may remember the recent “Tide Pod challenge,” in which social media users dared each other to eat toxic Tide Pods, with predictable results. People shook their heads at the foolishness of such a stunt, yet it seems there is a great lack of common sense when it comes to getting views or “likes” online.

Detailing the homestead exemption

The most common question asked by those contemplating filing for personal bankruptcy in Covington is whether or not they will be able to keep their homes. People need personal assets when attempting to rebuild their financial lives following bankruptcy, and a home is typically one's most valued asset. Thus, the fear of losing it may keep many for whom bankruptcy might be a valid option from investigating it until it is too late to enjoy the protections it affords. For this reason, both the federal and individual state governments have created homestead exemptions

A bankruptcy homestead exemption allows one to exempt their interest in a property or asset in order to avoid said asset from being liquidated as part of a bankruptcy case. It works as follows: if one has $25,000 in equity in their home, and their state's homestead exemption is above that amount, then the home cannot be sold by a bankruptcy trustee to help pay their debts. However, if the state's exemption amount is less than $25,000, then the trustee would sell the house, pay off the mortgage, and then give the debtor an amount equal to that of the state's homestead exemption. Any remaining balance from the sale would be used to pay back creditors. 

Lexington car accident claims man's life

There are some who may question the motives behind initiating legal action following a lawsuit in Covington. After all, most car accidents are likely just that: accidents. Without the element of intent present, it may seem to some that those seeking action are just looking for some way to punish those responsible for their collisions. In reality, a good deal of car accident compensation cases may be filed by people not looking for sort of retribution, but rather assistance in handling the expenses that can result from such an incident. 

Sadly, those results can often be tragic. This fact was clearly evidenced in a recent crash that occurred in Lexington. Authorities say that two vehicles traveling in opposite directions on Man o' War Boulevard struck head-on when one crossed over the median and entered into oncoming traffic. Two of those involved suffered minor injuries that required treatment at a local medical center, while the driver of one of the vehicles died at the scene. Accident investigators have yet to release whether or not he was at fault in the accident. 

Detailing Kentucky's alimony laws

Many of those who choose to seek a divorce from their spouse's in Covington may immediately assume that they are entitled to alimony payments (also referred to as "spousal maintenance"). This likely comes from the notion that many may subscribe that alimony is akin to a punitive action leveled against the spouse who makes the most money. Yet those expecting alimony as part of their divorce settlement may ultimately end up disappointed. That is because spousal maintenance is typically only awarded after a careful review of one's case by the court. 

The purpose of alimony is to temporarily support a spouse whose earning capacity will not allow them to sustain the same standard of living that they currently enjoy once their divorce becomes finalized. Indeed, Section 403.200 of Kentucky's Revised Statutes says that two elements must be proven before the court can consider awarding alimony: that the spouse seeking alimony be shown to have insufficient resources (including whatever marital property allocated to them) to support themselves, and that their capacity for employment or their responsibilities as custodian of their children make it unreasonable to assume that they will immediately be able to secure gainful employment. 

Older Americans are continuing to drive longer

Thanks to advances in medicine, people are living up to a decade later than first thought. In 2015, there were over 40 million older people with driver's licenses. That is an increase of about 50 percent in 16 years.

The number of accidents involving older drivers has also gone up. The growing numbers inevitably result in more opportunities for accidents to occur. When it comes to things like driving, it makes for an interesting quandary: At what age should a person have to stop operating a motor vehicle?

Authorities arrest Middletown UPS driver for drinking on the job

It may be easy for people in Kentucky to dismiss incidents of drunk driving as simply being the actions of irresponsible people. In actuality, they may be much more complex than that. Most understand the risks associated with drunk driving. Those risks are not only to those that a drunk driver may encounter on the road, but also to the drunk driver themselves. For this reason, many might question why one would even consider getting behind the wheel after drinking. The fact that people still may an indicator of a larger problem. 

Take the case of a Middletown UPS driver that was recently arrested on drunk driving charges. Suspicions were raised about his conduct when he made a routine stop at a local elementary school. Someone from the school claimed that the driver smelled of alcohol, and called authorities shortly after he left. When police pulled the driver over shortly thereafter, the fact that he was indeed drunk was confirmed. In fact, a breath test yielded a blood-alcohol measurement that was almost four times the legal limit. A search of the man's UPS vehicle yielded several bottles of alcohol (including bottles in his lunch box. When questioned, the man admitted to consuming almost half a pint of whiskey. 

Road trips, long drives and car crashes

Any time that someone is on the road, whether they are riding in a vehicle or on a bicycle, they face the risk of being involved in an accident. However, there are times when a person may be especially likely to become involved in a motor vehicle collision. For example, someone who is on a road trip may collide with another vehicle because they are not familiar with the roads or they are distracted by a tourist destination. Moreover, someone who has been driving for a lengthy time period may become drowsy.

If you are planning a road trip, it is pivotal to be mindful of these issues. For example, you should make sure that you are not distracted behind the wheel and give yourself plenty of time to not only explore areas of interest but rest and get to your destination without needing to drive too fast. If you are on a trip or find yourself driving for a very long time for some other reason, it is crucial to realize how deadly drowsy driving can be. If you are too tired to drive safely, it is never a good idea to attempt to operate a vehicle.

Few exceptions to Kentucky's open container law

Most people probably understand that it is both illegal and dangerous for a driver to consume alcohol while operating a motor vehicle but may not be aware of what the law says about consumption of alcohol by a passenger of a vehicle rather than the driver. In most of the country, including Kentucky, it is illegal for an individual to drink alcohol while inside a vehicle even if the individual is not driving.

According to FindLaw, Kentucky is one of forty-three states that have open container laws which prohibit the presence of unsealed containers of alcohol, such as bottles or cans, inside a vehicle. It does not matter if the container is in the possession of a passenger and the driver of a vehicle has not so much as touched it; if law enforcement pulls over a vehicle in which a passenger is in possession of an open container of alcohol, the driver and the passenger may both receive a citation for an open container violation. 

Reviewing the Chapter 7 means test

For many of those that we here at The Berger Firm have assisted in the past, mounting debts have left them with seemingly little hope to get back on top of their finances again. If that describes your personal situation, bankruptcy may offer a way back to fiscal stability. Specifically through a Chapter 7 case, you might be able to have many of your debts discharged. Others may be repaid through liquidating some of your property, yet exemptions typically allow you to hang on to important assets such as your home, car and other valuables. 

Yet not everyone qualifies for this form of personal bankruptcy. To prevent abusing the benefit of bankruptcy protection, federal lawmakers have established what is known as "the Chapter 7 means test." Essentially, this test checks to see if, after comparing your income to your liabilities, discharging debts truly is the only for you to get a hold of your financial situation again. 

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