An 85-year-old-man is dead following a violent left turn crash in a rural area of southeastern Kentucky.
The wreck happened at the intersection of State Highway 30 and State Highway 1394. A northbound Kia, which was trying to turn left from Highway 30 onto Highway 1394, smacked into a passenger car in the intersection.
The driver of the passenger car was airlifted to an area hospital with serious injuries, where he was later pronounced dead.
Frequently, intersection collisions occur so quickly that it’s difficult to establish liability. Furthermore, as outlined below, there are a number of legal issues involved in most of these crashes.
So, to obtain maximum compensation, a Lexington personal injury attorney typically uses a deliberate approach. That approach starts by collecting evidence while being mindful of the burden of proof in civil claims.
Victim/plaintiffs must generally establish negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Frequently, a combination of medical bills, the police accident report, and witness statements constitute the necessary evidence.
In a serious injury claim, medical expenses often exceed $100,000. So, medical bills are usually the largest category of economic damages. Individuals usually have a hard time obtaining someone else’s medical records, mostly because of privacy laws. Attorneys know how to bypass these laws, so the necessary records are often only a phone call away.
Assuming a lawyer lays the proper foundation, usually in the form of certain affidavits, medical records are relatively easy to admit in court.
The drawback is that these bills are sometimes incomplete. They convey clinical information, like the procedures performed and the costs of those procedures. But they sometimes lack treatment notes or other entries which show the victim’s level of pain and suffering.
Somewhat similarly, the police accident report is usually critical in these claims. In addition to basic who, what, when, and where information, police accident reports usually include a narrative portion which indicates how the crash occurred.
The problem here is that even the most experienced first responder is not an accident reconstruction professional. Additionally, if the victim was seriously injured or killed, the narrative usually only contains one side of the story.
Witness statements are often compelling in court. But some witnesses are biased or otherwise incompetent to testify for some reason.
So, in many cases, attorneys need additional evidence to establish the claim and obtain additional compensation. This process is often time-consuming, but the investment is necessary. Additional evidence often includes:
- Event Data Recorder: Most passenger vehicles have EDRs, which resemble the black box flight recorders in commercial airplanes. Most EDRs measure and record information like vehicle speed, steering angle, brake application, and other important items in car crash claims.
- Surveillance Video: Between traffic cameras, red light cameras, and security cameras, almost every intersection in Lexington is photographed from at least one angle. Unlike eyewitness testimony, security camera footage is always accurate.
- Accident Reconstructionist: As mentioned, emergency responders are not accident reconstruction experts. These individuals piece together the physical evidence and create a compelling picture for the jury.
Since the burden of proof is so low in negligence claims, a little bit of this evidence goes a very long way.
Insurance Company Defenses
Building a case is only part of the picture. Especially in intersection claims, an attorney should also be ready to refute some common insurance company defenses.
Comparative fault is one of the most common defenses. Traumatic events, like a war or a divorce, are very rarely one person’s fault. So, in a major crash, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is typically mostly responsible, but s/he might not be completely responsible.
That’s the essence of the comparative fault defense. This legal doctrine shifts blame for the crash from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, Driver A might have been speeding when Driver B changed lanes illegally.
In these situations, jurors must apportion fault between the victim and tortfeasor. Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the tortfeasor was only 1 percent responsible for the wreck, the victim is entitled to a proportionate share of damages.
The last clear chance defense also comes up in many intersection collision claims, such as rear-end crashes and head-on crashes. Assume our aforementioned Driver A was not speeding, but she saw Driver B make an illegal turn. If Driver A did nothing to avoid the wreck, Driver A could be legally responsible for it, even though she did nothing wrong.
There is a difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance. As mentioned above, sometimes these wrecks happen so fast, the victims are unable to avoid them.
Intersection wrecks are legally and factually complex. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.