Investigators believe that alcohol impairment was the primary factor in a multi-vehicle, multi-fatality wreck in McLean County.
The wreck happened on a two-lane stretch of State Highway 81 which is at least fifty years old. According to police and witnesses, a northbound driver crossed the centerline and clipped a southbound truck. As a result, the southbound truck, whose driver died at the scene, careened into another vehicle. Two of the four people inside were airlifted to the closest hospital, and two others were declared dead at the scene.
The driver who triggered the chain reaction crash was not injured, and authorities arrested him for DUI.
Medical Expenses in Car Wreck Claims
Airlift medevac is common after a wreck on a highly-travelled, rural, two-lane road. These kinds of roads crisscross much of Kentucky. These brief flights cost an average of $39,000. So, in many cases, the ride to the hospital might be almost as expensive as the hospital stay itself.
Group health insurance plans rarely cover transportation and other ancillary medical expenses. Furthermore, since most families essentially live hand to mouth, they cannot possibly pay these expenses out of pocket.
Transportation expenses are economic losses in negligence cases. So, the personal injury settlement usually covers them. But most medical creditors immediately demand payment, regardless of the circumstances. These demands increase stress, making it harder to recover from serious injuries.
So, a Lexington personal injury attorney normally sends a letter of protection to all medical service providers, and not just the doctor or hospital. These letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved. Therefore, transportation and other providers agree to defer billing. Additionally, most attorneys negotiate with providers and lower these costs. Due to these reductions, victims could end up keeping more of their settlement money.
Attorneys take basically the same approach with other providers, such as rental car companies. These firms not only agree to defer billing. Normally, they also agree to provide a comparable vehicle to the one the victim lost. So, victims get the replacement transportation they need, and not the replacement an insurance company is willing to pay for.
First Party Liability in Alcohol-Related Wrecks
To obtain compensation for economic losses, as well as emotional distress and other noneconomic losses, victim/plaintiffs in alcohol-related wrecks may normally use the negligence per se rule or the ordinary negligence doctrine.
Frequently, criminal laws and civil laws overlap. Celebrities O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake were found not guilty of murder, but civil juries held them liable for certain killings. Negligence per se is another example. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) could be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
They violate a safety law, such as the DUI law, and
That violation causes injury.
In some cases, negligence per se is only a presumption of liability. Victim/plaintiffs must introduce additional evidence to obtain maximum compensation.
Sometimes, the tortfeasor was impaired, as opposed to intoxicated. So, authorities do not arrest the tortfeasor for DUI. Compensation is still available, because dangerous impairment begins with the first drink. Evidence of impairment includes:
Odor of alcohol.
Slurred speech, and
Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol consumption.
If the alcohol impairment was so severe that the tortfeasor’s conduct fell below the standard of care, the tortfeasor is liable for both economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Third Party Liability
In everyday life, most people have a duty of reasonable care, which includes a responsibility to avoid traffic accidents if possible. This duty applies to motorists and commercial alcohol providers alike.
Commercial alcohol providers can stop alcohol-related wrecks before they happen by selling alcohol responsibly. But many providers put profits ahead of safety and sell alcohol to intoxicated persons.
In Kentucky, such sales trigger the dram shop law. Bars, restaurants, and other commercial providers are financially responsible for car wreck damages if they sell alcohol to impaired customers and those customers cause crashes.
A number of states have limited or eliminated their dram shop laws in recent years. But the Bluegrass State still has one of the broadest such laws in the country.
Vicarious liability theories, like dram shop liability, are especially important in wrongful death and other catastrophic injury claims. Frequently, individual tortfeasors do not have enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation in these cases. Third party liability gives these victims an additional recovery source.
Alcohol-related crash victims are entitled to compensation for all their economic and noneconomic losses. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act. #goodelawyers