19-year-old Terrence Clarke, who had just signed a contract with an NBA agent, died in a car wreck in Los Angeles.
According to LAPD investigators, who primarily relied on security camera footage, Clarke ignored a red light and clipped a motorist who was attempting a left-hand turn. His vehicle then careened into a light pole and a brick wall. First responders rushed him to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. He did not survive.
In a statement, Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said he was “gutted and sick[ened]” by Clarke’s death. “A young person who we all love has just lost his life too soon, one with all of his dreams and hopes ahead of him. Terrence Clarke was a beautiful kid, someone who owned the room with his personality, smile and joy. People gravitated to him, and to hear we have lost him is just hard for all of us to comprehend right now. We are all in shock.”
Clarke, who had just finished his freshman season, averaged ten points and three rebounds per game.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
Fair compensation in a serious injury claim is relatively straightforward. The economic damages are usually clear, unless the victim’s future medical needs are uncertain. Then, to determine noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering, a Lexington personal injury attorney multiplies the economic losses by two, three, or four. The multiplier depends on a number of factors, such as the victim’s desire to quickly settle the matter and the facts in the case.
This amount serves as a starting point for settlement negotiations. These talks, like all other negotiations, usually involve some compromise.
However, compensation in a wrongful death claim is often much more complex. In Kentucky, wrongful death survivors are entitled to compensation for:
- Burial and funeral costs,
- Medical bills related to the decedent’s final illness or injury,
- Lost future emotional support,
- Decedent’s pain and suffering, and
- Lost future financial support.
Survivors might be entitled to compensation for their own grief and suffering, under a theory like negligent infliction of emotional distress. Attorneys must bring these claims in separate proceedings.
Many of these items are difficult to determine, especially if the decedent is a young person. For example, Clark could have earned many millions in the NBA, somewhat less if he played overseas, or substantially less if his pro career did not pan out for whatever reason.
Other items are almost impossible to calculate. How do you possibly place a dollar figure on something like lost future emotional support?
To make an initial assessment, many attorneys partner with accountants, psychologists, and other outside professionals. Once again, this figure serves as a starting point for settlement negotiations.
These negotiations typically end during mediation. A neutral, third-party mediator reviews the file then meets with both sides. After the parties make brief opening statements, they retire to separate rooms. For the rest of the session, which usually lasts a day, the mediator conveys settlement offers and counter-offers back and forth.
Mediation usually works. Furthermore, mediation avoids the grand, emotional showdown of a trial. Finally, mediation gives the parties more control over the outcome.
Electronic Evidence in a Car Crash Claim
Initial reports strongly indicate that Clarke was at fault for this wreck, since he ran a red light. But in many cases, initial reports are often rather misleading or downright inaccurate.
Security cameras are a good example. Sometimes, camera footage provides compelling evidence. Most cameras record digital, high-definition footage which resonates well with many jurors. However, that’s not always true. Cameras are often at least a block away from the accident scene and often have poor viewing angles. Other forms of electronic evidence are often more reliable. More on that below.
On a related note, as we all know, there’s a big difference between rolling through a red light and blowing past a red light at a high speed. Additionally, many people enter an intersection on yellow and the light turns red before they get to the other side. Therefore, they have the right-of-way, at least for a critical half-second or so.
A vehicle’s Event Data Recorder often provides more effective electronic evidence in a car wreck claim. Different makes and models have different capacities. Generally, however, EDRs measure and record information like:
- Steering angle,
- Brake application,
- Vehicle speed, and
- Engine RPM.
Any of these items could be very important in a car wreck claim. Since the data comes from the vehicle itself, EDR information never suffers from some of the aforementioned security camera weaknesses.
Accessing EDR information is sometimes an issue. The newest EDRs are much more accessible than previous models. For most vehicles, attorneys must partner with mechanics or other professionals to tap into device information.
There are legal issues as well. Kentucky has some of the nation’s most restrictive vehicle information privacy laws. Therefore, unless an attorney obtains a court order, the EDR is usually off-limits to anyone except the vehicle’s owner and perhaps an authorized representative.
Evidence is critical in car crash claims, but evidence is sometimes misleading, at least initially. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you. #goodelawyers