Dual Fatal Wrong-Way Crash on Highway 15

by | Apr 30, 2021 | Car Accidents, Injuries

Two people are dead, including a Whitesburg elementary school principal, after a driver crossed the centerline, apparently without warning, and hit an oncoming vehicle.

The wreck happened near Campton in Wolfe County. According to police and witnesses, a 47-year-old man, who was travelling southbound, veered into northbound traffic and struck a 2020 Ford Explorer. Both drivers were declared dead at the scene.

Two other people, both of whom were passengers in the school principal’s Explorer, were transported to local hospitals with serious injuries.

Car Crash Injuries

Every year, vehicle collisions kill or seriously injure millions of Americans. Only a small number of these injuries were truly “accidental.” Occasionally, strong wind gusts blow cars out of their lanes, lightning hits them, earthquakes swallow them, or other natural catastrophes happen. No one is responsible for these crashes, at least in most cases. If a defective tire or other dangerous product causes a crash, the manufacturer is usually responsible for resulting injuries. 

But driver error causes over 90 percent of the vehicle collisions in Kentucky. Head injuries are the most common serious wounds in car wreck claims. Vehicle collisions combine all three most common head injury causes, which are:

  • Trauma: Seat belts and other restraint systems absorb much of the force in a collision. But they cannot possibly absorb all of it. Therefore, these victims frequently hit their heads on steering wheels, dashboards, and other solid objects.
  • Noise: Witnesses often say that car wrecks sound like explosions. These sudden loud noises trigger shock waves which disrupt brain functions. Many soldiers who come home with combat-related brain injuries were hurt in this way.
  • Motion: Does pacing sometimes make you feel more alert? That’s because the motion of your step bumps the brain against the skull. Imagine how the violent motion of a car crash affects the brain. 

Head injuries are usually difficult to diagnose. Since the brain usually hides its own injury symptoms, many of these victims “feel fine” in the wake of an accident. Therefore, they might not receive treatment until their head injuries reach advanced stages.

At this point, head injuries are also very difficult to treat. Doctors typically use a combination of surgery to reduce swelling and extended physical therapy. Therapists must train uninjured areas of the brain to assume lost functions.

Because of issues like these, an experienced car crash physician should always evaluate car wreck victims. If the victim has no money or insurance, a Lexington personal injury lawyer typically sends a letter of protection to the provider.

This letter does more than defer billing until the case is resolved, which means the victim pays nothing upfront. A letter of protection also gives an attorney negotiating leverage. So, many lawyers can talk down medical bill costs. That could mean the victim gets to keep more of the settlement money.

The Difference Between Fault and Liability

In collisions like the one in the above story, emergency responders and insurance adjusters almost always assign fault to the driver who crossed the centerline. However, this determination is only preliminary. A subsequent liability determination is what counts.

Limited evidence is usually available at the scene. So, assigning fault without all the evidence is a bit like solving a mystery without all the clues. There are almost inevitably some gaps which lead to incorrect determinations. For example, a defective tire could blow out and cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. Especially if the best witnesses to the accident are both dead, issues like this one never come to light initially.

Furthermore, legal doctrines, like the last clear chance rule, often come into play. This doctrine sometimes excuses negligent driving.

Assume Sam, who was already driving erratically, suddenly veers over the centerline moments before he collides with James. Since James could not possibly avoid a wreck, Sam is clearly liable for James’ damages.

Now let’s change the facts a bit. Assume Sam slowly drifts in a relatively straight line across a wide, grassy median, and into James’ path. Arguably, James could have avoided this wreck, perhaps by changing lanes or slowing down. In other words, he may have had the last clear chance to avoid the collision.

If that’s the case, James could be legally responsible for Sam’s damages, even though James did nothing wrong.

A number of factors come into play in this situation. For example, if traffic is heavy, if James stopped or swerved suddenly to avoid Sam, James might cause a more serious accident than the one he might have prevented.

Damages in a car crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are sometimes available as well, in some extreme cases.

Vehicle collision victims deserve compensation for their serious injuries. 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