Investigators believe that heavy rain may have contributed to a vehicle collision which killed one person and injured two others.
The wreck happened in Webster County. According to police and witnesses, a 19-year-old driver from Evansville, Indiana lost control of his vehicle in the rain. The vehicle tumbled off the road and onto an embankment. A 14-year-old passenger was killed almost instantly. The driver and an 18-year-old passenger were seriously injured.
State police are investigating the wreck.
First Party Liability
Media reports often state or imply that the weather caused crashes like this one. In a few cases, the weather does cause car wrecks. Examples include random lightning strikes, earthquakes, and other natural events which are extremely rare. Instead, although the weather could be a contributing factor, driver error causes over 90 percent of the vehicle collisions in Kentucky.
Weather contributes to car wrecks because many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) do not adjust to the weather conditions, although the duty of reasonable care requires them to make such adjustments.
Driving in the rain is a good example. Heavy rainfall decreases visibility. Furthermore, many vehicles have little traction on wet roads, especially if their tires are worn. Drivers cannot use worn tires or other equipment failures to excuse their negligent driving, unless the equipment was defective.
Commercial operators who carry passengers, such as taxi drivers and Uber drivers, usually have a higher duty of care. Noncommercial operators have a duty to slow down and use extra caution. Arguably, commercial operators must not drive in heavy rain or during other extremely adverse environmental conditions.
If another driver was legally responsible for the collision, a Lexington personal injury attorney can usually obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Third Party Liability
19-year-olds are technically old enough to own vehicles and other property in most states. However, it’s somewhat rare for these individuals to own their own cars. Sometimes, someone gave them the car before they turned 18. Additionally, it’s very difficult for 19-year-olds with limited job or credit histories to purchase vehicles. Some dealers even refuse to work with these individuals from a financing standpoint.
Therefore, the negligent entrustment rule often applies in these situations. An attorney probably won’t know for sure until the discovery process. At this point, the parties exchange information about their claims and defenses. More on that below.
In Kentucky, owners are financially responsible for car wreck damages if they knowingly permit incompetent individuals to operate the motor vehicles they own. Evidence of incompetency includes:
- Fatigue or other temporary impairment,
- No drivers’ license,
- Safety-suspended drivers’ license,
- Driving in violation of license restrictions, and
- A poor driving record.
In the above story, an attorney would probably focus on violation of drivers’ license conditions. Most Indiana drivers under 21 cannot travel with passengers, unless the passenger is the driver’s child or spouse. Passengers distract drivers, especially inexperienced drivers.
The knowledge requirement is usually straightforward in these cases. Most owners know who is in the car when it pulls out of the garage. Some owners might not know about the no-passenger rule, but in most cases, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Your Claim for Damages
Most civil claims, including most negligence claims, settle out of court. However, this settlement usually doesn’t happen early.
In a few cases, attorneys are able to resolve cases without filing legal paperwork. If there’s no dispute about liability, the law requires most insurance companies to settle the claim within a few months. But there’s almost always some uncertainty in this area. For example, as outlined above, some claims are murky until the discovery period.
Therefore, most car crash claims proceed to the next level. That means filing legal paperwork in court. The law in this area is unsettled. By the book, Kentucky is a notice pleading state. Legal petitions need not say much more than “you have been sued for negligence.” But some courts require more detailed fact pleadings. That means additional investigation and additional time.
During discovery, which usually begins about a month after the petition is filed, the parties must exchange all information about their claims or defenses. This requirement includes things like vehicle titles. Most victim/plaintiffs must provide depositions, submit to medical examinations, and furnish document copies during discovery.
If the case remains unresolved as the trial date approaches, most Fayette County judges refer these matters to mediation. A third-party mediator meets with both sides together and tries to facilitate a settlement. If everyone negotiates in good faith, which means they must make a genuine effort to compromise and reach an agreement, this process is normally successful.
Although negligent drivers cause most crashes, they may not be financially responsible for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers