Few details were available about a fatal collision in Montgomery County that killed a local teenager.
The victim was identified only as a minor female who lived in the area. She was apparently not on the bus, as according to a witness, there were no injured people on board the school bus.
A photograph from the scene apparently showed the bus on the shoulder and a passenger car against the side of the bus.
Evidence in Rural Vehicle Collision Claims
Two-lane roads like Spencer Pike crisscross much of Kentucky, especially the parts of the state outside the Lexington-Louisville-Cincinnati triangle. Most of these wrecks have no independent eyewitnesses. Lexington personal injury attorneys usually count on witness statements to build their negligence claims. Fortunately, electronic evidence is usually available to fill this gap. More on that below.
First, let’s look at the traditional evidence sources which are available in rural car crash claims. These items are usually medical bills and the police accident report.
Typically, medical bills are the most important bit of evidence in a car crash claim. These documents obviously contain financial information, which is highly relevant to the amount of medical expenses. Other medical expenses include transportation and prescription drug costs. These records are a bit harder to obtain, but it’s usually no problem for an experienced lawyer.
A brief word about billed expenses vs. actual expenses. Generally, attorneys negotiate with providers and convince them to lower their bills.
Allan’s doctor might charge $20,000, but Allan’s lawyer might get that amount reduced to $15,000. Under Kentucky’s collateral source rule, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) who caused Allan’s wreck is probably liable for $20k and not $15k. Therefore, Allan might get to pocket the extra money.
Now, let’s look at the police accident report. In a low speed wreck, it’s relatively easy for emergency responders to piece together the events. But in a high-speed wreck, there might be less physical evidence available. As a result, officers often over-rely on the two drivers, who naturally remember things differently.
Frequently, attorneys partner with accident reconstruction engineers in these situations. These professionals know how to put the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together.
AN Event Data Recorder is often a critical bit of electronic evidence in a car wreck claim. Much like a commercial airliner’s black box flight recorder, an EDR measures and records things like vehicle speed and steering angle.
So, EDRs basically provide information that a witness might have supplied. A computer’s printout doesn’t have the same emotional gravitas as an eyewitness’ testimony. However, assuming the device was working right, computers are never biased or incorrect. Additionally, EDR information is much more accurate and specific than witness-provided information.
A negligence claim begins with the duty of care, which in most cases, is a duty of reasonable care. For example, most drivers must obey the rules of the road and avoid accidents if possible.
But commercial operators, including bus drivers, have a higher duty of care in Kentucky. The duty of utmost care requires these operators to use every bit of experience and skill they have in order to deliver their passengers safely from Point A to Point B.
This duty isn’t limited to roadway safety. It also includes personal safety. That’s one reason many school buses have chaperones. The driver takes care of roadway safety, and the chaperone takes care of personal safety. At least, that’s how things are supposed to work.
Since the duty of care is so high in both areas, it’s easier to establish negligence, or a lack of care. For example, two seconds is usually a safe following distance for passenger vehicles. For large commercial vehicles, a safe following distance is five seconds, if they are travelling over 40mph.
Individual drivers are legally responsible for the damages they cause. The driver’s employer is usually financially responsible, largely because of the respondeat superior rule. School districts, transportation companies, ridesharing companies, and other employers are financially responsible for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment.
Kentucky law defines all these key terms in broad, victim-friendly ways. The employee prong is a good example. Many commercial drivers are not technically employees, at least for most purposes. But all drivers are employees for negligence purposes, since the company exerts some control over their behavior.
Speaking of Kentucky law, claims against negligent drivers who work for the government are subject to the state’s sovereign immunity doctrine. This doctrine doesn’t make government employees “immune” from legal action, at least in most cases. But the claims are slightly more complex.
Most car crash claims involve some evidentiary and legal complexities. 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 matters. #goodelawyers