Graduation Eve Crash Kills Bell County High School Senior

by | Jun 4, 2021 | Car Accidents, Injuries

The school forged ahead with the ceremony despite the noticeable absence of two graduating seniors. One of them was dead and the other clung to life at an area hospital.

This crash happened on 19th Street in Middlesboro. The 18-year-old driver crossed the centerline and hit a commercial vehicle almost head-on. Emergency responders rushed the driver to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. The passenger, who was a classmate, did not survive.

At graduation, Bell County High School Principal Brian Crawford tried to put a positive face on the situation. “Today, tonight, and for the next several days, the students are forging some bonds,” he said. “They’ve had to face this tragedy head on this morning when they woke up like most of us did,” he added. Senior Reagan Robbins dedicated her “speech and walk across the stage to the celebration of Dalton Hunter’s life and in prayer for Natasha Miracle.”

The Difference Between Fault and Liability

In wrecks like the one described above, emergency responders and insurance adjusters almost always assign fault to the driver who crossed the centerline. This initial determination doesn’t always hold up in court. Sometimes, a Lexington personal injury attorney finds additional evidence which contradicts the initial finding. More commonly, the last clear chance doctrine comes into play.

Essentially, this rule assigns legal responsibility not to the driver who started it, but to the driver who had the last clear chance to stop it. This doctrine works differently in different situations.

First, assume that one dark night, Thelma mistook an off-ramp for an on-ramp. The road was straight and she was driving at or below the speed limit in perfect control of her car. Louise, who was heading directly for Thelma, did nothing to avoid the wreck. Louise didn’t change speeds or lanes.

The last clear chance rule almost certainly applies in such a case. Louise clearly had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck.

Next, assume Thelma was on the right side of the road, but she was driving erratically. A few moments before she pulled even with Louise’s approaching car, Thelma crossed the center line and collided with Louise.

This case is in a grey area. Arguably, Louise might have once again had the last clear chance to avoid a wreck. However, the rule only applies if the driver had the last clear chance, as opposed to any possible chance. Sometimes, traffic, environmental, and other conditions make evasive maneuvers, like swerving or stopping short, dangerous or even impossible to perform. Other times, these events happen so quickly that the crash truly was avoidable. More evidence is necessary.

Finally, assume Thelma is behind a slow-moving large truck on a two-lane road. Because the truck blocks her visibility, she doesn’t see Louise approaching on the other side of the highway. Louise doesn’t see Thelma for the same reason. If Thelma impatiently tries to pass the truck and she collides with Louise, Thelma is almost certainly legally responsible for the wreck. There’s probably nothing Louise could have done to avoid Thelma.

The damages in a vehicle collision claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Car Crash Injuries

So, even if an insurance adjuster or emergency responder says you were at fault for a crash, always have an attorney evaluate your case. There’s no way to know what compensation you might be entitled to until you ask a lawyer.

Victims need as much compensation as possible. Two nights in a hospital could cost over $30,000. This figure doesn’t include ancillary medical expenses, such as transportation and physical therapy. In many cases, these costs could be more than the hospital bill. 

These medical expenses are so high because car crash injuries are so serious. Some of them include:

  • Head Injuries: The impact of a car crash causes some head injuries, but the motion of a vehicle collision causes most of them. During a collision, the brain slams against the inside of the skull. This impact usually causes a permanent injury which is difficult to diagnose and treat.
  • Exsanguination: Excessive blood loss, mostly from internal organs, is usually the official cause of death in these situations. The same motion which causes head injuries also causes internal organs to grind against each other. Since these organs have no skin to protect them, they usually bleed profusely. Such bleeding is hard to spot and even harder to stop.
  • Paralysis: Whiplash is probably the most serious non-fatal injury that car crash victims must deal with. Once again, whiplash is a motion injury. This force usually snaps nerves in the neck. Many doctors do not immediately diagnose this injury, because it doesn’t show up on traditional diagnostic tests. Prompt and proper treatment is basically the only way to avoid permanent face paralysis.

Due to the specialized nature of these injuries, attorneys connect victims with experienced car crash physicians. These doctors know how to identify and treat these difficult conditions. As a bonus, the doctor usually agrees to defer billing until the case is resolved. So, the victim receives top-notch medical treatment at no upfront cost.

Most car crash claims are complex, from both an evidentiary and legal standpoint. 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