In a scene right out of a Hollywood movie, Master Sergeant Daniel Keller rescued several victims of a catastrophic car crash in Louisville. To recognize his efforts, his superiors gave him the Air Force’s highest non-combat merit award.
In November 2018, two cars collided on a two-lane bridge almost head-on. MSG Keller, who was a bystander, stabilized the victims in one car before he hurried to the other vehicle. By that time, this car was on fire. He pulled a passenger out of the wreckage. As the flames intensified, MSG Keller broke through the rear window and, although he could barely see or breathe, he saw that the driver’s legs were pinned under the steering wheel. MSG Keller “quickly developed a hasty plan and enlisted the help of two bystanders.” The three people squeezed between a guardrail and the burning wreckage, so they could pull the driver out of a window.
There’s more. As MSG Keller performed CPR on the driver, he heard a bystander call for help. As ammunition inside the car started going off, he ran back to the vehicle, pulled the woman free, and moved her to safe cover.
MSG Keller is a combat controller in the Kentucky Air Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron.
Car Crash Injuries
Very few car wrecks involve fires and exploding ammunition. But most car wrecks do involve serious injuries. Some of these wounds include:
Head Injuries: The motion of a crash, as opposed to a trauma impact, often causes a head injury. Since the skull is basically a water tank, violent motion causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. These victims often show few initial symptoms. So, they often don’t get needed treatment.
Blood Loss: Exsanguination is usually the official cause of death in these situations. This same motion causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. When that happens, the excessive bleeding is difficult to detect and stop.
Broken Bones: Shattered bones usually aren’t life-threatening. However, these wounds are normally permanent. Since doctors must use metal parts to reconstruct these bones, some loss of function is normally inevitable.
The medical bills alone from a serious crash could exceed $50,000. Most health insurance companies don’t cover injury-related costs. So, the accident often causes almost as much financial pain as physical pain.
That’s why fair compensation is so important in these cases. A Lexington personal injury attorney can usually defer collection. But medical bills come due eventually, and victims need to be able to pay them. These victims also deserve compensation for other economic losses, such as property damage, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Liability for Damages
Obtaining maximum compensation for serious injuries is basically a three-step process in Kentucky courts.
Initially, attorneys must establish a theory of the case. This theory is like a roadmap which guides future actions. This theory usually involves ordinary negligence or negligence per se.
Ordinary negligence is basically a lack of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. So, they must avoid accidents when possible and always drive defensively. If tortfeasors (negligent drivers) breach their duty of care, perhaps because they were too tired to drive safely, they could be liable for damages.
Negligence per se is basically a lack of statutory care. In Kentucky, tortfeasors could be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
They speed or violate another safety law, and
That violation substantially causes injury.
At-fault drivers are legally responsible for damages. Frequently, a third party is financially responsible for damages. For example, if restaurants, bars, or other commercial providers illegally sell alcohol and the patron causes a crash, the provider could be on the hook for damages.
Step three usually involves anticipating insurance company defenses. Because so much money is at stake, as mentioned above, most insurance companies do whatever it takes to reduce or deny compensation.
Comparative fault is probably the most common insurance com[anye defense in car crash claims. This legal loophole basically shifts blame for an accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. So, an insurance company might admit its insured driver was drunk, and blame the crash on the victim’s excessive speed.
Evidence can blunt the comparative fault defense in situations like this. There’s a big difference between 5mph over the limit and 15mph over the limit. 5mph is practically meaningless and 15mph over the limit is reckless. Frequently, attorneys use a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, a gadget that’s similar to a commercial jet’s black box flight recorder, to show actual speed.
After jurors hear all this evidence, they must divide fault on a percentage basis, such as 60-40. Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor is liable for a proportionate share of damages.
The comparative fault defense is also common in pedestrian and dog bite claims. The distracted walking defense and provocation defense work basically the same way.
Damages in these personal injury cases usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. 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