Investigators believe that an unknown driver ran a Ford Expedition off the road, causing it to overturn multiple times. Three people died in the collision.
The wreck happened in Portland on HIghway 109, not far from Academy Road. Apparently, an unknown vehicle sideswiped an SUV as the driver negotiated a curve, forcing it off the road and onto the left shoulder. As the driver struggled to regain control, the Expedition crossed the median and tumbled down a hill. The driver and two passengers were killed.
Police have no leads as to the identity of the other vehicle.
Burden of Proof in Civil Court
In many jurisdictions, fewer than 10 percent of hit and run drivers are successfully prosecuted in criminal court. Frequently, unless there is a huge amount of evidence at the scene, investigators quickly stop looking. Generally, they would rather spend their limited resources elsewhere. Additionally, many law enforcement officers view car crashes, even fatal car crashes, as civil matters. So, they don’t want to get involved.
The high burden of proof in criminal court also affects these decisions. Prosecutors must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So, they must prove that the defendant was driving the vehicle at the time of the wreck and the defendant knew s/he caused an accident.
That second element isn’t difficult to prove, except in some pedestrian accident claims. The first element is a different story. A credible witness places the defendant behind the wheel at or near the time of the wreck. Otherwise, the prosecutor’s case will probably fall apart.
Civil court is different. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. So, it’s easier for a Lexington personal injury attorney to establish key facts in court, such as the identity of a hit and run motorist.
In fact, it might not be necessary to identify the driver at all. Identifying the vehicle’s owner might be sufficient. It’s more likely than not that the owner was also the driver, unless the owner has an ironclad alibi.
Tracking Down the Tortfesor
As mentioned, police officers usually give up rather quickly in these situations. But an attorney, often working with a private investigator, knows how to quickly uncover evidence which points directly toward the tortfeasor (negligent driver) or at least the owner.
Red light cameras are an excellent source of information. Usually, these cameras snap both the license plate number and the driver’s picture. If the red light camera is several blocks away from the accident site, or even several miles away, the general description of the vehicle must match a witness’ vague description from the scene.
Speaking of witness statements, many witnesses don’t voluntarily loiter at accident scenes so they can talk to police officers. Some people don’t think they saw anything important, and others simply don’t like police officers.
But given the low burden of proof in civil cases, even if a witness only saw a dark sedan accelerate away from the intersection, that might be the critical piece of the puzzle. As for the second point, personal injury attorneys aren’t much more popular than police officers. But most people are sympathetic toward hit and run victims.
This natural sympathy usually prompts jurors to award maximum compensation in hit and run claims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Despite an attorney’s best efforts, sometimes it’s impossible to find hit and run drivers. That’s especially true if the accident happened in a semi-rural area or late at night. Many victims believe that if there is no responsible driver, they cannot obtain compensation for their injuries. Generally, however, that’s not true.
Kentucky has one of the highest percentages of uninsured motorists in the country. So, many Kentuckians purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Typically, these policies are a good investment. The premiums are usually low, the coverage limits are usually high, and as mentioned, these policies often come in handy.
Sometimes, UM/UIM insurance is a supplement. Frequently, the tortfeasor doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay the entire claim, especially in a catastrophic injury or wrongful death claim. The UM/UIM policy usually pays what the other insurance company doesn’t pay. In at-large hit and run cases, the policy pays the entire loss, up to the coverage limits.
If there is a payment or other dispute, these matters usually settle quickly and on victim-friendly terms. Insurance companies usually want to keep paying customers happy.
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. You have a limited amount of time to act. #goodelawyers