Investigators are still looking into a wreck which involved a 97-year-old man and a dump truck driver.
Few details are available at this point. According to police, a motorist tried to turn from State Highway 680 onto State Highway 122. After the ensuing collision, the 97-year-old driver was declared dead at the scene.
Fault vs. Liability
If Driver A turns in front of Driver B, insurance company adjusters and/or emergency responders almost always conclude that Driver A is at fault for the wreck. “Fault” is a purely factual determination made solely on the basis of evidence available at the scene. “Liability,” which is a legal determination based on all the proof, and not just the evidence available at the scene, is often much different. For a Lexington personal injury attorney, this is the only finding that matters. Liability, and not fault, usually determines the amount of compensation for injuries.
A commercial operator’s higher duty of care, as outlined below, sometimes changes the initial determination.
The last clear chance rule is another example. The duty of care requires drivers to avoid accidents whenever possible, even if another driver pulls out in front of them and slows down. That’s why the “swoop and squat” insurance fraud is so prevalent. In these rear-end collisions, insurance company adjusters often don’t look at the facts too closely. They just raise the driver’s rates and move one.
In the previous example, if Driver B could have avoided the wreck by changing speeds or lanes, Driver B could be legally responsible for damages.
A key point in this area is that a driver must have the last clear chance, as opposed to any possible chance. Sometimes, a sudden move like swerving into another lane might cause another wreck. Other times, events happen so quickly that there’s simply no time to react.
Truck Driver Duty of Care
Most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must avoid accidents when possible and drive defensively.
Uber drivers, truck drivers, and other commercial operators normally have a duty of utmost care. They must take affirmative steps to avoid accidents.
Entering an intersection is a good example. When the light turns green, most noncommercial motorists can hit the gas and move forward. But commercial drivers have additional legal responsibilities. Arguably, they must carefully look both ways and ensure the intersection is clear before they move forward. Most fire truck drivers must behave this way. When they approach an intersection, they must stop, or at least pause, before they keep moving, even if their lights and/or sirens are on.
The higher duty of care makes it easier to prove negligence, which is a lack of care. If a lack of care caused the wreck, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is liable for damages. These damages usually include money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
How Much Money Can I Get?
All these issues seem very complex. However, most vehicle collision claims settle out of court. So, ascertaining a case’s settlement value is perhaps an attorney’s most important job. This process is partly science and partly art.
A claim’s settlement value is like a new car’s sticker price. The settlement value is the starting point for settlement negotiations. Anyone who has ever bought a car knows that there is some give and take involved in these negotiations. Settling your car wreck claim is much the same.
The “science” part of the settlement value usually involves the aforementioned economic losses. Items like property damage, medical bills, and lost wages are relatively easy to determine, at least to an extent. For example, determining property damage is not always a matter of running the numbers. The family car usually has an emotional value which may exceed its financial value.
Noneconomic damages are the largest component of the “artistic” component. Depending on the facts, most attorneys multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four.
Other factors could come into play as well. Some victims want or need to settle their claims quickly, so an attorney must lower the settlement value in these cases. Insurance company tenacity is another possible variable. Some companies quickly settle most claims, and other companies fight cases tooth and nail.
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