Four adults and a teenager died when a tractor-trailer broadsided their vehicle in McCracken County.
The wreck happened in the 4000 block of U.S. Highway 60 (Clarks River Road). According to investigators, a Ford Taurus pulled out of a business driveway and streaked across the eastbound side of the road. An oncoming Volvo tractor-trailer was unable to stop and hit the Taurus at almost full speed. All five people in the Taurus died almost instantly.
Authorities have not filed any charges in the case as their investigation continues.
Car Wreck Injuries
Every year, vehicle collisions kill or seriously injure millions of Americans. Although today’s cars are much safer than the ones on the road twenty years ago, even the most advanced safety system can only absorb so much force. A high-speed collision, especially if a very large vehicle is involved, almost inevitably causes serious injuries. Some of these injuries include:
- Head Injuries: Air bags significantly reduce the number of collision-related head injuries. But they do not eliminate them. As mentioned, the force in these wrecks is often so great that the thin air bag doesn’t prevent a trauma injury. Furthermore, the motion of a wreck, as opposed to the impact, often causes the brain to slam against the inside of the skull.
- Internal Bleeding: These same forces smash internal organs against one another. SInce these organs have no protective skin layer, they usually bleed excessively. This bleeding is hard to detect and hard to stop. As a result, many victims are on the edge of hypovolemic shock and organ shutdown by the time they reach a hospital.
- Broken Bones: These injuries normally aren’t life threatening. But they are usually permanent. The excessive force usually shatters bones as opposed to breaking them. So, doctors must usually use metal parts to reconstruct these bones. As a result, these victims must often endure several months of painful and expensive physical therapy to recover even part of their lost functions.
Vehicle speed largely determines the extent of these injuries. Newton’s Second Law of Motion states that velocity multiplies the force in a collision between two objects. If a truck hits a car in a parking lot, the impact might not cause much more than property damage. But if that collision happens on a highway or major street, the results are usually tragic.
First Party Liability
Excessive speed also illustrates the two basic liability theories in a car wreck claim, which are negligence per se and ordinary negligence.
Basically, negligence per se is a violation of a safety law. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who break safety laws and cause crashes could be liable for damages as a matter of law.
However, many emergency responders do not issue traffic citations in these situations, even if one driver clearly broke a law. That’s especially true if both drivers were arguably at fault. Most police officers view these situations as civil disputes, and they do not want to get involved.
So, most Lexington personal injury attorneys use the ordinary negligence doctrine. Basically, ordinary negligence is a lack of care. This duty requires vehicle operators to drive defensively and avoid accidents when possible. These requirements often require drivers to travel under the speed limit.
The posted limit is a presumptively reasonable speed under ideal conditions. So, if traffic, weather, or other conditions are unfavorable, drivers arguably have a duty to slow down.
THis responsibility is even higher for commercial operators. As mentioned, most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. Most commercial operators, such as truck drivers, have a duty of utmost care. They must take additional precautions to avoid accidents. That could mean slowing down and assuming that other drivers will operate recklessly. They might do things like pull out in front of an onrushing truck.
Third Party Liability
Commercial operator wrecks are complex, and not just because of the higher duty of care. These collisions usually involve the respondeat superior doctrine. This legal principle holds employers financially responsible for the negligence of their employees, if that negligence occurred during the scope of employment. Typically, these employers are out-of-state conglomerates which have almost unlimited resources.
Kentucky laws define these requirements in broad, victim-friendly terms. The “employee” prong is a good example. Most truck drivers are independent contractors or owner-operators for tax purposes. But these individuals are typically employees for negligence purposes. ANy employer control, such as cargo carried or route travelled, is sufficient to make almost any worker an employee.
Vicarious liability theories like respondeat superior are especially important in multiple fatality wrecks. Individual drivers usually have nowhere near enough insurance coverage to provide fair compensation. In a wrongful death claim, this compensation includes things like lost future emotional and financial support. These sums could be quite high.
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