Surprisingly few details were available after a woman t-boned a school bus that was full of students headed for class at a busy Louisville intersection.
The wreck happened around 7 a.m. at the intersection of Hickory Forest Drive and Ballardsville Road. The motorist died at the scene and fourteen students received treatment for various injuries.
Evidence in Car Crash Claims
In a high-profile vehicle collision like the one in the above story, one would think that there would be plenty of eyewitnesses. Most likely, plenty of people saw what happened. But in most cases, their testimonies are not useable in court. These kinds of evidentiary hurdles are just one issue that Lexington personal injury lawyers must deal with.
Witness competency issues usually include a relationship with one of the parties in the case or sensory problems (e.g. a witness only saw part of the accident). Relationship issues are especially common when one of the parties is a school district or another large employer. Pretty much everyone knows at least one school district employee. Sensory issues could be a failure to wear prescription lenses or an obstructed view of the events.
Sometimes, judges allow compromised witnesses to testify, as long as the jury knows about the issues involved. Other times, the witness’ disabilities are so pronounced that they cannot testify at all.
Similar issues plague the police accident report and medical records, which are the other two primary sources of evidence in a car wreck claim.
The police accident report is often incomplete or inaccurate, especially if one of the people involved in the accident died. In these cases, the police report only contains one side of the story. Medical records always convey important diagnostic, treatment, and cost information. However, unless these medical records also include treatment notes, they are cold and clinical and not very useful in car crash claims.
Because of these potential problems, a Lexington personal injury attorney must carefully pick and choose the evidence used in a civil case. Additionally, electronic evidence must often supplement this proof. Such evidence is time-consuming to obtain, but the payoff is usually significant.
A vehicle’s Event Data Recorder is a good illustration. Since Kentucky has such strict vehicle information privacy laws, EDR evidence is often hard to obtain. But it’s very compelling in court. An eyewitness, who could be wrong, can only testify that a car was speeding. An EDR, which is usually never wrong, proves that a car was traveling 77.4mph.
Burden of Proof in Civil Claims
In a few situations, mostly pretrial hearings, the burden of proof is a scintilla of evidence. This level of proof is essentially assuming the worst or assuming the best. For example, if your child stays out past curfew, you might assume the worst, even though there is no evidence to support that conclusion. Or, if your child wins first place at the science fair, you might assume the best, although there’s no evidence to support that conclusion either.
At trial, the burden of proof in a civil claim is almost always a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. If two equally-sized stacks of paper are side by side, and someone moves a single sheet from the left to the right, the stack on the right is taller than the one on the left. That’s a picture of a preponderance of the evidence.
Sometimes, usually with regard to punitive damages in a negligence case, the standard of proof is clear and convincing evidence. That’s one step above a preponderance of the proof, but lower than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the burden of proof in most criminal cases.
Attorneys do not gather this evidence to “blame” anyone for a car wreck. Instead, these claims are about obtaining fair compensation for your serious injuries.
The damages available in a car wreck claim, and most other negligence claims, usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The medical bills alone in an injury-related claim, like a car wreck claim, often exceed $50,000. Other such losses, such as property damage and lost wages, could be almost as high.
Incidentally, most victims are entitled to compensation for the financial and emotional losses involved. For example, the family car usually has an emotional value that is at least as high as its financial value.
Noneconomic losses include things like pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life. To determine a fair amount for such losses, most attorneys multiply the economic losses by two, three, or four, depending on the facts of the case and some other factors.
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. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers