Car Wreck Kills Beloved Kentucky Derby Jockey

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Car Accidents

Few details were available after a speeding vehicle on Interstate 64 struck a jockey with over 2,000 career wins and $70 million in lifetime earnings.

34-year-old Miguel Mena left his native Peru to be a full-time jockey in the United States in 2017. Prominent trainer Al Stall Jr. said that Mena was a hard-working jockey who was “liked by all” whose first Kentucky Derby as a jockey was in 2010. “[He] was a really, really friendly guy. I don’t think there is a person back here who would tell you something that they didn’t like him,” added Jose Santos Jr., who was Mena’s agent and friend. “He had a great personality, really easy to talk to.”

Jeffersontown Police investigators do not know why Mena tried to walk across the interstate between Hurstbourne Lane and Blankenberger Parkway.

Pedestrian Accidents, Speed and Wrongful Death Claims

If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was travelling at freeway speed, the pedestrian death rate is a staggering 90 percent. The resulting injuries are so severe that recovery is almost impossible, even for the heartiest victims.

Excessive speed does more than affect the injuries in a wreck. It also increases the chances of a collision. At 60mph, most vehicles travel about eighteen car lengths in the few moments it takes for a driver to see a hazard, like a pedestrian crossing the road, apply the brakes, and stop the car without losing control of it. So, especially if there is a curve or hill that limits driver visibility, serious collisions are usually inevitable in these situations.

Speed-related pedestrian accident victims, or their survivors, usually have several legal options, as outlined below.

Incidentally, insurance companies cannot use the victim’s physical vulnerabilities, like a chronic illness or old injury, as an excuse to reduce or deny compensation. No one, especially a negligent driver’s insurance company, should receive a financial or other windfall because the accident victim happens to have some physical problems.

This doctrine, which is called the eggshell skull rule, applies in other injury claims as well, such as fall and defective product claims.

Available compensation is a bit different in wrongful death matters than injury claims. Kentucky law normally limits wrongful death claimants to pecuniary losses. This category includes things like compensation for:

  • The decedent’s pain and suffering,
  • Medical bills related to the decedent’s final illness or injury,
  • Burial, cremation, and/or funeral expenses,
  • Lost future emotional support, and
  • Lost future financial support.

In contrast, injury victims are usually entitled to compensation for economic losses, such as lost wages, and noneconomic losses, such as emotional distress.

Items like lost future financial contributions are often difficult to calculate. So, a Lexington personal injury attorney normally partners with accountants and other outside professionals in these situations.

Electronic Evidence in Pedestrian Accidents

This compensation is available if the presenting party, who is usually a surviving relative or a personal administrator in a wrongful death case, establishes negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. In many cases, such as the one in the above story, such evidence is hard to acquire.

Frequently, the police report, which is often the key piece of evidence in an injury claim, is inadequate in pedestrian accident cases. Since most police departments consider such accidents to be relatively straightforward and there is not much collateral damage in these matters, only one or two officers may respond to the scene. These officers, no matter how experienced they are, do not have the same qualifications as accident reconstruction engineers.

If the police report is incomplete or inaccurate, attorneys often use a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder to fill in the gaps. Depending on the vehicle make and model, most EDRs measure and record:

  • Vehicle speed,
  • Steering angle,
  • Brake application,
  • Engine RPM, and
  • Airbag deployment.

Police departments often don’t use accident reconstruction engineers, as mentioned above. However, attorneys often work with such people. These professionals know how to collect these bits of evidence and reconstruct the entire accident from start to finish.

As a bonus, electronic evidence, like EDR evidence, is almost impossible to undermine in court. Eyewitnesses might be biased or unreliable. But, assuming the device is working properly, a computer is always accurate in all ways.

Since EDR evidence is so valuable, insurance companies try to keep it out of court. One common trick is to destroy a wrecked vehicle prior to EDR inspection.

To short-circuit this trick, lawyers normally send spoliation letters to insurance companies. These letters compel recipients to preserve all potential physical evidence for future inspection. Most insurance companies destroy most totaled vehicles within a few days. So, it’s imperative to act quickly.

Preserving the EDR is not the only hurdle. Kentucky has very strong vehicle information privacy laws. Normally, attorneys must convince judges to issue court orders before they can access them.

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. Home and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers