A Jeep clipped a disabled semi-truck and careened into the pathway of yet another semi-truck. All four people in the Jeep were either killed or seriously injured.
This wreck happened near the Gene Synder exit. The force of the wreck catapulted all the occupants of the Jeep out of the vehicle. Two victims died at the scene. Emergency responders rushed two other seriously injured victims to nearby hospitals.
No other details were available.
Special Issues in Passenger Injury Claims
Minivans, SUVs, and other multi-passenger vehicles are more common than ever. As a result, about two-thirds of vehicle collision victims are injured passengers. These claims usually have some evidence issues. They may also have some additional emotional and legal issues that other car crash matters do not involve.
First, the evidence issues. Investigators often pay little attention to injured passengers when they write their reports. Indeed, if the passenger was killed or catastrophically injured, the passenger’s version of events has no way of making it into the official record.
As a result, attorneys often have to rely on other sources, such as physical evidence from the vehicle, like a crash damage pattern, or electronic evidence from the scene, like surveillance camera footage.
Usually, the more evidence the victim/plaintiff presents in court, the more damages jurors are likely to award. However, the law of diminishing returns applies as well. Eventually, jurors could get tired of hearing evidence and lose sympathy for victims. So, a Lexington personal injury attorney must know where to draw the line.
Next, the emotional issues. Frequently, the at-fault driver was in another vehicle. But that’s not always the case. In these situations, injured passengers rather understandably hesitate to file legal actions against people they know, especially if the relationship is close.
Indeed, such actions often cause some collateral damage to these relationships. However, the driver is not financially responsible for paying damages or even hiring a lawyer. The insurance company must write all these checks. As a result, the insurance company will almost certainly raise the driver’s rates. The company might even cancel the policy. But these things probably would have happened whether or not anyone filed a damage claim.
Finally, the legal issues. If the at-fault driver was behind the wheel, the assumption of the risk defense might come into play. Victims are ineligible for compensation if they:
- Voluntarily assume
- A known risk.
This defense frequently comes up in premises liability claims which involve warning signs, like “Beware of Dog.”
In the car crash context, most people voluntarily get into most vehicles. However, the risk of a crash is a possible risk, or perhaps even a probable risk. It’s never a known risk, at least until it’s too late to do anything about it.
Commercial Operator Duty of Care
Moreover, the applicable duty of care affects legal responsibility, so these additional issues could be irrelevant.
Most noncommercial operators have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents if at all possible. Commercial operators, like truck drivers, have a higher duty of care in Kentucky. As a result, even if the facts indicate otherwise, if a commercial driver is involved in a wreck, that motorist is usually legally responsible for damages.
Vehicles entering intersections are a good example of the difference between these two levels of legal responsibility. If noncommercial motorists have the green light, they can usually proceed into an intersection at regular speed. But because of the higher duty of care, commercial operators arguably must slow down and make sure that the intersection is clear.
Pulled-over vehicles are another example. Frequently, disabled semi-trucks are too large to fit entirely on a shoulder. They often occupy part of the traffic lane as well. So, these operators must set up flares, cones, or something to alert drivers to the danger.
There’s also a difference between legal responsibility and financial responsibility in this context. As mentioned, at-fault drivers are legally responsible for the accidents they cause. The driver’s employer, like a shipping, moving, or transportation company, is financially responsible, because of the respondeat superior rule. This legal doctrine states that employers are responsible for damages if their employees are negligent during the course and scope of their employment.
Kentucky law broadly defines all these key respondeat superior terms. For example, most drivers are employees for negligence purposes, even if they are owner-operators or independent contractors for other purposes.
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. After-hours, virtual, and hospital visits are available. #goodelawyers