This Christmas novelty song has entertained holiday revelers, or at least temporarily distracted them, since 1979. It tells the story of an unfortunate yuletide hit-and-run accident. A closer look at the song’s lyrics also touch on some of the legal and emotional issues involved in these incidents.
No amount of money could possibly compensate for the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one. But the simple fact is that these families need financial compensation to pay final expenses. Furthermore, the financial compensation which a Lexington personal injury attorney obtains helps survivors move on with their lives. That’s what the decedent would have wanted.
Grandma got run over by a reindeer
Walking home from our house Christmas eve
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe
So much for a basic overview of this tragedy. Now, let’s look at the specifics and try to determine what happened to poor Grandma.
She’d been drinking too much eggnog
And we begged her not to go
But she’d left her medication
So she stumbled out the door into the snow
The key words in this verse are “eggnog” and “medication.” If Grandma had one too many, the comparative fault defense could come into play. Pedestrian intoxication is one of the most common contributing factors in pedestrian accident cases. Alcohol dulls the senses and slows reflexes.
In some states, if the pedestrian is partially at fault for the accident, the victim is ineligible for compensation. But Kentucky has the opposite rule. The Bluegrass State is a pure comparative fault jurisdiction. Even if the victim was only 1 percent responsible for the incident, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate share of damages.
As for Grandma’s medication, we don’t know what medical issue she was dealing with. If she had a sensory-degrading condition, such as diabetes, the insurance company cannot use that condition as an excuse to reduce or deny compensation. No one should ever benefit, financially or otherwise, because of someone else’s weakness.
However, if Grandma’s lack of medication caused some adverse side effects, the comparative fault defense could apply. Under the law, everyone has a general duty of care to look after their own safety.
When they found her Christmas morning
At the scene of the attack
There were hoof prints on her forehead
And incriminating Claus marks on her back
Here, we have the most critical evidence in a possible hit-and-run claim. Grandma’s lawyer must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), that the Jolly Old Elf did indeed run over Grandma.
The hoof prints and incriminating Claus marks (whatever those are) clearly indicate that Santa’s sleigh hit Grandma. But this proof is not conclusive. Everyone knows that Santa flies in the air and slides down chimneys. It’s highly unlikely that he would have been on the street.
This evidence, although inconclusive, would probably hold up in civil court. It’s more likely than not that Santa’s sleigh caused Grandma’s demise. Most likely, this evidence would probably not hold up in criminal court. The burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond any reasonable doubt. As mentioned, a reasonable juror could have reasonable doubt that Santa was responsible.
Incidentally, the song characterizes the incident as an “attack.” The A-word is misleading. Hit-and-run claims, and all other negligence claims, do not blame anyone for accidents. Instead, these actions are simply about responsibility for damages.
Now we’re all so proud of Grandpa
He’s been taking this so well
See him in there watching football
Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Belle
Conspiracy theories abound at this point. It is unusual that Grandpa is apparently unfazed by the loss of his wife. Did he recently take out a large insurance policy on Grandma’s life? If so, does he have an alibi for the time of the accident?
It’s not Christmas without Grandma
All the family’s dressed in black
And we just can’t help but wonder
Should we open up her gifts or send them back?
Now the goose is on the table
And the pudding made of pig
And a blue and silver candle
That would just have matched the hair in Grandma’s wig
As mentioned above, a wrongful death creates a void that nothing can fill. Some wrongful death damages, like lost future financial support, are relatively easy to calculate, especially if the victim was an older adult. Other items, like lost future emotional support, are almost impossible to calculate.
Survivors might also be entitled to compensation for their own grief, under a theory like negligent infliction of emotional distress.
I’ve warned all my friends and neighbors
Better watch out for yourselves
They should never give a license
To a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves
This final verse brings up two important points. First, was Santa component to drive? He is really old. However, regardless of their medical conditions, the same duty of care applies to all drivers. By the same token, young and inexperienced drivers have the same legal responsibilities as older and more experienced motorists.
Second, was Santa fully insured? Insurance policies usually do not cover flying sleighs pulled by magical creatures.
Most people have UM/UIM coverage. Uninsured and Underinsured motorist policies pay compensation, up to the policy limit, if the at-fault driver had insufficient insurance or if the at-fault driver is never identified.
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. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. #goodelawyers