Speeding Driver Hits and Kills Lexington Pedestrian

by | Dec 3, 2021 | Car Accidents, Injuries

Officers were aware that a 26-year-old man was walking on a freeway in the early morning hours, but they couldn’t get to the scene in time to save him.

The wreck happened on Interstate 64. Witnesses reported seeing a man walking “down the middle of the highway,” said Lt. Larry Kinnard. Units were on the way when an eastbound vehicle hit the 26-year-old pedestrian, killing him almost instantly.

No vehicle occupants were injured and no charges are pending at this time.

Speed and Pedestrian Accidents

Overall, excessive speed is one of the most common causes of fatal accidents in Kentucky. This relationship is even more pronounced in pedestrian injury or fatality claims. Seat belts, airbags, and other safety features protect vehicle occupants during high-speed collisions. But pedestrians have no such protections.

If the impact speed is under 30mph, the pedestrian death rate is less than 25 percent. The pedestrian death rare catapults to 90 percent if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is traveling faster than 55mph at the moment of impact.

Furthermore, speed increases the risk of a pedestrian accident. Speeding motorists have less time to react to events like jaywalking pedestrians who try to cross the street without stopping and looking both ways.

Head injuries are the most common injuries in speed-related collisions. Frequently, these victims do not get the treatment they need when they need it. The brain usually conceals its own injuries. As a result, many head injury victims tell doctors they “feel fine.” As a result, their wounds get worse.

That’s one reason victims should always reach out to a Lexington personal injury attorney in the immediate wake of a wreck. Lawyers connect victims with doctors who focus on injury-related conditions. These professionals know how to identify, diagnose, and treat head injuries and other injury-related matters.

Establishing Liability in Pedestrian Accident Claims

Most pedestrian accidents are similar to the one in the above story. These wrecks happen in non-intersections and outside marked crosswalks. But drivers still have a duty of care, no matter what another person does or doesn’t do. Therefore, compensation is still available in these situations.

Briefly, the duty of care requires motorists to drive defensively, obey the rules of the road, and avoid accidents when possible. Drivers cannot simply go their way without looking out for other people on the road. That includes both motorists and non-motorists.

If the victim was inside a crosswalk with the light, the negligence per se doctrine could apply. The pedestrian clearly had the right-of-way. If the pedestrian was inside a crosswalk when the light turned yellow or red, the claim is more complex, mostly because the negligence per se shortcut is probably unavailable in these cases.

Damages in a pedestrian accident claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Possible Defenses

A preliminary injury claim is usually not enough to obtain maximum compensation in these cases. The evidence must be strong enough to refute some common insurance company defenses, such as comparative fault and sudden emergency.

Comparative fault, which is also known as contributory negligence, comes in many forms. Basically, insurance company lawyers argue that the victim did not stop and look both ways, so the victim is legally responsible for the crash. Distracted walking is a good example of comparative fault. There are no statistics directly on point. However, over a third of Americans say they have personally seen a distracted walking incident. The pedestrian is so engrossed in a device that s/he does not see the light change, does not see an approaching car, and so on.

If comparative fault applies, jurors must split fault between the tortfeasor and victim on a percentage basis. Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor is responsible for a proportionate share of the aforementioned damages.

Sudden emergency, if it applies, completely excuses negligence. In Kentucky, there are basically two elements of this defense:

  • Reasonable reaction to
  • A sudden emergency.

This clip from 1995’s Tommy Boy illustrates both prongs of the sudden emergency defense. Because it’s an unexpected situation, the hood fly-up is a sudden emergency. A jaywalking pedestrian, on the other hand, is an everyday hazard, like a stalled car. These things are not sudden emergencies. 

Unfortunately for Tommy, the defense would not apply in this case. He drove recklessly after the hood flew up. That’s not a reasonable reaction.

Actually, since Tommy was driving Richard’s car, another legal doctrine could apply. Vehicle owners, like Richard, could be liable for car wreck damages if they knowingly allow incompetent people to drive their motor vehicles. Tommy was arguably incompetent, in more ways than one. But that’s the subject of another blog.

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