Charges are pending after an allegedly intoxicated motorist ran a car off the road, killing a Wellington Elementary School instructor and her 21-year-old daughter.
The woman and her daughter were coming back from western Kentucky, where they had assisted tornado victims. “It’s so fitting that her final moments here on earth that’s the last thing that she did, as an organ donor, was to take care of other people and to save lives as her last act before she went to be with her mom and with Jesus,” one family member added.
This accident happened on Interstate 75 in Scott County. The teacher died almost instantly, and her daughter died several days later at an area hospital.
What’s the Difference Between Injury and Wrongful Death Claims?
Sudden and unexpected losses always inflict more pain upon survivors than other kinds of losses. That’s especially true if someone else’s negligence caused the person’s death. Quite understandably, the survivors have a very hard time getting through the first few days. Normally, grief has a half life. After a few months, about half the pain dissipates. Then, half the pain dissipates after a few more months, and so on. In simple terms, the pain gradually decreases but never entirely goes away.
The available compensation in a wrongful death case shortens this half life, so survivors can have some sense of normalcy in their lives. This compensation usually includes:
- Funeral and Burial Expenses: The total cost of an average service is usually around $10,000. Generally, providers demand the entire sum upfront. A Lexington personal injury attorney usually works with these providers and convinces them to defer billing, or at least collection, until the case is resolved.
- Final Medical Bills: In the above story, the 21-year-old victim passed away about a week after the accident. Hospitalization usually costs about $3,000 per day, so these costs add up quickly. Once again, families usually need not worry about paying these bills immediately while they are dealing with so many other issues.
- Lost Future Support: This category includes both emotional and financial support. These figures are very difficult to calculate, especially if the victim was a young person. So, attorneys normally partner with psychologists, accountants, and other professionals in these situations.
Additionally, wrongful death claimants may be entitled to compensation for their own grief and suffering. Parents are often entitled to such compensation as a matter of law, if the decedent was their biological child. In other cases, compensation might be available under a separate theory like negligent infliction of emotional distress.
In an injury claim, noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering, are often the largest component of damages. Depending on the evidence in the case and a few other factors, attorneys usually ask for two, three, or four times the amount of economic losses as fair compensation for accident related emotional distress.
Medical bills are usually the largest component of economic losses in injury claims. In addition to the high hospitalization costs mentioned above, these victims usually require emergency transportation to a hospital and several months of physical therapy. Other ancillary medical expenses include prescription drugs and medical devices. Medical insurance usually doesn’t cover these costs, so they are often astronomical.
Other economic losses in injury claims include property damage and lost wages. Vehicle replacement could be almost as high as the medical bills. Lost wages, which usually means lost productivity at work, is often hard to calculate. Many recovering victims have good days and bad days.
Liability Issues in Alcohol-Related Wrecks
Most people are well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. Yet most people think it won’t happen to them. Additionally, many people don’t feel the full effects of alcohol impairment. So, alcohol is a factor in about a third of the fatal car wrecks in Kentucky.
Either the negligence per se rule or the ordinary negligence doctrine could establish first party liability in an alcohol-related crash.
As for negligence per se, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) could be liable for damages as a matter of law if they violate safety rules, like the DUI law, and that violation substantially causes injury.
Basically, ordinary negligence is a lack of care. This legal responsibility requires drivers to be at their best mentally, physically, and otherwise when they are behind the wheel. Alcohol-impaired individuals are not at their best. Evidence of impairment includes:
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Odor of alcohol,
- Glassy eyes,
- Slurred speech,
- Slow muscle responses, and
- Unsteady balance.
This same evidence could establish vicarious liability. Restaurants, bars, and other commercial alcohol providers could be liable for car crash injuries if they illegally sell alcohol to someone who later causes a car crash. It’s illegal to sell alcohol to visibly intoxicated people in Kentucky. Other illegal sales include underage sales, after-hours sales, and unlicensed sales.
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. You have a limited amount of time to act. #goodelawyers