A teenager was one of two people killed in a rear-end crash that happened on an Interstate 75 exit ramp.
The two people were passengers in the vehicle. The driver was airlifted to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. According to the family, the three people were on their way home from a chemotherapy session at a nearby medical facility.
“He didn’t know a stranger. We could be in the grocery store and he would be like, ‘hey, how are you doing?’ He could talk to anybody. He loved being outside. We would go camping every year. He loved fishing. Fishing was the big thing,” one survivor recalled about her father, who was one of the deceased victims. As for the teenage girl, the survivor simply said “We miss her. It’s hard with her not being here.”
Car Crash Injury Claims
Medical bills are usually, but not always, the most expensive component of a car crash injury claim. On average, medical expenses in these cases exceed $50,000. One reason medical bills are so high is that, in many cases, car crash injuries are difficult to diagnose, hard to treat, and permanent. Whiplash, one of the most common car wreck injuries, is an example of all three.
The sudden, unexpected motion of a car wreck, particularly a rear-end wreck, usually causes the neck to snap violently back and forth. This movement usually damages nerves in the neck. But since this nerve damage is a soft tissue injury, standard diagnostic tests usually don’t detect it. Furthermore,doctors often ascribe the initial symptoms, which include neck stiffness, to accident-related soreness. As a result, they do not treat the injury, and the whiplash gets worse.
Subsequent symptoms include pain in the wrists and shoulders. In many cases, this pain is debilitating. Essentially, the nerves in these areas work harder to make up for the lost functions. So, they quickly wear out. As a result, the victim doesn’t just have one nerve injury to treat. Instead, s/he has four or five.
Physical therapy is usually the only effective treatment for nerve injuries like whiplash. By the time the injury is this advanced, there’s only so much that physical therapists can do. They can usually make the pain less debilitating, but they cannot eliminate it.
Other injury claim damages include transportation expenses and lost work or lost productivity. A brief medevac flight usually costs over $10,000. Longer flights could cost up to $40,000. The economic loss of a totaled new car could be almost as high. Additionally, the family car has an emotional value. A Lexington personal injury attorney can obtain compensation for all these injury-related losses.
Car Crash Wrongful Death Claims
The economic and emotional damages are a little different in wrongful death claims than they are in injury claims.
Usually, Kentucky law limits damages to pecuniary losses directly related to the wrongful death itself. These losses include:
Medical bills related to the decedent’s final injury or illness,
Decedent’s pain and suffering, if any,
Final expenses, like burial and funeral costs,
Lost future emotional support, and
Lost future financial contributions.
Sometimes, survivors are entitled to compensation for their own suffering and grief. That’s usually true if the decedent was a child and the parents witnessed the accident firsthand. Other times, an attorney can pursue an independent claim, using a theory like negligent infliction of emotional distress. More on legal liability theories below.
From an emotional standpoint, there’s no way any amount of money could begin to fill the void that a wrongful death creates. It’s insulting to imply that such an exchange is even possible. However, financial compensation helps survivors move on with their lives. That’s what the decedent would have wanted.
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we talk about compensation, we should talk about the legal theories which are available in these situations, as well as an insurance company’s probable response.
Let’s stick with a rear-end wreck. These crashes could involve the ordinary negligence doctrine or the negligence per se rule.
Motorists have a duty of care to avoid accidents when possible. They must also keep their eyes on the road. Rear-end wrecks violate both these responsibilities. If the lack of care substantially caused injury, the aforementioned compensation is usually available.
Drivers who rear-end other drivers also violate the right-of-way law. If an emergency responder issues a citation, and the infraction substantially caused injury, the tortfeasor could be automatically responsible for damages. There’s no need to prove a lack of care.
What does “substantially” mean in this context? We’re glad you asked. Most insurance companies do not simply roll over and play dead. Some defenses, such as comparative fault, could come into play.
Basically, comparative fault states that the victim’s actions, as opposed to the tortfeasor’s actions, substantially caused the wreck. Usually, people are not supposed to stop on exit ramps, unless there is an emergency or the car in front of them also stops. Therefore, in these cases, jurors might need to divide fault on a percentage basis, such as 50-50 or 80-20.
Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. Therefore, even if the tortfeasor was only 1 percent responsible for the wreck, the victim is entitled to a proportionate share of damages.
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 routinely handle matters in Fayette County and nearby jurisdictions. #goodelawyers