Former Kentucky Standout Seriously Hurt in Car Crash

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Car Accidents

Tyler Ulis is set to undergo surgery for a broken ankle after he collided with a wrong-way driver on Interstate 75.

Few details were available about the wreck. According to investigators, Ulis was southbound when a northbound driver crossed the centerline.

Ulis, a former Kentucky point guard, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, consensus All-American, SEC Player of the Year, and Bob Cousy Award winner, was a second-round pick of the Phoenix Suns in 2016, where he played in 132 games. He is currently a free agent.

Car Crash Injuries

Broken bones, especially lower extremity broken bones, are among the most common car crash injuries. Seat belts keep victims’ torsos in place and airbags absorb some of the frontal force in a collision. But the legs are completely unprotected. 

As a result, lower extremity broken bones are not just common. They’re also very severe. Frequently, doctors must use metal components, like screws, plates, or rods, to painstakingly reconstruct these shattered bones. That additional medical intervention is not just more costly. It also requires a longer recovery time and additional physical therapy to rebuild lost function. Even after all this, many victims experience some permanent loss of function. 

Most likely, because of this wreck, Ulis’ basketball playing days are over. That doesn’t just mean professional basketball games. Pickup games with friends and demonstrations during basketball camps are probably impossible as well. In other words, a significant ankle or other injury doesn’t just drive up the medical bills, lost wages, and other economic losses in a car wreck claim. It also increases noneconomic losses, specifically loss of enjoyment in life.

Wrong-Way and Head-On Wrecks in Kentucky

Not many details are available about the wreck itself. These details matter, especially in wrong-way collision matters. Although it sounds like lawyerly minutiae, there is a major difference between a wrong-way crash and a head-on crash.

Typically, wrong-way wrecks involve drivers who mistake an offramp for an onramp, or vice versa. Or, the driver might ignore a “One Way” or “Do Not Enter” sign. In these cases, the driver is normally operating safely, as opposed to driving erratically. It’s just that the motorist is going against traffic.

Head-on wrecks are different. Often due to impairment, distraction, or over-correction due to excessive speed, a driver unexpectedly crosses the center line and smacks into an oncoming car. These wrecks are bang-bang events, instead of slowly developing events.

How does a Lexington personal injury attorney tell the difference between these kinds of wrecks? We’re glad you asked. Lack of additional circumstantial evidence, such as the aforementioned driver impairment or excessive speed, usually points to a wrong-way wreck. Moreover, vehicle crash damage in these wrecks is either direct or angular. If it’s at an angle, that indicates one driver had just crossed the centerline.

Why does this difference matter? Once again, we’re glad you asked. Head-on wrecks often involve the sudden emergency doctrine. This doctrine excuses negligence if a tortfeasor (negligent driver) reasonably reacts to a sudden emergency. A vehicle that weaves unexpectedly into oncoming traffic is usually a sudden emergency. So, these claims are much more complex than they appear to be at first glance.

Virtual and Live Statements Following Car Crashes

After a wreck, victims should avoid using social media for anything other than “just the facts, ma’am” status updates about their medical conditions. 

Ulis posted a pic on Instagram of him in a hospital bed, smiling slightly, with his thumbs up. Most people would say that’s an inspiring picture of a person making the best of a bad situation. But insurance company lawyers don’t think like most people. They could argue that, given Ulis’ demeanor, he wasn’t in much pain. If jurors agree, they could significantly reduce the amount of noneconomic damages in the case.

Obviously, Ulis didn’t mean for this picture to have this effect. But that’s what could happen, and what probably will happen. Once you post something on social media, it’s out there forever.

There’s more. Ulis’ father, James, told a newspaper that the wreck was “tough” because the other motorist “smacked Tyler head-on” and that his son was lucky to be alive. These statements imply the other driver was entirely at fault and also exaggerate the extent of Ulis’ injuries. Once again, those aren’t the kinds of things victims should say. Insurance company lawyers will jump on them.

On a related note, victims should watch what they say at the scene. For example, don’t say “I’m sorry” to the other motorist. In the South, apologies like this usually express sympathy. But in a court of law, they could be construed as liability admissions.

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. Virtual, home, and hospital visits are available.