A woman is dead after she apparently lost control of her car, fell into the road, and was struck by a hit-and-run driver.
The wreck happened on the Audubon Parkway around Mile Marker 13. Investigators believe that a 31-year-old Owensboro woman lost control of her car and skidded off the road. A male passenger in her car was transported to a nearby hospital with serious injuries due to that wreck. The woman died at the scene after she was ejected from the vehicle and struck by another car.
No other details were available.
Passenger Injuries and Legal Responsibility
As outlined below, the liability issues in this wreck are a bit unclear. But one thing is clear. Injured passengers have the same legal and financial rights as injured passengers, at least in most cases. That’s the case even if they were riding in the at-fault driver’s car. And, it appears that the driver was at fault for the passenger’s injury.
The assumption of the risk doctrine sometimes comes into play in these situations. This legal rule states that victims are responsible for their own injuries if they:
- Voluntarily assume
- A known risk.
Generally, passengers voluntarily get into cars. However, they usually assume a theoretical risk, as opposed to a known risk. Everyone knows people who speed, drive drunk, or whatever are more likely to crash. However, everyone also knows people who drive recklessly in these ways and yet don’t crash into anyone. In other words, the statistical probability of a wreck is greater in these situations. But statistical probability is not a known risk. Otherwise, all motorists would assume the risk of injury every time they got behind the wheel. That’s clearly untrue.
Kentucky’s complex seat belt defense sometimes comes into play in passenger injury claims as well. The seat belt compliance rate, especially among back seat passengers, is a lot lower than the driver compliance rate.
Technically, insurance companies cannot use seat belt non-use to reduce or deny compensation to these victims. However, insurance company lawyers can remind jurors of the general duty to care for one’s own safety. Then, jurors must decide if the victim’s failure to wear a seatbelt breached that duty, and if that breach substantially caused the victim’s injury.
That’s quite a mouthful. Basically, the insurance company must prove the victim ignored his/her safety responsibilities, and this attitude, as opposed to the other driver’s negligence, caused the victim’s injury. These things are very difficult to prove.
Like passenger injury claims, hit-and-run wrecks also involve some unique issues. But these issues are often related to the facts of the case, as opposed to the applicable law.
Law enforcement investigators only solve a tiny percentage of these wrecks. That’s usually because, as in the above case, investigators often begin with practically no leads. So, investigators often quickly give up on hit-and-runs, so they can move on to more productive areas.
But in civil court, things are different. The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. So, a Lexington personal injury attorney doesn’t need much evidence to establish liability for damages in these cases.
Frequently, the only leads in these cases are a vague description of the vehicle and a partial plate number. This proof is usually enough to establish vehicle ownership. It’s more likely than not that the owner was also the driver. So, compensation is usually available in these cases.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are often available in hit-and-run cases. Many jurors intensely dislike these drivers, and they are keen to punish them.
The Sudden Emergency Defense
Jurors may not be too fond of hit-and-run drivers. But insurance company lawyers will stick up for them in court. These lawyers only care about the company’s bottom line. The company makes money when it collects premiums and loses money when it pays claims. It really is that simple.
Even though the hit-and-run driver didn’t stop, the sudden emergency defense might still apply in this case. A semi-conscious pedestrian is certainly an unexpected situation. Therefore, it’s probably a sudden emergency in this context. The insurance company must prove that the driver didn’t know s/he hit someone, or at least s/he didn’t know at the time.
Since the insurance company has lawyers who are willing to do whatever it takes to win, victims need similarly zealous legal representation.
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. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.