Fatal Wrong-Way Collision in Union

by | Apr 18, 2022 | Car Accidents

Investigators believe that excessive speed caused a deadly collision between a Dodge Durango and a Kia Forte in northern Kentucky.

The wreck happened in Union, near the intersection of Ransom Drive and U.S. Highway 42. According to the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, a speeding Durango driver drifted onto the shoulder while negotiating a curve. Then, this driver oversteered in the opposite direction. As a result, the driver crossed the center line and t-boned a Forte on the other side.

The Kia driver was declared dead at the scene. A child passenger in the Kia’s backseat was seriously injured.

Speed and Car Crashes

Excessive speed and/or aggressive driving are the primary factors in about a third of the fatal car accidents in Kentucky. That’s primarily because velocity increases the risk of a wreck and the force in a collision.

In terms of risk, speed multiplies stopping distance. If Rex is traveling 30mph when he sees a hazard and applies the brakes, his vehicle keeps moving forward for three car lengths before it safely stops. At 60mph, this stopping distance triples to eighteen car lengths.

Similarly, speed multiples the force in collisions between two objects, according to Sir Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion. If Rex hits another car when he’s going 30mph, most likely no serious injuries will be involved. If a similar collision occurred at 60mph, most likely at least one person wouldn’t walk away.

Speed also causes loss of control collisions. Since fast-moving cars are more sensitive to steering changes than slow-moving cars, when drivers speed around curves, they often oversteer. When they start drifting, they panic and overcorrect in a desperate attempt to regain control of their vehicles. Usually, however, oversteering has the opposite result. That’s apparently what happened in the above story.

Fault vs. Liability

We’ve made this point in previous blogs, but it bears repeating. The difference between fault and liability is like the difference between an episode-ending cliffhanger and a season-ending cliffhanger.

Insurance adjusters usually assign fault in car crash cases. This determination is based solely on the facts immediately available at the scene. Fault seems important at the time, but ultimately, it’s meaningless. Liability for damages is the only thing that matters in a court case. This determination is based on all the facts, not just the ones immediately available at the scene, as well as all applicable legal doctrines.

These subsequent facts often include tire blow-outs. Defective tires cause thousands of wrecks every year. If a tire explodes, the car’s driver almost certainly loses control of it. The tire’s manufacturer, and not the car’s driver, is usually liable for damages in these situations.

Possible legal doctrines include comparative fault and last clear chance. Both rules hinge on a driver’s ability, or inability, to avoid a wrong-way collision.

Assume Sheila, who is driving on the opposite side of the road from Rex, sees that he’s having trouble controlling his vehicle. If that’s the case, Sheila shouldn’t be completely surprised if Rex crosses the center line. In other words, she should have been able to anticipate a wreck, and according to the duty of care, she should have taken steps to avoid it.

An insurance adjuster would almost certainly assign fault to Rex, since he crossed the center line. But legally, Shelia could be partially responsible, or entirely responsible, for the wreck. Most likely, if Shelia only had about a second to react, jurors would divide responsibility between Sheila and Rex. That division is comparative fault. If Sheila had more time to react yet she did nothing, jurors might determine that she was entirely at fault. That determination is last clear chance. In other words, Sheila had the last clear chance to avoid a wreck and she didn’t take advantage of that chance.

The bottom line is that car crash liability is a lot like car crash injuries. You don’t know how badly you are hurt until a doctor examines you, and you don’t know how much compensation you might be entitled to until a Lexington personal injury attorney evaluates your case.

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.