Serious Car Wreck Kills Teenage Girl

by | May 27, 2022 | Car Accidents

A 16-year-old girl’s father said he didn’t have any tears left after his daughter was killed in a head-on wreck.

According to Kentucky State Police, the accident happened near the 300 block of Bypass Road in Brandenburg. Investigators determined that a 16-year-old driver tried to make an unprotected left turn, his Silverado struck an oncoming Ford Focus, which was unable to avoid the collision. The force of the wreck caused the Focus to careen into another vehicle. The 16-year-old girl, who was a Focus passenger, died at the scene. The 17-year-old driver of that vehicle was airlifted to a nearby hospital with serious injuries.

“I’m overwhelmed with everything. I’m happy that she made an impact on people’s lives, and I know she protected me a lot,” the deceased girl’s mother remarked.

Wrongful Death Claims

Many survivors understandably hesitate to file wrongful death claims after a fatal accident. After all, so they think, blaming a driver, especially a young driver, for a wreck doesn’t change the outcome of that collision. Furthermore, all the money in the world couldn’t begin to fill the emotional hole that a wrongful death creates.

However, most personal injury claims don’t punish anyone for anything. Punishment is a criminal court concept. Compensation is the only thing that matters in civil court. And, let’s face it. Fatal accident survivors need compensation for things like:

  • Medical bills related to the decedent’s final illness or injury,
  • Lost future emotional support, 
  • Final expenses, like burial, cremation, and funeral expenses, and
  • Lost future financial support.

This money shouldn’t come from the survivors’ own pockets. These people already have more than enough to deal with.

Many of these items, like lost future support, are very difficult to calculate, especially if the decedent was a young person. In these cases, a Lexington personal injury attorney often partners with an accountant, a financial planner, a psychologist, and/or another outside professional.

Let’s face another fact. Money reduces grief. If family members can make some positive memories that are associated with their loved one’s departing, that departure is a lot easier to handle. The pain remains, and it always will remain. But the pain isn’t as bad.

First Party Liability

Determining a fair amount of compensation is often difficult, but it’s usually not the hardest part of a wrongful death case. Frequently, identifying the responsible party is a lot harder. That’s especially true in left-turn wreck claims.

These wrecks are especially common in motorcycle crash claims. But, the factor that usually causes these wrecks, which is driver inattention, could happen anytime.

If one motorist makes an unprotected left turn directly in front of another motorist, liability in the wreck seems clear cut. Such turns are clearly unsafe and illegal.

This maneuver might be illegal in traffic court, but it’s not always illegal in civil court, because of the last clear chance rule.

Let’s look at the above accident in depth. A Silverado turned in front of a Focus. Since Silverado drivers sit very high, they can easily see far-away vehicles, but they often have a hard time seeing close-up vehicles. That’s especially true if the vehicle in question wasn’t much bigger than a golf cart.

These things don’t excuse negligence. But, they could make the last clear chance defense easier to prove in court. If, under all the circumstances, the Focus driver could have avoided the crash but didn’t change lanes or speeds, the Focus driver is legally responsible for the wreck. If jurors believe the Silverado driver was operating as cautiously as possible, they’re more likely to blame the other driver for the wreck.

Third Party Liability

In terms of liability determinations, we’re just getting started. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) who caused the wreck may or may not be financially responsible for that wreck in court.

If an under-18 driver might have caused a crash, a red flag goes up for a Lexington personal injury lawyer. These collisions often involve the negligent entrustment rule, another rather complicated legal doctrine. Regardless of which driver is liable for the above wreck, negligent entrustment probably applies. Since neither driver could legally own a motor vehicle, they each were using someone else’s property.

This rule, which is valid in all states, applies if an owner knowingly allows an incompetent driver to operate his/her motor vehicle, and the incompetent driver causes a crash. Evidence of incompetence, in roughly descending order, includes:

  • No drivers’ license,
  • Safety-suspended drivers’ license,
  • Driving in violation of a license restriction (e.g. no freeway driving),
  • Prior recent at-fault collisions, and
  • A generally poor driving record.

At the top end, negligent entrustment usually applies automatically if the driver was unlicensed. These individuals are normally incompetent as a matter of law. At the bottom end, a poor driving record, by itself, usually isn’t enough to establish negligent entrustment.

Kentucky’s laws in this area are pretty confusing. For example, the Bluegrass State has a limited contributory negligence law. In plain English, This law makes it a little easier to prove negligent entrustment, but the law isn’t strong enough to make such a case a slam dunk.

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.