Two Dead Following Head-On Wreck in Knox County

by | May 31, 2022 | Car Accidents

A Pineville man and a Girdler teen were killed in an apparent head-on wreck that investigators had difficulty reconstructing.

Investigators don’t know how long a 2001 Toyoya was traveling north on the southbound side of U.S. Highway 25 before that vehicle struck a southbound 2018 Charger. Both drivers were declared dead at the scene.

A third person, a 17-year-old passenger in the Charger, was airlifted to a regional hospital with serious injuries.

Evidence in Car Wreck Claims

To obtain compensation in a car wreck case, a Lexington personal injury attorney must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. We’ll examine negligence below. First, let’s look at the evidence in a car crash case. Unless the evidence is very strong, the case probably won’t survive pretrial motions. Additionally, maximum evidence usually means maximum compensation.

Frequently, the police accident report is the most important bit of evidence in a car wreck claim. Police officers collect evidence at the scene. This evidence includes the names and contact information of potential witnesses. Additionally, police officers reconstruct the wreck. This report is so important that many attorneys over-rely on it.

The evidence collection component of a police accident report is always incomplete. Emergency responders aren’t crime scene investigators. As soon as they arrive on scene, they secure the area and assist injured victims. Collecting evidence for a future civil lawsuit is nowhere on their radar screens. At best, evidence collection is an afterthought.

Additionally, some of the best physical evidence, like a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, is unavailable at the accident scene. Police officers, who are usually only interested in a barebones reconstruction, usually don’t bother with this additional evidence. They’d rather file their reports as quickly as possible and move onto other things. So,an attorney must inspect this evidence later. 

As for witness statements, emergency responders only collect statements and information from witnesses who voluntarily come forward at the scene. Many people have better things to do than to hang around accident scenes, often for an hour or more, until a police officer interviews them. Moreover, for various reasons, many people don’t like talking to police officers.

Attorneys usually partner with private investigators to find additional eyewitnesses. Even if a witness only saw part of a crash, or the events before or after a wreck, that testimony could be the critical missing piece of the puzzle.

In terms of accident reconstruction, most emergency responders have limited experience in this area. They usually have limited interest in this area as well. As mentioned, their priorities lie elsewhere. Moreover, car wrecks are civil disputes, as far as most emergency responders are concerned. So, they’re content to let the lawyers work out the details later.

To make up for these deficiencies, a Lexington personal injury attorney often partners with an accident reconstruction engineer. This activity could slightly delay the start of settlement negotiations. However, once the negotiations start, an attorney is in a much stronger bargaining position. In other words, a slight investment on the front end pays big rewards on the back end. That’s true in most areas of life.

Fault vs. Liability in Head-On Wrecks

Evidence in a case is like different colors of paint on a painter’s palette. The colors just sit there until a Lexington personal injury attorney paints a picture. A good painter doesn’t just paint by the numbers. Likewise, a good lawyer doesn’t paint by the numbers either.

Head-on wrecks are a good example. Usually, there’s a difference between preliminary fault determinations and final liability determinations. That liability determination, which a jury makes, is the only one that matters in the end.

In their reports, which as mentioned are often not much more than their best guesses, emergency responders almost always assign fault to the wrong-way driver. However, the game-changing last clear chance doctrine often comes into play in these situations.

If Bill suddenly and unexpectedly crosses the center line, perhaps because he was intoxicated, and wound up in front of Ted, there’s almost nothing Ted could do to avoid a wreck. So, Bill is legally responsible for the wreck. But if Bill was driving on the wrong side of the road, perhaps because he thought an exit was an entrance, Ted could easily avoid a crash. 

Because of the duty of reasonable care, Ted simply cannot let a wreck happen. He has a duty to avoid it if possible. Ted’s breach of his duty means he is legally responsible for the wreck.

There’s a lot at stake. Damages in a car crash case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

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.