Few details were available about a two-car wreck that claimed the life of an Oldham County woman.
The Barren County Sheriff’s Office asked the Kentucky State Police to help them look into a crash on Mammoth Cave Road and Old Mammoth Cave Road, according to a release. A preliminary investigation revealed that a 25-year-old Goshen woman was driving a 2001 Volvo west on Mammoth Cave Road when she failed to see a vehicle stopped in traffic ahead of her and waiting to turn. She then swerved into the eastbound lane and struck a 2014 Jeep Wrangler head on. The Volvo driver was pronounced dead at the scene by the Barren County Coroner’s Office.
Police said a passenger within the Volvo was flown to University of Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville. The Jeep driver wasn’t seriously hurt.
Car Crash Evidence
When only one or two agencies investigate a car crash, that’s usually a red flag for Lexington personal injury attorneys, at least in terms of the evidence in the case. Proof is critical. Victim/plaintiffs must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Moreover, the more evidence a victim/plaintiff presents, the more compensation a jury usually awards.
Why are single or dual agency investigations a red flag? We’re glad you asked. The police report is often woefully incomplete in these situations. Law enforcement agencies with limited resources, like the tiny Barren County Sheriff’s Office, almost never employ accident reconstruction engineers. Spread thin agencies, like the Kentucky State Police, usually only send these professionals to huge, high-profile wrecks.
A Lexington personal injury lawyer often partners with an independent accident reconstruction professional in these situations. These individuals piece together the events leading up to the wreck, as well as the wreck itself, to determine ultimate responsibility. More on that below.
Electronic evidence often plays an outsized role in these situations as well. Almost all passenger vehicles have an Event Data Recorder. Depending on the make and model, these gadgets usually measure and record data like:
- Steering angle,
- Vehicle speed,
- Engine RPM, and
- Brake application.
An attorney, often working hand-in-hand with an engineer, can fit these bits of evidence together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
Electronic evidence is much more reliable than eyewitness testimony in court. Unlike people, computers are never incorrect or biased.
Unfortunately, unless a lawyer acts quickly and decisively, this critical proof is often unavailable. Most insurance companies destroy wrecked vehicles in a matter of days. If that happens, any physical evidence the vehicle contains, including the EDR, is gone. So, lawyers must act quickly to preserve this evidence before an insurance company “accidentally” destroys it. Additionally, since Kentucky has such strong vehicle information privacy laws, attorneys usually need court orders before they can inspect and download EDR data.
Fault vs. Liability
Evidence, and expert review of this evidence, determines liability, which is ultimate legal responsibility. In contrast, “fault” is a preliminary determination based solely on any evidence at the scene.
In other words, the difference between fault and liability in a car crash case is a little like the difference between the halftime score and the final score in a basketball game. The team that’s leading at halftime often wins the game. But that’s not always the case, or even generally the case.
The difference between fault and liability is especially important in wrong-way crashes, like the one in the above story. If an emergency responder or insurance adjusted assessed fault, the blame would fall squarely on the driver who swerved to avoid a stopped car. First, that driver apparently wasn’t watching the road. Second, the driver swerved to the left instead of to the right.
Liability for damages could be different, mostly because of the last clear chance rule. If Driver A could change lanes, reduce speed, or otherwise prevent a wreck with wrong-way Driver B, Driver A is liable for damages.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme situations.
Victims need this compensation to pay medical bills and other accident-related expenses. They deserve this compensation because, in many cases, it’s the only thing that enables them to move forward with their lives.
In the above case, the facts might come into play as well. Traffic, weather, and other conditions might have prevented Driver B from swerving to the right. If that’s the case, it’s even easier to apply the last clear chance doctrine and flip responsibility for this fatal wreck.
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.