Few details were available about a bizarre fatal accident that happened when a man apparently charged a semi-truck with a folding chair.
Apparently, the trucker, who saw the man approaching his rig, had slowed to nearly a stop when the pedestrian struck the side of the semi several times with the chair, before being caught in the drive wheels and pulled under the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Todd County Deputy Coroner Mike Tino-Cunniffe.
The Todd County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.
Establishing First Party Liability
When it comes to evidence in a vehicle collision claim, a Lexington personal injury lawyer must look past any unusual circumstances, and we’ve seen a lot of unusual circumstances over the years, and focus on the basics. These basics usually include the police accident report, medical bills, and witness statements. Frequently, this evidence is lacking, especially in wrongful death claims.
If the victim was killed in a wreck, the victim most likely didn’t give a statement to the reporting officer, which means the final report is biased. The medical records might not be much help either. Some coroners list specific causes of death, like exsanguination (excessive blood loss) or head trauma. Other coroners just check the “accident-related” box and move on. Finally, witness statements are often hard to come by, particularly in freeway wrecks. Most people want to get where they’re going. They’d rather not loiter at accident scenes.
Fortunately for victims, who have the burden of proof in negligence claims, supplemental evidence is usually available in these areas, if an attorney is diligent enough.
An accident reconstruction professional can accurately piece together the events leading up to a crash, based on physical and electronic evidence, like the information stored on a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder.
This same outside professional partnership makes vague medical bills more specific. Doctors often review cases and offer their expert opinions as to the cause of death and the pain and suffering the victim endured. On a related note, outside professionals also help a Lexintin personal injury lawyer establish a value for losses like future emotional and financial support.
Finding additional witnesses is a long and laborious process. This process usually involves sitting on stakeouts, knocking on doors, sending out mailers, and other unglamorous work. But these efforts usually pay off.
Vicarious Liability in Car Crash Claims
This evidence, when combined with the applicable duty of care, usually establishes driver negligence. Professional operators, like truckers, have a higher duty of care than nonprofessional drivers.
Although the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is legally and morally responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor may not be financially responsible for damages. That burden frequently falls on a third party.
Respondeat superior, a legal theory that usually applies in truck driver, taxi driver, Uber driver, and other commercial operator claims, is a good example. Employers are legally responsible for their employees’ negligence if:
- Employee: For tax purposes, most truck drivers are independent contractors or other non-employees. But for negligence purposes, since the truck’s owner controls delivery schedules and other driver behavior aspects, these individuals are employees.
- Scope of Employment: Kentucky law also defines this important phrase in broad, victim-friendly ways. Typically, any act which benefits the employer in any way is within the scope of employment.
This legal theory only applies to negligence, or unintentional injuries. Given the bizarre nature of this wreck, an insurance company lawyer could argue that the tortfeasor and victim had a cat-and-mouse game going.
The employer is probably still liable for damages. Other employer liability theories, which usually apply in intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.
The Sudden Emergency Defense
This defense excuses negligence if the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency. Unlike the respondeat superior elements, Kentucky law narrowly defines a “sudden emergency” to include a completely unexpected situation, like a lightning strike.
A jaywalking pedestrian, though unusual, is an everyday hazard. You don’t see a disabled vehicle every day either, but the duty of care requires motorists to avoid them.
Pedestrians who are on highways are a little different. Tortfeasors should expect to see these individuals jaywalking on surface streets. It’s much more unusual to see a jaywalking pedestrian on a freeway. Nevertheless, the same principles usually apply, especially if there were any warning signs, like a disabled vehicle nearby.
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. We routinely handle matters in Fayette County and nearby jurisdictions.