A teenage girl in the ESPNW Top 100 planned to play for the University of Iowa this fall. But those plans may be on hold, after a drunk driver hit her and three other people in a downtown area.
The Hutchinson teen plays for the Wheat State Elite, an AAU basketball team from Kansas. She was in town, along with her parents, for the prestigious, 80-team Run for the Roses Tournament at the Kentucky Exposition Center. As she and her parents were in downtown Louisville, a 33-year-old Lexington man left the road at the intersection of Second and Market Streets. His vehicle then barreled into the Hutchinson teen and her parents, critically injuring all three of them. A fourth victim, an 11-year-old child, was also seriously injured.
The Lexington, Indiana man now faces multiple criminal charges, including DUI and four counts of first-degree assault.
Future Losses in Injury Claims
Prior medical bills are usually the largest component of economic damages in a car wreck claim. Three days in a hospital costs over $30,000. Property damage is often a very close second. Many new vehicles cost at least that much.
Future losses are often almost as high and always much more difficult to calculate. How does one begin to calculate something like future lost wages for a basketball star? If a permanent injury is limiting in any way, hopes of a free college education and a possible professional career are probably over. Of course, these things, especially the future pro career, are quite speculative.
Future medical problems also mean future emotional distress. Most disabled people go on to live fulfilling lives. But they are always missing something. These losses are hard to quantify as well. How does one put a price tag on something like the inability to participate in a fun run or ride a roller coaster?
Generally, Lexington personal injury attorneys partner with doctors, psychologists, accountants, and other outside professionals in these situations. These individuals offer their neutral, expert opinions about these and other matters.
First Party Liability in Alcohol-Related Wrecks
But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before an attorney starts thinking about compensation in a pedestrian accident claim, an attorney must first focus on building a case. In an alcohol-related wreck, this case usually involves the negligence per se rule or the ordinary negligence doctrine.
Negligence per se usually applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violates the DUI law or another safety law. These individuals could be liable for damages as a matter of law. Evidence of negligence is usually irrelevant, at least for liability purposes.
However, such proof is relevant for damages purposes. Typically, there’s a direct relationship between the amount of evidence a victim presents and the amount of compensation a jury awards.
DUI is a good example. If a lawyer puts forth minimal effort and exclusively relies on the citation itself, jurors usually award minimum compensation. If a lawyer puts forth more effort and introduces additional evidence, like how much alcohol the tortfeasor consumed, jurors are more likely to award maximum compensation.
This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The same compensation is available in an ordinary negligence claim. Many drivers aren’t legally intoxicated, but they are dangerously impaired. Evidence of impairment includes:
- Erratic driving,
- Physical symptoms, like bloodshot eyes,
- Tortfeasor’s statements about alcohol consumption, and
- Driver’s [previous stops.
If a tortfeasor recently visited a restaurant or other place where alcohol is served, it’s more likely than not that s/he had at least one drink there. More likely than not (a preponderance of the evidence) is usually the burden of proof in a civil claim.
Third Party Liability
Individuals are legally responsible for alcohol-related wrecks. Commercial providers are often financially responsible for them. Kentucky has a very broad dram shop law. Under this law, restaurants, bars, and other commercial providers could be financially responsible for damages if they illegally sell alcohol, and that customer later causes a wreck. Common illegal sales include:
- Unlicensed sales,
- Underage sales,
- Sales to visibly intoxicated individuals, and
- After-hours sales.
Additionally, the wreck must be a foreseeable (possible) result of the illegal sale. The foreseeability requirement is often hard to meet in illegal packaged alcohol sales. Usually, however, it’s foreseeable that a patron will open a beer and drink it on the way home.
Non-commercial alcohol providers, like party hosts, might also be vicariously liable for damages, under a theory like negligent undertaking.
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.