Kentucky State Police troopers are investigating a two-car crash on the Western Kentucky Parkway that killed a 31-year-old woman.
The wreck happened near Mile Marker 103 in Leitchfield. According to investigators, an eastbound Jeep crossed the centerline, colliding with a westbound Fusion. The Fusion driver was declared dead at the scene.
Emergency responders rushed the seriously-injured Jeep driver to Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center.
Car Crash Injuries
Head-on wrecks usually cause catastrophic injuries. There’s so much force in these collisions that no safety system, no matter how advanced, can possibly absorb it all. Frequently, these injuries are difficult to diagnose and treat.
Whiplash, a serious head-neck injury, is a good example. The violent motion of a vehicle collision causes this injury. In general, airbags and other safety systems help reduce trauma injuries, but they do nothing to reduce motion injuries.
Whiplash, which is a soft tissue injury, doesn’t appear on many diagnostic tests. Therefore, doctors, especially those who are very busy or don’t have experience treating injury-related conditions, often attribute initial whiplash symptoms, like disorientation and soreness, to accident shock. This misdiagnosis is one reason the Emergency Room transfer rate (the number of car crash victims who go to the ER and are admitted into hospitals) is so low.
Like most head and spine injuries, whiplash is degenerative. The soreness eventually becomes stiffness and then paralysis. At this point, whiplash is very difficult to treat.
Issues like this make medical referral one of the most important jobs that a Lexington personal injury attorney has in these situations. If doctors don’t get ahead of physical problems like whiplash, the future is bleak for victims.
As a bonus, these doctors, who are highly experienced in this area, usually charge nothing upfront for their services. Like lawyers, doctors defer billing until the case is settled or otherwise resolved.
There’s more good news. Doctors often agree to reduce their fees in injury-related cases. If that happens, victims might get to keep more of their settlement money, due to Kentucky’s complex collateral source rule.
Assume Mary’s medical bills are $100,000. Her Lexington personal injury lawyer convinces her doctor to reduce those bills to $80,000. Her bills are still $100k for compensation purposes. Therefore, she might get to keep the extra $20,000.
Fault vs. Liability
Sometimes, lawyers use these terms interchangeably. But they’re not the same. The difference between fault and liability in a civil claim is like the difference between a halftime score and a final score in a football game.
Frequently, additional evidence makes the difference. For example, an attorney might find an additional witness as the lawyer investigates the claim. This witness might have a completely different perspective on the accident than the one in the initial report.
Other times, a legal doctrine makes the difference. That’s especially true in head-on and rear-end wreck claims, because of the last clear chance rule. This rule is based on the principle that all drivers have a duty of care at all times. This legal responsibility requires them to avoid crashes if possible, regardless of what another driver does, or doesn’t, do.
Assume Ralph is driving safely, but he’s going the wrong way, perhaps because his parka got caught in the seat, he almost lost control of his car, he slammed on the brakes, and confused an off-ramp for an on-ramp.
If Ed, who is going the right way, sees Ralph coming, he probably has a reasonable chance to avoid a wreck, especially if the pavement is dry. If that’s the case, Ed, not Ralph, is legally responsible for the wreck, even though Ed did nothing wrong.
However, if Ralph suddenly and unexpectedly veers into oncoming traffic, there’s probably no way Ed could have avoided a wreck, especially if the road was wet. This legal doctrine only applies if a driver had the last clear chance, as opposed to any possible chance.
Would the last clear chance rule have applied in the 1987 classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? It’s hard to say. Loveable loser Dell Griffith was driving pretty safely and the highway was straight. However, the oncoming semi-trucks might not have been able to quickly change lanes or speeds, especially since the pavement wasn’t dry.
So, if you were involved in such a wreck, always ask a Lexington personal injury attorney to evaluate your case, even if an insurance or police investigator said you were at fault.
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.
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