Serious Car Wreck Kills One, Injures Two
An errant bicyclist triggered a two-car automobile collision that caused serious injuries to at least three people.
Although all the victims were from Kentucky, the wreck occurred in Bloomington, Indiana. Witnesses and police state that a bicyclist, whose name was not release, fell over while trying to cross State Road 37. To avoid the toppled-over rider, the 21 year old driver, swerved to the right on the southbound side. She lost control of her car and barrelled across the median onto the northbound side, where she collided with a 50 year-old driver, of Franklin. Both drivers were seriously injured and an 11 year passenger of Martinsville, died as a result of her injuries.
Venue in Automobile Collision Cases
If the victim and tortfeasor (negligent driver) are not from the same county, and that is often the case, the victim/plaintiff has a choice of where to file a legal damages claim. Normally, the victim/plaintiff may pursue such a claim where the automobile collision took place or where the plaintiff resides.
In these situations, it is sometimes best to pursue the case near the accident location, because this venue is normally convenient for the witnesses and close to the physical evidence. In other situations, it’s best to file suit where the plaintiff resides, because this venue is often the most convenient one for the victim. There are some other factors to consider as well, such as the probable jury composition and the judge’s attitude towards automobile collisions cases.
An experienced attorney can weigh the pros and cons and determine the best venue.
Liability in Automobile Collision Cases
Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in negligence cases, and to prove they are entitled to compensation, there are two basic theories available:
- Negligence: If the tortfeasor violated the duty of reasonable care, perhaps by driving while fatigued or distracted, and that breach caused the automobile collision, the tortfeasor is legally responsible for damages.
- Negligence Per Se: If the tortfeasor broke a safety law, such as operating a vehicle on the wrong side of the road, the tortfeasor is normally liable for damages as a matter of law.
If the victim sustained a serious injury, the tortfeasor is liable for both tangible losses, such as medical bills, and intangible losses, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.
If an unexpected hazard, such as a visibility-restricting hood fly-up, is involved in the automobile collision, insurance company lawyers typically raise the sudden emergency defense. The defense applies if the tortfeasor reasonably reacted to a sudden emergency, a phrase that has a specific meaning in this context.
The above story raises some interesting questions in this area. A bicyclist in the road is not normally a “sudden emergency” for legal purposes, because it is common to see bicyclists in the road. However, it is not common to see overturned bicycles in the road. Similarly, while the reasonable thing to do in these situations is to veer to the right, it is clearly not reasonable to lose control of one’s car and cause an automobile collision.
Usually, the judge decides whether the legal elements of the defense are present and the jury decides if the defense applies to those particular facts.
Automobile collision victims are usually entitled to significant compensation, if they can prove negligence. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Mumfordville, contact Attorney Gary S. Logsdon. A lawyer can arrange ongoing medical care for victims, even if they have no money and no insurance.