College Student from Kentucky among Four Killed in Car Accident

Four people were killed in a car accident on January 18, 2012, including a Louisville, Kentucky woman who was attending the University of South Carolina. She was 23 years old. The other victims were also all in their early 20s.

The group had been celebrating the Kentucky woman’s birthday. Witnesses said they had seen the group at various nightclubs throughout the night, including one where one of the victims worked. Around 5 a.m., the driver of the Dodge Charger missed a sharp turn on George Rogers Boulevard in Richland County, South Carolina. The car crashed into a Farm Bureau Insurance building and burst into flames.

Several factors could have contributed to this tragic accident. Because the accident occurred early in the morning after the group had apparently been out at various nightclubs, alcohol is the first factor that comes to everyone’s mind. Adding to this the fact that they were celebrating someone’s 23rd birthday makes this seem even more inevitable. However toxicology reports have not been completed and probably will not be available for a week or two. If the report determines that the driver was intoxicated, action may be able to be taken against the establishments that served him alcohol. South Carolina does not have a specific “dram shop law” like Kentucky does, in which establishments that serve alcohol and allow an intoxicated person to drive can be held liable for personal injuries or damages he or she may cause. But recently the court upheld a verdict with a large award against a nightclub after a patron left, drove his car, and killed someone. So some liability may fall on the nightclubs the victims visited if they were served alcohol and were intoxicated when they left. The families of the passengers in the car may also decide to file wrongful death suits against the driver’s family. No other vehicles were involved, which narrows the fault down to the driver of the Charger.

Another factor that seems to have contributed to the accident was speed. Because the vehicle burst into flames on impact, and because the occupants appear to have been killed by the impact rather than the fire, the car was most likely going at a high rate of speed at the time of the accident. Investigators also think that at least three of the four people in the car were not wearing seatbelts. Whether or not seatbelts could have saved their lives will probably not ever be determined.

Damages that could be sought in this situation include compensatory and punitive. Because all of the victims perished in the accident, any damages would be awarded to their families. Compensatory damages could include loss of income, both current and future, medical bills, loss of companionship, and emotional distress. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant or defendants as a deterrent for them to act in the same manner in the future.

Car accidents that take lives are tragic, no matter what the circumstances are, and the fact that this one accident took four young lives makes it even more tragic. Emotions can run high and bad decisions can be made in this type of situation. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one in an accident, contact a Kentucky personal injury attorney like Steven Frederick to help determine what course of action needs to be taken.

Sources:

Victims of Wednesday crash identified; midlandsconnect.com; Drew Stewart; January 19, 2012

4 Killed in Car Crash Included USC Students; wltx.com; Tony Santaella; January 19, 2012

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