Kentucky Pedestrian Killed by Drunk Driver may be at Fault

On Monday, November 28, 2011, a Kentucky woman was crossing National Turnpike in Louisville early in the morning when she was struck by a pickup truck. She was seriously injured and was taken to University Hospital. Four days later, she died from her injuries caused by the truck accident, making her the 18th pedestrian killed by a vehicle in Louisville.

The 33-year-old driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene and was given a sobriety test. She tested at more than twice the legal limit and admitted to drinking 10 beers. She also had an open beer in the truck at the time of the accident and did not have a driver’s license. She was charged with driving under the influence, having an open container of alcohol in the truck, and driving without a valid license.

One would think that with all of the above charges brought against her, the driver would also be responsible for the death of the pedestrian, but that may not be the case in this particular accident. Preliminary investigations show that the pedestrian stepped into the road in front of the pickup truck, which would mean she caused the accident. “Someone walking in front of you, stepping in front of you, you can’t charge somebody for something that wasn’t their fault and was an accident,” according to LMPD Traffic Unit’s Lt. Doug Sweeney.

As of the end of January, the driver had only been charged with the issues listed previously, which carry a penalty of up to one year in jail. The pedestrian’s family does not think this is anywhere near harsh enough for the woman that killed their relative. They would like to see a wrongful death lawsuit filed. But the Jefferson County Attorney’s office, which is handling the case, said that is the strongest charge they can bring against her. The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office may be able to press felony charges, but will need to review the case to make that determination.

Wrongful death suits are filed by relatives of accident victim who do not survive. The suits normally ask for damages to cover tangible costs to the families such as lost income and medical expenses. Intangible expenses such as mental and emotional distress and loss of consortium can also be included. Punitive damages are meant to punish the individual or company that allegedly caused the death to deter them from acting the same way in the future.


Sources:

Pedestrian struck at Outer Loop, National Turnpike; driver charged with DUI; WHAS; Johnny Archer; November 28, 2011

Family of woman hit, killed by drunk driver says DUI charge is not enough
; WHAS; January 31, 2012

Investigation still underway after pedestrian dies from her injuries; WHAS; December 2, 2011