Legal responsibility is often hard to determine in head-on crashes, because of evidentiary and legal issues.
Oklahoma City, OK -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/20/2020 -- Police are still investigating a fireball crash in rural Colbert which killed two people in two different vehicles.
Early reports indicate that Ramon Flores, of Cartwright, slammed into Kurt Horn, of Plano. Flores was northbound in the southbound lane of Highway 75. Witness Timothy Witt said Flores was travelling on the wrong side of the road for some time. "When we were coming up close near the bridge we noticed that it had actually already run another vehicle off the road ahead of us, luckily that gave us enough time to react," he recalled.
Flores and Horn were both declared dead at the scene after one of the wrecked vehicles caught fire.
"Wrong-way collisions are deceptively straightforward," commented Oklahoma City auto accident lawyer Phillip P. Owens II. "At first blush, the accident always seems like the wrong way driver's fault. But the facts and law often indicate otherwise." So, even if the police said the wreck was your fault, it is always important for a lawyer to review your case, he added.
Emergency responders conduct the best investigation possible. But they never have access to some of the most critical evidence, such as a vehicle's Event Data Recorder. Much like a commercial jet's black box records critical flight data, vehicle EDRs measure and record data like:
Brake application, and
Because of privacy laws, attorneys normally need court orders before they can inspect and download EDR data.
Furthermore, attorneys must act quickly to preserve the EDR. Typically, the insurance company destroys totaled vehicles a few days after the collision. If that happens, the EDR, and any other physical evidence in the vehicle, is gone forever.
Legal doctrines often come into play as well. The last clear chance rule usually applies in head-on crash cases. If Driver A has a chance to avoid a crash yet does not do so, Driver A is legally responsible, even if Driver B was on the wrong side of the road.
Significantly, the driver must have the last clear chance, as opposed to any possible chance. Emergency maneuvers, like quick lane changes and sudden stops, are often impossible because of traffic, weather, or other conditions.
So, given this rule, and the lack of physical evidence, it's almost impossible to tell which driver was the victim and which one was the tortfeasor (negligent driver) in this tragic crash. Only a thorough attorney can make that determination.
One final note. Since one victim lived in Plano, a future negligence action could be filed in Bryan County, Oklahoma where the wreck occurred, or Collin County, Texas, where the victim resided. Attorneys make these venue choices based on a number of factors, such as the state's law or the availability of witnesses.
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