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Wrong-Way Collision in Verona Kills One, Injures Two

Wrong Way Collision in Verona
Pianko Law Group 
December 7, 2021

Multiple agencies are investigating a serious collision in upstate New York which killed one person and seriously injured two other people.

The wreck happened on State Highway 46. For unknown reasons, a 36-year-old man from Rome, who was northbound, crossed over into southbound traffic. He collided with a southbound vehicle carrying a 79-year-old woman and a 74-year-old woman. The 79-year-old woman, who was behind the wheel, died at the scene. The other two people involved int he accident sustained serious injuries.

One victim had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Medical Bills in Car Wreck Claims

The medical bills in a car wreck usually exceed $55,000. Many of these injuries, like head injuries, are difficult to diagnos and treat.

Vehicle restraint systems, like seat belts and airbags, cannot possibly absorb all the force in a high-speed collision. So, car crashes are the most common causes of head injuries. Initially, the symptoms usually include disorientation and soreness. Even experienced doctors commonly believe that shock from the accident caused these symptoms.

After a few days, victims begin experiencing symptoms like tinnitus (ringing in the ears), severe headaches, and personality changes. At this point, only a combination of surgery and physical therapy usually helps. Surgery reduces brain swelling. Physical therapists train uninjured parts of the brain to take over lost functions.

Generally, car crash head injury victims suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The aforementioned emotional symptoms, like personality changes, continue for months or even years. No amount of medication or physical therapy can eliminate them. At best, these treatments simply make PTSD manageable.

Many car crashes also include high ancillary medical expenses. For example, helicopter medevac costs an average of $25,000. Other ancillary costs include prescription drugs and medical devices. Since health insurance usually covers much of the cost, most people don't realize how expensive these items are. Unfortunately, they find out quickly. Most group health plans don't cover injury-related costs.

The tortfeasor's (negligent driver's) auto insurance company is financially responsible for these charges, at least in most cases. If the insurance company delays payment, and it often does, a New York personal injury lawyer usually sends a letter of protection to providers. These letters guarantee payment when the case is resolved. So, they usually charge nothing upfront.

These letters usually go to non-medical providers as well, such as body shops and car rental agencies. So, victims get the non-medical help they need when they need it. They do not have to settle for what an insurance adjuster is willing to pay for.

Evidence in Car Wreck Claims

Like most bills, medical and other injury-related bills must be paid eventually. Therefore, it's important to establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. We'll talk about liability below. First, let's talk about the evidence in a car wreck case.

Frequently, this evidence is the Holy Trinity of the police accident report, medical bills, and witness statements. This evidence is often, but certainly not always, sufficient to obtain maximum compensation. The police report exemplifies some of the issues in these situations.

In the above story, several agencies worked the crash. Therefore, the police report is most likely comprehensive. But in other cases, only two or three law enforcement responders show up. Because of the size of this skeleton crew, the police report's quality usually suffers. Responders simply have more important tasks to perform. Writing a report takes a back seat.

Inherent weaknesses are common as well. If the victim was catastrophically injured or killed, the police report obviously only contains one side of the story. Tortfeasors rarely lie. But, they do remember things differently. We all do that.

If the police report is thin, a New York personal injury attorney often works with an accident reconstruction professional. These individuals know how to take a tiny bit of evidence, use it as a starting point, and then paint a comprehensive picture for the jury.

Similar problems often affect the other kinds of evidence in a vehicle collision case. Many medical bills don't include treatment notes or information about the victim's pain levels. As for witnesses, many people don't loiter at accident scenes so they can talk to police officers. Additional investigation, like an independent medical review or recanvassing the area, usually solves these problems.

The Difference Between Fault and Liability

Sufficient evidence is only part of the puzzle. Legal theories apply as well, especially in head-on crash cases. These legal theories often mean that the party who was faulted for the crash is not liable for damages. Unfortunately, many victims believe that if they were at fault, they are ineligible for compensation. That's often not true. So, if you or a loved one was hurt in a wreck, always have an attorney evaluate the claim.

Last clear chance is closely related to the duty of care. This legal responsibility requires all motorists to avoid wrecks if they can. It doesn't matter what the other driver does or doesn't do.

Assume it's a bright and sunny day on a straight, four-lane road. A grassy median separates the opposite sides of traffic. In these conditions, if Driver A crosses from the northbound side to the southbound side, Driver B probably could have avoided the crash. S/he could have changed speeds or lanes, especially when s/he saw Driver A meander across the grass.

Now assume it's a dark and stormy night on a hilly, four-lane road. There is no median. In these conditions, if Driver A drifts across the center line, there's probably nothing Driver B could have done to avoid a wreck. First, things happened too fast. Second, sudden evasive maneuvers might cause Driver B to lose control of his/her vehicle.

If the last clear chance doctrine applies, Driver B would be legally responsible for the wreck in either situation, even though Driver B did nothing wrong.

Damages in a car wreck claim not only include compensation for the aforementioned medical bills and other economic losses. It also includes compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

A vehicle collision often causes more financial pain than physical pain. And that's a lot of pain. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, contact the Pianko Law Group, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.


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