Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Fatal car crash on I-40 kills marine, may spawn death claim

It is dangerous to get out of one's car at night on a busy Interstate highway. That may be doubly true when one has an accident on the highway and gets out of the car to inquire if the other driver is okay. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, such an event occurred on Oct. 10 at about 12:30 a.m. when an 18-year-old Marine was involved in a minor car crash on Interstate 40.

The two cars spun and had ended up blocking several lanes of the highway. When the Marine got out of his car to inquire about the other motorist, he was struck and killed by a passing car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Generally, the pedestrian who is hit on the highway while checking on a disabled car is taking a grave risk. This likely constitutes some degree of negligence. That does not mean, however, that the motorist-pedestrian here is more negligent than the driver of the passing vehicle that struck and killed him.

In many states, including Tennessee, the plaintiff may recover if he or she is less than 50 percent at fault in the accident. That may be the case here because one who finds himself in an emergency is not required to react with absolute due care. Furthermore, an approaching vehicle must be on the lookout for anything or anyone on the highway ahead and must be going slow enough to bring his or her vehicle to a safe stop within an assured clear distance. 

In this case, the decedent's immediate family may initiate a claim by first filing an estate on his behalf. The estate may then pursue a wrongful death claim for damages against any alleged wrongdoers in the car crash. The claim is essentially for the economic value of the man's life over the remainder of his projected lifespan. If the decedent suffered conscious pain and suffering before death, the estate may also claim that item of damages, along with funeral and medical expenses. In Tennessee and other states, the formula for calculating death damages is somewhat complex and is usually proved by the testimony of an actuarial accountant.

Source: smokeybarn.com, "Coming Home To Springfield, Marine Killed In Traffic Accident", Oct. 11, 2015

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