We all know the parable of the Good Samaritan, one who does what he can to help someone in need, even when they have no obligation to do so. In most cases, a Good Samaritan is a welcome sight. However, not every Good Samaritan actually accomplishes the good deeds they intend to perform. That is exactly what happened in an unfortunate turn of events that lead to a horrible car accident. As your car accident attorney can explain, Good Samaritans can also be held liable for injuries in a car accident.
The story of Missouri resident Rebecca Forkey
Three vehicles were traveling on an interstate in Missouri when the driver of an Acura SUV noticed another driver behaving erratically, swerving across lanes and obviously posing a threat to other motorists on the roadway. The Acura driver called 911 and reported the situation to the emergency dispatcher. The dispatcher instructed the Acura driver not to follow the erratic driver.
However, the Acura driver, intending to be a Good Samaritan and protect the other drivers from the one who was apparently impaired, did not heed the dispatcher’s warning. He continued to follow the other driver for at least three minutes. Unexpectedly, the impaired driver veered toward the Acura causing the Good Samaritan to swerve to the right, which forced Rebecca Forkey’s jeep off the road. Her jeep flipped six times, finally landing upside down on the interstate.
Forkey suffered catastrophic injuries
Forkey suffered a spinal cord injury, fractured vertebra, punctured longs, a broken jaw and a crushed diaphragm, requiring her to be hospitalized for two months. She underwent several brain surgeries in order to relieve the pressure in her skull. Four of her vertebrae had to be fused in her neck. She is now a quadriplegic and confined to a wheelchair.
The Good Samaritan’s deeds would not go unpunished
The reality is, as any car accident attorney will tell you, Forkey’s injuries could have been avoided if the Acura driver had only followed the emergency dispatcher’s instructions not to pursue the impaired driver. It was determined that the driver was, indeed, under the influence of prescription drugs. The impaired driver was charged and convicted of felony DUI and reckless driving. The Acura driver was not brought up on any criminal charges, but his employer was held liable for his negligence because he was on-the-clock at the time of the accident.
Lawsuit settled for $24 million against the Good Samaritan
Rebecca Forkey, though a quadriplegic, continues to work hard to regain use of her hands and arms through intensive physical therapy. Nevertheless, she will likely remain permanently disabled for the rest of her life. When she brought the lawsuit in order to recover for catastrophic injuries, the case was somewhat complicated because there were several parties that could be legally responsible. In Forkey’s case, there were actually two different drivers that were negligent in some respect. The Good Samaritan driver was held responsible through his employer, under a theory of vicarious liability against the company. In this case, the lawsuit was ultimately settled for $24 million, with the help of her car accident attorney.
Negligence of other drivers results in the majority of car accidents
The unfortunate truth is, the largest threat on the roadway is typically other drivers. In fact, the negligence of other drivers accounts for more car accidents and more deaths than any other cause. The trouble is, there are so many different reasons why other drivers are negligent, all of which can be extremely dangerous.
Understanding the three legal elements required to prove negligence
Each legal claim has specific elements or facts that need to be proven in order to successfully prove negligence. A negligence claim has three elements that must be proven. First, you are required to establish there was a certain duty of care that was owed to the individual who was ultimately injured. Next, you are required to show that there was a breach of that specific duty, which means the obligation was not fulfilled. That breach must have also caused the injuries being claimed in the lawsuit. The specific injuries that were suffered must also be established with competent evidence, typically with medical records and expert testimony.
If you have questions regarding car accidents, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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