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A Northern Kentucky Tragedy, and What a Car Accident Lawyer Should Do

By now, everyone is familiar with the tragic accident that took the lives of Rodney Pollitt, Samantha Malohn, and their three children. Because this firm represented Mr. Pollitt and several members of Ms. Malohn’s family in the past, the news hit us especially hard. When lawyers are at their best, they seek justice. In one way, justice is already coming for the man that caused this tragedy. Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders will charge the other driver with five counts of murder for his role in the collision. That is criminal justice, but Lawrence & Associates is in the business of civil justice.

The civil justice system is the process of suing for money. That can be a lawsuit over injuries or deaths, such as what happened to the Pollitt family, or business suing each other over contracts, or many other things. There are a few forms of civil justice that might apply to the tragic deaths of the Pollitt family. First and most obvious, the driver of the other vehicle probably had automobile insurance that would cover the accident, although that might be as small as $25,000.00, the state minimum limit. Second, the Pollitt family’s car insurance should provide coverage, in the form of Uninsured Motorist Coverage if the other driver didn’t have insurance, or Underinsured Motorist Coverage if the other driver just didn’t have enough insurance. Third, and less obvious, a qualified law firm would do a complete background check of the other driver to find out whether he had any other insurance coverage that would cover the collision. For example, many people with high paying jobs or lots of assets will get an “Umbrella” policy that will provide another million dollars of coverage (or more) in the event of tragic losses. Uninsured, underinsured, and umbrella policies are where many people make mistakes when they try to handle their own insurance claims. If the family is too quick to sign off on the first $25,000.00 in coverage, they may accidentally waive their right to any additional insurance coverage.

In addition to the insurance for the at-fault driver and the deceased family, a good law firm needs to look into a Dram Shop claim against the golf course where the at-fault driver was allegedly drinking before the collision. A dram shop claim arises whenever a bar or similar business sells alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, or to a minor. At this time, news reports have not covered this possibility, and so we don’t know whether the golf course might be liable under the dram shop laws. But given the scope of this tragedy, the possibility should be investigated.

Finally, an accident investigator should pull the black box from the at-fault driver’s car and inspect all the major mechanical systems. Almost all newer model cars now have a (black box [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/black%20box]), which records all the driving data up to the point of a collision. It will tell speed, whether the brakes were hit, how the steering wheel was turned, etc. There is always an outside chance that the at-fault driver’s car had some malfunction that prevented him from steering or braking. If so, that doesn’t necessarily absolve the at-fault driver from liability, but it could lead to additional liability for the car manufacturer, or anyone that had recently worked on the mechanical system that failed.

Both criminal and civil justice are important, and Lawrence & Associates hopes the surviving members of the Pollitt family get full justice through the American Courts of Law.