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Head-On Crash Kills Tobaccoville Man

A 53-year-old man is dead after another driver drifted over the center line and collided with his 2000 Ford Ranger.

According to investigators, 71-year-old Sandra Key Butler, of Pfafftown, was travelling westbound on Shattalon Drive when; for unknown reasons, she seemingly lost control of her vehicle and crossed over to the eastbound side. In so doing, she hit Kyle Martin head-on. Emergency responders rushed both drivers to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. Ms. Butler survived, but Mr. Martin did not.

As the investigation continues, police reached out to the public asking witnesses to come forward.

“Taken separately, loss-of-control crashes and wrong-way crashes are the most complex kinds of car wrecks,” observed North Carolina personal injury attorney Bryant Aldridge. “When the two come together, the factual and legal knot is difficult to untie.”

First, there’s the question of negligence. Technically, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who cross the center line and cause crashes are responsible for damages as a matter of law. But jurors often award substantial compensation only if the tortfeasor was impaired in some way. The main kinds of driving impairment are:


  • Substance Use: Hospitals routinely perform toxicological screens on their serious injury patients. Even trace amounts of alcohol or drugs impair most drivers. If there is no direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, like bloodshot eyes, may be compelling.
  • Fatigue: Drowsiness has roughly the same effect on the brain as alcohol or drugs. To establish fatigue, most attorneys re-trace the tortfeasor’s steps for the past twenty-four hours to determine how much rest the tortfeasor had.
  • Loss of Consciousness: Attorneys can review medical records to determine if the tortfeasor suffered from epilepsy, diabetes, or another condition which could cause sudden loss of consciousness.
  • Distraction: Witnesses can testify that the tortfeasor was distracted or driving erratically in the moments before the crash. The vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, which is like a commercial jet’s black box, can provide the same evidence.

Compensation in a car crash claim usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and lost wages or future earnings; as well as, noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Second, there’s the question of liability. The last clear chance doctrine often complicates liability issues in head-on crash claims. If the victim had a reasonable chance to avoid the collision, by changing lanes or otherwise, and did not do so, liability for the crash may change.

Significantly, the victim must have the last clear chance, and not just any possible chance. Typically, traffic and other conditions make sudden emergency maneuvers impossible to perform.

Additionally, the tortfeasor generally pulls directly into the path of the victim, and the victim does not have enough time to respond.

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