A single-vehicle car accident in Platte County proved to be a fatal one when the driver was ejected from the vehicle as it overturned. The passenger in the vehicle suffered serious personal injuries, as well. The incident raises a point of law that is now obsolete: Guest statutes.
Car Accident Kills Driver, Injures Passenger
The wreck happened in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Chad Keene, 32, was driving southbound on Interstate 29 near Platte Woods, 15 miles north of Kansas City and 42 miles south of St. Joseph. His wife, 29-year-old Courtney Keene, was a passenger in the car. Both were residents of Omaha, Nebraska.
According to police reports, Chad lost control of the vehicle and careened off the road. It went airborne and overturned multiple times before hitting several trees and landing on its wheels.
Chad, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, was ejected from the vehicle and died from his injuries. Courtney was buckled up, but still suffered severe injuries that sent her to the hospital in serious condition.
Guest Statutes Used to Play a Role in These Car Crashes
In the past, many states used to have what were known as “guest statutes.” These laws prevented passengers in vehicles from suing the driver if the driver negligently caused a car accident. While Missouri was never one of the states to have a guest statute, Nebraska – the home state for the couple in this accident – did have one.
Many states in the U.S. passed these laws in the 1920s and 1930s after extensive lobbying from insurance companies. There were two ideas behind these guest statutes. The first was that it was unfair for passengers to sue their driver if they were benefitting from being driven around. The second was that a guest statute would prevent passengers and drivers – who were often related or at least friendly towards one another – from fraudulently fabricating an insurance claim for the passenger’s injuries.
However, guest statutes effectively left passengers in the cold if they were hurt and their driver was the one at fault. In these cases, passengers couldn’t get compensation from the driver of the other vehicle because they didn’t cause the accident, and they couldn’t get compensation from their own driver because of the guest statute.
This dilemma is why states started abolishing their guest statutes. One of the latest states to do so was Nebraska, which repealed its guest statute in 2010.
St. Joseph Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Guest statutes were just one of the many legal mechanisms that insurance companies have used to make it more difficult for you to get the compensation you need after a car accident. Obstacles like these just go to show how insurance companies are rarely your friend, if you get hurt. As for-profit companies, they will do all they can to avoid making a payment.