James Collier, was struck and killed in Volusia County, Florida when he stopped to render aid to people involved in a separate car accident. According to news reports, James Collier was a truck driver who had passed by the first accident and stopped to render aid. Police are reporting that Collier wore a reflective vest as he tried to clear the roadway.
Horrifically, as he was in the midst of helping others, James Collier was hit by another car driven by Dennis Ruddoi, age 60. Police claim that Dennis Ruddoi was driving east when he saw the crash, swerved, and hit James Collier.
Since police are still investigating the case, no conclusions as to responsibility have been made.
From my perspective as an injury lawyer, I can tell you James Collier’s family will likely collect compensation from Dennis Ruddoi’s insurance company, assuming he has any coverage.
However, if Ruddoi has a substantial insurance policy, injury lawyers representing Collier’s interests may need to build a case around Ruddoi’s liability.
In other words, to make a successful injury claim, a successful car accident lawyer must present evidence of both liability and injury. This means that injury attorneys representing Collier’s interest must prove that Ruddoi was responsible for causing the accident.
Even though it is clear that Ruddoi killed Collier by crashing into him with his car, the question of responsibility lies in the details. For example, does the evidence in the case reveal that Ruddoi failed to pay attention to changing road conditions. Such a circumstance could be proven by establishing where exactly he began to hit his brakes in relation to the other accident scene.
Did he try to stop at the last second or did he gradually come to a slow stop?
Does the evidence show that Collier walked into the path of Ruddoi’s car or did Ruddoi maneuver in an incorrect manner causing him to hit Collier?
Ultimately, injury lawyers will need to prove that James Collier’s actions did not contribute to the collission between himself and Ruddoi’s car. In other words, if Collier mistakenly stepped into the roadway, Ruddoi may not have been able to avoid hitting him.
Or, maybe Collier positioned himself in such a way that Ruddoi had to choose between crashing into the other cars or crashing into Collier.
The facts can be so complicated and the possibilities so many, it is impossible to guess.
That is why James Collier’s family needs to hire an injury lawyer ASAP.
Analyzing the evidence to build a case against Dennis Ruddoi requires an attorney who not only has courtroom experience, but who understands the rules of evidence and how to prove car accident liability.
It will be necessary to review all available evidence, including physical evidence left at the scene of the accident. Evidence such as skid marks, road gouging, and vehicle debris can be analyzed by an accident reconstructionist to to reverse engineer the mechanics of the accident.
By reverse engineering the mechanics of the accident, we are able to determine who did what and when they did it, in a step by step fashion. This information will aid accident lawyers in building a case against Ruddoi.
At the end of the day, this case is an example of a terrible, terrible loss. It is made especially worse to know James Collier was killed while performing a good deed.
Looking at this case in another light, what greater compliment could we bestow upon a person than to say he literally died while helping others. James Collier should be remembered for the good will he showed on that night.
My condolences go out to his family.