A rear end car accident near Madison, AL in Limestone County has sadly claimed the life of Stephen Lee Shankle, 21, of Decatur. According to an article by Victoria Cumbow in the Huntsville Times, the wreck happened on US Hwy 72 just four miles west of Madison. Shankle was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by Emily Barnes of Athens. Ms. Barnes’ vehicle was rear ended by a vehicle being driven by David Kohlhoff of Madison. The impact between the Kohlhoff and Barnes vehicles was severe enough that it pushed Barnes’ vehicle into the vehicle in front of it that was being driven by Ira Oden of Athens. Barnes along with a second passenger Sarah Maddox of Capshaw were treated at Huntsville Hospital. The initial investigation indicates that Barnes and Oden were stopped at the time they were struck.
The news report does not indicate what caused Kohlhoff to strike the rear of Barnes car. It is likely that this accident may have been caused by Kohlhoff being distracted. Approximately 448,000 people were injured in automobile accidents in 2009 that were caused by distracted driving. For more information on distracted driving see our Huntsville car accident attorney’s page on distracted driving.
There are multiple causes of action that could arise from this car accident. First, the family of Mr. Shankle has a wrongful death claim against Mr. Kohlhoff. To prosecute this type of lawsuit an estate would have to be set up and the administrator of the estate would be the proper person under Alabama law to bring the wrongful death lawsuit. Second, the family of Mr. Shankle can also seek uninsured and/or underinsured motorist benefits from Ms. Barnes automobile insurance and from any insurance policy in which Mr. Shankle was listed as a driver. Further, even if Mr. Shankle was not listed as a driver but lived with a relative that had automobile insurance a claim can be made under that individual auto insurance coverage. Third, the other victims of this wreck have personal injury claims against Mr. Kohlhoff. Finally, the other victims also have potential uninsured/underinsured motorist claims if Mr. Kohlhoff’s does not have auto insurance or does not have enough coverage to sufficiently cover their claims.