What You Need to Know About Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes
According to one study, almost half of all motorcycle crashes are left-turn crashes. Typically, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is making a left turn against traffic to either change directions or enter a private driveway. The tortfeasor suddenly accelerates to shoot through a perceived gap in the traffic, and the tortfeasor never sees an oncoming motorcycle.
Most riders would attest to the accuracy of these statistics. Typically after a crash, the tortfeasor says something like “I never saw you” or “You came out of nowhere.” These statements are designed to shift blame for the accident, but in reality, the tortfeasors are simply admitting that they failed to maintain a proper lookout.
Because of the combination of serious injuries and driver fault, a Brandon personal injury attorney can often obtain substantial compensation in these cases. That compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
What Causes Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes?
Driver inattention causes most motorcycle left-turn collisions. Frequently, the tortfeasor simply did not see the motorcyclist.
This failure is somewhat understandable, but it is not excusable. Many people drive large vehicles, like pickup trucks or sport utility vehicles, which are difficult to see around. So, small motorcycles are hard to see, especially if conditions are less than ideal. But that difficulty simply means that drivers must be more careful when looking out for motorcyclists. The duty of reasonable care requires such action.
To improve their visibility, many riders wear brightly-colored helmets, leave their headlights on all the time, or weave slightly in their lanices. Other riders honk their horns every few blocks. But there is little or no evidence that these tricks work. Indeed, they might just antagonize motorists who do not much like motorcyclists to begin with.
How Do I Obtain Compensation?
The failure to yield the right-of-way to an oncoming motorist, whether or not that motorists is driving a car, is a clear case of negligence per se. This doctrine applies if:
- The tortfeasor violates a safety law, and
- That violation substantially caused injury.
However, the negligence per se rule is limited in Florida. Unless the negligent driver committed a criminal safety violation, like DUI, negligence per se is only a presumption of liability. Victim/plaintiffs must normally produce additional evidence of negligence, such as operating at an unsafe speed or failing to signal the turn.
Additionally, the negligence per se rule only applies if emergency responders gave the tortfeasor a citation. That often does not happen in these cases, even if the rider was seriously injured in the crash.
So, many left-turn motorcycle crash claims rely on the ordinary negligence rule. Diverse have a duty of reasonable care. If they fall short of that level, and that breach causes injury, they might be liable for damages.
Can the Insurance Company Reduce the Damages?
Maybe. There are a number of defenses in Florida which could reduce compensation. Most of them revolve around the comparative fault rule. This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. If it applies, jurors must divide fault between the two parties on a percentage basis. Florida is a pure comparative fault state. Therefore, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still liable for a proportionate share of damages.
Many insurance company lawyers also try to use the last clear chance defense, even though it does not usually apply in these cases. Theoretically, if the rider did nothing to avoid the crash, such as stop suddenly or change lanes, the rider could be legally responsible for the wreck. Normally, however, the duty of reasonable care does not require riders to make such dangerous moves. These maneuvers usually cause a more serious crash than the one they supposedly prevent.
Count on Hard-Hitting Attorneys
Left-turn motorcycle crash victims might be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon motorcycle accident attorney, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).