Deadly Motorcycle Crash in Fort Pierce
There may seem to be no recourse for a motorcycle rider who crossed the centerline and was not wearing a helmet. But these cases are complex, and this man’s family might still have legal options.
This wreck occurred on South Indian Drive near the Florida Avenue intersection. According to police, a southbound motorcyclist crossed into northbound traffic and collided with another vehicle. The motorcycle rider, who was later declared dead at a local hospital, was not wearing a helmet.
Fault vs. Liability
When a motorist crosses the centerline and a crash ensues, emergency responders almost always fault that driver. However, there is often a difference between fault for the accident and liability for damages, especially if the victim did not survive.
Investigators typically depend largely on the statements of the principles involved. If the victim did not survive, or if the victim was too seriously injured to give a statement, investigators only hear one side of the story. So, it is not surprising that the other driver always looks innocent in these narratives.
In these situations, a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney often must find additional evidence. Many times, additional witness statements are available. First responders only talk to witnesses who voluntarily come forward at the scene. For various reasons, numerous witnesses do not loiter at accident scenes and/or wish to speak with police officers. These witnesses usually have something to add to the facts of a case, even if they only saw part of the collision.
Legal doctrines, most notably the last clear chance rule., often come into play as well. All drivers have a duty of reasonable care at all times. Another driver’s misconduct does not affect that duty.
Assume Frank is riding erratically as he is northbound on Main Street. If he drifts across the centerline and collides with John, the collision was probably unavoidable, and Frank was probably liable for damages.
Now assume Frank was riding close to the centerline as he approached a curve. John has a duty of reasonable care, which includes a responsibility to anticipate and avoid accidents. Arguably, John should have been prepared to slow down or change lanes in the event that Frank crossed the centerline. If John failed to do so, he arguably had the last clear chance to avoid the crash, yet he failed to do so.
The Helmet Defense
In many states, helmet non-use is inadmissible in vehicle collision claims. Unfortunately for motorcycle crash victims, Florida is different. However, to invoke the helmet defense, it is not enough for insurance company lawyers to cite safety statistics.
Instead, the defendant must either prove that the failure to wear headgear caused the victim’s death or significantly contributed to it (i.e. 50 percent). Then the judge will either reduce the damage award or deny compensation, as appropriate.
The official cause of death is often key. Frequently, this cause of death is exsanguination, or blood loss. Internal injuries usually cause much of this blood loss. That includes bleeding from head injuries and other organs.
Therefore, insurance companies often have a hard time establishing the helmet defense in court. And, they have the burden of proof on this point.
Additionally, Florida is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the injuries, the defendant is still liable for a proportionate share of damages.
These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Reach Out to a Tenacious Lawyer
Even if you were faulted for a crash, a lawyer should evaluate your claim. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.