Fatal And Mysterious Motorcycle Crash
In many parts of the country, riders put their motorcycles into storage for about six months a year, but a recent case here in St. Lucie County serves as a sobering reminder that riders are out all year long in the generally mild Florida weather.
A passerby happened upon the lifeless body of a motorcycle crash victim near Platt’s Creek Preserve off of Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Pierce. After gathering evidence for several hours, investigators from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office surmised that the crash had occurred approximately 8 to 12 hours earlier near the intersection of Royal Palm Boulevard and Platts Lane. The victim was a male of an undetermined age.
The Florida Highway Patrol is still looking into the crash.
Investigators speculate that either a tortfeasor (negligent driver) struck the man’s bike, or a tortfeasor passed close and caused the man to lose control of his motorcycle. Largely because cars are so much better made today than they were a few decades ago, vehicle occupant fatality rates have dropped in recent years. However, motorcycle riders are twenty-seven times more likely to die in car wrecks than vehicle occupants, mainly since there are no steel barriers or airbags to protect riders.
This statistic speaks volumes about the serious injuries that riders often sustain in these crashes, and that is basically why these wrecks are exempt from the no-fault law in Florida. Some common injuries include:
- Road Burns: These deep abrasions are almost impossible to treat, and while victims wait for these injuries to heal, their mobility is usually very limited, because most victims sustain road burns on their thighs and legs.
- Blood Loss: Rod burns usually do not bleed very much, but other types of trauma injuries often cause massive fluid loss. Many times, internal bleeding is even worse than external bleeding.
- Neck and Spine Injuries: Even if the riders wear helmets (a point that’s discussed below), many victims still sustain serious spine and neck wounds, because headgear does not protect these areas.
Victims are entitled to money for their economic damages, such as lost wages, and their noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.
The Helmet Defense
Florida’s motorcycle helmet law does not apply to most riders over 21, and there are many legitimate reasons not to use bulky protective headgear. However, because of Ridley v. Safety Kleen, the insurance company can argue that if the victim did not wear a helmet, the jury should reduce the damages.
Ridley was a seat belt non-use case, but its principles probably apply to helmet non-use as well. Essentially, the comparative negligence doctrine applies if the insurance company can prove that:
- The victim wasn’t wearing a helmet, and
- Helmet non-use substantially contributed to the victim’s injuries.
The first prong is relatively easy to prove. But in order to establish substantial cause, insurance company lawyers must probably do more than introduce fatality statistics. Instead, they must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim would have been substantially uninjured if s/he had used a helmet.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state, so if the victims contributed to their own injuries in any way, judges divide damages based on nothing other than the percentage of fault.
Contact Experienced Attorneys
Motorcycle crashes often involve complex factual and legal issues. For a free consultation with an assertive personal injury lawyer in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, PA. Home and hospital visits are available.