Fatal Motorcycle/Police Car Collision in Martin County
A Port St. Lucie rider is dead after his bike collided with a Lauderhill Police Department officer who was investigating a report of two teens in a stolen car.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers say the officer and motorcyclist were both northbound on Interstate 95. The 47-year-old rider hit the police car’s rear fender after the officer changed lanes. The bike overturned several times, seriously injuring the rider. Both he and the police officer were transported to an area hospital. The rider did not survive.
The aforementioned teenagers were apprehended at a nearby rest stop after they tried to evade capture.
Police Officers, Distracted Driving, and Invisible Riders
Distracted driving is a major problem among all motorists, and especially among police officers. Yet most departments rarely, or never, discipline officers for distracted driving infractions or warn them about its dangers.
The inside of a squad car is basically a mobile command center. There is a laptop computer at the officer’s fingertips, an environment that is technically illegal in many states. Moreover, the dashboard and computer both feature flashing lights and alerts which demand immediate attention. Altogether, driving the vehicle is basically a secondary activity.
These distractions are even worse when the officer is actively engaged in another activity, such as looking for juvenile delinquents in a stolen car.
Under Florida negligence law, distracted driving usually constitutes a breach of care. Police officers have quite a bit of immunity in these situations. However, such immunity is not unlimited. If the officer was reckless or disregarded a warning, like a write-up regarding distracted driving, the officer may still be negligent.
Distracted or not, many drivers do not see motorcycle riders. That’s especially true in areas where many people drive large vehicles, like pickup trucks and SUVs. Since these vehicles are difficult to see around, motorcycle riders are even more invisible.
Visibility-related crashes are quite common. Most riders who have gone down heard the tortfeasor (negligent driver) say something like “I never even saw you” or “You came out of nowhere.” Statements like these imply that the rider was operating recklessly, but in fact, the tortfeasor generally was not looking.
Motorcycle riders are very vulnerable to serious injury in these situations. They have no restraint systems or steel cages to protect them. Some of the serious injuries they sustain include:
- Road Burns: These large abrasions are usually not life-threatening But they heal very slowly, are very painful, and inhibit mobility.
- Blood Loss: The force of a collision usually throws riders off their bikes. When they land, their internal organs bump and grind against each other. As a result, these organs bleed profusely. This internal bleeding is almost impossible for emergency responders to stop, and difficult for doctors to stop as well.
- Broken Bones: Severe broken bones usually require metal plates to set, so the riders must endure many months of physical therapy afterwards.
Damages in a motorcycle crash claim typically include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in many extreme cases.
Legal Issues in Florida Traffic Collisions
To obtain these damages, victim/plaintiffs must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). To prove negligence, a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney uses evidence like medical bills, the police accident report, the victim’s own statement, a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, which is like a jet airplane’s black box, and witness statements.
Since substantial compensation is available, insurance company lawyers typically pull out all the stops in an effort to reduce or deny compensation. The contributory negligence doctrine is one of the most common defenses in traffic collisions.
Basically, this legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. For example, in the above story, it appears that both drivers may have been partially at fault. Insurance company lawyers could highlight the victim’s alleged negligence in court.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the crash, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.
Contact an Aggressive Lawyer
Motorcycle crash victims may be entitled to substantial compensation for their serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury lawyer, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters throughout the Treasure Coast area.