Port St. Lucie Alcohol-Related Crash Kills Motorcyclist
A 22-year-old Fort Pierce man is in police custody after he fatally struck a 58-year-old motorcycle rider.
The crash happened near the intersection of Northwest Selvitz Road and St. James Boulevard. According to investigators, the “extremely” intoxicated 22-year-old man tried to pass a minivan in a no-passing zone. After the crossed into the opposite lane, his Honda Civic smacked into a Harley-Davidson.
The driver was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter and possession of ecstasy. His passenger was unconscious and unresponsive.
Motorcycle Crash Injuries in Port St. Lucie
When a passenger car travelling at high speed hits a small motorcycle in a head-on collision, the rider has basically no chance to survive. Motorcycle-on-vehicle crashes are about thirty times deadlier than vehicle-on-vehicle collisions. A steel cocoon, not to mention multiple restraint layers, protect vehicle occupants. But motorcycle riders have no such protection. They are completely exposed to things like:
- Head Injuries: Even if the victim was wearing a helmet, severe head and neck injuries are very common in these cases, simply because of the violent motion. Just like a person can scramble an egg without cracking the shell, a car crash can scramble the brain without breaking the skull.
- Internal Bleeding: That same violent motion shoves internal organs against one another. Since they have no protective skin layer, these organs bleed profusely. As a result, the victim may be in hypovolemic shock by the time first responders arrive.
- Crushed Bones: The force of the crash usually throws riders off their bikes, and they usually land hard. Their severely broken bones require painstaking reconstructive surgery and months of painful and expensive physical rehabilitation.
Due to the serious nature of these injuries, motorcycle crashes are normally exempt from Florida’s no-fault insurance law. So, victims are automatically entitled to money for their economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well. A high tortfeasor (negligent driver) BAC often falls into this category.
Establishing Liability in Alcohol-Related Wrecks
Victims may use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish first-party liability in alcohol-related wrecks. The alcohol provider may be responsible for damages as well.
If the tortfeasor was arrested for DUI, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law. The negligence per se doctrine applies if:
- The tortfeasor violated a safety law, and
- That violation substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s injuries.
In some non-DUI cases, such as a speeding ticket or citation for an illegal turn, negligence per se may only be a presumption of liability.
There is a difference between impairment and intoxication. Most people must consumer at least three drinks before they are legally intoxicated, but impairment begins at the first drink. Evidence of alcohol impairment includes:
- Erratic driving,
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Odor of alcohol, and
- Unsteady balance.
In circumstantial evidence cases, the victim/plaintiff must establish negligence, or a lack of ordinary care, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Whether the tortfeasor was legally intoxicated or dangerously impaired, the bar, grocery store, or other commercial provider who sold alcohol to the tortfeasor might be legally responsible for damages. Florida’s dram shop law applies if the tortfeasor was:
- Under 21, or
- Habitually addicted to alcohol.
Other liability theories, such as negligent undertaking, may apply to non-commercial alcohol providers, such as party hosts.
Contact an Aggressive Lawyer
Motorcycle riders usually sustain serious or fatal injuries in any car crash case. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie car accident attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.