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TBFTL Crash in Port St. Lucie


Emergency responders sometimes record left-turn motorcycle wrecks as Turned But Failed To Look wrecks. But whatever acronym appears in the report, the result is almost always the same.

The wreck occurred on Southwest Gatlin near the Interstate 95 overpass. A 25-year-old woman was trying to turn left against traffic and get on the on ramp. She turned and did not see an approaching motorcycle rider. The rider, a 25-year-old man, collided with the vehicle’s passenger side. The rider was declared dead at the scene.

No charges are pending against the driver at this time.

Left-Turn Motorcycle Wrecks

According to the landmark Hurt Report, left-turn wrecks make up about a third of the motorcycle wrecks in the United States. The proportion is probably higher in Florida. Many motorists drive large vehicles, like SUVs and pickup trucks, which are difficult to see around. That’s not an excuse for negligence. If anything, the prevalence of large vehicles requires drivers to adapt and be even more careful.

Typically, the tortfeasor (negligent driver), who is waiting to make a left turn against traffic, suddenly accelerates to take advantage of a perceived gap in traffic. The tortfeasor does not see an approaching motorcycle and turns directly into the rider’s path. The combination of failure to look and sudden acceleration often causes serious injuries, like:

  • Head Injuries: Contrary to popular myth, helmets do not prevent rider head injuries. Frequently, the sudden, violent motion, as opposed to a trauma injury, causes internal head wounds.
  • Internal Bleeding: This same motion causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. When that happens, these organs often bleed badly. This bleeding is hard to detect and hard to stop.
  • Biker’s Arm: When riders fall off their bikes, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. As a result, they often sustain permanent nerve damage in their brachial plexus regions.

Motorcycle riders are almost thirty times more likely to die in road accidents than vehicle occupants. That one statistic underscores the severe nature of these injuries.

Possible Insurance Company Defenses

Comparative fault is one of the most common defenses in left-turn claims. This legal doctrine shifts blame for the accidents from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, insurance company lawyers might admit the tortfeasor made an unsafe turn, but blame the accident on the speeding rider.

Two points here. First, since comparative fault is an affirmative defense, the insurance company must admit that the tortfeasor was legally negligent. Additionally, the insurance company bears the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, regarding the blame-shifting aspect of comparative fault.

In these cases, the jury must divide responsibility on a percentage basis between the two individuals. Florid is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages.

Last clear chance is an extreme form of comparative fault. If the motorcycle rider had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck, perhaps by changing lanes, but did not do so, the rider is legally responsible for the wreck.

Significantly, the victim must have the last clear chance to avoid the wreck, as opposed to any possible chance. So, this defense is usually inapplicable. 

Count on a Savvy Lawyer

Motorcycle accidents often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.





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