In some parts of the world, left-turn motorcycle wrecks, which are very common in Florida, are called SMIDSY crashes, for “sorry, mate, I didn’t see you.” This phrase captures not only the way the accident occurred, but also the cavalier attitude that many of these drivers have in the wake of the accident.
Frequently, a tortfeasor (negligent driver) is waiting to make an unprotected left turn against traffic. The tortfeasors see (or think they see) a gap in traffic, so they quickly accelerate to shoot through the gap. But they do not see an approaching motorcycle. As a result, they turn directly into the rider’s path.
In the movies, stunt riders get right back up after such an accident. But the real world is much different. Because of the serious and often fatal injuries that these riders sustain, an Orlando motorcycle accident lawyer is often able to obtain substantial compensation for these victims. More on that below.
Under Florida law, left-turn motorcycle wrecks could involve the negligence per se rule or the ordinary negligence doctrine.
Motorcycles clearly have the right-of-way in these situations. Tortfeasors who violate safety laws, like failure to yield the right-of-way, and cause crashes are presumptively liable for damages in Florida.
Unfortunately, emergency responders often do not issue such citations. If the rider was killed or seriously injured, the reporting officer only hears the tortfeasor’s side of the story. Additionally, many responders see these crashes as civil disputes between insurance companies. As a result, they do not issue citations, because they do not want to get involved.
That leaves the ordinary negligence doctrine. Negligence is basically a lack of care. Most non-commercial drivers in Florida have a duty of reasonable care. They must obey the rules of the road, avoid accidents when possible, and drive defensively. Not looking before turning clearly violates this duty.
In both these situations, insurance company lawyers often argue that the rider had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. Therefore, the rider is legally responsible, even though the rider did nothing wrong.
However, note that this defense is the last clear chance, not any possible chance. Sudden stops and lane changes are dangerous on two-wheel motorcycles. Such maneuvers often cause riders to lose control of their bikes. As a result, they might cause a worse accident than the one they prevented.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. Therefore, to obtain maximum compensation, victim/plaintiffs must normally prove they sustained a serious injury. But the no-fault law exempts vehicle-on-motorcycle wrecks.
So, these victims are almost always entitled to compensation for their economic losses, such as medical bills, and their noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Left-turn motorcycle wrecks often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Orlando, contact JustCallMoe. Home and hospital visits are available.