Assume Doug Defendant is waiting to make a left turn against traffic on a main street, so he can get to a neighborhood street. Traffic is rather heavy and Doug must wait several seconds. But to him, the wait time seems like several hours. So, when he thinks he sees an upcoming break in oncoming traffic, Doug gets ready to turn quickly and speed through the gap.
But Doug does not see Peter Plaintiff, who is approaching on his motorcycle. So, Doug suddenly accelerates and crosses directly into Peter’s path. The force of the sudden impact propels Peter off his bike, and emergency responders rush him to a nearby hospital before he regains consciousness.
This scenario plays out frequently on Crow Wing County streets. According to one estimate, over a third of all motorcycle crashes are left turn collisions.
Motorcycle Crash Injuries
Because of the negligence of drivers like Doug, a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these claims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Due to the nature of motorcycle crash injuries, compensation is usually substantial in these claims. Some typical injuries include:
- Head Injuries: Even if the rider was wearing a helmet, these wounds are very common in motorcycle crash cases. Helmets do not protect against motion and noise-related head injuries. So, whether the victim wore a helmet or not, compensation for head injuries is usually available.
- Internal Bleeding: The same forces that throw riders off their bikes also cause internal organs to smash against one another. As a result, these organs often bleed profusely, and emergency responders usually cannot stop this bleeding. So, many victims are on the brink of hypovolemic shock by the time they get to a hospital.
- Spine Injuries: When victims hit the ground, even if they do not fall on their backs, they usually knock their spines out of alignment. Even if doctors treat these injuries quickly, permanent paralysis is a distinct possibility in these situations.
Head and spine injuries are among the most costly personal injuries. The medical expenses may be as high as $1 million the first year alone, and $4 million over the course of a lifetime.
Brainerd, MN Accident Lawyers and Legal Issues in Left-Turn Crashes
Legally, Doug’s failure to see Peter and his failure to yield the right-of-way to Peter clearly constitute negligence. In this context, negligence is basically a lack of ordinary care. Most Minnesota drivers must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. Doug came up short in both these areas.
The insurance company could argue that Doug’s shortcomings were just momentary lapses which did not constitute a breach of care. But a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer could easily convince a jury otherwise, in light of all the facts. However, insurance company lawyers may have another trick or two up their sleeves.
If emergency responders gave Doug a citation, the negligence per se rule makes it easier for Peter to establish negligence. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate safety laws and cause crashes are usually responsible for damages as a matter of law.
But first responders rarely issue citations in left-turn motorcycle crashes, even if the crash kills the rider. Since Peter was unconscious and unable to give his side of the story, Doug may have been able to talk his way out of a ticket.
In court, the last clear chance defense often comes up in left turn crash claims. Insurance company lawyers argue that riders could have changed speeds or changed lanes to avoid the crash, but they did not do so. Therefore, they are legally responsible for their own injuries.
However, in most instances, including our hypothetical crash, the last clear chance rule does not apply. Since traffic was heavy, Peter probably did not have enough room to swerve or brake quickly. If he did one of those things, he might have caused a more serious wreck than the one he prevented.
Moreover, motorcycles are a lot harder to control than four-wheel vehicles. That’s especially true if environmental or other conditions are less than ideal.
Resolving Motorcycle Crash Claims
Generally, civil claims settle out of court. The settlement process begins when a Brainerd, MN accident lawyer ascertains a fair settlement value. Economic losses are usually straightforward. To calculate noneconomic losses, most Brainerd, MN accident lawyers multiply the economic losses by two or four, depending on the facts of the case and some other factors.
The settlement process usually ends at mediation. If both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is successful about 75 percent of the time.
Rely on a Dedicated Attorney
Left turn motorcycle crashes are often horrific. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN accident lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several area offices to serve you better.