A Closer Look at Left-Turn Motorcycle Wrecks
According to the landmark Hurt Report, unsafe left turns cause about a third of the fatal motorcycle crashes in the United States. Here’s how these wrecks often happen.
Butch is waiting at an intersection for a chance to make an unprotected left turn against traffic. The more seconds tick by as he waits, the more anxious he gets. Finally, Butch thinks he sees a gap in traffic, so he guns his motor to shoot through this gap. But Butch doesn’t see Jimmie’s motorcycle, so he turns directly into Jimmie’s path. The result is a serious accident which is often fatal for motorcycle riders.
These wrecks are especially common in areas which allow street-side parking. The road is so cluttered that it’s very hard to see oncoming motorcycles. These scenes are common in many parts of Santa Clara County.
Lack of visibility does not excuse negligence. If anything, drivers have a duty to slow down and be even more careful in these situations. Because of the increased responsibility, it’s easier for a San Jose personal injury attorney to establish a lack of responsibility and obtain fair compensation for serious injuries.
The evidence in these wrecks is normally straightforward. In fact, the tortfeasor normally says something like “You came out of nowhere” or “I never even saw you.” These statements aren’t explanations. They are essentially admissions of fault.
Legally, things are different. If the motorcycle rider had the last clear chance to avoid a wreck, the rider is legally responsible for the crash, if the rider didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.
Four-wheel vehicles usually have a chance to stop the aforementioned left-turn collisions. These vehicles are very stable with the most advanced brakes available.
But a two-wheel motorcycle is usually unstable. That’s especially true if the road is wet or conditions are otherwise less than ideal. A sudden movement, like a stopping short or swerving into another lane, often causes the rider to lose control. The resulting loss-of-control crash might be worse than the one the rider prevented.
Alternatively, the wreck could happen so fast that there’s nothing the rider could do. That’s especially true if, as mentioned above, the tortfeasor rapidly accelerates into the rider’s path.
The bottom line is that the victim must have the last clear chance for this analysis to apply. There’s a difference between the last clear chance and any possible chance.
Left-turn wrecks often involve the comparative fault defense. Frequently, the rider is speeding or has just made an unsafe lane change. The tortfeasor clearly fails to yield the right-of-way.
In these situations, jurors must listen to the evidence and distribute fault on a percentage basis. California is a pure comparative fault state. If the tortfeasor was only 1 percent responsible for the crash, the victim is entitled to a proportionate share of damages.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The motorcycle helmet defense is another common defense in motorcycle wreck claims. If the victim was helmetless, the insurance company can sometimes reduce the amount of compensation the victim receives. The insurance company has the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, in these matters.
Count on an Experienced Attorney
Left-turn motorcycle wrecks are all too common in California. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose motorcycle accident lawyer, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Santa Clara County and nearby jurisdictions.