An operator without a valid drivers’ license does not face charges after he fatally struck a motorcyclist, and his widow does not understand why law enforcement refused to act.
According to the Lexington Police Department, Antoine Webb was driving on a revoked license when he made an illegal U-turn near the intersection of Kearney Ridge Boulevard and Georgetown Road, striking motorcyclist Jesus Ocampo Geronimo. According to his widow, Geronimo was wearing a helmet, but the force of the collision jarred it off his head. Emergency responders rushed Geronimo to a nearby hospital, where he was declared dead after three days in the ICU. Per policy, the LPD did not issue Webb a citation.
“Someone has to stand up for justice,” a distraught Jessica Ocampo said. “My husband doesn’t need to go out like this.”
Emergency Responders and Vehicle Collisions
In recent years, the car crash vs. car accident debate has waged in many quarters. Roughly two dozen cities and states now refer to these incidents as crashes instead of accidents. To many, the a-word implies that the incident was unavoidable. But human error causes over 90 percent of vehicle collisions, so in most cases, that assumption is untrue.
Nevertheless, the “accident” idea persists in most places. The a-word is a non-judgemental term in a time when most people prefer such language.
Most Kentucky law enforcement agencies cling to the accident model as well. Frequently, these officers see vehicle collisions as civil disputes between insurance companies. Once upon a time, criminal and civil laws overlapped. Way back in the day, jilted wives sometimes convinced authorities to file criminal charges against their runaway husbands.
But those days are long gone. Now, most officers do not want to get involved in these situations. So, they only consider issuing traffic citations in extreme circumstances. Even then, as the above story illustrates, there is no guarantee.
On a related note, some Lexington personal injury attorneys over-rely on police accident reports as evidence in negligence cases. Because of law enforcement bias, these reports are not always entirely accurate. Furthermore, in catastrophic injury situations, like the above story, the police report is often incomplete. If the victim was unable to give a statement because of death or serious injury, the report obviously contains only one side of the story.
When drivers are out and about, they often do not closely watch the road. So, they might not see small motorcycles. That’s especially true in Kentucky. Many people drive large pickup trucks that are difficult for drivers to see around. However, that’s certainly not an excuse for negligence.
As a result, when drivers engage in risky behavior like speeding and making illegal U-turns, they often collide with unseen motorcycles at full speed. So, it is not surprising that motorcycle riders are twenty-eight times more likely to die in crashes than vehicle occupants. Some of the serious injuries motorcycle riders sustain include:
- Head Injuries: The above story points out one of the weaknesses of motorcycle helmets. The chin straps do not always withstand the force of a car crash. As a result, when the rider falls off the bike and hits the ground, the rider’s head is completely exposed.
- Internal Bleeding: These same extreme forces cause internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since these organs have no protective skin layer, that action often leads to profuse bleeding. In fact, exsanguination (excessive blood loss) is frequently the official cause of death in these situations.
- Nerve Injuries: When riders fall, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. This reaction often causes nerve damages in the brachial plexus area. Surgery and physical therapy cannot reverse the resulting paralysis, and frequently, they cannot improve it very much either.
Damages in a vehicle collision claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
If the driver did not have a valid license or was otherwise incompetent, it is easier for a Lexington personal injury lawyer to obtain these damages. These operators might be liable for damages as a matter of law, regardless of the underlying facts.
Wrongful death claims work a bit differently, at least for the survivors. Generally, these individuals are eligible for compensation for pecuniary losses, such as funeral and burial expenses and loss of future financial support. They might be entitled to compensation for their own grief and suffering as well, under a theory like negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Motorcycle wrecks often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.