Fatal SMIDSY Motorcycle Crash in Alcoa

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2020 | Injuries

Few details are available after a pickup truck driver plowed into a motorcycle rider as the driver was making an unsafe left turn.

The 21-year-old motorcycle rider was dead by the time emergency responders arrived. According to investigators, a pickup truck was trying to turn left from Topside Road onto the Alcoa Highway. 

The pickup driver was not injured and no charges are pending at this time.

Left Turn Motorcycle Crashes

In some parts of the world, these wrecks are called SMIDSY crashes (Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See You). This phrase captures the cavalier attitude which many tortfeasors (negligent drivers) exhibit in these situations. Generally, these motorists try to shift blame for the wreck to the rider by saying things like “I never saw him” or “She came out of nowhere.” But in court, statements like these are essentially admissions that the tortfeasor was not maintaining a proper lookout.

Left turn crashes are especially common in busy urban areas. The streets are relatively crowded, and many people drive large pickup trucks or SUVs. These vehicles are not easy to see around. Furthermore, many drivers only look out for other four-wheel vehicles. They do not expect to see motorcycles, pedestrians, or bicyclists.

These things do not excuse negligence. If anything, they create a higher duty of care, like drivers have a responsibility to slow down in the rain or snow.

Some riders go out of their way to make themselves more visible. They weave inside their own lanes, always use their headlights, and occasionally honk their horns. But there is almost no evidence that these tricks are effective. In fact, they might only further antagonize motorists who do not particularly like motorcycle riders to begin with. More on that below.

Motorcycle Wreck Injuries

Left turn wrecks also account for some of the most serious motorcycle crash injuries, largely because of how these crashes happen.

Frequently, the tortfeasor is waiting to make an unprotected left turn against traffic. When tortfeasors think they see a gap in oncoming traffic, they quickly accelerate, so they can shoot through the gap. But they do not see an approaching motorcycle. Therefore, they cross directly into the rider’s path while moving at top speed.

The physics of left turn motorcycle wrecks explain injuries like:

  • Head Injuries: Contrary to popular myth, helmets only provide limited protection against head injuries. Frequently, the motion, as opposed to the impact, causes these wounds. When riders fall off their bikes and hit the ground, their brains slam against the insides of their skulls.

  • Internal Injuries: This same force causes internal organs to grind and bump against each other. Since these organs have no protective skin layer, any contact usually causes extensive bleeding. This blood loss is difficult to spot and even more difficult to stop.

  • Nerve Injuries: Brachial plexus injuries, or “biker’s arm” injuries, are normally not fatal. But they are always permanent. When riders fall, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. This reaction severs critical nerves in the brachial plexus area.

Overall, vehicle-on-motorcycle wrecks have a much higher fatality rate than vehicle-on-vehicle wrecks. Steel cages and multiple restraint layers protect vehicle occupants from injury. Motorcycle riders almost literally only have the clothes on their back.

Legal Issues

Technically,since these tortfeasors fail to yield the right-of-way, SMIDSY crashes could involve the negligence per se rule. Tortfeasors who violate safety laws and cause crashes could be liable for damages as a matter of law.

However, largely because of the motorcycle prejudice, many police officers do not issue citations in these situations. Many people, including many police officers, believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs. So, if they are involved in an accident, it must have been their fault.

So, Lexington personal injury lawyers typically use the ordinary negligence doctrine to obtain fair compensation for motorcycle crash victims. Pulling out into traffic without looking clearly violates the duty of reasonable care. If that violation substantially causes injury, the tortfeasor is liable for damages.

The motorcycle prejudice could also affect a claim’s damage award. Many jurors feel the same way about riders as police officers feel. So, an attorney must address this issue during jury arguments.

Usually, separation is the best approach. It’s rather easy to hate a group, like motorcycle riders or Democrats. However, it’s much harder to hate an individual, like Tom or Congresswoman Smith. Personalizing the victim is usually a key to obtaining fair compensation. 


Left turn motorcycle wrecks are among the most complicated negligence claims. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.