As is normally the case, few details were available about a fatal left-turn motorcycle wreck in McCreary County.
The wreck happened in Strunk, at the intersection of Chesford Road and U.S. Highway 27. According to investigators, a 55-year-old Pine Knott man turned in front of an oncoming motorcycle, which was ridden by a 63-year-old man. The rider was declared dead at the scene. The other driver wasn’t hurt.
The Kentucky State Police is investigating the wreck, along with the McCreary Co. Sheriff’s Department, McCreary Ambulance Service, McCreary Coroner’s Office, and Whitley City Fire Department.
This acronym, which stands for Sorry, Mate, I Didn’t See You, is very common in some parts of the world. SMIDSY sums up the facts in these crashes. Additionally, this acronym shifts blame for the accident to the rider. That’s a very common insurance company tactic in personal injury cases. More on that below.
Granted, rider visibility, or rather the lack thereof, plays a role in SMIDSY wrecks. Most people drive large vehicles, like SUVs and pickup trucks, which limit other drivers’ visibility. So, vehicle operators often have a hard time seeing small motorcycles in a sea of land barges. When tortfeasors (negligent drivers) think they see a gap in oncoming traffic, they gun their motors to shoot through the gap. As a result, they don’t see oncoming motorcycles until it’s too late.
These wrecks are often fatal for motorcycle riders. Not only do they collide with a vehicle. They also collide with a vehicle that’s traveling at or near top speed at the moment of impact. Even if they survive, the injuries they sustain, like nerve injuries, are usually permanent. When riders fall off their bikes, they naturally extend their arms to break their falls. This reaction often severs nerves in the brachial plexus area. The resulting Erb’s Palsy causes permanent facial paralysis.
Compensation is available for medical bills and other economic losses if a Lexington personal injury attorney establishes negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Experienced lawyers always begin with evidence collection. Plugging the available evidence into the appropriate legal theory is much easier than starting with the legal theory and finding the evidence to support it.
Witness statements are perhaps the best evidence in a car crash claim. Something mystical happens when disinterested witnesses take the stand and tell jurors what they saw.
Unfortunately, this evidence is often hard to come by in rural collision cases. That’s especially true if the victim didn’t survive the crash and cannot testify in court. The other driver’s memory of the events leading up to the crash, as well as the crash itself, is understandably warped. Our brains aren’t video cameras. We all remember things selectively.
Even if witnesses are available, they may be legally incompetent to testify, perhaps because they have a personal relationship with one of the parties involved in the accident. Other witnesses only caught a glimpse of the wreck, weren’t wearing their glasses, or whatever.
To meet the burden of proof and obtain maximum compensation, attorneys often turn to the police accident report and medical bills.
In the above story, multiple agencies are investigating the wreck. So, there’s a good chance the report will be quite thorough. The coroner’s report itself may not be very useful. Frequently, coroners list the cause of death as “accidental” in these cases. Frequently, a Lexington personal injury lawyer partners with an independent physician who fills in the blanks left by the coroner’s report.
As mentioned, contributory negligence, or shifting accident blame, is a very common insurance company defense in accident claims. The last clear chance rule also comes up in many claims, especially SMIDSY crashes.
The coroner’s report will probably show if, and to what extent, the victim was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time. Insurance company lawyers might also use aggressive driving, like speeding, to shift the blame.
If the victim was partially at fault, jurors must divide responsibility on a percentage basis. Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the tortfeasor is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages.
The last clear chance rule is like comparative fault on steroids. If this doctrine applies, last clear chance flips liability entirely. The victim becomes the tortfeasor and the tortfeasor becomes the victim.
Basically, all drivers have a duty to avoid accidents when possible. So, if a motorcycle rider could have changed lanes quickly or otherwise avoided the wreck, the rider is responsible for it, even though the other driver failed to yield the right of way.
However, this rule usually doesn’t apply in SMIDSY or other motorcycle wreck claims. Stunt riders in movies and TV shows stop on a dime and effortlessly weave through traffic. The real world is a lot different.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. 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.