Most riders who have gone down probably heard the other driver say something like “You came out of nowhere” or “I never saw you.” In some parts of the world, these motorcycle wrecks are called SMIDSY crashes, for “sorry, mate, I didn’t see you.” TBFTL, for turned but failed to look, is another acronym. But it does not have the same panache. Additionally, TBFTL does not capture the cavalier attitude that many drivers have in these situations.
Partly because of this attitude, and mostly because the injuries in these crashes are so serious, a Kansas City personal injury attorney can usually obtain substantial compensation for these victims. THis compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Statistically, about a third of all motorcycle wrecks are left-turn wrecks. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) tries to make a left turn against traffic and does not see an oncoming motorcycle. As a result, the tortfeasor turns directly into the rider’s path.
In Missouri, these incidents could involve the ordinary negligence doctrine or the negligence per se rule.
Ordinary negligence is basically a lack of care. Most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must obey the rules of the road and avoid accidents when possible. Turning in front of an oncoming vehicle clearly violates that duty, especially since the tortfeasor was probably not maintaining a proper lookout.
Negligence per se is a violation of a statute. Safety laws, such as the failure to yield the right-of-way law, establish the standard of care. So, if the tortfeasor violates a safety law, the tortfeasor automatically violates the standard of care as well.
This time-saving shortcut is only available if an emergency responder issues a citation. Many responders do not do so, even if the tortfeasor clearly broke the law. Frequently, emergency responders see crashes as civil disputes. They do not want to issue citations and become involved in them.
The Last Clear Chance Defense
A prima facie damages claim is not enough. A good personal injury lawyer must be prepared for some common insurance company defenses. In SMIDSY/left-turn wrecks, the last clear chance defense often comes into play.
As mentioned, most noncommercial drivers have a duty to avoid accidents when possible. That duty applies regardless of what other drivers do or do not do. So, if the motorcycle rider had a chance to avoid the turning vehicle, perhaps by swerving ro stopping suddenly, the motorcycle rider is legally responsible for the crash.
However, at a practical level, this defense is usually inapplicable. Frequently, the tortfeasor suddenly accelerates to make the left turn. Things happen so fast that the rider has no time to react.
Additionally, two-wheel vehicles are much harder to control than four-wheel vehicles. Quick stops and other sudden moves might cause the rider to lose control of the bike. That loss of control would probably cause a worse crash than the one it prevented.
Left-turn motorcycle wrecks are quite complex. For a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Kansas City, contact the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.