The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Left Turn Motorcycle Wrecks and Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers
May 29, 2020
These kinds of motorcycle crashes, which are also known as SMIDSY wrecks (for sorry, mate, I didn’t see you), are quite common in Wright County. Generally, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) is waiting to make an unprotected left turn against traffic, either at an intersection or to enter/exit a private driveway. The tortfeasor does not see the motorcyclist and turns directly into the bike’s path.
Frequently, tortfeasors do not take the time to look around large vehicles, like SUVs and pickups. So, their vision is limited and they do not see small motorcycles. Other drivers do not look for motorcycles at all. Either way, the tortfeasor is clearly at fault. However, there is often a difference between fault and liability. More on that below.
Riders normally suffer serious injuries in these cases. Therefore, a Buffalo car crash lawyer can usually obtain substantial compensation for victims and their families. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Building Succesful Left-Turn Crash Claims
Theoretical fault is not enough. A Buffalo car crash lawyer must also prove actual fault. That usually means negligence per se or ordinary negligence.
If emergency responders cited the tortfeasor for making an illegal left turn, the tortfeasor might be liable for damages as a matter of law. This doctrine applies if:
The tortfeasor broke a safety law, such as failure to yield the right-of-way, and
That violation substantially caused injury.
Unfortunately, first responders rarely issue citations after SMIDSY crashes, even if the motorcyclist died. As a result, Buffalo car crash lawyers often use the ordinary negligence doctrine.
Essentially, negligence is a lack of care. Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and obey the rules of the road. If they fail to maintain a proper lookout and cause a crash, they could be liable for damages. Driver impairment, such as alcohol use, fatigue, or distraction, contributes significantly to a negligence claim.
Evidence like driver impairment is not just important for liability purposes. It’s also important for damages purposes. Typically, there is a direct relationship between the amount of evidence the victim/plaintiff presents and the amount of damages Wright County jurors award.
Buffalo Car Crash Lawyers and Motorcycle Wreck Defenses
Evidence is not the only determining factor in terms of liability. Insurance company defenses often come into play here as well.
Contributory negligence is one of the most common insurance company defenses in motorcycle wreck claims. This rule shifts responsibility for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. A few riders do things like lane-split (drive between cars stacked up in traffic) or speed. In these situations, jurors must divide fault between the victim and tortfeasor on a percentage basis.
Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages. Additionally, insurance companies have the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, in these situations. A Buffalo car crash lawyer must only play defense and keep the insurance company out of the endzone.
Another legal loophole, the last clear chance rule, often comes up in left-turn motorcycle wreck claims. If the rider had a reasonable chance to avoid the crash, perhaps by changing speeds or lanes, yet did not do so, the rider is legally responsible for the crash.
But the last clear chance rule often does not apply in motorcycle crash claims. If riders change speeds or lanes quickly, they often lose control of their bikes. That’s especially true if environmental, traffic, and other conditions are less than ideal. So, if they try to avoid one crash, they might cause another one.
Resolving Your Claim for Damages
Diligent evidence collection and thoughtful legal analysis are essential in these cases. Assuming a Buffalo car crash lawyer does these things well, the claim usually settles out of court.
Sometimes, the insurance company settles after an attorney sends a demand letter. Legally, if liability is clear, the insurance company has a duty to quickly resolve the claim. However, largely because of the aforementioned defenses, there is usually at least some liability dispute.
Therefore, many personal injury claims settle during mediation. Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful. Mediation is good for both sides because it reduces litigation costs, saves time, and gives the parties more control over the outcome.
Contact Experienced Attorneys
Left-turn motorcycle crash claims might seem straightforward, but they are often complex. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN car crash lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.