Deadly Motorcycle Crash in Pasco County
A motorcyclist is dead after he lost control of his bike, fell into a traffic lane, and was run over by an oncoming car.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a 49-year-old man was northbound on U.S. 98 when, for unknown reasons, he lost control of his bike, slid off the road, and smacked into a utility pole. He fell off his bike and spilled into a traffic lane. An elderly man who was on U.S. 301, did not see the biker and fatally struck him.
Police ruled out alcohol, but they have not yet determined a cause.
The Sudden Emergency Defense
To reduce the amount of compensation victim/plaintiffs receive, insurance companies often rely on legal loopholes, like the sudden emergency defense. They cite these loopholes during trial and during settlement negotiations.
Sudden emergency is a common ploy in pedestrian injury claims. This defense excuses negligent conduct, like running over a helpless person in a traffic lane, if the tortfeasor (negligent driver):
- Reasonably reacted to
- A sudden emergency.
Most people reasonably react to sudden emergency crashes. They pull over, render aid if possible, and wait for first responders to arrive.
The second prong, however, is much harder to prove. Generally, an injured person in a road is not a “sudden emergency.” These things include events like hood fly-ups, lightning strikes, and other completely unexpected situations. Granted, it’s very unusual to see a wounded person in a traffic lane. But it’s also unusual to encounter a large pothole that causes motorists to lose control of their vehicles or a stalled car in a traffic lane. And, these things are not “sudden emergencies” in Florida.
The insurance company bears the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion on both points. Generally, insurance company lawyers must convince the judge that the defense applies, and they must convince jurors of the same thing.
On a related note, pedestrian injuries sometimes involve the contributory negligence defense. Generally, insurance company lawyers trot out the distracted walking defense. They use things like call logs and web browsing history to prove that the victim was not maintaining a proper lookout. However, in the above case, an insurance company lawyer would probably focus on the biker losing control of his bike.
If both parties were partially at fault for the wreck, the jury must divide fault on a percentage basis. Florida 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.
Once again, the insurance company has the burden of proof, and the burden of persuasion, in comparative fault matters.
In the Sunshine State, accident victims are usually entitled to economic losses (out of pocket expenses), at a minimum. Economic losses include things like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
Victims who sustain serious injuries are entitled to additional compensation for their noneconomic losses. Florida law defines a serious injury as:
- Significant loss of an important body function,
- Permanent injury of any kind,
- Significant disfigurement or scarring, and
These definitions are quite subjective. Generally, if the victim’s car was inoperable as a result of the crash, the victim probably sustained a serious injury. For example, broken bones usually heal, but these victims often suffer some permanent loss of motion, even if it’s only a few degrees.
Noneconomic losses include intangible damages like pain and suffering, loss of consortium (companionship), emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment in life.
Contact AV-Rated Lawyers
Motorcyclists are at risk for serious injury every day. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, contact The Matassini Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Hillsborough County and nearby jurisdictions. Nicholas G. Matassini and Nicholas M. Matassini are both AV-Rated by Martindale Hubbell.