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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Left Turn Crash Kills New Port Richey Motorcyclist


A driver making a left turn against traffic turned directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle rider, throwing him off his bike and killing him almost instantly.

The wreck happened near the intersection of Celestial Oaks Dr. and Florida Ave. According to police and witnesses, a Chevy Cobalt driver was in the left lane and tried to turn against traffic. In so doing, he smashed into 36-year-old Tristan Velez. First responders rushed him to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, but he did not survive.

Mr. Velez had “elevated the front wheel off the roadway, thus driving on the rear wheel of the motorcycle with the headlamp facing skyward,” according to the report.

Motorcycle Crash Causes in Tampa

About a third of the motorcycle crashes in Florida are left-turn accidents, like the one described above. A tortfeasor (negligent driver) suddenly accelerates to take advantage of a perceived gap in traffic, and the motorcycle rider never has a chance. There are a few things that riders can do to improve their visibility, like wearing bright-colored clothing. But there is no hard evidence that these tricks are effective.

The nature of traffic compounds this problem. Large pickup trucks, SUVs, and other such vehicles dominate the highways and byways of Hillsborough County. Sometimes, it’s hard to see around these vehicles. But lack of visibility does not excuse negligent conduct. It actually has the opposite effect. When drivers have limited visibility, they have a duty to slow down even more and drive even more carefully.

Other times, one of the five types of driving impairment causes a motorcycle crash. The five types of impairment, as identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are:

  • Alcohol,
  • Drugs (mostly Oxycontin, Xanax, and other prescription drugs),
  • Fatigue,
  • Distraction, and
  • Medical condition.

Regardless of the cause, the victim/plaintiff must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). That negligence could be a lack of ordinary care or a violation of a safety law.

Insurance Company Defenses in Hillsborough County

The above story implied that the victim made an Evel Knievel-type maneuver and was thus responsible for the crash. This story was based on the police accident report. Since the victim died shortly after the crash, this report only reflected the tortfeasor’s side of the story. This particular incident is not the only time the police report is incomplete or inaccurate.

Nevertheless, any careless driving raises the specter of contributory negligence. This doctrine, which shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim, is one of the most common insurance company defenses in Florida car crash cases.

In almost all cases, contributory negligence only reduces the amount of compensation the victim receives. Florida is a pure comparative fault state. Even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the wreck, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.

A Tampa personal injury attorney can counter the effects of contributory negligence by skillfully accenting the tortfeasor’s fault and minimizing the victim’s role in the accident.

Team Up with Assertive Lawyers

Injured motorcycle riders encounter many legal issues in car crash cases. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act and a delay could jeopardize your potential claim.

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