It happened AGAIN. Another phone call to my office. "My husband was hit by a driver (this time by someone operating a piece of agricultural equipment) who turned in front of him." As is typical, the injuries were horrendous. Numerous fractures, surgeries, lousy hospital and rehab center food, immobility, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, arthritis--you name it.
It's an all to familiar story for me as a personal injury attorney. This is probably the 12th consecutive "left turn in front of the motorcyclist" case I've handled in the last couple years. As always, there are 2 common denominators: the driver of the offending vehicle "never saw the motorcyclist," and the injuries to the motorcyclist are always serious.
It has to be disconcerting to riders that someone can turn abruptly in front of them and not see or hear them. But it happens all of the time. Riders have asked me over the years: "How can this be avoided?" Many times, it can't be. Every single one of my clients were free from fault, and riding their motorcycle safely and legally when they were hit. You can't control other peoples' inattention and other idiocy, like texting and other distracted drivers.
But my best advice to riders, as someone who's handled so many motorcycle accident cases over the years, would be:
DON'T SPEED. If you are not speeding, you do not lose your right of way under the law. Besides, speeding can (in some cases, but not all) reduce reaction time to avoid the crash.
WHEN APPROACHING AN INTERSECTION OR SIDE ROAD, PRESUME THE WORST: THAT EVERY DRIVER MAY SUDDENLY TURN IN FRONT OF YOU. In most cases, this may not help you at all. But it might in that one in a hundred scenario.
WEAR BRIGHT CLOTHING AND AS MUCH SAFETY GEAR AS POSSIBLE. Yellow may be loud and gaudy, but it just might make you more visible. A yellow helmet did not protect my
client in a recent left turn crash, but, again, it might help in certain scenarios.
The real shame here is that the REAL focus should be on the car and truck drivers' actions and why they SHOULD but don't see you as a motorcyclist. You as a rider cannot control that. But you can control some variables that just might decrease the chances of being involved in a crash, or increase the chance of avoiding a crash, however slight.
PURCHASE AT LEAST $250,000 OF UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORISTS' COVERAGE FOR YOU AND YOUR MOTORCYCLE. IF YOU CAN AFFORD $500,000, BUY IT!
I'll make this simple: bad crash + hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills + bad driver has little or no liability insurance + you had little to no uninsured/underinsured motorists' coverage ='s you recover little to nothing or file bankruptcy. If you want more information on this equation, I wrote a book on the subject. Call and ask for it--it's FREE.
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