Common Motorcycle Crash Defenses
Hospital bills alone average just over $10,000 per incident in a motorcycle crash claim. Other medical costs, such as medevac and physical therapy, could cost even more. Furthermore, because of the often gruesome nature of these injuries, these victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation for their pain, suffering, and other noneconomic losses.
Because so much money is at stake, insurance company lawyers often pull out all the stops in an attempt to reduce or deny compensation. Frequently, these efforts involve some or all of the defenses examined below. So, a Tampa motorcycle accident attorney must be prepared to refute these defenses in court.
The Motorcycle Prejudice
This defense is not found in any law book. And, it isn’t as pervasive as it was in the late 1900s. But it’s still a key part of many motorcycle crash claims.
Essentially, many Hillsborough County jurors believe, at least deep down, that most motorcycle riders are reckless thugs, like the Hell’s Angels of yore. So, these jurors are more willing to embrace legal defenses like the ones discussed below.
Technically, lawyers cannot use emotional appeals to sway jurors. This rule applies to both victims and insurance companies. However, clever insurance company lawyers know how to subtly make these appeals, so judges often allow these appeals. Furthermore, many attorneys are not looking for this defense, so they are asleep at the switch. As one of our law school professors pointed out, pretty much everything is admissible if no one objects.
Contributory negligence is probably the most common insurance company defense in vehicle collision claims. Basically, this doctrine shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim. If jurors believe that the victim was riding recklessly, as outlined above, blaming the victim for the crash is the next logical step.
If there is evidence that both parties were partially at fault, the jury must apportion responsibility between them on a percentage basis, such as 50-50 or 80-20.
Florida is a pure comparative fault state. Therefore, even if the victim was 99 percent responsible for the crash, the tortfeasor is still responsible for a proportionate share of damages. To maximize compensation, most attorneys accentuate the positive. For example, the rider might have been slightly speeding. More than likely, however, the rider was also remaining in a single lane, riding a bike which was in good mechanical order, and otherwise riding safely.
Last Clear Chance
This defense often comes up in left turn motorcycle wreck claims. In a typical last clear chance matter, the tortfeasor turned left against traffic, crossing directly in front of an oncoming motorcycle while doing so. Insurance company lawyers sometimes argue that the rider had the last clear chance to avoid the wreck. The rider should have swerved or slammed on the brakes. Since the rider didn’t do any of these things, the victim is legally responsible for the wreck.
However, two-wheel motorcycles are not nearly as maneuverable as four-wheel vehicles. If you ride like Evil Kenevil, you might lose control of your bike and cause an even worse wreck. Furthermore, in many cases, these crashes happen so quickly that the rider simply has no time to react.
Count On a Dedicated Hillsborough County Lawyer
Motorcycle wreck victims are usually entitled to compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, contact Mark H. Wright, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.