Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

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Motorcycle riders in the sunset.jpgIn 2010, a terrible accident occurred in Arizona in which a dump truck driver failed to stop at a traffic light and killed four bikers and injured five others. That man was found by a jury to be guilty of manslaughter for the deaths of these riders. He will now serve a prison sentence of 26 years. The families of the victims have been through a great deal and as an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer, I know this is a very difficult process of grief and sadness.

The prosecution presented evidence that the driver tested positive for methamphetamine. The bikers were waiting at a light in North Phoenix, Arizona and were hit as the trucker plowed through the intersection. It appears that the riders could have done nothing to avoid being hit, and were essentially “sitting ducks” in this horrific crash.

Under Georgia law, specifically the Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393 (a), “[a]ny person who, without malice aforethought, causes the death of another person … commits the offense of homicide by vehicle in the first degree and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than 15 years.” Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and/or driving recklessly would fall under this provision. In the Arizona case, the truck driver engaged in both of these.

In past years, many organizations, including Georgia and the federal government have worked towards improving rider safety. Riders are aware that when other drivers are driving under the influence of alcohol (or other substances as happened here) and speeding bikers are at greater danger.

We also know that wearing a helmet can save a rider’s life. But what can be done when you are sitting in an intersection, abiding by the traffic laws and waiting for a traffic light? That is a nearly impossible situation in which to protect yourself when on a bike.

One of the most common accidents with other drivers is that in which the other vehicle pulls directly across the path of the bike, either because the driver did not see the biker or because of substance abuse, speed or distance. Share the road campaigns have helped in the effort to make drivers more aware of the need to watch for other types of vehicles or bicycles.

Making sure that drivers understand the dangers for them and the motorcyclist (especially at intersections), driver training courses, driver handbooks or manuals and licensing tests, can help. But in the moment, when drivers are in a hurry, even a sober driver can fail to yield or engage in other poor driving that puts the rider at risk. The driver who hit and killed the four innocent bike riders, will have many years in prison to think about the ways he could have avoided the accident, avoided driving under the influence and avoided his own nightmare.

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courthouseIn my work as an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer, I keep up with the rulings in states around the country that relate to bikes. A very interesting ruling has just come out of the Indiana Court of Appeals. The case involved the question of whether the blood drawn from a police officer could be admissible in the criminal case filed against him. The blood could be important evidence as to why he ended up crashing into two motorcycles at an intersection, killing one rider and causing the critical injuries of two others.

The blood was drawn from the officer and now could be used as evidence against him. The prosecution must still prove that the blood was not tainted or damaged in any way by showing what is called a proper chain of custody before the trial court can admit or allow the evidence in the case against the officer. Apparently, the officer’s defense counsel believes there is a good chance that the evidence was not properly managed. As it stands now, the sample revealed an alleged blood-alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit in Indiana.

The drunk driving charges had initially been dropped and later were refiled by a different prosecutor. Initially, the trial court judge ruled that the blood sample was not admissible for technical reasons such as, alleged medical protocol failures and issues with the personnel that drew the blood.

Georgia law also provides for the personnel who may draw blood in these circumstances. Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-392 provides for chemical tests for alcohol or drugs in blood and provides, in part, that “The person tested may have a physician or a qualified technician, chemist, registered nurse, or other qualified person of his own choosing administer a chemical test or tests in addition to any administered at the direction of a law enforcement officer. The justifiable failure or inability to obtain an additional test shall not preclude the admission of evidence relating to the test or tests taken at the direction of a law enforcement officer …”

In Indiana, only certain medical personnel are permitted to draw blood in drunk driving cases. Interestingly, reports say that the blood could be used to support other charges, such as reckless homicide. But, in the court’s opinion, the person that performed the blood draw did it in a way that followed necessary protocols and they concluded that the state statutes were not intended to throw evidence out on these grounds if the proper procedures were otherwise followed.

According to reports, the public became outraged when it appeared that the crash scene was not handled properly. As a result, literally hundreds of bikers rode into downtown Indianapolis for several weekends after the crash to hold vigils and protest the way the situation was handled. The protests may have supported the end result which was disciplinary action or demotion of not only the police chief, but others in the department,
It is now hoped that the case will move forward with greater public trust. The decision may be appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court which may or may not accept the case for review.

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for motorcycleriderleg.jpegOver the weekend, we read about a New York avid biker who apparently lost control of his bike and ended up losing his life. This accident happened on a curve. This scenario is one that bikers know can be dangerous. And my Gwinnett County motorcycle accident law practice clients have shared their experiences with me about the physics of bikes and curves.

The deceased biker was 69 years old, a visual artist of some renown and an art gallery owner. The local state police said that he was driving his 2011 Kawasaki Ninja when he veered into the opposite lane of traffic and was struck by an oncoming Toyota RAV4. He was wearing a leather jacket, leather pants and a helmet and was driving at the speed limit. There is no indication that alcohol was a factor.

We don’t know what went wrong in this accident or why he lost control of his bike, but we do know from that curves can be dangerous for all bikers. Loss of control on a curve can be deadly when a biker loses control or when an oncoming vehicle travels into the wrong lane at the wrong time.

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biker'shandonhandlebar.jpgGeorgia bikers are fortunate to have a resource that can help with many aspects of bike riding and safety. The Georgia Motorcycle Operator’s Manual is a fantastic resource for all riders. I recommend it to my clients in my practice as an Atlanta motorcycle accident lawyer.

One of the many areas the Motorcycle Operator’s Manual covers is how to ride safely in certain situations. In the first of a two-part series on safe riding and intersections, I want to ensure that riders understand their role in keeping safe.

National motorcycle safety statistics show that bike riders are particularly vulnerable in intersections. This is the “greatest potential for conflict between you and other traffic” according to the Georgia manual. It is said that more than half of all accidents involving motorcycles and passenger vehicles are actually “caused by drivers entering a rider’s right-of-way.”

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motorcycleriderleg.jpegSeveral years ago, the United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, studied a less publicized area of interest for rider safety: the “lower-extremity injuries among motorcyclists within the context of overall trends in motorcycle injuries and fatalities.” Representing bike riders as an Atlanta, Georgia motorcycle injury lawyer, the results of the study track with my own experience with my clients’ bike accident injuries.

This study enabled experts to review the medical costs involved in these injuries, as well as the long term disabilities that can result. Using motorcycle crash information that was taken from a sampling system that spanned the years from 1997 to 2006, the study’s report used various statistics gleaned from fatality tracking and trauma centers to spot the trends.

The analysis revealed an interesting fact. What it found was that lower-extremity injuries were in fact the most common injuries sustained by motorcyclists treated at lower-level trauma centers. The next most common injuries were upper-extremity and head injuries. In future posts, we will continue to talk with readers about the importance of helmet use in Georgia and the studies done in the area of head trauma and injury.

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motorcyclecrash.jpgAs a Gwinnett County motorcycle crash lawyer, I was sad to learn about a case that involved the death of a Cobb County rider. I was particularly interested in this case because I recently represented a family and secured a major recovery for them of $1,550,000 in the wrongful death of a motorcycle rider who was killed when an automobile driver failed to yield just has happened in this case.

Earlier this fall, a Cobb County man was killed while riding his motorcycle in Florida. He spent two weeks in a hospital there until he passed away from his injuries. In that motorcycle accident, the rider was struck by a driver who failed to yield to him while he rode his 2003 Harley Davidson. The deceased rider was not wearing a helmet.

There are important steps that you can take to protect yourself from drivers. One of those is wearing a helmet. It is really an important step in defensive bike riding.

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Motorcycle4.jpgDrinking and driving is well-known to be a lethal combination, which can cause the loss of life. What we don’t often see in my Gwinnett County motorcycle accident law practice, is the tragic fallout that happened in a case outside of Georgia.

In August of last year, a motorcycle passenger was killed by a drunk driver in Erie, Pennsylvania. The case involved a 24-year-old young woman who died when she was thrown from the motorcycle driven by a young man, aged 26.

A drunk driver made a turn only 5 to 10 feet in front of the cycle, and the motorcycle’s driver had to stop suddenly to avoid the SUV. Tragically, the driver of the motorcycle could not live with the guilt over his young friend’s death while he was driving, even though it was not his fault. He took his own life.

The night of the accident, the SUV driver was arrested for drunk driving and now faces at least three years in prison for the crash. In Georgia, homicide by vehicle, including when a driver is under the influence, can carry a jail sentence from 3 to 15 years. or longer, depending on whether the person has any prior offenses.

We are in the holiday season and friends and family gather to celebrate. The roads are full of families going from place to place to enjoy one another. The roads are also full of people who are under the influence.

Motorcycle riders know that they need to be very careful in certain situations, particularly at intersections where many accidents can occur. But it is very difficult to manage defensive driving when a vehicle is driven by someone who has been drinking or is under the influence of drugs. As a biker, if you are confronted with a situation as occurred in this tragedy — a drunk SUV driver — it is very difficult to avoid another vehicle that is not following the rules of the road.

The double tragedy here is that the motorcycle driver took on the guilt of the accident himself, when it was not his fault that the passenger was killed. The driver probably did the only thing he could do — try to avoid a collision with the SUV that was coming at him.

For decades now, Georgia’s Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been working tirelessly to help the public become more aware of the tragedies that occur when impaired drivers get behind the wheel. I have been involved in this organization as a board member and supporter for many years. But as a nation, we continue to struggle against this terrible and tragic issue.

For bike riders, a drunk driver behind the wheel of a large vehicle, such as an SUV is a recipe for the type of accident that occurred in the Pennsylvania case. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has a number of tips that bike drivers can review before taking a passenger on board.

Other recommendations include that drivers really know their bike’s operation and have a safety- oriented attitude prior to carrying a passenger. They also recommend practicing such things as low-speed clutch/throttle control and emergency braking; using caution when cornering; using the Search, Evaluate, Execute strategy (SEESM) to increase safety margins; allowing a passenger time to adjust to riding with you; avoiding extreme speeds and dramatic lean angles; and many other safety suggestions.

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Local celebrity Jesse James Dupree is convalescing at his residence after a motorcycle accident on Route 411 near the Georgia-Alabama state line, just below Rome, Georgia. Dupree is the lead singer of the band Jackyl which was formed in Kennesaw, Georgia and also the co-star of Full Throttle Saloon on Tru-TV.

Dupree was hit by a vehicle and suffered a broken left ankle and foot, fractured right arm, a severe case of road rash and significant bruising to his lower back, according to a press release issued by his publicist. He is expected to make a full recovery.
Located in Sturgis, South Dakota, the Full Throttle Saloon is a 30-acre indoor/outdoor bar and features several large stages, a tattoo parlor, zip lines, a wrestling ring, restaurants, shopping, cabins for rent and plenty of parking for bikes. The bar is open annually for two weeks during the yearly Sturgis rally.
Road rash injuries are typically caused by motorcycle and bicycle crashes caused by your body’s contact with pavement or gravel. Naturally, the higher your speed the greater the force that will throw you off the bike or motorcycle. The resulting injury can be quite severe though typically not life threatening; however these abrasions are painful and may leave some permanent scarring.

Not dissimilar to burn injuries, there are three degrees of harm linked to road rash accidents: First degree road rash affects the first layer of the skin and easily treated. Clean the wound thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide or warm water and soap. Allow it to dry, scab and it should heal on its own.

Second degree road rash occurs when the first layer skin breaks. Again, cleaning immediately and often is vital to your recovery. If any debris from the road has entered your skin, it is best to see a professional provider. Additionally, doctors may need to stitch the lesion or trim out excess skin, which can be common.

Third degree injuries are quite serious. The wound penetrates the first layer of skin, often exposing tissue, fat and even more severely, bone. Seek medical attention immediately; you may require skin grafting or hospitalization.

There are precautions you can take to protect yourself from road rash. Here are some tips that you can follow:

Always wear a helmet. Headgear that covers the entire face is also recommended if traveling at higher speeds. Motorcyclists should also wear protective clothing; Investing in a quality leather jacket, a good pair of gloves and chaps is strongly recommended.

Lastly, obey traffic laws; speeding is the main cause of road rash accidents. Learn proper bike handling to avoid bike or motorcycle accidents. As in my previous post, there are many motorcycle academies throughout the Atlanta Metro area. Going back to school could save your life.

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An airborne tire tread apparently triggered a fatal accident involving a motorcyclist and tractor-trailer this week, according to Gwinnett County authorities and reports in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Police say Lonnie Cross, 35, was riding his motorcycle Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. in the left lane of northbound I-85 at the I-985 split when he hit the tire tread after it had been struck by another vehicle.

Cross lost control of his motorcycle, and after laying the motorcycle down on the roadway, he ended up resting in the center lane in the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer, police say. The driver of the truck could not avoid running over Cross, police say.

Cross died at Gwinnett Medical Center with no charges pending.

For some time, all lanes of I-85 were closed in the area, with traffic being re-routed to I-985.

In recent months at least a half dozen motorcyclists have been involved in fatal bike crashes on metro Atlanta highways.

Police say Emanuel R. Mitchell, a 31-year-old Norcross resident who was riding a black 1990 Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle, died Aug. 20 after being struck by two vehicles on I-75 near Windy Hill Road in Cobb County.

Police say the accident was caused by Brandon Michael Weston, 32, of Smyrna, who was driving a silver Porsche 944 and fled the scene with passenger Pamela Kay Rice, 41, of Marietta.

According to reports, after the fatal hit and run, Weston and Rice conspired to have the car taken to a repair shop in Alabaster, Ala. They were arrested nearly two weeks after the accident and face charges of second-degree vehicular homicide, hit and run, tampering with evidence and several other charges.

In another case, a 74-year-old woman riding on the back of a Harley Davidson on I-285 in south Fulton County was killed when the motorcycle ran into an SUV that had stopped with a flat tire.

Motorcyclists also have been the victims of motorists driving under the influence.

Darrin Murphy, 42, is accused of ramming a motorcycle in late May and killing recent Georgia Tech graduate Liam Rattray near the Vortex restaurant was arrested previously for DUI, authorities say.

Reporting by Christopher Seward for the AJC.

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