On Saturday afternoon, a pick-up truck driver failed to see an oncoming motorcycle before making a left hand turn and caused a severe collision. The pick-up truck driver, Doris Collins, 70, of Nicole Lane, in Rockingham, North Carolina was headed southbound on U.S. Highway 220 in Richmond County just before the crash.
A motorcycle driven by Doug Franklin, 35, of Greenfield Road, in Hamlet, North Carolina was headed northbound on U.S. 220. Also on the motorcycle was a young juvenile passenger.
The northbound motorcycle had the right of way, but the southbound truck crossed into the oncoming lane and struck the motorcycle.
The truck driver was attempting to make a left hand turn onto Northside Drive. All three people involved in the collision were injured and hospitalized. Both Mr. Franklin and his juvenile passenger were transported to Moore Regional Medical Center in Pinehurst. Both drivers were listed in good condition at last report late Monday afternoon. The hospital spokesperson would not release any information regarding the juvenile’s condition.
Although this appears to be a clear liability case, wherein the driver of the truck violated a rule of the road by turning left and causing a collision with the motorcycle, the State Highway Patrol Trooper who investigated the crash declined to issue a citation to Ms. Collins. Troopers have the discretion to decide whether or not to issue a traffic citation to a driver involved in a collision. When no citation is issued, the victim of the crash often has a more difficult time dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will often use the lack of a citation as a basis for denying liability, even if the crash was clearly their insured’s fault.
The State Trooper did not indicate that speed was a factor for either the truck or the motorcycle in this instance, and the Highway Patrol has closed its investigation into the cause of the crash.
In North Carolina, insurance companies take a very aggressive stance in motorcycle crash cases, that is they often deny liability and refuse to pay any compensation to the motorcyclist or the passenger. This is because insurance companies know that many people who do not ride motorcycles consider it dangerous to ride a motorcycle in the first place and figure that the motorcyclist must have contributed to the cause of the crash. Since North Carolina is a pure contributory negligence state, if a motorcyclist is even 1/10th of 1% at fault in the cause of a collision, then the motorcyclist may not be able to recover anything for his property damage or his injuries. For this reason, this author always instructs his clients to never speak with an insurance adjuster about how the collision happened. Adjusters are trained to ask questions that may elicit a response that actually creates an issue of contributory negligence.
Many times, the car or truck driver simply fails to see the motorcycle, and as a consequence the car or truck runs into or over the motorcycle. This is a very well documented phenomenon. In California, the State Highway Patrol has paid for huge billboards to run messages along their major highways alerting car and truck drivers to watch out for those on motorcycles.
I have previously posted about the many steps a motorcyclist can take to make themselves more visible to car and truck drivers. Unfortunately, even when motorcyclists are trying to make themselves more visible, other drivers simply fail to look for them on the road. If you are not looking for a motorcycle when you start to enter a roadway or start to make a left hand turn across oncoming traffic, you may simply not see the motorcycle until it’s too late.
Scientific studies have shown that if a driver is not looking for a car or truck, then their mind is so programmed to look for those types of objects that their brain fails to register a differently sized and shaped object.
If you are injured in a motorcycle crash, it is very important to quickly have someone thoroughly investigate the crash for you. If you are unable to do it yourself, then you should either hire an attorney who is experienced in handling motorcycle crash cases or an accident reconstruction engineer who is experienced in handling motorcycle cases. It is usually very important to document all of the visible evidence at the scene of the wreck as soon after the wreck as possible. This is because tire impressions (skid marks) quickly disappear. The skids are often the only evidence left to tell the story from the motorcyclist’s perspective. Without this evidence, there may not be any other evidence to prove how the crash truly happened.
If you would like to speak with an experienced motorcycle crash attorney, who also rides motorcycles and understands the dangers motorcyclists face each time they get on the road, then contact Asheville Motorcycle Attorney Brian Davis. Mr. Davis is recognized as one of The Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the American Trial Lawyers Association and is also listed as one of The Best Lawyers in America.