An accident is traumatizing, especially if you were on a motorcycle. No matter who’s fault it is— you’re lucky to be alive after colliding with another vehicle. A motorcycle is smaller, more dangerous, and more difficult to balance. Unfortunately, many people forget motorcyclists are vulnerable, or have a desensitization to it, because of the image they portray. That of daredevils racing through traffic, when in all actuality, you’re just a weekend rider who finds it relaxing. This becomes a major issue in court, because it brings about jury bias. A rider who is not guilty, will often not be seen this way because of the stigma surrounding their hobby.
Jury Bias and Motorcyclists: Getting Past the Daredevil Stigma
First things first, what is jury bias?
If you’re not familiar, jury bias simply means that the jury has a bias towards one party, or thing, that keeps them from analyzing the situation fairly. For instance, say there is a mother who lost her son to a drunk driving accident— she is likely to vote the defendant, and supposed drunk driver, guilty every time.
So, why does this work against motorcyclists?
As we’ve said, many people— especially those unfamiliar with motorcycle riding or culture, have a stigma in their head. The leather wearing, reckless driving, daredevil who weaves through traffic and has zero regard for others. But, in all actuality, that is a stereotype just like any other stereotype. The reason that this is so prevalent an issue, is because motorcycle crashes are inevitably more severe. In short, if it’s going before a jury, ultimately, that person is in better shape than most motorcyclists who have crashed.
Not to mention, there is a huge gap between the number of us that drive a passenger car, and those of us who ride a motorcycle. So, many of us have no way to relate to those riders, or understand where they’re coming from in their argument. So, voila— most all of us would have jury bias to some degree.
We have to combat this by educating ourselves
If you find yourself on the jury for a motorcycle accident case, do your best to reflect on this that you’ve read. You must understand that these people are human, and a fender bender for them— is thrice that for them. They are not trying to drive dangerously or put you in danger— they are every day people just like us. Veterans, fathers, mothers, grandparents, cool uncles— bikers, are just like us. So, next time you’re left to decide their fate— consider what you don’t know, and keep an open mind.
If you’re planning on taking the bike out today for a long ride, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before you do so. It’s important to make sure that you, and your bike, are in a good spot— both mentally and physically. So, we’re going to help you do just that. We’ve compiled a list of 5 questions to ask yourself before you head out. That way, you know that you’re in the safest and best position to have a great ride.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Taking A Long Ride
First off, have you checked the weather?
A freshly wet roadway is a huge hazard for any driver, but especially one on two wheels. Making sure you check the weather and now what to expect before hitting the open road, will ensure that you stay dry, and stay on the bike.
Are you in the proper gear?
Is your helmet secure and up to DOT standards? Gloves? Jacket? Saddle bag? Making sure that your body is prepared for the possibility of meeting pavement, just in case. Obviously that is never the goal, but it should always be a thought when you get ready. Considering wearing a t shirt? Think about how that might feel hitting the pavement at 65 MPH. It’s gruesome, but it’s a very real possibility.
Is your bike adjusted to where it needs to be?
It’s important that you feel your bike out every time that you take it out. Plant your feet firmly on each side and make sure you can easily reach the controls, make sure your feet are touching and even. Your mirrors are fixed. You’re in a good position.
Now, make sure those adjusted controls actually work
Check your warning lights, your headlights, signals, and tail lights. You never know what might go out on a bike with time— especially if you coexist with a few pesky mice. Making sure that these controls are doing their job can be the difference between a crash or a solid, long ride— especially if you’ll be out past dark.
Lastly, how are you feeling?
Distracted drivers are a huge risk to the roadway— especially on a bike. The statistics are harrowing when it comes to distracted drivers. So, don’t be one of them. If you’re having a bad day, a bad moment, or even just fresh out of a fight— maybe hold off. Riding a bike to blow off steam isn’t always your best or safest option.
Without a doubt, insurance policies are hard to read. After all, who writes this way. Furthermore, they are even harder to understand without a law degree. As a result, oftentimes they are filled with ambiguous terms. Whether that ambiguity is held against the insurance company depends on a number of factors. Hence, an ambiguous policy can work for or against you. Consequently, lawyers tend to argue ambiguity to try and get justice for their clients. Bardsley v Government Employees Insurance Co. is a case where a party challenges a policy’s clarity.
Ambiguous Terms in SC Insurance Policies
Ludwig drove a Maserati owned by his company SDI. While going between 85 to 96 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone, Ludwig lost control. As a result, he crashed his car into the rear of the Bardsley’s home. In addition, he struck Frederic, killing him, and then continued through the home and onto the front yard. At the time of the accident, SDI and Ludwig had $3 million in liability coverage. Furthermore, the Bardsleys had a State Farm homeowner’s policy for $500k. And finally, the Bardsleys also had auto insurance through Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) that provided $400k in underinsured motorists coverage. Although GEICO covered property damage, it would be excess over other valid insurance. Subsequently, State Farm paid to repair the home but then claimed that Bardsley should reimburse them. GEICO refused to pay anything for the property damage. No surprise here.
Ultimately, Bardsley settled with State Farm and reimbursed State Farm via a settlement with Ludwig. However, she later sued GEICO for her losses. After hearing arguments, the trial court found the other insurance provision to be ambiguous but offered no reasoning. Rather, the judge granted summary judgment in favor of Bardsley, and GEICO appealed. However, the SC Supreme Court reversed and found that the GEICO policy was, in fact, not ambiguous. Instead, a contract provision is only ambiguous if more than one meaning is possible or if the meaning is unclear. Here, the Court found nothing about the provision was unclear. In addition, the Court found no factual or legal basis in the circuit court’s Order. Consequently, the Order could not stand. It is ironic that the ambiguity in the Order was more important than the ambiguity in the policy. Go figure.
Lawyers and Contracts
So leave it up to lawyers to cluster up a written agreement. Then they cluster it up further on appeal. You just cannot make this stuff up. However, on a serious note, little phrases in contracts can make a big difference. Try not to worry. This is what we do, and we are here to help when you need us. After all, ambiguous terms are what lawyers live for. Call now for more information and options. You’ll sleep better after learning your rights and what to expect.
Because pothole motorcycle accident remains a serious risk for motorcyclists, we explore how to avoid them here. However, bikers cannot always see them until it’s too late. Unlike a car where only physical damage occurs, potholes can cause serious injury in motorcycle accidents.
Pothole Motorcycle Accident
While the best part of riding, bikers don’t ride at high speeds at all times. For one, the road a biker is riding on may have a high speed limit. In some cases, potholes exist on interstates and busy roads. A car or truck, for example, will run over a pothole with no problem. Regular cars can dip in and out of a pothole with little to no problem. In the worst case scenario, a car may end up with a flat tire. On the other hand, a pothole can cause the wheel of a motorcycle to get stuck. If this happens the motorcyclist can lose his or her balance or even fly off of the bike.
While many people believe motorcyclists drive recklessly, they only remember the “hot dogs” on the road. However, this is actually not the case as most motorcyclists drive quite defensively. Why? Because they know the risks of serious injury or death. As a result, bikers watch out for their safety and are hyper focused when riding. Nevertheless, motorcyclists cannot depend on other vehicles to treat them with common courtesy. In addition, the dangers of potholes remain a constant threat to biker safety.
Motorcyclists Have to be Safe or Die
If a biker suddenly cuts off another car to avoid a pothole, they are trying to avoid catastrophe. Hence, if a biker hits a pothole at high speeds, it can kill them. As a result, bikers must always keep a sharp eye for potholes. In addition, this is just one of the dangers bikers face every time they are on the road. Consequently, they are some of the most safety conscious drivers because their lives depend on it.
While everyone knows about texting and driving, here’s something the phone makers could do.
Texting While Driving Dangers
Because we already know the dangers, this blog won’t remind you of the obvious. And it appears older adults are actually worse than teenagers this time. However, despite new laws and harsher penalties, people still keep texting and driving. Rather, no matter what, we just can’t seem to stop ourselves. So what else is there to do? While there are many ideas out there, here is one that actually would seem to work.
Technology Solutions and “Drivers Mode”
Currently, I own two vehicles. While I still love my 12 year old Lexus, it still has a cassette player. Certainly, it is “old school” but still rides like a dream. And if I have my key on me, it unlocks the doors as I approach. For years, I thought this was pretty fancy stuff. However, I recently bought a new Chevy truck which is pretty amazing. Now, once I plug in my phone, most things are by voice command. Furthermore, the truck resets most functions including BlueTooth and streaming music. So why not set my phone to “drivers mode” that would stop any texting while in motion? After all, technology already prevents other activities in the car. Finally, we may have a solution to stop ourselves.
In addition to serious personal injury claims, our firm also defends DUI charges. As part of that practice, we have learned the many physical and mental divided tasks needed to drive. Consequently, there are studies that show texting is actually more dangerous than driving impaired. While I initially questioned those findings, I now agree. Why? Because someone knows they are not safe, they at least try to focus on driving. However, people texting think they are fine and look away for “just a few seconds.” However, at highway speeds, they can go several hundred yards down the road without looking. And that’s when very bad things can happen. Consequently, lives are changed forever in an instant. Sadly, it’s too late then.
A motorcyclist and car collided Saturday night in Columbia, killing the motorcyclist upon impact.
According to the police reports, the defendant was attempting to make a left hand turn onto Burdell Drive, when he intoxicatingly failed to yield to the oncoming motorcycle, and the motorcycle hit the right front passenger door of the defendant’s car.
The 26-year-old driver of the vehicle that hit the biker is now facing a slew of charges, including a “hit-and-run charge, driving under suspicion of a second offense, open container chargers, drug and possible distribution charges, failure to render aid and lastly, a Felony DUI.”
When a person causes serious injury or sadly death by vehicle in SC while driving under the influence, their charge is automatically elevated to a felony, as opposed to just a DUI. Moreover, when a person causes peril for another, and then fails to render aid or assistance to them, they can also be charged. This is the epitome of a hit-and-run, and another mechanism for punishing those who do so.
The Richland County EMT rushed the young man to Palmetto Health, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival due to the injuries suffered. The young victim’s parent were not aware of the accident until the body was discovered Sunday morning.
The defendant left the scene of the crime immediately after fatally wounded the victim; yet returned to the scene later, where an eye witness’s description allowed the police to identify and apprehend the defendant.
If you have been seriously injured by a drunk driver on your motorcycle or in your vehicle, contact the law offices of Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for information on your options.