Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accident

motorcycleIf you are hurt in an accident in which you were the driver, one of the challenges you may face is the defense’s attempts to depict you as the driver who was really at fault. The evidence may directly relate to your driving, or it may involve other things, such as your potential impairment. In certain situations, you may be entitled to keep that proof of impairment out of your personal injury case. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorney can give you the assistance you need to accomplish this important goal.

A lawsuit filed by a motorcyclist in Bradford County demonstrated how it’s possible to keep out this type of potentially damaging evidence. The motorcyclist, Kevin, was driving his motorcycle on Route 220 on an April evening in 2012. He was behind two commercial trucks and, when he reached a legal passing zone, attempted to pass both on the left. As Kevin tried to pass the lead truck, that vehicle attempted to turn left into a gas station. The truck and motorcycle collided. The motorcyclist’s injuries were so serious that he required an above-the-knee amputation of his right leg.

The motorcyclist sued the driver of the lead truck and that man’s employer. There was, however, certain potentially harmful facts that Kevin wanted to keep out of his trial. He had, on the day of the accident, consumed some beer. Over the course of his day-long motorcycle ride, he and a friend had consumed seven beers at several bars across a period of six hours, with the last beers consumed along with dinner.

motorcycleIn a personal injury case, there are lots of pieces that go into getting a successful result. Your case may require documentary evidence, expert opinions, and legal arguments to keep out potentially harmful items. All of these are areas where having an experienced Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorney representing you can provide an invaluable benefit.

An example of this was a recent case arising from a tragic vehicle accident in Philadelphia. Calvin and a friend were driving their motorcycles, with Calvin deciding that he would record the ride, so he had a Go Pro video camera mounted to his bike. The video showed that, in the half mile before his accident, he performed three wheelies. Calvin was not, however, speeding at the time of his accident. The accident occurred when Kahlile attempted to make a left-hand turn and steered his Dodge Durango into Calvin’s path. The impact killed Calvin.

At the scene of the accident, a police officer noted that Kahlile appeared lethargic and had bloodshot, watery eyes. A blood test taken two hours after the accident yielded a blood-alcohol level of 0.073.

texting and drivingOne of the emerging issues in personal injury law is the issue of who’s liable when you are struck and injured by a driver who was distracted due to texting. In any personal injury case, one of the vital components of success is correctly deciding who to name as defendants in your case. In a case in which a texting driver injured you, should you sue just the other driver or the other driver and her texting partner? These questions are among the things that illustrate how an experienced Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer can help you. A recent case from Lawrence County, reported by the Washington Post, demonstrates how you may be able to proceed against more than just the other driver.

The facts underlying the Lawrence County case, as described by the Post, were tragic. A 68-year-old volunteer firefighter was driving away from his daughter’s home when he slowed to make a right-hand turn into a driveway. The driver behind him allegedly did not notice the slowing motorcycle and slammed into it from behind. The impact pinned the firefighter, and the rear driver’s Toyota Sequoia dragged the man for roughly 100 feet. The firefighter died at the scene.

After the accident, the firefighter’s family discovered that the SUV belonged to another individual and his landscaping business. Depending on the facts of your personal injury case, there may be a viable legal opportunity to pursue your case against multiple defendants. If the person who hurt you was driving a vehicle owned by someone else, you may be able to sue the owner and the driver. If the person who hit you was working at the time of the crash, you may be able to pursue your case against both the driver and the employer.

In a recent case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court addressed the issue of discovery sanctions following a negligence lawsuit stemming from a motor vehicle accident.  Pennsylvania law holds that sanctions are appropriate when they are proportional to the violation of the discovery rule.

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Michael Hass alleged that Marvin Reinert was driving a farm tractor that pulled a flat bed wagon, taking up both lanes of a two-lane roadway. Mr. Hass had been on a motorcycle, traveling in the opposite direction, and he claimed that he had to “take evasive action” and lost control of his bike, crashing into the roadway.  Mr. Hass brought a negligence lawsuit against Mr. Reinert.

Due to a failure to timely respond to requests for discovery, the trial court granted Mr. Reinert’s motions for sanctions. The discovery concerned Mr. Hass’ motorcycle experience and training as well as his tax records and wage loss information. In addition to granting the motion for sanctions, the court precluded Mr. Hass from presenting evidence on the liability issue. Another motion for sanctions was granted that precluded Mr. Hass from providing evidence concerning the damages issue.

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Any experienced Pennsylvania motorcyclist recognizes the inherent dangers of the road, including the possibility of cars cutting you off or distracted automobile drivers rear-ending your motorcycle.  Considering the high possibility of a catastrophic injury, Uninsured and Underinsured (UM and UIM) automobile coverage may be a wise choice for you and your family in the event of a collision.  These extra policies can help provide much-needed funds for medical coverage when the at-fault party’s policy limits do not nearly meet the cost of care, or the at-fault party does not carry auto insurance at all.  

motorcycle-personal-injury-suitA recent Superior Court decision, Clarke v. MMG Insurance Co., discusses the challenges faced by an injured motorcyclist who attempted to file a claim under one of his UIM policies.  In this case, the motorcyclist was severely injured after a car turned in front of him.  He was on life support for a week and a half and had to undergo several surgeries during his stay.  He carried two UIM policies – one for his motorcycle, and one for two automobiles.  After filing claims and receiving money from his policy, the at-fault party’s policy, and his motorcycle UIM policy, the injured man filed an UIM claim with the insurance company policy for the two automobiles, which had liability of up to $300,000 per accident.  The company rejected the claim, pointing to the “Household Exclusion” clause and arguing that the motorcycle was not a covered vehicle under the policy.  

The trial court agreed with the insurance company, but the Superior Court disagreed with the trial court’s piecemeal reading of the policy.  The Superior Court pointed to the case law principle that the policy must be read as a whole to achieve a reasonable meaning within the policy.  The Superior Court looked at the language under the UM clause, which excluded vehicles not insured “for this coverage under this policy,” and compared it to the UIM clause, which only stated “for this coverage.”  The Superior Court felt this specific difference revealed the insurer’s intent to cover an underinsurance claim, even if the first-tier coverage was provided by a different insurance company’s policy.  The Superior Court determined that this meant the injured person’s claim was covered by the appellant insurance company’s policy.  The Superior Court also declined to read the policy in favor of any public policy argument, relying heavily on established case law, which prefers the clear and unambiguous language of a contract.  The trial court’s partial summary judgment was vacated, and the injured person was allowed to continue his suit against the insurance company.
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As a motorist in Pennsylvania, it’s important to fully understand your insurance policy limits in the event an accident occurs. Under Pennsylvania law, you are required to purchase liability coverage that  provides payment for bodily injury and property damage, with minimum limits of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.  Additional coverage may also be offered by the insurance company in the form of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage (UM/UIM), which provides additional money if the at-fault party does not have insurance or cannot be found, or if the at-fault party has a policy, but the damages cost far more than the at-fault party’s coverage limits.  In the event of a catastrophic injury, this additional coverage can provide much needed financial relief.

UIM InsuranceThe Federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision based on the two precedential cases with the same two parties, Sackett v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. (Case cites: 919 A.2d 194 and 940 A.2d 329.)  The injured person in the present case, Seiple v. Progressive Northern Insurance Co., was involved in an accident while he was driving his motorcycle.  The injured person purchased his initial motorcycle policy in 2009 under Progressive Northern Insurance Company, which covered one motorcycle and a limited amount of UIM coverage.  To satisfy the enacted Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL), the injured person signed a Waiver of Stacking UIM coverage.  The policy was renewed each year, with additional motorcycles added in November 2010 and September 2011.  Waivers of stacking were not signed with these additions, but there was an Amended Declarations Page, which explained the coverage.

After the injured person received payment from the at-fault party’s insurance company, he filed a claim with his own insurance company for coverage under the UIM portion of his policy.  While there was evidence in the policy that he rejected additional UIM coverage, the insurance company could not produce his signed waiver and agreed to pay up to the $50,000 limit.  The injured person then argued that the $50,000 was not enough, and that he should receive additional UIM monies from the additional motorcycle policies.  The injured person argued that since the insurance company failed to get additional waivers, the coverage had to be “stacked” by law.  The insurance company objected, stating that it was not required to obtain additional waivers.  The lower court agreed, and dismissed the injured person’s claim. Continue reading