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Who is at fault

This is a discussion on Who is at fault within the Motorcycle Safety forums, part of the General category; Yesterday had a fatality accident. Rider was traveling east bound on two lane road at approximately 110 to 120 mph ...


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Old 03-08-2007   #1
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Default Who is at fault

Yesterday had a fatality accident. Rider was traveling east bound on two lane road at approximately 110 to 120 mph based on witness’s statements. A sixty eight year old woman was traveling westbound and pulled out to pass a slow moving truck that was preparing to make a right turn onto a farm road. The rider hit her head on and based on evidence at the scene the impact was at about seventy five miles and hour, speed limit is 55. The woman was required to wear glasses due to extremely poor vision. She was wearing sun glasses but they were not prescription glasses so she was driving with extremely impair vision.
Ok, my take on it was the woman was at fault, of course I’m bias because I ride as much as I drive. However my partners and others feel the rider was at fault do to extremely excessive speed. To me at worst both share equal responsibility for the accident. What do you guys think on this one. If we have any lawyers out there I would like your take on it.
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Old 03-09-2007   #2
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Default Who is at fault

The argument could be made that even if she had her glasses on she could have misjudged the bike's speed and thought she could make it around the truck. I think that would put the rider slightly more at fault then the lady. But than again I have no experience with this sort of thing.
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Old 03-10-2007   #3
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Default Who is at fault

110-120 mph, that pretty much says it all. Even if the woman was wrong, had the driver been traveling at lower speed, he may have been able to react.
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Old 03-10-2007   #4
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Default Who is at fault

Anyone could misjudge the distance of an oncoming vehicle,especially a two wheeled vehicle, traveling at 110-120mph. She could have had plenty of room to pass a slow moving truck if the oncoming vehicle was traveling the speed limit. A bike traveling at that speed covers a lot of ground in a very short time. Not enough info. to draw conclusions as to who is at fault so I'll just say 75% biker, 25% lady only due to not wearing her glasses and possibly not seeing the bike at all.
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Old 03-11-2007   #5
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Default Who is at fault

I agree they should share the fault, but it the rider has the lions share of it for the speed
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Old 03-11-2007   #6
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Default Who is at fault

When you break the law you give up your ability to be, "not at fault" in an accident. Both were breaking the law, so the fault is shared.
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Old 03-11-2007   #7
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Default Who is at fault

Since I posted this it was determined that the woman would have had sufficient time to pass the truck safely if the rider had been traveling at the speed limit. Her in pared vision wouldn’t have been a factor other than her inability to judge the closure rate of the motorcycle. However the closure rate could have been easily misjudged by anyone with perfect vision. Woman was cited for failure to wear corrective lenses, rider for reckless driving. Now I guess we wait and see what the lawyers do with this one.
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Old 03-13-2007   #8
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Default Who is at fault

i was talking to a sheriff and she told me that if the bike was going the speed limit it would be the car's fault. in this case, the motorcycle would be found at fault.
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Old 03-14-2007   #9
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Default Who is at fault

Interesting situation... this kind of polarizes folks toward two driver stereotypes. Was it the speeding motorcycle heathen or past prime passer who was at fault. I suspect the lawyers for each party will help decide. Based on the little information posted, here are my thoughts:

[Soap box on] I hear way too often about motorcycle/car accidents where the cager failed to yield right-of-way and says, "I just didn't see the motorcycle". It seems that some folks develop tunnel vision just for other 4+ wheeled vehicles... Watch out pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other small animals. This is a fact and something we all have to live with... get a modulating headlight, wear bright clothes, and drive defensively. But absent these items does not negate a driver's right-of-way obligation. [Soap box off]

When I look at this situation, I ask myself.. "whose action, if not executed properly, was more likely to create deadly consequences... and where there mitigating or exacerbating circumstances."

A few posts back, it was determined that the rider's speed was the cause of the accident. Witnesses said he was traveling at 110 to 120 MPH in a 55 zone. Evidence indicated an impact speed of 75 MPH. In a 55 zone, maximum impact speed of the two vehicles of 110 MPH is possible without braking... so an impact speed of 75 MPH does not provide evidence of speeding unless additional speed can be determined by skid mark length. As far as the witness statements, I think it's difficult to accurately estimate speed of a vehicle... especially at those speeds. What has been their experience watching vehicles travel 110 to 120 MPH. I think most people judge speed by perceived size difference over time. A motorcycle looks small in the distance, but it's closer than most people think. The conclusion is the motorcycle is speeding because it covered a greater distance over time based on a person's assessment of that distance based on size. Time and time again we deal with cages turning or pulling out in front of us due to this phenomenon. So how fast was the rider really going... and would it have an impact on your decision of who was at fault if they were traveling 60 and 65... they were speeding, but did they forfeit their right-of-way protection by doing so?

Now let's look at the cager... she made a decision to move into oncoming traffic to avoid the inconvenience of a vehicle making a right hand turn in front of her. To do so safely, she needed to judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic to determine if their was sufficient time to execute the maneuver safely. IMO, moving into oncoming traffic should be done with extreme caution and there should be no doubt about having sufficient time... regardless of the speed of oncoming traffic. The evidence is that she did not accurately assess oncoming traffic to determine if there was sufficient time to execute a passing maneuver... if she had, no accident would have occurred. So what caused her to inaccurately assess the timing? As explained above, a big part of this is visual... being able to determine size change at distance over time to estimate passing interval. Her state DMV had determined that corrective lenses were required for her to drive safely.

I have to conclude that her decision to not wear corrective lenses inhibited her ability to accurately assess speed and distance of on coming traffic before executing an inherently dangerous maneuver which caused the accident described.

But that's just my opinion...
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Old 03-15-2007   #10
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Default Who is at fault

If the biker was in fact riding over 100mph(and I see a LOT of that in the sport bike crowd) I would lean towards him being mostly at fault. As mentioned befor, it is very difficult to judge a motorcycles speed when viewed head on. Even if he is highly visible, he would reach the itesect point at half the time the cager would have estimated had she assumed he was traveling close to the speed limit.
Assuming all of the imformation we have is correct, I think it is just a Darwinian thing and the squid wont pass on his genes.
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