Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

Although negligent driving is the cause of most motorcycle accidents, some are due to dangerous roads or thoroughfares. When unsafe road conditions cause a motorcycle accident, an accident victim may be awarded damages from the party that created the hazardous condition, if the injured person establishes liability. The Court of Appeals of Tennessee recently discussed what a person injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a dangerous condition must prove to recover damages. If your motorcycle accident was caused by unsafe road conditions, it is prudent to speak with an experienced Tennessee motorcycle accident attorney regarding your potential claims.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff, who was operating a motorcycle, was struck by a car exiting the drive-through area of the defendant’s fast-food restaurant. The plaintiff sued the defendant property owner on a theory of negligence, arguing that the drive-through lane, which allowed customers to exit the property onto a five-lane highway, created an unreasonably dangerous condition.

Specifically, the plaintiff reportedly argued that the lane promoted an unregulated flow of traffic onto the highway, with no warning signs or traffic control devices. The plaintiff further alleged that the lane was dangerous because it permitted drivers to turn left onto the highway. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. The court found the plaintiff failed to establish a duty or proximate cause, and granted the motion. The plaintiff appealed.

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While the majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by one or more person’s negligent driving, some accidents are caused by defects or dangerous conditions on the roadway. In cases where a Tennessee motorcycle accident is caused by an unsafe road, anyone injured in the accident may pursue claims against the person or entity responsible for maintaining the road. Proving the liability of a government contractor or entity for an accident caused by a dangerous condition presents unique challenges, however, as different laws and standards apply to the government and its contractors than the laws applicable in typical car accident cases.

A Tennessee court recently explained the evidence needed to sustain a claim against the State and a contractor hired by the State to pave a highway, in a case in which a motorcyclist was injured in an accident caused by loose gravel.  If you were injured in a Tennessee motorcycle accident that was caused by a dangerous condition on a road or highway, you should consult a seasoned Tennessee motorcycle accident attorney regarding the evidence you need to prove liability for your harm.

Facts Regarding the Accident

Allegedly, the plaintiff was traveling over a portion of a highway maintained by the defendant State, that was recently been paved by the defendant contractor when the plaintiff struck a patch of loose gravel and lost control of his motorcycle. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries in the accident, and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging they were liable for his injuries due to negligence and defective construction. The defendants filed motions for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff couldn’t produce evidence showing that the gravel was from the defendant contractor’s paving project, or that either defendant had notice of the allegedly dangerous condition prior to the accident. Further, the defendant contractor argued that the State Construction Projects Liability Act precluded liability. The trial court granted the defendants’ motions and the plaintiff appealed.
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When initiating a lawsuit, plaintiffs have a wide variety of procedural requirements that they have to follow in order to ensure that their lawsuit is brought in a timely fashion, and the defendants receive adequate notice of the lawsuit. One of these requirements is that the plaintiff must ensure that the defendant is served with a copy of the complaint that was filed and a summons so that the defendant knows to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations.  Plaintiffs can utilize a variety of means for having a defendant served, including personally serving the defendant, using a process server company to finalize service, or having the local Sheriff’s department conduct service. No matter which method is used, the plaintiff bears the burden of ensuring that service has occurred and that proof of service has been filed with the court. When service is improper or does not occur, a lawsuit may be tossed out unless the plaintiff can provide a good excuse for the error.

In a recent Tennessee motorcycle accident case, the court looked at circumstances in which the plaintiff attempted service, but the service was never actually finalized. In that case, J.E. delivered a copy of his complaint and summons to the local Sheriff’s office for service. He also sent a courtesy copy to the defendant, P.H.’s insurer, and J.E. and the insurer had ongoing discussions about the resolution of the case. After some time had passed, J.E. realized that he had never received proof of service of the complaint on P.H. and reached out to the Sheriff’s office to inquire. The Sheriff’s office could not confirm if they had served the complaint and requested more time to look into it.

The Sheriff’s office subsequently confirmed that they had not served the complaint because they believed that it had been lost within their office. The explained that J.E. could serve a second alias complaint and summons on P.H., but first the Sheriff’s office needed to confirm in writing that the original versions were lost. Several weeks passed, and J.E. did not receive this written confirmation. Eventually, he reached back out to the Sheriff’s office, and they confirmed that the originals had been lost, and service of alias documents would be appropriate. By this time, the deadline for service had passed, and P.H. moved to dismiss the case.

Sometimes in Tennessee personal injury cases, a plaintiff will seek to recover damages from another individual who caused an injury or acted in a negligent manner that led to an injury. In other personal injury cases, an individual may be injured as a result of a simple accident, or an unforeseeable circumstance that another individual did not cause. In these cases, a plaintiff may seek to recover damages from an insurance provider, rather than another individual, in order to pay for medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident that occurred.

Under those circumstances, plaintiffs face the risk not that the defendant will deny liability but that the defendant, the insurance company, will refuse to pay based on some term of the insurance agreement. In a recent case before the Sixth Circuit, an insurance company did exactly that, seeking to deny coverage to a plaintiff based on a policy exception that the Sixth Circuit ultimately determined should not apply.

In this motorcycle accident case, B.H. was injured while riding motorbikes one night with friends. At the time, B.H. and his friends had been drinking, and during their ride B.H. ran into another of his friends. The injuries he suffered were severe, and B.H. accrued more than $200,000 in medical bills. At the time of the accident, B.H.’s alcohol limit was twice the legal limit, and he was charged with operating a motor vehicle over the legal limit. Shortly thereafter, B.H. filed a claim with his insurance company, Companion Life, for his injuries. The plan administrator denied his claim, stating that he fell within an exclusion that prohibited coverage for injuries resulting from the “illegal use of alcohol.” B.H. argued that his use of alcohol was not illegal at the time because he was over the age of 21. Instead, it was his use of a motor vehicle that was illegal. Companion Life disagreed.

Duties in a negligence case can arise from a variety of circumstances. A landlord may have a duty to protect a tenant or the general public from known dangerous conditions. A medical professional may have a duty to treat patients with a professional degree of care. Duties can also arise when a statute requires certain individuals to act in a certain manner or fulfill certain obligations. A recent case before the Kentucky Supreme Court looks at whether a failure to comply with a statutory duty results in strict liability. It may be interesting to Tennessee motorcycle accident victims as well.

In this accident case, L.M. was driving his motorcycle in Louisville shortly after a large windstorm when he ran into a tree that had not been cleared from the road. L.M. suffered serious injuries from the accident. L.M. sued the Louisville Gas and Electric Company, as well as the Assistant Director of Public Works for Louisville. He alleged a negligent failure to remove the trees or warn pedestrians about the hazards in the road. L.M. also alleged that under Kentucky statute 179.070, the Assistant Director of Public Works, R.S., who was also a county engineer, had the duty to remove all trees and obstacles from the road and was negligent in failing to fulfill this duty.

At trial, R.S. acknowledged that the statute existed but testified that he was not aware of the statute at the time of the accident or his duties under the statute. He also testified that the Department of Public Works had delegated the handling of tree removal to the operations and maintenance division, which had always handled tree removal. In light of this evidence, the jury ultimately determined that R.S. had not failed to comply with his duty under the statute. L.M. immediately moved for a new trial, arguing that the jury’s verdict went against the weight of the evidence because R.S. had acknowledged the statute placing the duty on him to remove trees, and he had not actually removed the trees that caused L.M.’s injury. The trial court denied the motion, and L.M. appealed.

Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling and relaxing experience. Tennessee’s scenic views are breathtaking. The problem occurs when other drivers fail to use the proper driving protocol to ensure your safety while sharing the road. A careless lane change or improper signal use at an intersection may result in a serious accident. After being injured, reaching out to a motorcycle accident lawyer may help you in filing a claim or a lawsuit.

Steps for a Motorcycle Claim

With any type of accident, your health is the main priority. Seeking out medical care should be the first step for severe injuries, followed by gathering the necessary information to file a claim.