The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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A southbound motorcycle rider was ejected from his bike after a northbound car turned and struck him head on while turning off Highway 965 onto Cou Falls Road near Swisher, Iowa. The collision occurred about 6:30 PM. There is no mention of whether a helmet was worn or a cause of death. This appears to be a failure to yield case.
In a second news item from the Golden Triangle Media a Mt. Pleasant man was killed in a similarly head-on crash. The accident description is not very clear other than the Mt. Pleasant man was pronounced dead at the scene when his motorcycle collided head-on with a vehicle being driven by a Ft. Madison gentleman.
In a third collision a car and motorcycle collided at 6th Street SW and 33rd Ave. SW just before 3:00 A.M. in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The cycle rider was taken to the hospital. The police suspect the driver of the car had been drinking. KCRG has this story. This is an alcohol related case, or OWI collision.
In a fourth accident near Welton, Iowa a woman from Lost Nation driving a car collided head-on with a motorcycle driver in Clinton County. The woman was driving a Buick Century westbound in the 2000 block of 190th Street at 4:44 PM when she fell asleep at the wheel, then crossed the center line and collided head-on with a Harley-Davidson cycle driven by a 54 year old man, Bruce Hanley from Geneseo, Illinois. The point of impact was in the south shoulder of the road, tending to show the motorcyclist was trying to avoid the collision by turning away from her. Both vehicles went airborne, the car ending up on it’s top and striking a utility pole. The cycle had a passenger, Hanley who is 53. She was pronounced dead at the University or Iowa Hospital and the driver was admitted. Neither was wearing helmets. The car driver was treated and released. This is a failure to maintain control case.
In a fifth motorcycle accident a Fremont woman was killed when the motorcycle she was riding on blew a tire, the driver lost control and she was injured. This collision occurred on Interstate 80 west of Des Moines. The motorcycle actually overturned and slid into the ditch. They were traveling east on I-80 and ended up in the south ditch. In this collision both were wearing helmets. This is a vehicle-maintenance case.
KIMT, News 3 from Mason City, Iowa has a story about the number of motorcycle registrations and death rates in both Iowa and Minnesota. As the number of registrations climb so has the death toll. Iowa has 60-motorcycle related deaths in the state.
“The Iowa D.O.T says there are things you can do to stay safe on your motorcycle. Bikers should wear bright colors so other drivers can notice them.
Drive the speed limit while operating any vehicle and don't drive while intoxicated. You can also lower the fatality rate while driving your car.
"As far as a driver be aware of motorcycles I know it's been preached for many years but it obviously is a problem we still have people today saying I didn't see the motorcycle," said Iowa D.O.T's Field Service Coordinator Pete Hjelmstad.
Some motorcycles now have flashing headlights to help them become more visible to the rest of the traffic.”
With gas prices what they are the number of scooters using the roadway is bound to increase. We all need to slow down and pay more attention to our driving and the traffic conditions. Motorcycle riders need to increase their visibility. I don’t mean to pick on the motorcycle riders, I just want them to stay alive. Everyone needs to be more careful, to be alert and then we can all be safe and stay alive.
Motorcyclist’s “loss of control” may not be the cause of this wreck.
Doctors refer to general diagnoses as "a waste-basket diagnosis", meaning the diagnosis is so general that it's meaningless. So when the Harrison County, Iowa officials list a loss of control as the cause of what killed a 49-year-old Omaha man after his motorcycle crashed it’s pretty worthless.
KCAUTV reports that David Jeulfs of Omaha was driving his motorcycle two-miles south of Missouri Valley when “he lost control of it” and crashed into a concrete railroad embankment. Of course the reporting is what it is because of the cause listed by the Harrison County officials who investigated the accident. I’m not picking on their reporting. But what I am trying to do is to explain why lawyers don’t find “loss of control” a sufficient explanation of the true cause of what caused Jeulfs to lose control. The passenger, Deborah Godek may be able to shed light on what actually caused Jeulfs’ to initially lose control.
When lawyers, judges and juries evaluated fault and negligence they seek to know more about what caused the driver to initially lose control. It could be speed, drinking alcohol and the effects, a deer crossing, a gaggle of geese in the roadway, a dog chasing the bike, a pot-hole in the roadway, a grease spot or some other debris on the road’s surface or a distraction caused by the passenger can all be “causes” of what caused the driver to “lose control”.
Loss of control is an initial description or preliminary description that leads to further investigation to establish the true cause of the collision and resulting death.
Take for instance a second motorcycle collision-wreck in Henderson County, Iowa where a 52-year old Christopher Coates of Corydon, Iowa was killed. In this collision there is another vehicle, a pickup truck driven by an 85-year old gentleman from Galesburg. In this wreck it’s reported the driver of the pickup truck turned left of center intending to make a left turn, but did so right in front of the motorcycle. The motorcycle driver lost control of the cycle as it slid into the pickup truck, causing his severe injuries and death and serious injury to the passenger of the motorcycle. It’s correct to say the motorcycle driver lost control, but that’s not the cause of the collision. The cause of the collision is the pickup truck turning left in front of the motorcycle, which causes him to lose control, and then leads to the crash. Going back one more step the pickup truck driver failing to see the motorcycle, a failure to use due care while driving, is the true cause. Speed could also be a factor along with other causes that influence vision and reaction times.
When a motorcyclist loses control it’s easy to initially blame the driver, but that’s unfair and wrong. You first have to examine all potential causes of what made the driver lose control in the first instance. We’ll examine one more crash. KOLNKGIN.com reports of a Dixon County, Nebraska crash where a 49-year old woman died after crashing into a car. She obviously lost control but that is not the cause of the crash or negligent act that caused her to lose control. What happened on that Sunday afternoon on Highway 12 near Ponca is that a car on the left shoulder of the highway came out and attempted to turn right, causing the motorcycle to crash into it. The negligent act is not the motorcyclist losing control, but the attempt by the car driver to cross lines of traffic from the left to make a right turn.
So when you are analyzing fault or negligence don’t stop short of the true cause. If there can’t be a determination of the true cause, in cases where the driver is killed and there is not a witness and no other vehicle involved, the waste-basket cause may have to be the only determination. But when there is more, ask questions and analyze the other potential causes. Good luck with your case.
Yesterday our news items included a motorcycle-deer crash near Le Mars. Today I'm taking that a bit further and discussing whether child-neglect laws require parents to protect children by requiring them to wear a helmet while riding.
I’ve been following motorcycle crashes now for well over a year to determine causes and how they might be prevented. One way to prevent serious injury, including brain damage is to wear a helmet. Preventing the accident or wreck can include educating car and truck drivers to be more aware and to look harder during the summer months for motorcycles, but more than half of all accidents involving motorcycles aren’t with another vehicle. As we’ve reported before animals, including deer, are a considerable safety factor.
Here was yesterday’s news report.
Another motorcycle-deer collision caused injury to a Remsen father and so. The Sioux City Journal reports Michael and John Naser were taken to Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City for injuries received on Iowa Highway 3 near Polk Avenue in Plymouth County. No report on whether or not a helmet was worn by the 12 year old passenger and the extent of injuries each received. I’ve wondered if a parent has a common law duty to protect a child with a helmet, even though state law does not require one. State law doesn’t require a parent to hold a child’s hand while crossing a busy street, but the common sense tells us otherwise. While children in most instances can not sue a parent in civil court for negligence county officials might charge a parent with neglect under Iowa State Law. Many states have such laws which are collected at the Child Welfare Information Gateway site. I say this because neglect can include a failure to supervise.
Neglect - Neglect is frequently defined in terms of deprivation of adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision. Approximately 21 States and American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands include failure to educate the child as required by law in their definition of neglect.5 Seven States further define medical neglect as failing to provide any special medical treatment or mental health care needed by the child.6 In addition, four States define as medical neglect the withholding of medical treatment or nutrition from disabled infants with life-threatening conditions.7
As a lawyer who represents people I’ve been conditioned to look ahead. Any parent whose child was killed while on a motorcycle riding without a helmet might find themselves charged with a crime by an over-enthusiastic prosecutor. It’s something to consider.
Neglect that results in a child’s death often times draws serious consideration to the degree of risk the child was exposed.
Fatal Neglect - Certainly the most severe, irrecoverable consequence of neglect is death. In 1996, a review of the States' child maltreatment fatalities revealed that 45 percent of the deaths were attributed to neglect and an additional 3 percent to neglect and abuse (Wang & Daro, 1997). Although not all States reported the data, it is estimated that these percentages translate into approximately 502 child deaths associated with neglect in 1996. Another study conducted in Iowa (which only had a sample size of 34) found that two-thirds of the children who died from neglect were under the age of 2, more than two-thirds were male, and families had an average of 3.3 children (Margolin, 1990). This study also found that the large majority of children who died due to neglect died as a result of a single life-threatening incident rather than from chronic neglect. These fatalities included drowning and scalding in bathtubs, fires, unsafe cribs, gun accidents, choking, and drug/alcohol overdoses. "In the vast majority of fatalities from neglect, a caregiver was simply not there when needed at a critical moment" (Margolin, 1990, p. 314).
See Acts of Omission : An Overview of Child Neglect, Bulletin for Professionals, 2001.
While I offer no opinion on whether this is even possible it something to consider. As our government resources to pay for medical care become tighter these are the areas where legal concerns abound. Where your helmet or at least require your child to wear one. Be safe not sorry.
Only 19 and with a promising career as a nurse the death of Miss Martin raises several questions one of which is why the motorcycle on which she was a passenger was heading south in the northbound lane of Kerper Boulevard. There is obviously more to this story than meets the eye. I know some boulevards are confusing and if wide enough can cause a driver to mistakenly turn too soon. The east bound off-ramp for I-80 and Merle Hay Road in Des Moines has that same confusing effect. The signage is terrible and if there are no cars heading south on Merle Hay Road a driver can easily turn north into the southbound lanes.
In this instance the mistakes were deadly. Of course wearing helmets may have helped save her life. As the person in the video says, "Don't put a cheap helmet on a priceless head."
I checked the Iowa State Patrol reports and no report have been filed. There are three fatality reports from September 16 to the 21st, 2008, but none from Dubuque. Obviously there is more to this wreck than is obvious.
While wearing a helmet remains a personal choice in Iowa you should do so knowing the risks and how motorcycle accidents are occurring. The cause of motorcycle accidents is more than just two vehicle collisions caused by a driver not paying attention or looking for motorcycles. Animals, like deer are a leading cause of wrecks that cause a loss of control by the motorcycle driver. Be aware and protect yourself by wearing a helmet.
Brian Hetrick, 29, Stronghurst, Ill – Killed. No helmet. Swerved to miss a raccoon and had been drinking although not over the limit.
Nicolas Bitner, 20, Central City, Iowa. Killed. No helmet. Lost control at Jordans Grove Road and landed in the ditch. Suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to the University Hospitals in Iowa City. [We are told Mr. Bitner is alive and is recovering. Thank you for the correction Cindy!]
Polk County Accident – driver not yet known was seriously injured when his motorcyclist struck a guardrail in Polk County, Iowa. Speed is believed to be a factor.
Jerry Alan Andresen, 41, of Maquoketa. Killed. Wearing a helmet. Intersection collision with motorcyclist turning left. At 4:06 Am Saturday August 16th 2008, the black Kawasaki Motorcycle was travelling South on Welcome Way (U.S. 61 South) in the center lane approaching intersection with 53rd St. The involved light blue Mercury Grand Marquis, operated by Robert Hartz, was travelling west bound on 53rd St in the center lane approaching this same intersection. The vehicles both entered the intersection near the same time and the motorcycle impacted the side of the westbound vehicle. The motorcyclist was ejected from the motorcycle at impact. Both vehicles sustained heavy damage as a result of the crash. It is believed that alcohol may have been involved in the crash, which remains under investigation by members of the Davenport Police Departments Crash Investigation Unit. No indication in the reported story who was at fault or had the right of way. The Quad-City Times reports police investigation concludes or suspects that someone ran a red light.
St. Paul Accident - Killed. Traffic on I-94 came to an abrupt halt causing the motorcycle driver to swerve into the break down lane. Another driver of a Jeep Grand Cherokee also swerved onto the shoulder and struck the motorcyclist, which resulted in the motorcycle driver’s death.
Miguel Cervantes, 38, hospitalized and in serious condition. Mason City, Iowa. Time was 1:15 PM at the intersection of State Highway 18 and B-20. Intersection collision where the driver of the car appears to have not seen the motorcyclist, then did, stopped before entering the intersection, but causing the motorcyclist to attempt avoiding an anticipated collision, losing control and flying off the motorcycle.
Donald Wilhite, 64, Waterloo, Iowa. Serious injury including a head injury. No helmet. Report is that Wilhite was driving north on Washington Street in the 1100 block when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed.
Frank Snyder, 48, Stanton, Iowa. Killed. No helmet. Attempting to pass a vehicle and crashed into a 1995 Dodge Intrepid on U.S. Highway 34 two miles east of Red Oak.
Ottumwa, Iowa, driver unknown. Motorcycle with a side car and a white sedan. Serious injuries being investigated by the Iowa State Patrol.
James C. Rich, 61, Newhall, Iowa. Killed. Lost control of the bike while negotiating a curve causing the bike to roll. Accident occurred on 27th Avenue around 11:30 A.M. near 70th Street, Newell.
Penny Hurlburt, 46, Camanche, Iowa. Serious injuries. Around 6:00 P.M. a deer darted out into her path causing her to brake. A motorcyclist behind her driven by Dale Hardison, 59 or Delmar, hit her motorcycle and was thrown to the pavement. Both were transported the Jackson County Regional Hospital.
James Miller, 46, Des Moines, Iowa. Killed. Unknown if a helmet were worn. It’s reported that while driving a scooter Miller was struck by a Chevy Caprice that was attempting to get away after colliding with a van. Driver of Caprice is charged with vehicular homicide.
Brian Beck, 30, Spencer, Iowa. Killed. Rear ended by a black SUV on Highway 18 at 7:16 P.M. The black SUV left the scene. The driver was later located and arrested for driving while under the influence, improper passing along with vehicular homicide. A passenger on the motorcycle, Krystal Plagman, 19, of Marathon, Iowa was also transported to the hospital, both in serious condition. Reportedly a spokeswoman at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls reported Beck was in critical condition. No report on helmet use.
Kenny G. Deboer, 23, Little Rock, Iowa. “Nonincapacitating injuries” and taken to Sanford Sheldon Hospital after crashing his motorcycle. The Argus Leader reports, “Deboer was driving west on a 2007 motorcycle on County Road B-14 after turning off County Road L-40 seven miles northwest of Sanborn when he lost control at 12:20 a.m. Sunday. The motorcycle slid on its side, across the center line and entered the south ditch. Deboer was thrown from the motorcycle and landed on the road. He told a trooper he thought a deer was on the road.”
Addison motorcyclist, identity unknown, killed, died at the scene of a collision after an alleged altercation ensued following a crash with another vehicle. An SUV was reported to be seen fleeing the location. Reported in the Daily Herald.
William Koenig, reported by the Austin Post-Bulletin, lost control of motorcycle, critical condition. Story details no longer online.
Brian Foreman, 37, Coralville, Iowa. Killed. Intersection collision at Mormon Trek and Rohret Road at 9:15 P.M. GazetteOnline.com reports the following, “The investigation, to date, has determined that a passenger vehicle attempted to make a left turn onto Rohret Road and collided with Foreman's motorcycle. Both driver has a green light, police said.”
David Junkins, 70, Cedar Falls, Iowa. Injured.
Motorcyclist from Sioux Falls near Mitchell went out of control after encountering a load of gravel that fell from a truck on Interstate 90 near Mitchell.
James Charles Rich, 61, Newhall, Iowa killed. 2006 Kawk motorcycle rolled after losing control on a curve while driving north on 27th Avenue near the 70th Street curve.