Waiting to hire a lawyer never helps the guy who was killed.

Today’s article is about another bike fatality. This bike rider was struck from behind. Here is the news item.

Another Cyclist Killed in Collision with Truck - Wayne Ezell, 72, was traveling westbound near Glenwood on US Highway 34 when he was struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by Robb Philippus, 34. The incident occurred around 6:40 a.m. on July 24th. Philippus reported that he simply did not see the bicycle. Ezell is the ninth cyclist to have been killed in Iowa crashes in 2016. But, I am pretty sure there have been other collisions resulting in the death of the bicyclist. By now the number is likely higher than fifteen. Ragbrai ride collision takes the life of a Florida resident.

I have handled several bike accident lawsuits over the past 35 plus years. My first questions are always pretty much the same.

  • Do you still have the bike?
  • Did anyone investigate the accident for the bike rider?
  • Are we going to have to rely solely on the other driver’s insurance investigation or a deputy sheriff’s?
  • And finally, why did wait so long to call me?

Sorry, but that last one is a legitimate question when the burden of proof will be on me to prove the estate claims.

Many times, but not always, as a lawyer I get called well after the funeral which means the property damage claims may already be settled. What most folks don’t appreciate is once the property damage is settled the car is fixed and the evidence to prove your case is destroyed.

  • Does anyone have photographs of the marks on the front of the car?
  • If there are photographs are they clear?
  • Were measurements taken?
  • Has the bike been preserved?
  • Has the bike been ridden after the collision?
  • Has it been junked?
  • Can I examine the bike?
  • Was there a rear reflector on it?
  • Was the bicyclist wearing a helmet? Where is the helmet?
  • Was the driver of the car or truck that hit the guy texting or talking on his phone or were there witnesses, including passengers in the car?
  • Did anyone measure skid marks on the road surface?
  • Did anyone do any investigation?

Who, what, where, when and how is what counts. Excuses get us nowhere.

People want to be treated fairly and I understand that as does the judge, jury and even the defense lawyer. But the judge, the jury and certainly the defense lawyer (and their client, the defendant's insurance company) are not in this to treat you fairly. They are in it to apply facts to the law. And a lack of evidence means you lose. Think of the law as if it were a card game. If you and I are playing cards with me ahead by ten games to zero, fairness might dictate you finally win the eleventh game. But rules of the game don't really care about fairness in the sense of who wins the eleventh game. The rules of the game simply say whoever has the most point wins the game. And lawsuits are like that in the sense that whoever has the most compelling evidence wins the lawsuit - fairness having nothing to do with the outcome. 

Evidence is evidence and a lack of evidence means the plaintiff (the injured guy) loses. So when you finally hire a lawyer don’t be surprised if the first questions he asks has to do with the physical damage and the preservation of evidence. 

Steve Lombardi
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Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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