Last week a male motorcyclist was killed after striking a compact car while driving on McFadden Avenue in Westminster. Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the gentleman, who received this tragic news on the eve of a holiday celebrating gratitude.
Preliminary investigations into the cause of the accident, which occurred at approximately 5:20 in the afternoon, indicate that the unnamed male driver of a compact car made a left hand turn in front of the on coming motorcycle. This occurred as he traveled eastbound on McFadden Ave. where it intersects with Gothard St.
Left Hand Turn Accidents and Motorcycles
The events leading up to this tragic accident, as described by police officers on the scene, is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in California and the nation. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) estimates that 36% of all fatal motorcycle accidents, like this one, are the result of another larger vehicle making a left hand turn in front of them.
Any driver who has attempted a left hand turn at a busy intersection knows how risky it can be, especially at those that do not employ a traffic light system to stop oncoming traffic and allow left hand turns to progress. When you are riding a smaller vehicle like a motorcycle, the risk of an accident is even greater.
The Common Causes of Left Hand Turn Accidents for Motorcycles
In many instances, an accident at an intersection is the result of a motorist not noting an oncoming motorcycle. It could be that another passing vehicle hid it from view or it could be that the motorist was not paying attention to the road the way he or she should have been.
In some instances, the motorist underestimates the distance of the motorcycle or the speed at which it is traveling. This causes them to enter the intersection right in the path of the motorcycle, often not giving the bike driver enough time for defensive maneuvers to avoid a collision.
Who Is At Fault?
Many driver's, and even insurance adjustors, have a preconceived notion that the vehicle that struck the other is automatically at fault in a traffic collision. They may cite traffic law, where the vehicle code states that a driver must yield right of way to another vehicle that is already in the process of making a turn. While this may apply in certain situations, it does not allow for vehicles to recklessly enter an intersection without first ensuring that there is no oncoming traffic that it will disrupt. The law also requires the driver making the turn to give the right of way to any oncoming traffic first, before entering that intersection.
These ambiguities may make it difficult to determine who is at fault. Questions may be raised about the speed at which the motorcycle was driving, or if he was approaching the intersection recklessly. The actions of the vehicle driver will also be examined to try and determine if he was distracted at the time he chose to turn causing him to not see the oncoming motorcycle.
An accident scene investigation may be necessary to decipher the skid marks to determine how fast the vehicles were traveling at the time of collision. If the there is a traffic signal at the intersection its patterns and timing will also be scrutinized to see if either driver may have ignored a red light.
What Should the Driver or Their Family Do?
Motorcyclists or their families should consult with a local lawyer who has experience in motorcycle accident cases, especially when the accident involves a poorly executed left hand turn. As the Westminster accident shows, the injuries to the motorcyclist are severe and often fatal.
A family who has suffered the loss of a beloved member in this way has the legal right to seek compensation for any financial damages as well as recovery for the loss of companionship and guidance.
At the time that the Orange County motorcycle accident was first reported the name of the victim, who died at the scene was not released. At that time, his family had not yet been notified of the tragedy they were about to face. Our deepest sympathies are felt for that family as they now must learn to adjust to a life without the presence of a loved one.
It is our hope that the family and friends of the motorcycle accident victim can grieve in peace, before beginning to rebuild their lives and family. This is an awful burden for a family to have to bear, and one we that we pray they will be able to move forward from in the near future.