Motorcycle drivers and their passengers are at risk for virtually every type of accident that can befall a standard passenger sedan. Motorcyclists, however, lack the structural protection that can save an automobile driver or passenger from death or serious injury. Most motorcycle drivers are aware of these added hazards and take precautions to avoid them. If the cycle operator fails to pay attention to the additional risks that accompany motorcycle operation, the results can be tragic, as demonstrated by a recent accident west of Winthrop.
The motorcycle in question was traveling east on Highway 20 north of Winthrop. The bike operator attempted to pass another east bound vehicle just as the vehicle’s driver was turning left into a turnout. The motorcycle struck the rear end of the sedan, and the driver and his passenger were thrown from the bike. The female passenger was pronounced dead at the scene, and the bike driver was airlifted to Central Washington Hospital for treatment of his injuries. The driver of the turning vehicle was not injured.
Police at the scene of the accident said that the motorcycle was following too close to the turning vehicle and was unable to slow sufficiently to avoid a collision. Police did not mention either drugs or alcohol as a possible cause of the accident.
The opinion of the police that the accident was caused by the motorcycle operator’s failure to maintain a safe distance is likely to be dispositive in any allocation of fault. If the motorcycle passenger is not a relative of the motorcycle operator, her family may have a strong case for wrongful death based upon the operator’s negligence. However, both the driver and the passenger have the same last name (Harris) and are probably related, most likely as husband and wife. Newspaper reports did not provide any information about survivors.
Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one under similar circumstances may wish to consult an experienced injury attorney for advice on whether the family of the deceased passenger may have a claim for damages against the driver of the motorcycle. A capable personal injury lawyer can evaluate the evidence and provide advice on the likelihood of recovering damages from the driver.