Serious Motorcycle Crash In Waseca
A motorcycle rider and passenger were seriously injured when a vehicle driver made a U-turn directly into their path.
63-year-old David Kmoch, of Cedar Falls, was driving the bike as his wife, 63-year-old Connie Jo Kmoch, sat behind him. As the couple rode southbound on Highway 13, 26-year-old Candice Kimbrough, of Markham, Ill., tried to turn from the southbound to the northbound side. She struck the Harley-Davidson, seriously injuring both its occupants. Authorities say that Ms. Kmoch was wearing a helmet but her husband was not.
Several different agencies responded to the collision.
About a third of the fatal motorcycle crashes in Minnesota occur because the tortfeasor (negligent driver) tries to turn against traffic and does not properly account for, or even see, an oncoming motorcycle. Indeed, most riders who go down hear the tortfeasor say something like “I never even saw you.” In almost all situations, rider invisibility happens because the tortfeasor is not maintaining a proper lookout.
Since motorcycle riders are almost totally exposed to injury risk, they often suffer severe wounds in these collisions, such as:
- Road Burn: Although not normally life-threatening, these large abrasions are incredibly painful and usually limit mobility for quite some time after the accident.
- Broken Bones: Fall-related broken bones normally heal in a short time with no corrective surgery, but collision-related broken bones are a different story. These injuries normally require highly invasive surgery to correct, and months of physical rehabilitation to recover lost function.
- Blood Loss: Due to their external and internal trauma injuries, many victims are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock when emergency responders arrive, so organ shutdown may be inevitable.
Damages in motorcycle crash cases include compensation for monetary losses, such as medical bills, and nonmonetary losses, such as emotional distress.
Some riders believe that if they are not wearing helmets that they cannot obtain compensation for their injuries. But in most cases, that’s simply not true. Minnesota lawmakers have expressly banned the so-called seat belt defense, so except in limited situations, insurance company lawyers cannot introduce evidence of seatbelt non-use to reduce or deny compensation.
While there is no such law that directly addresses motorcycle helmets, the same principles apply. Helmet use is inadmissible, under the rules of evidence, as contributory negligence, because helmets have nothing to do with fault. Similarly, helmets are inadmissible as evidence of failure to mitigate damages, since a victim is under no such obligation prior to the crash.
If the judge does allow such evidence, strict limitations apply. The insurance company must call a medical expert to the stand who will testify that if the victim had been wearing a helmet, his/her injuries would have been reduced by X percentage. Generic statistics about motorcycle safety are probably inadmissible. Since the victim/plaintiff cannot use such evidence to support a damage claim, the insurance company cannot use it to reduce or deny compensation.
In Minnesota, riders under 18 must wear motorcycle helmets.
Partner with Aggressive Attorneys
Motorcycle crashes nearly always cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Amery, contact Novitzke, Gust, Sempf, Whitley & Bergmanis. We routinely handle cases in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.