John Henry Regan, 58, was killed in a recent motorcycle accident in Jupiter, Florida. According to news reports, Regan, a Coral Springs resident, was driving his 1984 Harley Davidson northbound on I-95 between Donald Ross Road and Indian Town Road when he was struck from behind by another vehicle.
The other vehicle was a 2010 Lexus ES-350 driven by Amanda McClure of Palm City, Florida. McClure and her passenger, Sydnee Reeder, survived the accident with minor injuries.
As a Florida injury attorney, I suspect this case is a classic example of rear-end negligence. If supported by the evidence, that would mean Amanda McClure is legally responsible for causing the accident.
Under Florida law, when one vehicle rear ends another, the law presumes that the rear driver is the one responsible for causing the accident. Such accidents are referred to as rear end collision.
While this presumption can be rebutted, meaning it is not absolute and can be challenged with other evidence, 9 times out of 10, the rear driver is likely responsible for causing the crash.
The reasoning behind Florida's rear end liability rule is simple: Drivers have a duty to pay attention and to operate their motor vehicles in as safe a manner as possible.
To do so, a driver must be cognizant of the traffic conditions that are transpiring immediately in front of their vehicle.
To prevent an accident, the law says a person must follow behind the vehicle in front of them at safe enough of a distance to effectuate an emergency stop without making contact.
Whatever happened on the road that night, it is clear that Amanda McClure drove too close to John Regan's motorcycle.
Whether she rammed the rear of his motorcycle or was too close to stop in time when he decelerated, Amanda McClure is still the responsible party.
Now, this conclusion is not absolute. If the evidence on the roadway suggests otherwise, then the conclusion may be challenged.
The important thing to do at this point in time is collect as much evidence as possible. This includes police reports, crash reports, traffic homicide investigation reports, as well as photograph the respective vehicles.
Whenever a person is killed in a traffic accident, the police conduct a very thorough investigation. They photograph the scene, take measurements, interview witnesses, and inspect vehicle damage.
All of these factors are then used to corroborate who is responsible for causing the crash. Evidence doesn't lie.
For instance, the tire tread and metal gouge markings in the roadway can be used to determine points of impact, direction of impact, and speed at impact. Determining the location of the debris field left behind will aid in corroborating what happened.
Nothing is more effective in court than physical forensic evidence. Juries like this type of evidence because it does not lie.
This case presents yet another example of how dangerous Florida's roadways are, especially for motorcycle riders. Even though Amanda McClure was not arrested for DUI, I have to wonder if alcohol or drugs played a role in the crash, considering it happened around 3:00 a.m.. The toxicology reports of both drivers will be interesting to read.
Even though this is a law blog dedicated to injury law, it is important to remind our readers that a man lost his life in this accident unnecessarily. If drivers would simply pay attention and follow the rules of the road, so many lives could be saved, even on a weekly basis.
My condolences go out to John Regan's family and loved ones.