A motorcycle rider went to the hospital in Lynchburg, Virginia (VA), with life-threatening injuries after he collided with a minivan attempting to make a left-hand turn in front of him. The nearly fatal crash happened at the intersection Main Street and Walnut Street at around 4:30 pm on August 9, 2017.
According to police, the impact ejected the motorcyclist from his bike. News reports do not describe the nature of the motorcycle rider’s injuries, but such incidents often leave people with traumatic brain injuries and disabling neck and spine injuries. It is unclear if the man hurt in this wreck will recover fully.
Police did not immediately assign blame for the crash in downtown Lynchburg, and no tickets were issued. When the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration analyzed the causes of tens of thousands of collisions between motorcycles and cars or trucks, agency researchers found that “about one-third of multivehicle motorcycle crashes are a result of other motorists turning into the path of the motorcycle.”
If that happened this time, the minivan rider could be found to have violated section 46.2-825 of the Virginia Code, which states,
The driver of a vehicle, intending to turn left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction if it is so close as to constitute a hazard. At intersections controlled by traffic lights with separate left-turn signals, any vehicle making a left turn when so indicated by the signal shall have the right-of-way over all other vehicles approaching the intersection.
The intersection of Main and Walnut is not controlled by signs or a stoplight. Turning drivers must use their best judgment in deciding when to cross the lanes of oncoming traffic. As this wreck shows, miscalculating the distance of approaching vehicles or not seeing a motorcycle could set the stage for tragedy. Failing to yield right of way to the motorcycle rider traveling straight along Main Street would make the minivan driver negligent and responsible for settling personal injury insurance claims.
My Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I urge all drivers to take extra time and to exercise excessive caution when turning. Spotting a motorcycle rider and judging its speed are often difficult, but errors take too high a toll on innocent victims.