All accidents are caused by something; however, it is often difficult to establish the cause of an accident after it has occurred and when you were not involved.
A recent Maine motorcycle accident case delves into the idea of speculation in the determination of causation in personal injury cases.
This case began where Charlotte Small (Small) was driving his car through an intersection where he had the right of way. There was a very large sign on the side of the road causing Small to move her vehicle in order to have an unobstructed view of the road. McIlroy (plaintiff) was riding his motorcycle when he saw Small move slightly, thus he maneuvered in an attempt to prevent a collision. Small lost control of his motorcycle. Plaintiff did not collide with Small or any other vehicles but he was seriously injured when his motorcycle turned over.
The issue in this case became what caused the accident. Causation is an integral part of a personal injury claim. Most motorcycle accident cases fall under personal injury, and in order to prove a personal injury case the elements of negligence must be proved by the plaintiff. Negligence is a civil wrong where a party fails to act as a reasonably prudent person would in similar circumstances. There is no requirement that the plaintiff prove that the defendant acted with intent; however, the plaintiff must show the defendant acted carelessly or recklessly.
Negligence consists of four elements that must be proved by the preponderance of the evidence. First, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had a specific duty of care. Next, the plaintiff has to show that the defendant breached this required duty of care. Then, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Lastly, the plaintiff must show damages.
In McIlroy, Small argued that because he had the right of way and did not collide with the plaintiff, he should not be held liable for the injuries the plaintiff sustained. Thus, plaintiff sued Gibson’s Apple Orchard (defendant).
Defendant had placed an eight-foot-square sign advertising their location near the intersection where the plaintiff was injured. Plaintiff argued that because of the size and location of the sign, Small had to sway into plaintiff’s lane in order to have an unobstructed view of the road. Thus, plaintiff said the defendants’ sign was the “proximate cause” of the plaintiff’s accident and injuries.
Proximate cause is where the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant could have reasonably foreseen the plaintiff sustaining injuries as a result of defendant’s carelessness.
In the alternative, the plaintiff argued that because of the size and placement of the sign Small had to maneuver around the sign. This maneuver made plaintiff think that Small was about to pull his vehicle in front and cause a collision, leading plaintiff to lose control of his motorcycle.
This court found that there was evidence to show that the location of the defendant’s sign could have caused the damages plaintiff suffered. Because a reasonable jury could have found this link in causation, the court held that the case needed to be presented to a jury for a determination of damages owed to the plaintiff.
If you have been injured contact Bangor injury attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates to schedule a free appointment. Call 1-800-804-2004.