The widow of a man killed in a motorcycle accident earlier this year has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three defendants: The driver of the vehicle, the owner of the vehicle and the bar that served the driver alcohol prior to the crash.
The Times Free Press reports that the fatal accident, which happened in Tennessee in May, occurred when a 33-year-old reportedly left a local nightclub behind the wheel of a friend’s BMW. He reportedly had just been in an argument with his girlfriend when he pulled out into traffic from the parking lot and immediately struck an Ironhorse motorcycle driven by decedent. The 60-year-old rider, who hours earlier had attended his daughter’s high school graduation, was pronounced dead at the scene by first responders. Henry Cofrancesco, the driver of that car. refused to undergo field sobriety tests at the scene, but police obtained a warrant to conduct a non-consensual blood draw. He was arrested four months later on charges of vehicular homicide, DUI, cocaine possession and leaving the scene of an accident/ failure to render aid.
Now, decedent’s widow and child are seeking damages for wrongful death and loss of consortium. The lawsuit alleges staffers at the nightclub knew or should have known how drunk Cofrancesco was and failed to stop serving him and/ or stop him from driving. The owner of the vehicle is accused of negligent entrustment for allowing Cofrancesco to drive the vehicle, despite his state of impairment.
Vehicular homicide is a serious charge no matter in which state you live, and defendant driver is facing a maximum 30 years in prison. Still, that will not help decedent’s family for the great emotional and financial losses they have endured as a result of his wrongful death.
Motorcycle accidents claim 4,600 lives every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Another 90,000 are injured. They account for 14 percent of all motorists killed on our nation’s roadways and 4 percent of those injured – which is hugely disproportionate to their presence on the road. In Florida, there were 456 motorcyclists killed in 2014, which is second in the nation only to California, which has double our population and a total of 501 motorcyclist deaths. Texas ranked third with 421 motorcycle fatalities.
Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and drivers of cars, trucks, vans and other vehicles simply fail to watch out for them.
Legal options following a Florida motorcycle accident will depend on the circumstances of each individual situation, but some that may be worth considering:
- Claims against the other driver. This is typically the first order of business because while other motorists may be protected by the state’s no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, PIP won’t cover those involved in a motorcycle crash unless they have purchased special motorcycle PIP coverage. However, this isn’t required by law, so a lot of riders don’t have it. Claims against the other driver are usually the first step.
- Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage. This type of coverage will extend protection in the event the other driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the totality of your losses, which is often the case in motorcycle accidents.
- Dram Shop Law. Dram shop litigation allows injured third parties to pursue compensation from the bars or restaurants that negligently served alcohol to a patron who in turn caused a drunk driving accident. However, these laws vary greatly from state-to-state, and the dram shop law in Tennessee is more generous than the one in Florida. F.S. 768.125 says those who sell alcohol to persons of lawful drinking age can’t be liable for injury or damages resulting from that intoxication. The only times a bar or restaurant can be liable is if alcohol is willingly and unlawfully sold to someone who is under 21 or someone who is known to be habitually addicted to alcohol.
If you have been injured or a loved one killed in a motorcycle accident, our dedicated team of injury lawyers can help you determine the best course of legal action.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Man charged with vehicular homicide now faces $7 million civil lawsuit from victim’s widow, Sept. 23, 2016, By Zack Peterson, Times Free Press
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