This case involves a wrongful death suit in which the plaintiff-decedent was driving a motorcycle at a high rate of speed. The plaintiff was also carrying a passenger. As the plaintiff and his passenger went over a 4 lane bridge, the defendant-decedent was driving a pickup truck and pulled out in front of the motorcycle after driving through a stop sign. The plaintiff applied his brakes for 100 feet, but he was unable to avoid the pickup truck. The plaintiff’s motorcycle struck the side of the defendant’s pickup truck, killing the defendant-driver, the plaintiff-motorcyclist and the motorcycle’s passenger.
The auto insurance company insured all parties and made the determination that the plaintiff-motorcyclist was grossly at fault, given the plaintiff’s high speed at which the motorcyclist was traveling (45 MPH). In light of this determination, the insurance company refused to pay for the life insurance policy. The insurance ntwork company retained an expert in vehicle accident reconstruction.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- Can you determine whether, at the speed he was traveling, it was possible for the plaintiff, given his position to have stopped in time to prevent the accident?
Expert Witness Response E-000342
Based on the assumption that the motorcycle skidded about 100 feet, it may have been possible for the motorcyclist to stop prior to striking the pickup from an initial speed of 45 mph, with a 0.7g deceleration rate. This is a high deceleration rate and many motorcyclists are reluctant to apply the degree of braking necessary to achieve this on the front wheel. Such a rate would be possible on dry roads, and an even greater rate is possible for skilled riders. A more reasonable deceleration rate (which would still be aggressive braking, but which would rely more on rear wheel braking) of 0.5g for 100 feet from 45 mph would result in a speed at impact of around 22 mph, which is a severe impact, but which would be potentially survivable for all parties. In short, assuming dry road conditions, this collision was potentially avoidable with 100 feet of stopping distance from an initial speed of 45 mph by braking alone.
With more than 30 years of automotive engineering experience, this expert has dedicated his career to the field of accident reconstruction. Holding Masters and Doctoral degrees in automotive mechanical engineering and highway safety, he is a recognized expert whose clients have included U.S. federal, state and foreign governments. He has extensive court experience, having been either deposed or testified in approximately 200 trials. He has also acted as an automotive engineering consultant in more than 3,000 vehicle crash cases.