As a long time personal injury lawyer, I have seen an increase in cases involving motorcycle accidents. The increased popularity of and purchase of motorcycles along with increased population density and insufficient safety precautions have unfortunately made preventable accidents far too common.
One such accident occurred in 2010 when Michael Heaston of Centralia died after he crashed his motorcycle into a city bus. The wrongful death claim brought by Heaston's family against the city of Columbia (where the accident occurred) was settled last week for $1.4 million.
The accident occurred early in the morning on July 12, 2010. Archie Smith, a city bus driver, attempted to make a left-hand when Heaston's motorcycle struck the side of the bus. He had stopped at the stop sign before turning, but said that he did not see Heaston until after he heard a loud bang and a screeching sound. By that point, the fatal accident had already occurred. Heaston had attempted to swerve to avoid the collision, but could not get out of the bus's way. In the ensuing wrongful death suit, the family alleged that Smith failed to take steps to avoid the accident and was not paying proper attention to the road.
Smith was convicted of careless and imprudent driving. He served a six month suspended sentence and is on two years of unsupervised probation. Columbia's Transit Safety Committee determined the accident to be preventable. Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Haigh chose not to pursue charges of involuntary manslaughter because, although careless, Smith's conduct did not rise to the level of criminally negligent.
Under §537.080 of the Missouri code, the following parties are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim:
"[the] spouse or children or the surviving lineal descendants of any deceased children, natural or adopted, legitimate or illegitimate, or by the father or mother of the deceased, natural or adoptive...if there be no person's in this class....brother or sister of the deceased, or their descendants, who can establish his or her right to those damages set out in section 537.090 because of the death...if there be no persons in [either the first or second groups], then by a plaintiff ad litem...[who] shall be appointed by the court having jurisdiction over the action for damages provided in this section upon application of some person entitled to share in the proceeds of such action."
The settlement in this case was apportioned to Heaston's surviving wife, parents, and three minor children. The funds for the minor children were set up as individualized trusts while the payments to the adults were in lump sums up front.
St Louis Injury Lawyer, Ben Sansone, has substantial experience with a variety of cases, including motorcycle accidents. If you or a loved one has been involved in such an accident, contact us at 314-863-0500 for a free consultation.
Source: "City settles suit with Motorcycle crash victim's family," by Brennan David, published at ColumbiaTribune.com.
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