Drive inattentive and kill someone? No problem!

I’m going to offer some ideas that could be very stupid but it isn’t a first for me to risk being stupid. And if I’m being annoying feel free to tell me to back off.

One is contact ABATE of Kansas and maybe talk to someone there about it. NAVA is right; some places would have possibly treated it more seriously and Kansas is known for being pretty lax. When it comes to lobbying, ABATE is always my first starting point. And to lobby for something they need examples. This may not be something you can do, approach strangers about something like this, but it could be worth a shot. I know some of the state ABATES but I must admit to being ignorant of yours.

(Well, actually the AMA was my first thought. But being an insider there I already started bending ears for the past couple hours)

The other is to ask if he belonged to any club, had friends he rode with now and then, had a favorite shop or diner/destination? If so have you considered asking them to help organize a Memorial Ride for September? Not so much a charity one to raise money (I don’t think that is the need for you but correct me if I’m wrong) but to raise awareness to drivers out there. Even a small newspaper article, or some signs posted where folks can see them, could get drivers thinking. It may not change the world but if it changes one person that could be a life saved later on.

Do note however, that Baker mentioned being bothered by seeing bikers out without helmets. Groups like ABATE and the AMA are vehemently against helmet laws, and pretty much any other safety laws they see as infringing on their particular concept of “rider’s rights.” They certainly do have some good stuff they do, like advocating for stronger distracted driving penalties, but IMHO it’s really undermined by their refusal to take reasonable positions on anything that directly affects riders themselves.

I very much don’t want to hijack this thread (maybe we could start another one if you want to discuss it) but I really don’t think someone who’s just lost a loved one to a motorcycle crash (and who doesn’t ride themselves) is going to be very impressed with either of those groups. I really wish there were a more straightforward motorcycling safety advocacy group in this country, but unfortunately there isn’t really.

Could you send him a letter containing what your victim statement would have conveyed? Is his ID part of the public record?

This is what I was going to suggest.

Did he make any attempt to contact you or your family, and at least say he was sorry? Although I’m sure his lawyer would have advised against it.

Do you think it would help you to see him in person, and vent all of your anger/feelings to him? I know I would want to do that.

It’s so unfair to have someone taken away so suddenly. Again, I’m really sorry. :frowning:

Baker, have you spoken to a lawyer? Not a DA, a personal lawyer. If you have your own lawyer, that lawyer could speak to the DA about considering charges against the driver.

Here’s the section regarding vehicular homicide in Kansas:
http://kslegislature.org/li_2012/b2011_12/statute/021_000_0000_chapter/021_054_0000_article/021_054_0006_section/021_054_0006_k/

So the fight would come down to whether taking his eyes off the road to fuss with a cd player was ordinary negligence or a material deviation from ordinary negligence. Given that every grownup, knows not to take his eyes off the road, I think one can argue that this was “operating a vehicle in a manner that creates an unreasonable risk of injury”. If your personal lawyer was making that argument to the DA, they might have better results.

Most lawyers will give you a brief consultation. I think it might be worth taking one up on that.

It might be worth talking to someone at your local MADD office. This accident didn’t involve dui, so they won’t get involved directly. However, they will probably have contact info for lawyers who handle vehicular homicides. They might be able to refer a good lawyer to you.

http://www.madd.org/local-offices/
Finally, I think it’s worth asking your lawyer about filing a civil suit for yourself, on your own behalf, without involving your mother. It’s understandable that she doesn’t want to be involved given her circumstances, but, otoh, I’m not sure why she needs to be, if you’re the one suing him. I would assume that his insurance will offer to settle, seeing that a life was lost. This is not a case they’ll want to try in court.

These ideas may not pan out, but I think it’s worth getting your own personal lawyer and asking them about it.

Finally, I’m very sorry for your loss. Very sorry.

An accident is an unintentional occurrence, not an unavoidable one.

If you hurt someone with your car it could have been prevented, regardless of whether you listen to the radio or own a cell phone. You choose to take the risk of killing someone when you drive a car, because driving is inherently dangerous. You can eliminate all risk of harming someone while driving by not driving, but you probably think it’s more important to go to work or shop or whatever, just like the rest of us. The driver surely did not think “eh, someone could die if I do this, but it’s worth that chance for me to hear this Garth Brooks album” before fiddling with his stereo. Did he insist on staying in his truck at the scene of the accident until his favorite song was over?

I don’t know the insurance rules in your state, but what would probably happen here is:

  1. The survivors get an insurance settlement from the victim’s own insurance company.
  2. That insurance company seeks repayment from the other driver’s insurance company.
  3. The other driver’s insurance rates rise astronomically (the term “skyrocket” comes to mind.). He will continue paying vastly inflated insurance rates for quite a while.
  4. If the other driver was under-insured, the victim’s family can claim or sue for more under the victim’s own “under-insured motorist” coverage, if this exists.
  5. The victim’s family can sue the other driver for various things such as pain and suffering for the victim and loss of income for his dependents.

At least talk to a lawyer. It would probably involve giving depositions and filling out a lot of forms. Much of the time such things never to go a jury but get settled out of court.

I’m sorry for your loss, Baker. I have no opinion on the rest of it, but my prayers are with you.

Regards,
Shodan

It’s possible #3 will be in effect on the driver. I won’t know that of course.

As for #4, the driver had the bare legal minimum of insurance, and our lawyer has nearly finished the work for the “under-insured motorist” coverage. That’s all my mother will go for. It will be a sizable sum, of which the lawyer will get a given percentage, and my mother the rest. That will cover the pain and suffering, and the medical bills that were incurred.

My mother does not wish to do anything for #5. We children were not dependent, and Mom has SS, investments, part of my father’s pension and good savings.

If my mother was deceased I’d go for #5, but it wouldn’t be the same lawyer that my parents dealt with, as he doesn’t do wrongful death suits anymore.

Merneith, thank you for the cite for vehicular homicide. As you can see above, yes, a lawyer has been involved with the family in the insurance claim. It’s something I’ll keep a link to, what I need to do is find out the statute of limitations in cases like this one.

This is the thread I started after my dad was killed. http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=734080 Reading it now I see how my emotions went back and forth, as we learned more about what happened that afternoon. I do regret not doing something nasty with the book, see post #102, and my favorite memories of my dad are in #76 and the OP(the Sunday school story)

Honey and kayaker, I do know the guy’s address, but I think he’s moved. It’s an address about four blocks from my own, and the house now has a “for lease” sign out front. To my knowledge he made no attempt to contact us, was probably advised against it. I’d consult with the lawyer before I tried writing any message, in case that messed with the insurance claims.

This is a lovely idea. My father did indeed belong to some care clubs and motorcycle groups, they were a major presence at his funeral. I’m going to look into it.

Sorry that you have had to lose a loved one. But as far as civil action goes, reconsider please. Your mom will not be that active in the process or become emotionally drained due to it. This is the only recourse you will apparently have. In reality, the other side will most likely settle without a long drawn out battle. No money will ever compensate you for your loss, but others may see that inattentive driving has more consequences than a small ticket and fine.

Car and motorcycle people banding together to make a point and honor a fallen friend; it could make some people wake up. If it does happen, let me know so I can follow it on Facebook or where-ever.

On the civil stuff ------ if I read Kansas law correctly you have 2 years to file so give it some time and keep it in mind. Next year, come July, Mom may feel its a good thing for you to go ahead with. You both have been from one fire to the next so views and ideas may change once things settle somewhat.