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Car accidents sometimes occur through visual misperceptions

Forensic experts often say that motorcycles are more difficult for other motorists to observe. There is something about the more diminutive stature of the motorcycle that makes it less apparent on the highways. That factor does seem to contribute to many car accidents involving motorcycles, both here in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

A recent fatal accident in Laconia may illustrate the point to some degree. A motorcyclist died in an accident when it collided with a car that was making a turn on a local avenue. The motorcyclist was reportedly traveling west on that roadway, and the car was traveling in an easterly direction on the same road. The car apparently turned across the roadway into the path of the motorcycle.

The incident appears to an example of a classic improper left turn. When a motorist turns left on a roadway in order to cross over and enter a premises or business on the other side of the road, it must keep a proper lookout for vehicles coming in the opposite direction. The driver is bound to make the turn only when the way is clear of other vehicles.

It appears in this case that the car driver made his turn in front of the motorcycle. It seems plausible to conclude that the motorcycle was less visible to the driver than a full-sized vehicle would have been. This is a curious phenomenon that seems to teach us to focus on smaller objects as well as the larger ones when we are driving.

In any event, under New Hampshire law the making of an improper left turn in front of an oncoming vehicle is generally an act of negligence. In such car accidents, the wrongdoer will usually be held liable for any injuries caused to the occupants of the oncoming vehicle or to the passengers in the car itself. In this case, the death of the motorcyclist gives the decedent's estate a wrongful death claim for damages against the car driver.

Source: Lebanon Daily Record, "Motorcyclist dies after colliding with car in New Hampshire", June 10, 2016

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