Lisa M. Hoffmeyer, was seriously injured near Fort Walton Beach, Florida in a motorcycle accident where she was a passenger. The driver, William Warner, suffered only minor injuries. According to news reports, the accident was caused when William Warner’s motorcycle was rear ended by a car driven by Thoamas Waltz of Niceville, Florida.
As a Florida injury attorney, I strongly suspect that Lisa Hoffmeyer has a good claim against Thomas Waltz and his insurance company. For reasons I will explain below, my suspicion is that Waltz will be held legally accountable for causing Hoffmeyer’s injury.
Reports indicate that Warner was stopped as while waiting to make a left turn into a parking lot located on State Road 20. After causing a rear end collision with Warner’s Harley, Waltz continued driving and actually crashed into a fire hydrant. Waltz was also uninjured. A copy of the news article can be read here: Lisa Hoffmeyer Motorcycle Accident Fort Walton Beach.pdf
Given my role as an injury attorney, my perspective on this blog is legal nature. I am here to discuss the legal issues that cases like these present and to offer my take, based on available information. That said, the following will explain why I think Lisa Hoffmeyer is entitled to compensation…
First and foremost, it is import to understand the unique legal concepts that come into play whenever you have a rear end collision. Under Florida law, there is a presumption that the rear vehicle is the responsible party. This is based on the idea that drivers must drive far enough behind other vehicles so that they can execute an emergency braking maneuver without hitting the rear of the vehicle in front of them.
This is the safe distance/safe speed rule.
Under most conditions, a driver rear ends the vehicle in front of them simply because they followed too close behind given their speed and other road conditions.
That said, this presumption is not written in stone. It is considered a “rebuttable presumption” because the other party can present evidence that challenges the presumption. For example, a rear end collision can be caused when a slower vehicle cuts off a faster moving vehicle or when one vehicle abruptly leaves its lane of travel and crosses into the path of another vehicle in an erratic or unexpected manner.
Such accidents are common at highway on-ramps where slow moving cars try to merge in to high speed highway traffic.
While the presumption may be a rebuttable one, I do not expect the evidence in this case to support such a rebuttal.
Based on the information provided in the media, it is clear that William Warner was lawfully stopped as he waiting to make a turn into a parking lot. He did not cut off Waltz’s car, nor did he make any kind of wild or erratic maneuver that caused Waltz to rear end him in an unavoidable fashion.
My suspicions in this regard are confirmed because the news is also reporting that Florida Highway Patrol crash investigators have charged Waltz with careless driving.
Obviously, the most important thing for Lisa Hoffmeyer is to get the medical attention she needs. With serious injuries, it may take some time for her to recover or at least return to a somewhat functional state.
Second to her medical care, Lisa needs to hire a capable injury attorney.
I can tell you that the practical problems an accident like this creates are enormous. Medical bills pile up, a person’s need for treatment continues, and concerns about one’s ability to earn an income all become issues.
Will Lisa Hoffmeyer be able to earn the same income as before? Will she be left with chronic medical problems? Will she suffer a permanent disability? Will she require on going medical treatment, such as surgery or physical therapy?
As any injury attorney will tell you, Lisa is also entitled to compensation for her pain and suffering.
At this point in time, a lawyer is needed to help her build a case and deal with insurance companies. Collecting and preserving necessary evidence is extremely important. In some cases, winning can be based on the testimony of eye witnesses located by an attorney’s investigators or on images recorded by surveillance cameras that were missed by police investigators.
It has happened before.
Lawyers need to start building a file and putting together a cohesive case strategy. By doing so, Lisa Hoffmeyer will maximize the likelihood of making a successful recovery.
Again, it is important to remember that my perspective in this blog is that of the lawyer. My job is to help people litigate their cases and get compensated for their losses.
Assuming the news reports are correct and that Thomas Waltz did in fact rear end the motorcycle Lisa Hoffmeyer and William Warner were riding on, I strongly suspect that a valid injury claim can be made against Waltz and his insurance company.
Most importantly, I hope Lisa gets the medical treatment she needs and is able to have a speedy recovery. Nothing is worse than sitting in a hospital while trying to get better.