Billy Nguyen was killed in Boca Raton, Florida in a Valentines Day motorcycle accident. Anthony Gaeta was driving the car that hit Billy Nguyen. News agencies are reporting that Billy Nguyen was only 20 years old and Anthony Gaeta was 73.
When it comes to motorcycle crashes and car accidents like these, I always wonder if age played a role in causing the accident. At 73, there is little doubt that Anthony Gaeta’s hearing, vision, ability to perceive distance and speed were all impaired due to age. Not to mention, Gaeta may also suffer from age related cognitive problems, such as dementia.
As a Florida injury lawyer, I believe that Billy Nguyen’s estate has a very valid claim for wrongful death against Anthony Gaeta and any insurance company that he may have.
As an accident attorney, my perspective in this blog is limited to commenting on the legal issues and how they might play out in a court of law.
Before I begin my analysis of this case, it is important to explain the controlling law. In Florida, as in other states, injury attorneys need three main things in order to build a winning case when it comes to a wrongful death action.
First, injury lawyers must be able to prove that the other driver, in this case Anthony Gaeta, acted negligently or intentionally when he hit Billy Nguyen’s motorcycle.
Second, injury attorneys must be able to prove that the victim’s death was caused or contributed to by the other driver’s negligence.
Third, the other driver must have adequate insurance or personal assets to pay any judgment or out of court settlement.
According to news reports, the motorcycle crash happened at approximately 8:46 p.m. on Valentines Day. Initial reports indicate that Billy Nguyen was riding his 2007 Kawasaki motorcycle northbound on State Road 7. At the same time, Anthony Gaeta is reported to have been driving a 2010 Mazda when he made a U-turn into Billy Nguyen’s lane of travel.
According to PBSO, Anthony Gaeta collided with Billy Nguyen’s motorcycle when he made this U-turn and entered Nguyen’s lane of travel.
As a result of the impact, Nguyen was thrown to the shoulder of the roadway where he was killed on impact.
Anthony Gaeta’s vehicle was then hit by two other cars that were following behind Billy Nguyen.
Thankfully, none of the people in the cars were injured.
First and foremost, when it comes to the issue of negligence, it sounds as though Anthony Gaeta is 100% responsible for causing this horrible accident. In most cases, when a party makes a U-turn, he/she is responsible for yielding to other vehicles, especially on-coming vehicles.
The fact that Anthony Gaeta not only hit Billy Nguyen’s motorcycle, but the two cars following Nguyen, tells me that Gaeta seriously miscalculated the time needed to make ta safe U-turn.
Since Billy Nguyen had the right of way and Anthony Gaeta was making a U-turn, Gaeta had a duty to yield to Nguyen and let him pass before entering Nguyen’s lane of travel.
Gaeta’s failure to do this proves he was negligent in the way he operated his Mazda.
In regards to the second element, it is clear that Billy Nguyen died because Gaeta crashed into him. Since Gaeta was negligent in causing this crash, he is therefore also responsible causing Nguyen’s death.
Given these facts, it is clear that Nguyen’s estate will almost certainly win any lawsuit filed against Anthony Gaeta… unless new facts are uncovered that change up our entire understanding of what happened.
This leaves us with the final and ultimately most important element: collectability.
Once Billy Nguyen’s family hires an injury attorney, that person will be able to find out exactly what insurance Anthony Gaeta has, what his policy limits are, and if he has any known assets.
Therefore, it is till too early to determine if the Nguyen family will be able to obtain compensation for Billy’s death, even though they seem to have a winnable case.
However, and this is extremely important, if Anthony Gaeta has no insurance or is under-insured, Billy Nguyen’s attorney will need to make a claim against any “uninsured motorist coverage” policies Nguyen may have had. If he had none, the case may go nowhere.
Given the severity of Billy Nguyen’s motorcycle accident, it is extremely important for his family to hire an experienced injury attorney as soon as possible. At this stage, a lot of information must be collected to build the best case possible.
While it seems clear that Anthony Gaeta is responsible for this accident, a case must still be put together by injury attorneys representing Nguyen.
For instance, police reports, crash reports, witness statements, accident scene photographs, surveillance video and other items must be obtained.
It will also be necessary for injury lawyers to send the proper notices to make sure that Anthony Gaeta’s Mazda and Billy Nguyen’s motorcycle are preserved for later use in court, if necessary.
Once all the necessary documentation and evidence has been collected, the next step is to develop a legal strategy and send a formal demand to Gaeta’s insurance company.
Depending on Gaeta’s policy limits and his personal assets, a decision will need to be made about settling out of court versus filing suit. However, at this point in time, it is too early to make this decision.
The most important thing to mention in this case is how terrible it is. Putting legal issues and money aside, the bottom line here is that someone lost their life. No amount of money or arguing in court can ever fix that loss.
My heart goes out to Billy’s family. I am sure their suffering is enormous.
At the same time, as negligent as Anthony Gaeta may have been, I highly doubt he intended to harm or kill anyone. I am sure he and his family are suffering as well.
Sadly, this case may present yet another instance where elderly drivers should be reminded about when the right time comes to stop driving. It is a shame that this lesson had to be learned this way.
My condolences go out to the entire Nguyen family. I am sorry for their loss.