Bonnie L. Conine, 45, was killed in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida last week when her bicycle was struck by a Jeep driven by G.C. Campbell, 32. The accident happened at approximately 11:00 p.m. on the night of August 28, 2012. Sadly, Ms. Conine was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
According to news reports, a crash investigation by police has identified a number of very important factual conclusions that I expect will be legally significant. When viewed in their totality, these conclusions lead me to suspect that Bonnie Conine’s family may be entitled to very substantial compensation for her death.
Given my perspective as a Florida injury attorney, I think the following points resonate most:
First, the crash report indicates that Bonnie Conine was riding her bike in the designated bicycle lane. This is an important fact because it proves she did not contribute to the cause of the accident by riding in a place she did not belong. For instance, had she been riding in the middle of the roadway or in a place where a bicycle is not permitted, her contributory negligence would serve to seriously weaken her case.
Second, the crash investigation has revealed that both Conine and Campbell were both traveling westbound at the time of impact. This is important because it leads me to believe that Campbell may be responsible for causing a rear end collision.
Third, not only does it appear as though Campbell rear ended Conine’s bicycle, but it appears as though he also failed to maintain a single lane and properly merge into traffic.
Collectively, these three points suggest that Campbell is not only responsible for causing the accident, but that he may be legally liable for it.
This is an important point because all successful car accident cases come down to the same three fundamental things:
1) Negligence 2) Provable Injury 3) Collectible Defendant
When it comes to negligence, a car accident attorney needs to present evidence that proves the responsible party either did something wrong or failed to do something right, thereby causing the injuries at issue. In Bonnie’s case, evidence that Campbell rear ended her bicycle, failed to maintain a single lane, and failed to safely merge all are good points to help establish the fact that he was negligent.
In regards to the second element, provable injury, this case is not all that challenging. Sadly, Conine was killed. From an evidentiary perspective, this element will not be difficult to establish in court.
Finally, one of the most important parts of any successful injury case is identifying a collectible defendant. This is important because a defendant’s ability to actually pay compensation is what makes a case translate.
In most cases involving motor vehicle negligence, claims are paid for by insurance companies. In the event that the responsible party is either uninsured or under-insured, the claim would then be brought against the victim’s own insurance company if he/she had “UIM Coverage,” which is also known as uninsured motorist coverage.
In cases where there is no insurance, a claim can only be satisfied by a defendant’s own assets. When it comes to car accident cases, it is rare to find an uninsured motorist who has assets. Usually, the only people who pay for insurance are ones who have something to protect, not the other way around.
As a cyclist myself, cases like these bother me on a personal level. As my regular readers already know, I own a Trek Madone 6.6 that I LOVE riding all the time. Like Bonnie, I stick to the designated bicycle lane. Hearing that a fellow cyclist got killed is scary.
It is also tragic.
As an injury attorney, my perspective on this blog is of a legal nature. We comment on these cases because educating the public about the law is important. Knowledge is power.
At the end of the day, my heart goes out to Bonnie Conine’s family and loved ones. She was so young. I am sure they are all grieving. Hopefully they will find solace for their loss sometime soon and remember her for the positive things.