An appeals court has issued a ruling overturning a conviction in a case involving a driver who was sentenced to 12 years in prison on a DUI manslaughter charge in connection with a fatal motorcycle accident in 2007. An Orange County jury found that the man had been driving drunk around 2:30 a.m. on his way home to Apopka when he pulled out in front of a motorcyclist and caused a fatal accident. However, in the recent ruling, the Fifth District Court of Appeal overturned the conviction, saying that while the defendant was intoxicated that morning when he caused the accident, the 29-year-old victim was also at fault. Evidence suggested that the victim had “popped a wheelie” at the time of the accident, causing his headlight to point skyward, effectively making him invisible to the driver.
The court ruled that the driver was guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol, but was not guilty of DUI manslaughter, given the evidence in the case. The court referred the case back to the judge and ordered him to impose a new sentence on the driver, which is expected early next month.
Early on the morning of Jan. 14, 2007, the victim was riding a 2007 Suzuki motorcycle, a bike he had bought just 11 days earlier. He was legally drunk and did not have a motorcycle rider’s license when the accident occurred. The defendant, also drunk, was reportedly driving his SUV north on Rock Springs Road and weaving from one lane to another, according to the arrest report. When he turned left on Tanglewood Drive, the victim’s motorcycle struck the SUV on the passenger side, causing the bike to vault over the top of the SUV, throwing and fatally injuring the rider.
The driver’s attorney built the appeal around damage to the victim’s motorcycle, citing evidence that the bike’s undercarriage was torn apart, but the front wheel and fork suffered no damage, suggesting that it was in the air at the time of the accident.
While drivers who pull out in front of riders cause most motorcycle accidents here in Central Florida, this story illustrates that negligent riders also cause accidents occasionally. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver or rider, you have a right to seek damages to pay medical bills, repair property damage and compensate you for pain and suffering and other damages. If you would like to speak with an experienced Orlando motorcycle accident lawyer about your legal options, call James O. Cunningham today at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587). Mr. Cunningham has helped thousands of injured people since he opened his law practice in 1977, and he may be able to help you as well. Call today to get an aggressive and experienced Orlando personal injury attorney on your side!
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
Connect with James O. Cunningham on Google+