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Behavior is measured in degrees, motorcycle case based on negligence

Not all behaviors are the same. There are different degrees of thought behind every single action that we take. When we open our mouths and breathe in the air that travels to our lungs, it is most often not something that we think about, but an involuntary action. When our hands touch a hot stove, the muscles are trained to instinctively pull our hands away. On the other end of the scale are intentional decisions. Whether it is pouring water in a glass to quench our thirst or accepting a job knowing that we are going to get paid money to feed ourselves and our children, many actions are done with forethought about the consequences.

So what about those in between actions? Accidents often fall in this range. The criminal justice system penalizes individuals for more of the intentional behavioral decisions we make that cross the line and break the law. However, underneath that intentional level is a duty that we owe the others around us. There are many actions in which we do not intend negative consequences, but our failure to think carefully before taking action is something we need to be held accountable for. Take the case of a motorcycle accident that occurred this past year in New Jersey that cost one man his life.

The accident occurred in May 2012 when a motorcycle rider had been traveling along a two-lane road. He had moved around the vehicle in front of him when he was struck by an SUV. Police determined that the two vehicles had collided when the SUV attempted to make a left-hand turn across the lane the motorcycle was traveling in. The man had broken no laws, intended no ill-will against the cyclist and so the police did not charge him with any traffic violations or criminal charges.

A life was still lost in the decision to turn left. The family of the man who was killed said that the decision wasn't one that was carefully planned. Specifically, the family claims that the driver failed to properly check for oncoming traffic before pulling his vehicle forward and turning across the lanes. It is this failure to take a couple extra seconds of observation that cost them the life of their loved one.

Source: Berkeley Patch, "Motorcyclist's Family Suing Freeholder Director Over Fatal Accident," Karen Wall, Jan. 18, 2013

If you or a loved one has suffered any level of injuries in a motorcycle accident after another motorist's failure to maintain the appropriate level of care, our New Jersey website provides more information.

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