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Fatal Motorcycle Crash Involving Prominent Lake County Man Raises Fairness Concerns

As a motorcyclist and a Coral Springs motorcycle accident attorney, I was disappointed but not surprised to read that a motorcyclist had died in Lake County after a driver turned left into his path. As I have written here in the past, this is one of the most common configurations for a multi-vehicle motorcycle crash. I was also not surprised to see that law enforcement drew blood from the driver to test for impaired driving, something that police must have probable cause to do in Florida. But an Oct. 25 article in the Orlando Sentinel offered a new twist: the left turner is a well-known business and community leader, raising concerns that prosecution may be less than fair.

According to the article, driver Bruce Duncan, 46, left the Florida Gators game early on Oct. 17, heading home to Mount Dora. Around the same time, motorcyclist Herbert “Steve” Muller, 61, was headed home from Biketoberfest in Ormond Beach Oct. 17. The retired postal worker and Navy veteran also lived in Mount Dora. He was headed straight on Wolfbranch Road just as Duncan made a left turn from that road into his subdivision. The Florida Highway Patrol said Duncan’s pickup truck hit Muller, killing him. Troopers drew blood at the scene and impounded the truck, but did not arrest Duncan. Results from the blood test are expected in eight weeks, but according to the article, Muller’s family is concerned that Duncan’s numerous connections in Lake County, including stints in the public defender’s and county attorney’s offices, will allow him to sweep the incident under the rug.

The Florida Highway Patrol promised in the article that Duncan’s background would not affect its investigation. As a Plantation motorcycle accident lawyer, I hope that’s true. According to the article, Duncan has served in county government several times, is a community booster and sits on two boards in addition to running his own local business. It would not be unprecedented for such a person to receive outright favors or well-intentioned sympathetic treatment from friends and former colleagues, before or after the FHP has done its job. There’s no evidence yet to suggest any impropriety, of course; the investigation is still underway. But a motorcyclist has died, apparently through no fault of his own; his family is legally entitled to the same justice anyone else would receive.

Unfortunately, prosecutors can’t or won’t always bring charges that satisfy the families of people involved in serious motorcycle accidents. When that happens, these families still have the right to hold negligent drivers responsible for their actions by filing cases of their own in civil court. A lawsuit seeks financial payments, rather than to put a wrongdoer in prison, but it allows families to penalize careless people and call public attention to their wrongdoing. The financial settlement can also be important for families, who may be thrown into financial uncertainty by the hospital bills, repair bills and sudden loss of income a bad accident can cause. The Sunrise motorcycle crash lawyers at Cohn, Smith & Cohn have more than 30 years of experience helping accident victims win fair settlements. Because I ride a Harley, we also have a special focus on motorcycle injury cases — and we know what riders are up against on the road.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn offers free, confidential initial consultations, so there’s no risk in speaking to us about your rights and your case. If you’re a motorcyclist who was hurt by someone else’s carelessness, we would like to help. To set up a consultation, please contact us through the Internet or call our main office in Hollywood at (954) 431-8100.

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