Often in this blog we’ve discussed the deadly consequences of car and truck drivers’ failure to keep an eye out for motorcycles. But there’s another danger that leads to motorcycle accidents, one that affects motorists in any vehicle: drunk drivers.

People who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs put other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians at risk. And the less protection a traveler has, the higher the risk of serious injury or death. A tragic example is the recent death of a Philadelphia police officer who was killed in an accident on his way home from work last Sunday. The 48-year-old husband and father of three had just finished his shift at Highway Patrol headquarters and was on Interstate 95 when he was struck about 3:15 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene, still in his police officer’s uniform.

Investigators said the car that hit him was traveling the wrong way, heading southbound in the northbound lanes of the interstate. The driver, a 48-year-old man, also suffered injuries and was hospitalized after the crash. He’s since been charged with third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and involuntary manslaughter, among other offenses. Police said the man had consumed several drinks at a Bensalem, Pennsylvania, restaurant in the hours before the crash.

The highway patrol officer was a longtime veteran of the force and an experienced motorcycle driver. His neighbors said they had come to associate the rumbling of his Harley-Davidson Road King with safety and protection. No one could have guessed it would one day be silenced by a horrific, deadly crash.

Because the officer was on his way home from work, his family may receive compensation or benefits from the Police Department. But in any fatal motorcycle accident caused by another driver’s negligence, the victim’s loved ones have grounds to pursue a civil wrongful death lawsuit in order to recoup funeral and burial costs, lost wages and other damages. The officer’s family must learn to live without their protector, but a wrongful death award could provide a fair amount of financial safety.

Source: Officer.com, “Pa. Motorcycle Officer Killed In Crash Going Home,” Regina Medina, William Bender, Morgan Zalot and Julie Shaw, July 9, 2012