Who is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

Posted on February 5, 2024 in Motorcycle Accident

If you have suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident, you may be eligible for a substantial check to pay for your injuries. Before receiving a settlement offer, you must prove that someone owes you money. In most cases, you will file a claim against the driver of the car involved in your accident because they were the ones who were at fault for what happened. Other times, there may be someone else who was to blame. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer will investigate your accident and help determine who you can sue.

You must contact an attorney as soon as possible after your motorcycle accident because every minute counts when you need evidence to prove liability. You may be costing yourself money if you delay too long. Even if you physically cannot begin the legal process yourself, you can turn the details over to an attorney. It does not cost you anything from your pocket to get legal help, and you only pay a lawyer money if you win your case.

Financial Compensation Depends on Proving Liability in Your Motorcycle Accident Case

Who is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?In a motorcycle accident case, you must prove that someone else was to blame for the accident before you can receive a settlement check, and the legal standard that you must meet is negligence. In legal parlance, negligence is shorthand for the driver injuring you with wrongful conduct.

You must prove all of these four elements to receive financial compensation in your motorcycle accident claim:

  • The driver owed you a duty of care.
  • The driver did something that a reasonable driver would not have done.
  • You suffered an injury.
  • You would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the driver’s actions.

How Drivers Breach The Duty of Care They Owe to Motorcyclists

Unfortunately, most drivers do not reflect upon the fact that they owe others a duty of care. They are too busy putting their interests first and are not worried about hurting others with their careless actions.

Drivers often breach their duty of care and injure motorcyclists. The first problem is that motorcyclists do not always appear in the driver’s mirrors, even when the motorist watches the road closely. Because a bike is smaller, a motorcyclist is on a different eye level than the driver. However, the difference does not mean a driver is never at fault for a motorcycle accident, and they are legally obligated to spot motorcyclists, no matter where they are on the road.

How Drivers Can Cause Motorcycle Accidents

Motorists can do several things to cause motorcycle accidents, including:

  • Speeding: decreases a driver’s reaction time and increases the chances that they will make a mistake
  • Distracted driving: takes the motorists’ eyes off the road and causes them not to see a motorcyclist
  • Aggressive driving: the driver is weaving in and out of lanes or getting too close to others on the road
  • Illegal left-hand turn: the driver cuts across a lane and cuts off a motorcyclist
  • Illegal lane changes: a motorist does not check their blind spot and fails to yield the right-of-way to a motorcyclist

You Need to Prove Liability in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

If the driver was to blame for the accident, they will owe the injured motorcyclist financial compensation. However, liability may be up in the air after a motorcycle accident. You may know that the driver was to blame for the crash, but your story only goes so far when money is an issue. You need evidence backing up your contentions to show that someone else was at fault because otherwise, the insurance companies will not listen to your story.

Therefore, to prove fault, you will need an attorney to investigate your motorcycle accident and gather evidence that shows what happened. It is challenging for you to come up with proof because you are dealing with your physical injuries, and you may not know what the insurance companies are looking for when they review a claim. An attorney has the time and skill to investigate your accident and build your legal case.

Drivers Can Be Liable for Crashes Under Many Circumstances

In many cases, the car’s driver, who was directly involved in the accident with the motorcyclist, is to blame for the crash. A driver can be liable for a motorcycle accident even if they did not crash into a car. If a motorist cuts in front of a biker, or their driving somehow causes the motorcyclist to lose control, the driver can be responsible. It may be challenging to locate the driver if they were not involved in a physical accident. Still, your attorney will investigate further to determine who was responsible for the accident.

Other Potential Defendants in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits

In rare cases, the manufacturer of the motorcycle, or a part, can be at fault for an accident, and you can file a product liability lawsuit. For example, the motorcycle’s tires may have been defective, causing you to lose control of the bike and have an accident. You will need to prove one of the following defects for the maker or seller of the motorcycle to be strictly liable for the accident:

You May Sue the Government for Improper Road Design or Maintenance

In other cases, the government can be liable for your motorcycle accident based on how they design and maintain the roads. For example, potholes or missing signage may have caused some accidents. You can file a lawsuit against the government for negligence in some contexts, such as failing to maintain the roadways reasonably. You must follow specific rules when suing the government, including giving them a notice of your claim. In addition, a much shorter statute of limitations applies when filing a claim against the government.

You May Sue Multiple Defendants

There may be more than one possible defendant in a motorcycle accident, and you should add every one of them to your case. It helps to have as much insurance coverage as possible to pay for your injuries. The driver alone may not have enough coverage, so you must exhaust all potential payment sources before filing a claim against your underinsured motorist coverage.

An Employer Might be Liable for the Negligence of Employee-Drivers

In some cases, the negligent party may not only be the individual responsible for the accident but also their employer. This is especially true if the accident was caused by an employee-driver while performing their job duties.

Employers can be liable for the actions of their employees, including accidents they cause while on the job. This legal principle is known as “vicarious liability” or “respondeat superior.” Under this doctrine, an employer may be responsible for the negligent acts or omissions of their employees if those acts or omissions occur within the scope of their employment.

To establish employer liability in a motorcycle accident case, your lawyer must prove the employee-driver was acting within the course and scope of their employment at the time of the accident. This can include situations where the employee was running errands for their employer, traveling for work-related purposes, or performing any other tasks directly related to their job responsibilities.

Employers often have insurance coverage that can help cover the costs of medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages resulting from the accident. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can determine the appropriate course of action to seek compensation for their injuries and losses.

Make Sure to File the Correct Claim Against the Correct Defendant

You need to file a claim against the correct party. If the insurance company denies your claim because you have yet to file it against the proper entity, you will lose valuable time in your personal injury process. The statute of limitations will not pause while you re-file the claim against the appropriate defendant. If all defendants share in liability for your injuries, you do not have to worry about which one pays what. That calculation is up to their insurance companies or the court. All you need to do is take action to get everything you deserve.

Insurance Companies May Try to Point the Finger at You

Motorcycle AccidentsProving that someone else was to blame for the accident is only part of your task. Even if you think you have the evidence that shows someone else was to blame, it is often not the end of the story.

Insurance companies will do everything they can to blame a motorcyclist for their accident because they know they can use this tactic to save money at the injured biker’s expense. They will either try to avoid responsibility entirely or make part of the accident the motorcyclist’s fault. Insurance companies try to take advantage of the perception that motorcyclists take more risks than average, knowing that most bikers closely follow laws.

The key is that the other party must have been the proximate cause of your injury. In a motorcycle accident case, there is a legal concept called the chain of causation. The insurance company wants to break that chain by arguing that there was something that you did that was the real reason for your injuries.

Fighting to Protect Your Legal Rights

You must be ready to defend yourself if and when the insurance companies blame you for the accident. They may deny your claim entirely when they think you were at fault because they will claim you have not proven negligence. Your lawyer will need evidence that shows what you were doing at the time of the accident to refute what the insurance companies are saying. While it seems wrong to say that you must defend yourself when someone else causes harm, you must contend with the legal system set up by the insurance companies.

The Jury Can Always Decide the Case

If the insurance company reaches a determination that is at odds with the facts and evidence, you can take your case to court. A jury is the final decision maker in any motorcycle accident case, and the insurance companies must do whatever the courts say. They know they may fare worse in front of a jury than in settlement negotiations, so they can only take their tricks so far. If you have an aggressive motorcycle accident attorney unafraid to litigate your case, the insurance companies may have to fall in line.

However, there are times when insurance companies are intent on denying your claim. They may run afoul of bad faith laws, but they will do whatever they can to push the envelope. The insurance companies will be much more likely to make things harder on you when they do not see an attorney who will hold them accountable and make them pay.

Compensation in a Motorcycle Accident Case

If you can prove liability in your motorcycle accident case, you will be entitled to total compensation for your injuries. You can receive reimbursement for both the actual financial costs that you have incurred along with the non-economic costs of your injuries.

Your motorcycle accident damages will include:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Property damage
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress

Suppose your loved one died in a motorcycle accident. In that case, the family can file a wrongful death claim that can result in payment of the damages that you have suffered when you tragically and suddenly lost a family member.

You will also need to negotiate with the insurance companies over the amount of compensation. They have little to no interest in your situation and financial condition and are doing whatever they can to save money at your expense. Your lawyer’s job is to hold out for you to get all the money you deserve. Again, if you do not receive an adequate settlement offer, the jury can determine your financial compensation once you can prove liability for the accident.

Consult a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Now

Bob Boatman, Attorney for Motorcycle Accident

Robert W. Boatman, Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Ultimately, it takes grit and determination to go up against the insurance company in a motorcycle accident case. Your personal injury attorney can stand up for your legal rights when the insurance company tries to throw barriers in your way.