Being injured in a motorcycle accident can be a life-changing event. It can also mean that you are entitled to compensation for your injuries due to the other driver’s negligence.
Many people choose to use a motorcycle accident lawyer to help them develop the most robust case possible and ensure fair compensation. Additionally, if you are trying to understand the determinants of fault in your case, consider the questions discussed below.
Who Tends To Be at Fault?
Fault can be put on the car driver, motorcycle rider, vehicle manufacturer or the state you are in. However, in cases that involve a car and motorcyclist, fault tends to be assigned to the car driver.
What Determines Fault?
Even though fault tends to fall upon the car driver, this is not always the circumstance. Understanding the evidence is essential to developing a solid case to support your claim when seeking compensation. Example determinants of fault include:
- Details from the police report
- Footage of the accident
- Eyewitness testimony
- Evidence of distracted driving or speeding
- Medical records and injury scans
What Are Examples of Negligent Driving Behavior?
There are many kinds of behavior that can be negligent — and illegal — when driving a car. Discussed below are some of the more common acts.
Driving While Intoxicated
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous and negligent. Intoxication decreases your reaction time in traffic, hinders decision-making and increases the likelihood of driving mistakes that could lead to an accident. Car drivers can be liable and at fault if in a crash while intoxicated.
Failing To Obey Traffic Laws
Speeding, failing to use your turn signal and running through red lights or stop signs are common offenses that can lead to an accident with a motorcyclist. A car driver’s failure to follow these traffic laws creates a less predictable and unsafe situation in traffic. Therefore, this type of behavior could support a case for fault in an accident.
Being Distracted While Driving
If a driver is texting, talking on the phone or to a passenger or distracted in any other way, the risk of causing an accident increases. In this case, the driver could be at fault in a collision with a motorcycle rider.
Driving in a Fatigued State
There are many reasons why someone may drive in a fatigued state: a lack of sleep the night before, a job on the night shift, or a feeling of drowsiness for some other reason. Regardless of the cause, it could lead to the driver falling asleep at the wheel or even exhibiting symptoms similar to intoxication.
What Are Examples of Negligent Motorcycle Behavior?
A motorcyclist can be just as negligent as a car driver in an accident. Here are several behaviors that could put the motorcycle rider at fault.
Not Using a Turn Signal
If you do not use your turn signal to communicate with car and truck drivers and other motorcyclists on the road, you risk becoming an unpredictable variable in traffic. For example, if you do not signal your turn and suddenly move into the direct path of a car, this could cause an accident. Despite any injuries you may have suffered due to the crash (or vehicle damages), you may be at fault.
Riding While Intoxicated
Riding under the influence of alcohol or drugs can increase the chances of an accident on the road, no matter what you are driving. Intoxication can slow your reflexes, alter your perception of distance or encourage drifting in and out of lanes or oncoming traffic. If involved in a crash while drunk or high, you could be entirely at fault.
Exceeding the Speed Limit
Speeding is negligent behavior whether you drive a car or ride a motorcycle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 5,111 fatal accidents involving motorcyclists in 2019, 33% of the motorcycle riders were speeding. If it is determined that your speeding caused a collision, you could be at fault.
Racing on the Road and Highway
Excessive speed combined with a focus on competition instead of safety is not likely to lead to a favorable outcome on the road. Racing could create an unpredictable situation that produces an accident. If you were racing and it contributed to a collision, you could be at fault.
Performing Wheelies and Other Tricks
Any trick performed on a motorcycle can be dangerous — to you and other people. Tricks can also make your actions on the road erratic, which might cause a vehicle to suddenly change lanes, swerve or stop in an attempt to avoid you. If a car driver’s reaction to your trick causes an accident, you could be at fault.
Failing To Obey Stop Signs and Red Lights
Approximately 34% of accidents occur at intersections, according to the NHTSA. It is the most common accident type for motorcyclists, followed by colliding with a fixed object. Running through a stop sign or red light could increase your chances of crashing and being determined at fault.
Does Not Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet Affect the Fault Determination?
Many states, including New York, require motorcyclists to wear a helmet. If you forgo it, you could increase your risk of severe injury or death and affect the determination of fault.
Negligence is a significant factor in your case. Essentially, you are trying to prove that the other party’s duty of care was not upheld. Wearing a helmet while on your motorcycle can be seen as part of your duty of care; therefore, not wearing one could be interpreted as negligence.
If you suffered an injury, especially to your head, you could be assigned partial fault, and any compensation awarded might be affected. The rationale will likely be that your injuries could have been less severe if you had upheld your duty of care with a helmet.
It is difficult to argue against fault placed on you for not wearing a helmet. A successful argument would require witness testimony and substantial evidence showing that your injuries were not a result of a lack of protective headgear. If this describes your case, your lawyer can help you develop the most compelling case possible to combat the determination of fault.
Do Witness Statements Have a Significant Impact on Determining Fault?
Witnesses can help determine fault, especially in cases where compensation for injuries may be sought. They can provide eyewitness accounts of general traffic speed, weather conditions, location-specific details and other important considerations about the accident.
Professional witnesses can also be used to support your case and, in doing so, may influence the determination of fault. Medical professionals and account reconstruction professionals are common witnesses who can be vetted, hired and prepped by your legal team.
Where To Find Knowledgeable Legal Help for Motorcyclists
If you want to build a strong case, you need knowledgeable lawyers who understand the elements involved in a motorcycle accident. Celino Law is a results-driven firm with over 60 years of experience representing crash victims. The lawyers are available 24/7 and do not charge clients unless the case is won. Your case deserves to be represented by committed professionals who have your best interests at heart. For a free case review, contact the lawyers at Celino Law today.