Who is Liable in a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycles provide less inherent safety than vehicles. As a result, motorcycle accidents have a greater impact on the motorcyclist than a motorist driving a car. According to the NHTSA motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die than car occupants in a crash per vehicle mile traveled. 

Identifying the party at fault is critical to determining the liable party. In the case of motorcycle accidents liability is covered under the law of negligence. It states a party is liable if they didn’t exercise care causing the accident. The next part of the article explains how to determine liability in a motorcycle accident.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Identifying the cause of the accident is critical to identifying the liable party. Sometimes the driver and the motorcyclist share fault and in others the motorist or the motorcyclist assume liability wholly. The most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to check blind spots
  • Making sudden stops
  • Changing lanes without alerting the motorist
  • Lane splitting
  • Left-turn accidents
  • Motorcycle defects

A personal injury lawyer may engage an accident reconstruction expert to identify the cause and the liable party. The expert takes measurements of the accident scene to reconstruct the incident leading up to the crash. The investigators may also talk to witnesses to understand the sequence of occurrences.

How to Determine Liability in a Motorcycle Accident

Many motorcycle-related accidents are a result of negligence. The law requires bikers to take active and deliberate steps to avoid causing harm. This means negligence can be an act of omission or commission. A negligence claim has four elements which the plaintiff must show:

  • The defendant owed a reasonable duty of care to the plaintiff
  • The defendant wasn’t careful and caused the accident. The law requires the driver to exercise a reasonable duty of care when riding the motorcycle
  • The defendant’s conduct caused injuries
  • The plaintiff suffered injuries as a result. If the biker didn’t get hurt or can’t prove any damages, they can’t claim compensation even if the defendant was careless

Motorists owe a duty of care to other people using roads. As such, they should drive with the same degree of safety a reasonable person would use under similar conditions. For example, a motorist is expected to avoid driving under the influence and to adhere to the stated speed limits. However, state laws differ when it comes to compensation. 

Californian laws, for example, allow plaintiffs to recover damages even when they are partially liable under comparative fault. The statute states the jury determines the degree of fault held by each party. As such, the plaintiff’s liability is reduced by the extent of contribution to the accident.

For example, if the jury decides you are 20% at fault and awarded a compensation of $300,000, your damages are reduced by $60,000. If several parties contributed to the accident, the jury determines the percentage of fault caused by each party. 

Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers Today

Enlisting the help of RS personal injury lawyers goes a long way in identifying the liable parties in a motorcycle accident and legal actions available to the victims. 

Call us today for advice and adequate representation in a court of law.

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