After a motorcycle accident, you could feel confused or disoriented from the impact. You may not even know what happened before, during, or afterward. Whatever you do, don’t assume you were partly to blame for the motorcycle accident. Don’t admit fault. Whether you feel at fault, or someone is accusing you of fault is irrelevant until your accident is fully investigated. Even then, you could still recover compensation for your losses.
If a motorcyclist believes they are at fault, an attorney can investigate, determine exactly what happened, and uphold their legal rights. Many states allow parties who are partially at fault for an accident to seek financial recovery. Read on to learn more about motorcycle accidents, your legal options, and how a motorcycle accident attorney can help you.
Victims Have the Right to Seek Compensation
Many states operate on the ideal that accident victims deserve to receive compensation for their losses even if they share some of the blame. This means, even if a motorcyclist contributed to their collision, they could still seek damages through a claim or lawsuit.
These compensable damages may include:
- The costs of medical care. Even if a motorcyclist suffered minor injuries, an accident claim or lawsuit could yield recovery for their medical bills. These could include hospitalizations, emergency room visits, medications, surgeries, and any assistive medical devices.
- The income that the motorcyclist lost. If the motorcyclist had to miss work because of their injuries, they could recover compensation for any income they lost during that time. They could also recoup lost tips, bonuses, benefits, and commissions.
- Diminished earning capacity. A serious motorcycle accident could permanently affect an injured person’s earning power. Compensation could account for these hardships.
- Non-economic damages. An injured motorcyclist’s losses go beyond their financial obligations. They also could face pain, suffering, scarring, and disfigurement. How much one could request for these expenses depends on their situation.
- Wrongful death-related expenses. You may have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident. In that instance, you could seek reimbursement for their funeral costs, end-of-life healthcare costs, and other expenses.
A law firm can calculate the value of these damages based on their client’s situation. As such, one could receive other losses than those listed here.
Why Would the Other Party Blame the Motorcyclist?
Even if the other party’s negligence caused the motorcycle accident, they could still blame the motorcyclist for what happened.
They might do this:
- To avoid paying losses. Motorcycle accident claims can easily pass the thousand-dollar mark. The other party (whether it be an individual or an insurance company) may want to avoid paying for losses—especially if they don’t have adequate coverage.
- Because the accident involved criminal activity. Some drivers refute liability because they acted with egregious negligence, and those actions caused the accident. For instance, if another motorist’s intoxication caused a collision, they may blame the motorcyclist for the accident, hoping to escape criminal charges.
- Out of anger. Tension can run high following a motorcycle accident. The at-fault party may blame the motorcyclist for the collision out of anger alone. Yet, their claim will not hold up in court unless they have a valid reason and evidence demonstrating that the motorcyclist caused the collision.
- Because they don’t have enough evidence. Without supporting information, the other party may genuinely have no idea what caused the accident. Using accident reconstruction data, the police report, and other documents, a legal team can assert the collision’s true cause.
There are countless reasons why another party may blame a motorcyclist for the collision. Some of these reasons may make no sense. When partnered with a motorcycle accident lawyer, a lawyer and their team can evaluate your case’s challenges and pursue what you need.
Possible At-Fault Parties in a Motorcycle Accident
Imagine this. A motorcyclist is cruising down the street when they slam into the back of a car stopped in traffic. They may think that they’re to blame for the collision. Yet, upon closer examination, factors beyond their control could have caused the accident.
In that instance, the at-fault parties in this case could include:
- The motorcycle’s manufacturer. Perhaps the bike’s brakes failed, preventing them from stopping. In that instance, they could file a product liability claim with the bike’s manufacturer. They could argue that because the bike’s brakes didn’t work, they suffered injuries in an accident.
- A government organization. Maybe a pothole or another roadway obstruction caused the collision. All government agencies must ensure the roads are safe for use. Otherwise, they face liability for any resulting collisions.
- Another driver. The driver in front of the motorcyclist may have stopped suddenly, not giving the rider enough time to brake. Here, the driver could be primarily responsible for losses—even though the motorcyclist collided with them.
- A corporation. If the other driver was on the clock when the accident happened, the motorcyclist could pursue their employer for damages. This is possible under “vicarious liability.” Here, employers can be liable for the damages their employees cause.
More than one party could have blame for your motorcycle accident. In that case, you could have multiple avenues of pursuing compensation for your losses. Yet, this can get confusing. A lawyer can manage communications, gather evidence, and do everything else required to complete your case.
Your Lawyer Can Prove Fault in Your Collision
Proving fault in a motorcycle accident requires proving negligence.
An attorney can demonstrate the required elements of negligence by showing:
- Duty of care. The other party (such as a motorist) had a legal obligation to drive carefully.
- Breach of duty. The other party drove carelessly or recklessly, breaching their duty of care. For instance, a motorist who drives while intoxicated breaches their duty of care.
- Causation. The other party primarily caused your accident. A lawyer could use traffic camera footage, eyewitness testimony, and other information to prove the other party’s liability.
- Damages. You have financial losses because of the motorcycle accident. These losses can include medical bills, lost income, and other related expenses.
By demonstrating these elements, your lawyer can show that because another party did not operate their vehicle with care, they caused your motorcycle accident, and you have damages.
An Accident Lawyer Can Consult With Witnesses on Your Case
To determine what happened before, during, and after your motorcycle accident, your lawyer may consult:
- Accident reconstruction analysts. These experts use a combination of physics, computer simulations, and other information to determine how accidents happen. Some even review vehicles’ black box data to answer key questions about collisions, including the speeds at which accidents happen.
- Eyewitnesses. Bystanders can give compelling testimony about how the accident happened. They could also give identifying information if the at-fault motorist fled the accident scene.
- Law enforcement officials. The other party can blame you for the collision all they want. Yet, law enforcement also investigates accidents. If they find the motorist caused your accident, your lawyer could use this information to supplement your case.
- Mechanics. If a faulty vehicular component caused your motorcycle accident, a mechanic could identify the problematic part. They can also determine whether any shoddy repairs contributed to the collision.
A Lawyer Can Do More Than Prove Fault for Your Collision
A motorcycle accident lawyer has one goal when they take your case: recovering compensation for your losses.
In addition to proving fault, this requires them to:
- Investigate the collision
- Interview witnesses and consult with field professionals
- Calculate your losses
- Determine what caused your accident
- Communicate with the involved parties
- File your insurance claim/lawsuit
Many personal injury lawyers also offer help on contingency. This means claimants pay nothing out of pocket to retain their help. They only pay attorney’s fees when their case concludes. Many law firms also offer free, no-obligation case reviews. Here, motorcycle accident claimants can learn about their legal options.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Motorcycle Crash
Your motorcycle accident already happened. Yet, your legal case is just beginning. You want to do everything in your power to secure a fair outcome. You also want to avoid anything that could complicate matters. Some things you should avoid while seeking damages from the at-fault party include:
Admitting You’re at Fault
The cause of your motorcycle accident may not be immediately clear. Law enforcement, your lawyer, and investigators must evaluate your case’s evidence to learn what caused it. Even if you feel you were at fault for the accident, say nothing. Later, you could find out that someone else caused the accident, so don’t accept responsibility before everything is known.
Be mindful of anything you share with anyone regarding the accident. Even saying something like, “I’m sorry,” could be misconstrued as an admission of fault. You don’t want to say anything that could affect your case later.
Not Getting Proper Medical Care
You should get immediate medical care after a motorcycle accident—even if you can walk away from the collision scene. This may involve visiting an urgent care center, undergoing surgery, or attending physical therapy.
Getting prompt medical care:
- Shows that your injuries came from the motorcycle accident. This could prevent the insurer from alleging that your condition came from another cause.
- Generates evidence to support your case. Your imaging scans, lab test results, and other medical information show that you suffered injuries. Your lawyer could also use this information to assert the cost of your past, present, and future healthcare expenses. This helps them calculate a fair value for your case.
- Promotes your health and well-being. There’s no such thing as a minor motorcycle accident injury. Injuries can worsen over time. Sometimes, it could take months before you notice anything different about your condition. You want to reach maximum medical improvement so you can continue living your life. Seeing a doctor helps do that.
Seeking medical care also demonstrates the severity of your injuries to the liable insurer. You want to show that because another party’s recklessness caused your condition, you have losses and deserve compensation.
Accepting a Low Settlement
You reasonably want compensation as quickly as possible. So, you may feel tempted to accept the insurance company’s first offer—especially if you feel you’re at fault for what happened. Don’t make an emotional decision. The insurance company could be offering much less than you need, hoping to close your case for as little money as possible.
By accepting less than you need, you cannot file a second claim or ask for more money. Once you sign a waiver of liability, your case ends. When you partner with a lawyer who understands your damages’ cost, they can negotiate for a fair settlement. They can also file your claim, communicate with the claims adjuster, and protect you from bad faith insurance practices.
Missing Your Case’s Filing Deadline
Every state has a filing deadline for motorcycle accident lawsuits. Your filing period generally begins from the date of your collision. However, some exceptions could alter your filing period. For instance, if a hit-and-run motorist caused your collision, the state could pause your filing deadline until the police find them. If you didn’t discover your injuries until a later date, this could also offer more time to act.
You shouldn’t have to manage time-sensitive deadlines when dealing with serious injuries. An injury lawyer can take care of these deadlines on your behalf. In the meantime, you can focus on your health, future, and well-being.
What Are the Leading Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
When you partner with a personal injury lawyer, they can determine the cause of your motorcycle accident. That way, they can determine fault and liability for your losses.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that some of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Adverse weather
- Failure to yield
- Blind spots
- Failing to follow roadway signals
- Driver inexperience
Driver error is among the leading causes of motorcycle accidents in all 50 states. Even if you don’t see the specific cause of your accident listed above, you could still seek damages—even if you fear you partially caused the collision.