Motorcycles represent just 3% of registered vehicles in the U.S., but account for 13% of traffic fatalities in 2007, according to Examiner. For example, in California, 80% of all motorcyclists involved in an auto accident resulted in death or serious injury. The statistics here in Florida are almost identical. Personal injury lawyers are able to represent people injured in motorcycle accidents by proving liability through negligence.
But motorcyclists often have a bad reputation. In a courtroom populated by non-motorcyclists, there may be little mercy to be had. Whether motorcyclists’ bad reputation is justified or not, juries often have an overwhelmingly negative opinion of the cycling community. This woman did little to alleviate this negative sentiment.
Factors like injuries and liability issues involved in a motorcycle accident are very different from an auto accident. The law of the land for motorcycles is “negligence.” This means that the person in the accident who behaved in a thoughtless or careless way is held liable. No matter the driver or vehicle, one must still be cautious of all motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
Contrary to popular negative viewpoints of motorcyclists, the driver of the other vehicle is often held negligent. They are usually negligent because they did not look twice for motorcycles, or check their left-hand turn mirror before turning, etc. If they were doing something illegal, like running a red light or speeding, they will be held liable for the auto accident and any injuries sustained by the other party.
Motorcyclists are still held liable often enough. For example, an inebriated motorcyclist will find no succor in court if they swerve in front of or into a car, causing it to crash. On top of a probable DUI charge, they will also be responsible for any injuries suffered from the crash even if they are injured themselves.
The most common causes of these accidents are motorcyclist head-on collisions, cars executing left-hand turns, cars not looking twice for harder-to-see motorcycles, motorcyclists lane splitting, speeding and alcohol use, collisions with fixed objects, road hazards, and super-sporty cycles being operated recklessly.
The Basics of a Negligence Claim
In order to prevail in a motorcycle accident case the plaintiff must prove:
– That the law required the negligent driver or the defendant to be careful when operating a vehicle. Truly, it is a common law that motorists exercise caution when riding or driving.
– That the defendant was driving without caution versus in a safe, prudent manner. If there is any ambiguity, the two drivers’ conducts are compared to that of a “reasonable person.”
– That the defendant’s actions while driving or riding were directly responsible for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.
– That they were injured, suffered losses, and deserve to recover those losses. If the plaintiff cannot prove any damages, suffered losses aren’t recoverable. This is true even if the defendant is proven guilty of acting carelessly.
If the plaintiff is equally at fault with the defendant, the recovery for suffered losses may be reduced (“comparitive negligence”). Often the plaintiff’s behavior while operating his/her vehicle is used as evidence for defense against the negligence claim in order to reduce the recovery amount.