Personal Injury | Motorcycle Accidents
Personal Injury . Motorcycle accidents are like other vehicle accidents in some ways, but because of some unique factors, the causes of motorcycle accidents, the injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents, and the liability issues surrounding motorcycle accidents can be very different from car accidents.
The Risks of Motorcycle Riding
Motorcycles are much smaller and lighter than cars, have only two wheels, and do not enclose the rider in a box of metal. These characteristics, along with others, make motorcycle riding riskier than riding in a car. As compared to car accidents, motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in death or serious injury. For example, according to the federal government, per mile traveled in 2006, there were 35 times more deaths from motorcycle accidents than from car accidents.
Some of the risks unique to motorcycle riding include:
Less visibility to cars. Because motorcycles are smaller and more easily hidden by objects on or off the road, cars are less likely to see them, especially at intersections.
Road hazards. Things that have little effect on a car, like debris, uneven road surfaces, small objects, or wet pavement, can cause a motorcycle to crash.
No barrier between rider and road. Unlike passengers in a car, bikers are not protected by a container of metal. Motorcycles also don’t have seatbelts, and most don’t have airbags. Wearing a motorcycle helmet can offer some protection to bikers, and motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets are more likely to die in an accident than those that do.
Less stability. Vehicles with two wheels are less stable than those with four, especially during emergency braking and swerving. Also, some motorcycle accidents are caused by front wheel “wobble” that can occur at high speeds.
Skill level and difficulty. Riding a motorcycle requires more skills than driving a car. Unskilled riders account for a disproportionate number of motorcycle accidents. In 2001, more than one quarter of all motorcyclists killed in crashes did not have a proper motorcycle license.
High-risk behavior. Lighter and more powerful motorcycles such as sport and supersport bikes can encourage speeding, fast accelerating, and other high-risk behavior.
The good news is that bikers can take steps to reduce the risk of being in an accident, including getting professional training, being aware of and avoiding road hazards, maintaining the bike, and not sharing lanes with cars. Other steps, such as wearing proper protective clothing and a helmet, can reduce risk of injury in motorcycle accidents.
Liability in Motorcycle Accidents
Liability in most motorcycle accidents is governed by the law of “negligence.” A person is negligent when he or she behaves in a thoughtless or careless manner and causes injury to another person. A driver must use care to avoid injuring other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians — basically, anyone that he or she encounters on the road. If a driver is not reasonably careful and injures someone as a result, the driver is liable for a personal injury to the accident victim.
In many motorcycle accidents, it is the driver of another car or truck that is negligent. The driver can be negligent by doing something that he or she should not have done. Example include, speeding through a red light or failing to failing to check mirrors before making a left-hand turn.
Of course, the motorcycle rider might be the negligent one. An inebriated biker that swerves in front of a car, causing the car to crash, would most likely be liable for any personal injury suffered by the car’s occupants.
Elements of a Negligence Claim
There are four elements to a negligence claim. The plaintiff (the person suing or making the claim) must show that:
- The law required the defendant (the person who is being sued) to be reasonably careful. In car and motorcycle accident cases, this is a given. Motorists must exercise care when riding or driving.
- The defendant was not careful. In determining if the defendant was careful, the law compares the driver’s conduct to that of a “reasonable person.”
- The defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
- The plaintiff was injured or suffered losses. If the motorcyclist didn’t get hurt or can’t prove any damages, he or she can’t recover anything, even if the defendant behaved in a careless manner.
Defenses in a Motorcycle Accident Case
There are times when a driver of a car is negligent or reckless and causes personal injury to a motorcyclist, but the motorcyclist also did something that contributed to the crash. In such cases, the vehicle driver might raise the motorcyclist’s behavior as a defense to the negligence claim. In some states, such a defense, if proven, might reduce the amount of the motorcyclist’s recovery. In others, the motorcyclist’s behavior might prevent the motorcyclist from getting any monetary recovery from the defendant. – NOLO.com
Since 1989, the personal injury attorneys of Clekis Law Firm have been representing injured people and their families in Charleston and throughout the Low Country. At the Clekis Law Firm our clients always come first. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury due to the negligence of another, don’t be victimized twice. You need someone on your side to help you with your personal injury case and obtain the fair and reasonable compensation that you deserve. Call Clekis at 843.779.1160!