Motorcycle accidents are more common than many people think. There are a few issues that victims of motorcycle accidents need to know when seeking compensation for injuries. The following article will discuss the causes of, liability and compensation for motorcycle accidents.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Drivers often do not detect motorbikes riding near them or when they do, it’s too late to prevent a collision. The common motorist errors are:
- Reflex delay (handicapped or elderly drivers)
- Driver inexperience
- Road rage
- Distraction (texting, cell phones, loud music, etc.)
Traffic Law Violations
Traffic violations by motorists are another common cause of motorbike accidents. Violations include:
- Failing to pay attention to traffic signals
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Illegal changing of lanes
Liability in Motorbike Accidents
In motorbike accidents, liability is determined based on negligence. A person is deemed to be negligent when they behave in a careless or thoughtless manner thereby causing injury to another individual. A driver is required to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring passengers, pedestrians, or other motorists. When a driver is not reasonably careful, they are liable for injuring an accident victim.
In motorcycle accidents, the driver is deemed to be negligent when they act in a manner in which they should not have acted. For example, speeding past a red light is negligent behavior. Furthermore, when a driver fails to do something they should have done like not checking their mirrors when making a turn, they are deemed to be negligent.
In some cases, the motorbike rider’s negligence is the cause of the accident. For example, a biker who rides past the front of a car causing the vehicle to crash may be found liable for injuries sustained by the vehicle’s occupants.
Elements of Negligence
To prove negligence in a motorcycle accident, there are four elements that one needs to prove.
- The defendant had a duty to care for the victim. Motorists are required to exercise care while driving or riding.
- The accused did not show sensible care. In determining whether a motorist was careful, the law compares the conduct of the defendant to that of a reasonable motorist.
- The conduct of the defendant is the main cause of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The plaintiff suffered losses or was injured due to the negligence of the motorist. If the victim never sustained injuries or losses or cannot prove any damages, they cannot recover anything even though the defendant acted carelessly.
Contributory Negligence in Motorcycle Accidents
In some cases, though the driver of a vehicle is negligent and injures the rider, the motorcyclist’s actions also contributed to the accident. The vehicle driver in such cases will use the motorcyclist’s behavior to defend the negligence claim. The motorcyclist’s conduct may prevent the rider from receiving full monetary damages from the driver based on contributory negligence laws. If comparative negligence is used, damages are calculated depending on the rider’s percentage of liability.
Manufacture Defects or Motorcycle Design
Some motorbike accidents are caused by the defect in the manufacture or design of the motorbike. A manufacturing defect means that the design deviated from the intended standards and this deviation made the motorbike risky to riders or drivers. Where the motorbike has a design defect, the company designed or planned the motorbike or vehicle in a way that an injury was foreseeable.
Evidence for Motorbike Accident Claims
To succeed in a motorbike personal injury claim, you need to have evidence. To receive compensation for a motorbike accident, you should prove that the motorist breached their duty of care and that you did not contribute to the accident. If you are unable to prove that the motorist was entirely responsible for the accident, you may receive a reduced share of damages under comparative negligent laws. The burden of proof in motorbike accident claims is upon the rider and therefore, they must gather as much evidence as they can to prove the driver’s negligence.
Compensation for Motorbike Accidents
There are two types of valuations for motorcycle injury claims: settlement and trial values. The settlement value of a case is what you are willing to settle the case for. Usually, the settlement value is less than the trial value because one settles a case to avoid losing in a trial.
The trial value is the amount you expect to get when you win in a trial. For example, when you go to trial the jury will award you $300,000 but your lawyer advices you that you have a 20% likelihood of winning. In such a situation, it is advisable to settle your case for 20% of the expected trial value i.e. $240,000. Therefore, many victims opt to settle a case to avoid the risk of not winning at trial.
Types of Damages
In a personal injury case, damages are split into two: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages also called special damages represent the plaintiff’s past, present, and future lost earnings, lost earning capacity. They also include medical bills, employment benefits and any other financial losses.
Unlike economic damages, non-economic damages cannot be calculated. For example, there are no guidelines for calculating the amount of pain and suffering a victim should be awarded. Since juries cannot calculate non-economic damages, they rely on their good sense, and experience to determine a fair amount for pain and suffering.
How a Lawyer Can Help in Personal Injury Cases
Hiring a lawyer in a motorbike accident case is important if you are to succeed in dealing with the insurance adjuster and getting a fair settlement. Furthermore, if you are unsuccessful in settling, your lawyer will represent you in court and pursue a just compensation award. An attorney will help you determine the liability of an accident and whether or not your claim is viable. In addition, your attorney will advice you on whether or not to choose a settlement or to go to trial. A personal injury attorney is also instrumental in gathering important evidence to prove the negligence of the at fault party and to justify the demand for a certain amount of compensation.