Contacting a motorcycle accident lawyer is an important part of dealing with the aftermath of a crash. Many motorcycle riders might believe they are at fault, but in a lot of cases accidents occur because the car or truck driver failed to yield the right of way, follow posted signs, or otherwise obey the rules of the road. Accidents can also happen as a result of defective or recalled parts on the bike or another vehicle involved in the crash.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, you should talk to an attorney right away to get a free consultation and understand your legal rights. You may be able to receive compensation from insurance companies or other sources to pay for medical bills, damaged property, and other costs resulting from the collision.
Why Should I Talk to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
People involved in motorcycle crashes may choose to talk to an attorney who specializes in accident law for one or more of the following reasons.
Make Insurance Companies Pay Claims
Insurance companies have layers of bureaucracy, lawyers, policies and procedures designed to delay and avoid paying claims. In many motorcycle accident cases, insurers even blame accident victims for the crashes they were involved in, simply so they don’t have to make a payment.
Having a lawyer who understands the motorcycle accident claim process will help you cut through the red tape and get insurance money quicker. They’ll also be able to pursue a lawsuit or other legal challenge, should the insurance company persist in refusing your claim.
Determine Accident Liability
Motorcycle accidents occur for a variety of reasons, and it can often be unclear who is at fault. Due to inaccurate stigmas, assumptions will likely be made about the motorcycle operator – they were going too fast, not following road rules, etc. – even when the reason for the vehicle accident might lie elsewhere.
A motorcycle accident attorney will do an independent investigation of the facts and determine what parties may be liable. This is an important step that needs to be done before deciding whether or not to file a lawsuit.
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Liability
Drivers: Drivers have a responsibility to watch out for other motorists, including motorcyclists. If they are distracted, inebriated, or fail to comply with traffic regulations, they should be held accountable for their actions.
Owners: If the driver does not own the other vehicle, the owner could be held liable for allowing someone else to operate the motor vehicle, especially if they are underage, improperly licensed, or have a poor driving record.
Employers: If the driver was driving for a job (such as a courier or truck driver), the driver’s employer could be held liable for the crash.
Automakers/Auto Parts Makers: If a vehicle or vehicle part contains a design flaw, then the manufacturer should be held responsible for making a defective part. This is true for the motorcycle as well as any other vehicles involved in the crash.
Government Departments: If the government agency responsible for maintaining the road failed in its mandate – such as by having inadequate signage, neglecting to fix potholes or other dangerous road conditions, etc. – then a claim could be filed against that department.
File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
If you decide to file a lawsuit related to your wreck, you will need to hire an attorney who specializes in motorcycle crashes to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. In addition to doing the initial investigation, a lawyer will work on your behalf to:
- Gather and review evidence from the crash scene
- Obtain reports from police and medical professionals
- Interview witnesses and take depositions
- Research relevant legislation and case law
- Hire experts who can testify on your behalf
- Handle court filings and administrative details
Through all of these activities, your lawyer will help you build a case that could result in compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering sustained as a result of the crash.
Who Is at Fault in Motorcycle Accidents?
Many motorcyclists who experience a motorcycle crash assume that they will be blamed, or that they do not have any legal recourse. However, you may be able to recover damages that will help you pay for injuries, medical care, lost income, and other costs related to your crash in cases where the other driver failed to follow the rules of the road.
Types of Negligence in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
- Under the influence – alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving – texting, looking at a phone/GPS, etc.
- Blind spots – failing to use mirrors, etc.
- Moving violations – tailgating, failing to signal, changing lanes unexpectedly
- Permit problems – expired registration, inspection, or driver’s license
- Improper maintenance – failing to fix or replace faulty or damaged parts like worn-down tires or signal lights
- Defective parts – installing or failing to replace parts that have been recalled or have known problems
Drivers of other vehicles may also demonstrate fault based on how they react after a motorcycle crash. For example, someone involved in a hit-and-run crash could be found at fault for fleeing the scene of a traffic accident, potentially implicating them in the crash itself.
Laws may differ from state to state about what constitutes driver negligence, so it is important to talk with a motorcycle lawyer in your state about what rules apply where you live.
Accidents Caused by Motorcycle Defects and Recalls
Defective or malfunctioning parts can lead directly or indirectly to accidents. If a part breaks down or stops working while someone is operating a motorcycle, it could lead to a loss of control and possibly even a crash that results in severe injury or death.
Safety standards for motorcycles and motorcycle parts are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Manufacturers are required to follow all current regulatory rules and industry guidelines when assembling vehicles. However, from time to time certain motorcycle parts may contain a manufacturing defect due to poor engineering, inadequate testing, a flaw in the production process, or some other preventable error.
When a defective motorcycle part is discovered, the manufacturer will often issue a voluntary recall. If the situation becomes bad enough, the NHTSA may conduct its own investigation and require the manufacturers to make a recall. The NHTSA publishes notices about both voluntary and mandatory recalls and monitors the company’s recall efforts to make sure that motorcycle owners are notified and receive the appropriate remedy for their defective parts.
According to federal law, when a recall takes place, the manufacturer is required to attempt to notify owners of the recalled part and how it will be fixed. This is one of the reasons why keeping your vehicle’s registration current with the appropriate state agency is important, because manufacturers will use registration records to send out recall notices.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being involved in a motorcycle accident, there are several things you should do right away.
See if anyone is hurt – If you or anyone else involved in the crash requires immediate medical attention, call 911 right away.
Most Common Motorcycle Injury Types
- Head injuries
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones/fractures
- Abrasions/road rash
- Internal bleeding
- Lower body (leg and feet) injuries
Move to the side – Getting out of danger’s way is critical to ensure no further injuries or damage takes place. Move your vehicle to the side of the road if possible, and keep yourself and those with you safe.
Warn others – If you have flares or reflective warning triangles, set them up to warn oncoming drivers of potential danger. Putting on your vehicle’s hazard lights is also a good idea.
Exchange details – Get contact information from any other drivers and passengers, including names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance cards, and license numbers. Be sure to get the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved, as well as their makes and models.
Call the cops – Having a police report on file is critical if any injuries emerge later, or if the total amount of repairs for damage to your motor vehicle adds up to a substantial amount.
Note the location and time – Many people are understandably flustered when they get into an accident, but getting details like your precise location and the time of the accident are important. Take pictures or write down the nearest mile marker or any other specific geographical details.
Document as much as possible – In addition to recording the time and place of your accident, try to get as much detail as possible about the accident while it is still fresh. Take pictures if you are able, and write down as much as you remember about the accident and the moments leading up to it while it is still fresh in your mind. Be sure talk to anyone who saw the crash if you can, and get their contact information in case you need them as a witness later.
Talk to a lawyer – If you plan to file a lawsuit for compensation related to your accident, you only have a limited amount of time to talk a lawyer, pull together your case, and file your claim. In some places, you may have as little as six months, so it’s important to find a good motorcycle crash attorney right away!
Motorcycle Crashes and Admitting Fault
It’s natural to want to apologize after a motorcycle accident, even if you are not at fault! However, you may not know what the other person was doing at the time of the crash. Rather than saying you are sorry, it’s better to concentrate on keeping everyone safe until police or medical personnel arrive on the accident scene.
The reason why it’s important to do these things right away is that many people experience certain types of amnesia after a crash-related head injury. Your memory and the memory of others involved in the crash may not be reliable, even right after the crash itself. That is why gathering objective evidence right away is so important.
If another party to the accident insists it was your fault, you do not have to agree with them. Calmly tell them you would rather let the experts handle such determinations, and make sure you get their contact information and insurance details.
Helmet Laws Across the United States
Helmets are often a major factor in the severity of motorcycle accidents. Wearing a helmet is the best way to protect yourself and your passenger from being seriously injured or killed in an accident. With an adequate helmet, your risk of sustaining a head injury or traumatic brain injury in a crash is reduced by 69%, and your risk of death by 40%.
As a result, many states have implemented helmet laws to protect motorcyclists and passengers. There are three basic types of helmet laws in the United States:
- Universal Helmet Laws require all riders to wear helmets at all times.
- Partial Helmet Laws require riders to wear helmets under certain conditions (such as under a certain age).
- No Helmet Laws do not require motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
Helmet Laws in the United States
|Universal Helmet Laws|
|Partial Helmet Laws|
|No Helmet Laws|