How is fault determined in motorcycle v car accidents?

Whether you’re at fault or not, a motorcycle accident can leave you seriously injured. Bikers who are involved in motorcycle vs. car accidents are often paralyzed, and many suffer from traumatic head injuries even though they were wearing helmets when their accident occurred. Determining who is responsible for injuries in a motorcycle accident is an important key to seeking and receiving compensation.

What causes motorcycle vs. car accidents?

Bikers occasionally hit cars – and in that case, they may be at fault. But many motorcycle vs. vehicle accidents happen because of careless acts on the part of other drivers. Undue attention, distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding are some key factors. Other motorcycle accident causes include:

  • Vehicles swerving in front of motorcycles 
  • Drivers changing lanes without checking blind spots 
  • Opening car doors in front of motorcyclists 
  • Auto drivers leaving parking spaces without noticing motorcyclists 
  • Cars making sudden stops in front of motorcycles 
  • Vehicles following motorcycles too closely 

What to do if you have been involved in a motorcycle accident

Whether you have been involved in a motorcycle accident or if you’re simply looking for more information, Bruce Skaug, an Idaho based Motorcycle Accident Attorney, advises to keep the following information in mind:

“The first step in filing a claim is to prove damages, including actual costs such as:

  • Injuries 
  • Medical bills 
  • Lost wages 
  • Loss of future income

Next, you must prove duty of care, meaning that the other driver has the duty to consider the safety of other motorists, plus breach of duty of care. If, for example, you were sideswiped while a vehicle’s operator was looking at their phone, they have breached duty of care. 

A fourth element is causation. In the example given above, the driver’s inattention is clearly the cause of the accident. Because causation isn’t always this clear – and since others might argue – it’s important to seek witness statements, footage from traffic cameras, and other evidence that might help you prove your case. 

Lawyers do the legwork for their clients during the evidence-gathering phase, ultimately saving time while removing some of the stress, and frustration from the situation. This service is particularly helpful for those who are hospitalized, disabled, or still recovering from their injuries.” 

Who is at fault in a motorcycle vs. car accident? 

When determining fault in a motorcycle versus vehicle accident, authorities take many factors into consideration including road conditions, weather conditions, the position of both vehicles, and all circumstances affecting each driver involved. Sometimes one party is at fault, and often, multiple drivers are at fault.

The cause of the accident often helps authorities determine who is at fault. Sometimes, motorcyclists are to blame. For example, bikers are often held responsible for accidents that involve lane splitting, particularly in areas where the practice is illegal. It’s no fun to be stuck behind cars and trucks when you can see what looks like a clear path between other vehicles ahead. At the same time, lane splitting creates a dangerous situation for everyone, as drivers aren’t always able to see around the vehicles behind them. 

Other accidents in which fault is typically assigned to the motorcyclist include:

  • Accidents that happen when overtaking or passing other vehicles, particularly passing on a shoulder, even if there is an exit ahead 
  • Crashes caused by inexperience, i.e. being new to motorcycles and not fully understanding the rules of the road 
  • Collisions that occur due to inattention on the part of the biker, i.e. not noticing an avoidable hazard in their motorcycle’s path 
  • Accidents that happen when bikers are speeding, which can be interpreted as exceeding the actual speed limit or traveling at a speed too great for existing conditions, i.e. bad weather, construction zone, etc. 

How to determine who is to blame in a motorcycle vs. vehicle accident

Determining liability often falls to law enforcement officials, however it’s important to note that even experienced police officers can make mistakes or miss evidence. This is why it’s so important to always have the correct car insurance. 

Attorneys can help you determine whether a police officer’s ruling is correct in the event that you are being held at fault. And when other drivers, highway departments, or private property owners are to blame, attorneys can help you assign blame or uphold an officer’s findings. 

Sometimes there are other factors that play into a motorist’s behavior behind the wheel, or that need to be considered when a biker is being blamed for an accident. These include: 

  • Road debris dropped by another driver in traffic ahead of those who were involved in the actual collision 
  • Road hazards such as large potholes or chunks of concrete that have fallen from a bridge or another overhead structure
  • Unfinished roadwork leaving uneven surface, without proper signage in place 
  • Debris left behind by a property owner (in some areas such as the state of Virginia, even lawn clippings are considered hazardous debris, and property owners who leave piles of clippings in the roadway can be held liable in case of accidents.) 
  • Manufacturers and/or dealers and repair shops, in the event of an equipment malfunction on any vehicle or motorcycle involved in a collision 

Extenuating circumstances don’t always exist but when they do, attorneys can help hold responsible parties accountable and ensure that victims receive compensation.

Final thoughts

With so many factors to consider, a skilled attorney who is familiar with motorcycle accidents can be your greatest ally. After all, they have been through the process many times before, and as they are familiar with laws and legal proceedings surrounding motorcycle accidents. 

Seeking legal representation is vital since a skilled motorcycle lawyer helps you navigate the ins and outs of the legal system and determine who is at fault. In addition, a knowledgeable attorney can work with insurance companies who might otherwise attempt to offer a lowball settlement.

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