In the 2020 report by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the year 2020 has the highest number of motorcycle rider fatalities in the country, the highest since 1975, when NHTSA started the fatality analysis reporting system (FARS). Moreover, California ranked 2nd in motorcycle rider fatalities in the United States in 2020 in the same motorcycle accident fault statistics.
If you are a motorcycle rider or passenger, getting involved in an accident cannot be predicted. Taking all the safety precautions is highly necessary, but you cannot always guarantee that another driver on the road will be as cautious as you are. And so, it is essential to know what to do when you get involved in a motorcycle accident.
One factor involved here is knowing who is at fault in motorcycle accidents to determine whose insurance you should initially claim from. If you do not reach a settlement, this will also help your case when going to court to escalate your claim against the responsible party.
In this article, we will answer these questions:
- How is fault determined in a motorcycle accident?
- What are the common causes of motorcycle accidents?
- What is a no-fault motorcycle accident?
- What is comparative fault or negligence?
Who Is At Fault In Motorcycle Accidents?
When two or more parties are involved in a road accident, the party who is negligent is the party at fault. Suppose the California Vehicle Code has been clearly violated by the said party. In that case, you have more basis for establishing your cause of action or more grounds to prove your right to recover from the other party.
More importantly, because the accident caused bodily injuries and other damages, such as the motorcycle being destroyed or losing earnings as treatments are undergone, one can claim compensation against the responsible party.
This compensation is vital because a motorcycle rider’s injuries can be devastating. These may include a traumatic brain injury, road rash, broken bones, paralysis, internal bleeding, and whiplash, among others. Plus, you should consider the emotional and psychological impact of the accident.
So who is at fault in motorcycle accidents? Note that the determination of fault also depends on how the plaintiff attorneys argue that the other party is who is at fault in motorcycle accidents that they handle in court and then how the jury will decide on the matter.
Remember, however, that there are cases where fault can be shared by the parties involved, resulting in the reduction of the damages the defendant owes the plaintiff. Learn more below in the discussion on comparative negligence.
If you are asking how is fault determined in your motorcycle accident because you are not aware or you do not remember the details after sustaining a head injury, your best bet is to get professional legal help.
To make a better determination, a motorcycle accident attorney is your best partner in the process because of the thorough investigation that they will do for your case. They will use the following to verify the facts and present your case well to the insurance adjuster and later to the jury:
- Photographs of the crash scene
- Traffic Collision Report
- Area of damage in the vehicles
- Dashcam and/or CCTV video footage
- Event data recorder (EDR) data and analysis
- Testimony of witnesses and experts
- Medical reports
What Are The Common Causes Of Motorcycle Accidents?
Accidents between cars making unsafe left turns and motorcycles are very common. In fact, this is the most common cause of fatality in collisions involving a motorcycle and a car.
As a car turns left in an intersection, the driver can cause a horrible accident when they are distracted, speeding, or there is low visibility at the time of the accident. The driver may strike the motorcycle rider and cause severe to fatal injuries. There are, however, some cases where the rider will share the fault with the driver. This is when the rider was speeding, running the red light, or stop sign, or was in the wrong lane.
In California, there is no explicit prohibition against lane splitting unlike in other states. In fact, Assembly Bill. No. 51, a recent California law, required the Department of the California Highway Patrol to develop safety guidelines in practicing lane splitting. Thus, motorcycle riders in California can share or split a single lane.
Learn more about lane splitting in this article, “Can Motorcycles Split Lanes in California?”
Even if lane splitting is allowed in the State of California, it does not mean that motorcycle riders should be careless on the road. They should still be mindful of their safety as well as the safety of their passenger, the other vehicles, and their occupants. Otherwise, this results in dangerous collisions with cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians.
These road hazards include:
Motorcycles, unlike cars and other vehicles, need to be stable when riders operate them. This is why they need to be alert in avoiding road hazards. Otherwise, they may crash when they fail to see, slow down, or avoid these hazards.
- Rough roads
- Uneven surfaces
- Snow and ice
- Railway tracks
- Bridge and expansion joints
- Gravel on pavement
- Other objects or debris on the road
Motorcyclists’ Poor Riding Behavior
Some motorcyclists have risky behaviors that cause them and others to be involved in road accidents. While road hazards are mostly beyond their control, their own negligent and reckless behaviors can be a reason for getting into accidents. These include being intoxicated while operating their motorcycles, speeding, and not wearing a helmet.
The State of California mandates helmet use to avoid severe head and brain injuries. In 2021, however, motorcycle helmet use in the United States declined from 69% in 2020 to 64.9% in 2021. For those who get into accidents while wearing a helmet, whether it was their fault or not, their lives are safer by 69%, according to a study compared to those who do not.
Another risky behavior is speeding, which is known to be very prone to fatal accidents. Sadly, younger riders are more likely to be involved in these fatal accidents while speeding according to motorcycle accident fault statistics.
Lastly, being intoxicated with alcohol while riding a motorcycle is another common cause of road accidents. Similar to car drivers, it is also very dangerous for motorcycle riders to have impaired senses when they are on the road due to intoxication.
What Is A No-fault Motorcycle Accident?
A no-fault motorcycle accident is a situation where you are involved in a motorcycle accident in a state that requires you to claim from your own insurance the damages and losses that you sustained. As opposed to fault states, such as in California, they require those involved in accidents to claim from the at-fault party’s insurance first.
What Is Comparative Fault Or Negligence?
Comparative fault or negligence is a legal concept where the fault is divided between all the parties, thereby resulting in the reduction of the plaintiff’s damages in proportion to their negligence or fault, which contributed to the incident.
California is known to be a pure comparative fault state, which allows victims of accidents to claim a portion of their damages even if they are 99% at fault. This is different for some states that apply the modified comparative fault doctrine. Here, plaintiffs are barred from claiming damages if they are 50% or more at fault for the accident.
If you get involved in a motorcycle accident in California, you should not be surprised if the defendant raises an argument that you are partially at fault. Whether there is proof or not, this is an attempt to reduce or even escape their liability.
Even insurance companies conduct their own investigation to determine who is at fault in motorcycle accidents or whether you contributed to the cause of the accident. Thus, it is important to be knowledgeable about the law. But it is better for your case if you have a team of personal injury law attorneys who will help you with your claim.
Talk to Motorcyclist Attorney Today
Talk to our motorcycle accident attorney today to build your personal injury claim! Motorcyclist Attorney will provide you with competent, compassionate, and reliable service. We will not only work to get you the compensation you deserve but also help you get the proper medical treatment that you require to recover fully.