Motorcycle accidents are unfortunately common. Since they often result in significant damage, not only to your bike and equipment, but also to your body, insurance policies may not always cover the entire cost of these damages. Your option, then, is to take the other party to civil court in an attempt to collect additional funds. A judge or jury will examine the evidence to determine whether or not the other person is responsible for the accident, and thus also responsible for paying these damages. While it's important to remember that every situation is different, here is a look at three common motorcycle accident scenarios and who is is likely to be held liable in each case.
Situation #1: You are riding a motorcycle straight through an intersection. A person makes a left-hand turn in front of you, causing you to collide with his or her vehicle.
If you had a green light and were headed straight through the intersection, the person who made the left-hand turn in error is likely to be held liable. He or she should have looked to make sure there were no vehicles approaching in the opposite direction before making that turn, and in failing to do so, exhibited negligence.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. If you were speeding on your motorcycle, thus approaching the intersection more quickly than the other driver could have anticipated, you may be held at least partially liable and may only be rewarded a portion of the damages, if any. You may also not be able to collect damages if you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or another substance. Laws vary by state, so the best way to determine your liability in a tricky situation such as these is to contact an attorney in your area.
Situation #2: You were injured in a motorcycle accident, and were not wearing a helmet at the time.
Some riders fail to make injury claims because they assume that since they were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, they themselves (not the other driver) will be held liable for their injuries. Usually, this is not the case. Even if your state has a mandatory helmet law and you were in violation of it on the day of the accident, you can still file a personal injury claim against the other driver, and you will likely recover at least part of the damages as long as the other driver is determined to be at fault for the accident. Depending on your state's laws, your reward may be reduced by your failure to wear a helmet, but it won't be denied all-together.
Situation #3: You rear-ended another vehicle while driving your motorcycle.
In most cases, rear-end collisions are determined to be the fault of the driver whose vehicle read-ends the other vehicle. This holds true whether you are riding a motorcycle or driving a car. Some states even have laws stating that rear-end collisions are automatically the fault of the back driver -- if this is the case in your state, you won't be able to collect damages from the other driver in this scenario.
In states that do not have an automatic fault law, whether or not you're allowed to collect damages after rear-ending another vehicle will depend on the circumstances of the accident. If poor road conditions, broken taillights on the other vehicle, or irresponsible driving by the other party played a role in the accident, you may be awarded part of all of the damages you claim.
Every accident scenario is different. If you were involved in a motorcycle accident (and are lucky enough to have survived), promptly contact a motorcycle injury attorney, from a firm like Hinkle Law Offices, in your area.. Don't ever assume you won't be able to collect damages. It's better to try and have your claim denied than it is to not try at all.