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Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

By Chuck Koro, Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys

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Some people have misconceptions about how to determine who is at fault for a motorcycle accident. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident and think you are at fault, don’t fold your hand until you determine how the law applies to the facts of your particular case. You may find that the right motorcycle accident injury attorneys can help you get your insurance company to pay out.

What Are Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

One motorcyclist thought he was at fault for the accident because he broadsided the other vehicle, breaking his arm in the process. He apologized to the other driver at the scene and offered to pay for her property damage. Fortunately, he sought legal advice and learned that the other party was fully responsible. He ultimately recovered for his damages.  In that case, both drivers entered the intersection at the same time from opposite directions and the offending driver turned left directly in front of the motorcyclist causing the broadside collision. This is one of the most common motorcycle-passenger vehicle accidents because the motorcyclist is least visible at that particular angle.  Under these circumstances, the law generally provides that the other driver has a duty to ensure that all lanes are clear before turning across oncoming traffic.

Another common misconception is that you can’t recover if it is a single vehicle accident where there is no contact – not true in most states. A common example is when the motorcyclist lays the bike down while trying to avoid a collision or when someone makes an unsafe lane change directly into the path of the motorcycle, causing the motorcyclist to lose control. This happens particularly in circumstances with dangerous road conditions If someone else’s negligence caused the accident, you can still recover even if the vehicles don’t collide.   

Who Is At Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

The converse misconception also occurs frequently —  that is, when the motorcyclist mistakenly thinks the other party is fully at fault. For example, in the situation above where the offending driver turns left in front of the motorcyclist, if the motorcyclist was traveling at excessive speeds, was driving under the influence, or if the other vehicle had just about completed the turn, the motorcyclist may be tagged with comparative negligence.

Another misconception is that when the accident happens in a relatively straightforward manner, there won’t be any discussion about who’s at fault.  Once again – not true.  There are two sides to every story and some people will say almost anything to shift the blame.  

  • One motorcyclist went down in the type of left-turn, broad-side car accident discussed above.  The other driver, in an attempt to exonerate herself, claimed that the headlight on the motorcycle was out and that the rider was carrying a pizza. The motorcyclist had been riding for more than 20 years. Not only was the headlight clearly working, but he’s the kind of rider who wouldn’t ride without a light in the daytime let alone at night on city streets.  As for the pizza, it was tied down to the back of the bike until the accident turned it into bird feed.
  • In another case, the motorcyclist was rear-ended while stopped for a red light.  The other driver claimed that the motorcyclist was at fault because he drove in front of him at the last second.  The physical evidence proved otherwise and the motorcyclist recovered.  
  • In one last example, the offending driver pulled out of her driveway directly into the path of the motorcyclist causing him to go down.  She told the responding police officer that she had was turned toward the back seat to adjust her child’s car seat and her foot slipped off the brake.  It seemed pretty straightforward until she changed her story, saying that the police officer had misunderstood her.  Ultimately, justice prevailed.

Don’t jump to conclusions about the fault issue until you learn how the law applies to the specific circumstances of your case.  Before you throw in the towel or take an unjustified stance, get a legal opinion.  Most personal injury lawyers will not charge for an initial consultation. Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys is a law firm of motorcycle accident attorneys that specialize in motorcycle crashes. Our firm was founded to support and protect riders. You can receive a free consultation from us by contacting us through our website. 

Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys – russbrown.com; 1-8004BIKERS