The average person may not necessarily understand that a motorcycle accident can have different legal ramifications than an automobile or semi-truck accident. Because accidents involving motorcycles are different, there are different standards for safety and liability followed in order to protect drivers.
Risks Associated With Motorcycles
The risk of injury or death is inherently higher on a motorcycle than in a traditional automobile. The rider does not have the benefit of being in an enclosed space with many of the safety features that automobiles are regularly equipped with. A wet spot on the asphalt or hitting a rock can be enough to topple an experienced motorcycle rider.
Visibility is a major issue for motorcycle riders. A smaller motorcycle is much easier to miss when an automobile driver is checking their mirrors and the road around them. It is very easy for a motorcycle to be overlooked if it is in the automobile’s blind spot.
Smart phones have created a distracted driving epidemic. People regularly talk or text on their cell phones instead of putting their attention on the road, where it belongs. Combine that with an easy to miss motorcycle and it is a recipe for disaster.
That does not mean that all accidents are the result of the automobile driver. There are motorcycle riders that choose to forgo things like formal training or appropriate licensing and may engage in dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, wearing a helmet, or operating their motorcycle recklessly.
Liability In Motorcycle Accidents
Determining liability in a motorcycle accident is an important part of the legal process when it comes to settling claims. In most cases, there must be a determination of “negligence”. Negligence is defined as a person who acts in a thoughtless or careless manner that results in injury to another party. A driver is required to be careful in operating their vehicle. Lack of care or risk taking while operating the vehicle falls into the scope of negligence and creates legal liability.
It is more common for automobile drivers to be liable due to negligence in motorcycle accidents. Running red lights or stop signs, not checking blind spots or mirrors before turning, and distracted driving are all common causes that could be defined as negligence.
Negligent motorcycle drivers may also be responsible for accidents; such as operating while under the influence. Should such a driver cause a wreck, they may be liable for damages for their failure to operate their vehicle safely.
There are three common factors that figure into determining negligence and liability:
- The defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries or damage.
- The defendant demonstrated reckless behavior. Reckless behavior is compared to actions one would conclude a “reasonable person” would take. The law requires that all motorists must exhibit reasonable care in operation of their vehicle.
- The plaintiff must have suffered injuries or damages. If no injury or damages occurred, the plaintiff cannot pursue compensation.
Motorcycle Product Defects
Product liability caused by defects is an uncommon occurrence with automobiles and motorcycles, but it does happen. In the event that a product or design defect caused an accident, the operator may have the basis for a product liability suit. A product liability suit is filed against the manufacturer under the basis that there were inherent flaws in the product that resulted in an accident..
It is very important to consult with an attorney about a motorcycle or automobile accident. An attorney can provide information about what details need to be considered. Determining negligence and liability can be very complicated and will affect the outcome of your case.
Have You Been Involved In A Car Accident In Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C.?
If you've been hurt in a car accident you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation.