As a personal injury lawyer, one of the areas of law that I practice is motorcycle accident law. This page gives an overview of some of the legal issues that individuals injured in motorcycle accidents may encounter.
Who is At Fault in Motor Cycle Accidents?
Motorcycle accident law follows essentially the same rules as Auto Accident or Car Accident law. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you need to demonstrate the following elements in order to prevail in a lawsuit
- Someone else (the defendant) acted negligently
- The defendant’s negligence caused your motor cycle accident
- You were injured in the accident
- There are no defenses to your lawsuit
Let’s look at these elements in more detail:
Someone else (the defendant) acted negligently
In order to file a lawsuit, you have to sue someone or something. It is possible to file a lawsuit against a person (for example another driver crashes into you), a corporation (for example a company truck leaves debrits on the road), or even the government (for example, if you are hit by a county-run bus, or the county maintains its roads in a dangerous condition).
In order to win, you must show that the defendant acted negligently. This means that the defendant acted unreasonably. As driver, we all have a duty to drive safely and keep our fellow motorists and pedestrians safe. If another driver cuts you off, rear-ends you, or drives too fast, and this causes a crash, it is likely that he acted negligently.
The defendant’s negligence caused your motor cycle accident
In order to win your case, you have to show that the defendant acted negligently AND that this negligence caused your motorcycle accident. If you see a drunk driver he may be acting negligently, but unless he does something to cause your motorcycle accident, you probably can’t sue him (however, the police could probably still arrest the drunk driver for driving under the influence of alcohol).
You were injured in the accident
Another element that you need for a successful lawsuit is evidence of some injury. This can include things like physical injuries, pain and suffering, medical bills, lost time from work, and more.
There are no defenses to your lawsuit
The defendant is allowed to claim various defenses to you lawsuit. For instance, if your own negligence (unreasonable conduct) contributed to the motor cycle accident, the amount of money that you recover may be reduced. California is a contributory negligence state – meaning that you can still sue someone if you are partly at fault – but the money that you receive will be reduced proportionally to your own percentage of blame.
When Can You File a Lawsuit if You Are Injured in a Motor Cycle Accident?
California has time limits on when you can file lawsuits called the statute of limitations. If you have been in a motorcycle accident you should contact a personal injury attorney right away to make sure you know what your rights are.
What Should You Do If You are in a Motor Cycle Accident?
If you are in a motorcycle accident, consider the following tips:
- Call the police, and request a police report – the police are trained to take down important information regarding auto accidents.
- Get information on the person that caused the motorcycle accident – Get as much information as possible, this includes name, address, phone number, age, driver’s license number, VIN number, license plate, insurance contact info, and insurance policy number.
- Take photos – Take photos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and any injuries, such as cuts, bruises, scars, or stitches.
- Record conversations – Many phones have built in recording applications now that you can use to preserve evidence. Many defendants will admit fault at the scene, and later deny liability after speaking to their lawyer. Always get people’s permission to record them.