For the most part, liability in a motorcycle accident is treated the same as a run-of-the-mill car accident. Both are governed by the law of negligence, which put plainly, requires a showing that some person or entity owed a duty of care, that duty of care was breached, and as a result of the breach, someone was injured.
There are, however, many different risk factors which come into play for motorcyclists. Motorcycles are less stable and less visible than cars and often have high performance capabilities. When motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they’re more likely to be injured or killed. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2014, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled, and almost five times more likely to be injured.[i]
Some of the most notable risk factors for motorcyclists include:
- They are smaller and less visible to cars;
- They are more susceptible to road hazards (gravel, pot-holes, uneven pavement, standing water, etc.);
- There is no barrier between rider and road; and
- They are less stable than cars.
When evaluating liability in connection with motorcycle accident, one must consider who was at fault for the accident. From there, you look to the duty of that individual or entity and to whom the duty is owed. For example, if an individual driving a car pulls out in front of a motorcyclist and causes an accident, you have to consider what was the duty of the driver and who did he owe that duty of care to. Clearly, anyone driving on the roadways owes a duty of care to other road users, including motorcyclists. Failure to look before pulling out may be deemed a breach of that duty, and any injuries resulting from the accident may be the responsibility of the negligent driver.
There are many occasions where liability is not as clear-cut as the example above. For instance, if a motorcycle accident occurred as a result of a defect in the road (pot-hole), it becomes more difficult to establish the entity responsible and what, if any, duty that entity owed to the road users.
It is very important to understand your rights and what steps to take if you are injured in a motorcycle accident. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, the personal injury lawyers at Hyberg, White & Mann are here to help. Call (609) 407-1000 or visit www.hwmlaw.com today for a free consultation.
[i] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 2016. Traffic safety facts, 2014: motorcycles. Report no. DOT HS-812-292. Washington, DC: US Department of Transportation.
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