Motorcycles offer the speed and ability to travel long distances, as well as the freedom of traveling down the road in the open air. Most people who ride motorcycles are passionate about this activity, but also recognize the increased risk of serious injury if in a motorcycle accident, and take the proper precautions to reduce the potential for a crash to the extent possible. While both motorcycle riders and car drivers have legal duties and rules to follow when on the road, each can fail to do so, and if a person is injured as a result, the responsible party may be liable for compensation.
Of course, the motorcycle rider is almost always the one injured, and usually severely in these collisions because there is not the barrier of a car body to protect them. Thus, they are the ones that generally end up hospitalized, or even dead, because someone made a bad decision. Each accident is unique, but certain miscalculations and careless driving make up the bulk of most motorcycle accidents. If both motorcycle riders and car drivers understand what some of these main causes are, it may help to both avoid accidents and help injured victims learn they have rights to compensation. A review of circumstances that frequently lead to accidents, and how fault plays into recovering damages, will follow below.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles have two significant differences, when compared with a regular passenger car, which often contributes to the occurrence of an accident, particularly at night. First, they are smaller, and thus, harder to see until the last moment. Motorcycles also move through traffic in a somewhat different manner, which can make anticipating the projected path more difficult for drivers. That being said, drivers still are obligated to exercise reasonable care and take precautions when necessary. Unfortunately, this attention is not always applied, and the most common scenarios that lead to motorcycle accidents are:
- Head-on collisions due to distracted and aggressive driving that do not give cars enough time to recognize the presence of a motorcycle;
- Left-hand turns when the motorcycle is going through an intersection, passing a car, or trying to overtake a car because of its smaller size;
- Lane splitting (driving between lanes in traffic), which is illegal, and creates a risk to the rider due to close proximity to the car, a smaller space to maneuver, and drivers who do not anticipate a motorcycle being in this area.
The Role of Fault in Determining Liability
Proving fault is the main thrust of any personal injury claim because, without this aspect, the defendant will never be required to pay compensation for the harm caused. While motorcycle riders are usually the ones who bear the brunt of an accident, this fact does not mean the rider did not play a part in what happened.
However, under Massachusetts law, a personal injury claimant can bear some responsibility for an accident and still be entitled to damages if he/she can show that the portion of fault the rider has is 50 percent or less of the fault for the entire accident. The amount of compensation received will be reduced in proportion to the rider’s contribution to the accident, but recovery is still possible.
Seek Legal Advice from a Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Auto accidents can be devastating, and motorcycle riders are at an even greater risk of catastrophic injury. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation and should take immediate action to assess the merits of your case. Goldberg & Weigand, LLP has the experience needed to build and present an effective case for negligence, and are available to discuss the facts of your case. Contact the Cape Cod personal injury law firm today at (508) 203-6600 for a free consultation.
Attorney Peter M. Goldberg is the founder of and managing partner at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP, and has been in private practice since 1986. He takes pride in the fact he deals directly with his clients on a daily basis working to get their cases resolved to the fullest extent of their rights. Peter practices personal injury law and workers compensation law in Massachusetts.