How Can You Assess Liability in a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycles can make for dangerous driving ― but not always because of the motorcyclists themselves. Frequently, other drivers pose a major risk to a motorcyclist. Since motorcycle accidents often result in injury or even death, it is important to assess liability. Whether an injured motorcyclist can recover damages for pain, suffering, loss of work or other damages may depend on whether the other driver was to blame. So, how can liability be assessed in a motorcycle crash?

First, a few facts about motorcycles. In 2007, California had the nation’s second-highest fatality rate from motorcycle crashes, with 495 riders killed. In that same year, fully half of those crashes were collisions with some other motor vehicle, with most of the motorcycles being struck from the front. Clearly, motorcyclists are getting into crashes with a lot of other people — crashes that could often be prevented and often ones for which someone is liable.

One category of liability has to do with the other driver’s negligence. If the other driver did not behave in the manner expected of someone using reasonable care, then he or she may be negligent. Examples of lack of reasonable care include:

  • The driver was texting or checking the phone when the accident occurred.
  • The driver was driving too fast for existing road conditions — for example, during bad weather or in a construction zone.
  • The driver of the car was intoxicated.
  • The driver of the car did not follow standard safety practices, like signaling for a turn, obeying road signs or posted limits and checking mirrors.

The other category of liability involves a faulty or dangerous machine, which would lead to a product liability claim rather than a personal injury claim. In a product liability case, you must demonstrate that either your own bike was defective (a part that broke or failed to perform) or that the design itself is dangerous (especially unstable, missing standard safety features).

In either a product claim or a personal liability suit, you will need representation from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.

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San Francisco, California, 94102 USA