Who or What Determines Who is Responsible in a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injuries such as spinal cord damage, loss of limb, and traumatic head injuries. Not only are these injuries debilitating but they result in significant medical expenses. Victims are often unable to work for a long time and in some cases, they can never work again. In order to get compensation for these injuries, motorcyclists need to prove that someone else was at fault for the crash. If there’s a dispute over fault, an Ellicott City motorcycle accident lawyer can of great help.

Attributing fault in a motor vehicle accident basically boils down to determining who was negligent or careless. Sometimes it’s the motorcyclist or another driver involved in the crash, but it can also be a third party. And, while liability is clear in some accidents, that’s not always the case and more than one entity may be responsible.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Several factors can lead to a motorcycle accident. Often these crashes are due to the actions of people driving passenger vehicles. The leading causes include:

  • Failure to yield
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Impaired driving
  • Sudden stops
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Failing to check blind spots
  • Swerving in front of a motorcycle
  • Opening a car door into the path of a motorcyclist

Potentially Liable Parties in a Motorcycle Accident

Before you can get compensation for your losses, you must identify the person or persons who can be held legally responsible. Sometimes comprehensive investigations have to be carried out to determine who is at fault. This may be:

  • The driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash
  • The government department responsible for maintaining the roadway if a road hazard caused the accident
  • The manufacturer of the bike
  • The manufacturer of a bike part
  • The establishment that repaired or maintained the bike

In order for your claim to be valid, you need to prove the four elements of negligence.  These are:

  • Duty of care. You must show that the person or entity had an obligation to drive or act safely.
  • Breach of duty. The party must have breached their legal duty in some way.
  • Causation. The party’s actions must have caused the accident and resulted in your injuries.
  • Damages. You have to prove that you suffered damages because of the accident.

How Liability is Determined

As you can see, it’s not enough to believe that another party was responsible for your accident. Insurance companies and juries won’t simply take you at your word and motorcyclists already have a reputation for being reckless drivers. The police play a major role in determining fault in most accidents. That’s why it’s so important to call 911 and have officers come to the scene and file a report. This report will include where the accident occurred, the names of the drivers involved, accounts from the parties involved, and any eyewitnesses.

The officers will also include their observations and use the location of the vehicles and the damaged each suffered to form an opinion on fault.  If you were rear-ended while you waited for a red light to change, it would be easy to assign fault to the other driver. However, if you were changing lanes and a car cut you off, it may be more difficult to determine liability. The police would then draw on witness statements or surveillance footage to determine who was at fault.

If the other driver denies liability, the insurance company may review all the available evidence to figure out who was responsible.  Your attorney may also retain the services of an accident scene reconstruction expert to help prove that you were not at fault. Notably, comments you make at the accident scene can be used against you. For example, if you apologized to the other driver, this can be interpreted as an admission of fault. You may think it’s the polite thing to do even if you didn’t cause the accident, but this could backfire.

Therefore, you should limit your conversation with the person who caused the accident. It’s fine to ask them if they’re okay and exchange insurance detail and contact information but you shouldn’t apologize or go into detail about the accident. You should also be careful when the insurance company contacts you and it’s best to consult an attorney before you give any statements.

Reach Out to Pinder Plotkin LLC for Help with the Motorcycle Accident Claim

It’s not always easy to determine who is at fault for a motorcycle accident. However, if you believe you were an innocent victim, an Ellicott City motorcycle accident attorney can help you to build a case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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