Whether you are a lifetime motorcycle rider or someone who just recently obtained their motorcycle license, you are probably well aware of the fact that dangers can pop up unexpectedly. Even if you take all the precautions necessary to stay safe on your bike, there may be times when negligent, reckless, or inattentive drivers cause accidents that you can’t prevent.
Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveal that motorcyclists are nearly 28 times more likely than automobile occupants to die in collisions. Those who are lucky enough to survive these events may be left with painful, debilitating, or disabling injuries.
Getting the treatment you need to recover from a motorcycle accident involves identifying who was at fault. Below, we discuss what you need to know about this process and how the attorneys at Bertoldo, Baker, Carter & Smith can help you pursue maximum compensation.
Elements of Negligence and Potentially At-Fault Parties
Proving who was at fault begins with determining the party or parties whose negligent actions led to your motorcycle accident and resulting injuries. This can be a complex process, and it’s often in your best interest to consult with a motorcycle accident attorney who can review your case for free, investigate all the facts surrounding your case, and make fault determinations.
As with any personal injury claim, you will generally have to prove these four elements of negligence in order to successfully determine fault:
- Duty of Care. Another party, such as a motorist, had a legal duty to act or drive safely; this includes taking proactive steps to prevent accidents and act with conduct that any other reasonable person would.
- Breach of Duty. The party failed to uphold this duty of care; for instance, a motorist may have been speeding, failing to follow traffic laws, or failing to keep a proper lookout.
- Causation. The at-fault party’s negligent actions directly caused your accident.
- Damages. Lastly, it must be shown that you sustained damages in the accident, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
Gathering Evidence to Prove Negligence
Even in cases where you would think liability is clear as day, many claims can be disputed unless there is sufficient evidence to back them up. In most motorcycle accident cases, one piece of evidence is not enough to prove a driver was negligent.
Instead, a combination of several types of evidence will need to be put together to retell the story of how the motorcycle accident occurred. Some of the key pieces of evidence you and your attorney will need to collect include:
- Police Reports. A police report will include invaluable information for your case, including the motorcycle and vehicles’ location, the point of impact, the conditions on the day of the accident, and the officer’s official opinion.
- Witness Statements. Eyewitness statements will corroborate the events leading up to the crash, especially if they are third-party witnesses.
- Photographs and Video Surveillance. Photos and video evidence can be used to recreate the scene of the accident and allow experts to accurately depict what happened.
- Journal Entries. Keeping a diary of everything you remember about the crash, as well as your pain levels and symptoms after the accident, can help paint a picture of your overall injuries.
Comparative Fault Rules and Motorcycle Accident Claims
In some situations, a motorcycle rider may be found to be partially at fault for their collision. The good news is that, even in these situations, the injured rider will most likely still be able to obtain compensation for their damages.
The state of Nevada operates on a comparative negligence rule, also known as a “comparative fault” or “shared fault” rule. This means that liability will be spread across the parties involved according to the degree they were responsible for the accident. According to state statute, a plaintiff can still pursue compensation if they are found to be less than 50% responsible for the accident; their settlement will just be reduced by their percentage of fault.
Let’s say that a motorcyclist is riding above the speed limit when they are hit by an oncoming vehicle that had failed to stop at a red light. It is found that the motorcycle rider was 10% responsible for the accident because they were speeding, so their total award amount of $100,000 is decreased by 10%, or $10,000. The new award amount would then be $90,000.
Insurance Companies Are Biased Against Motorcyclists
Claims are only paid once all the facts of the case are solidified with no dispute by either side. Motorcycle accident victims are often left with debilitating injuries and find themselves desperately awaiting compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company that is dragging its feet.
Sadly, many adjusters and insurance companies have a bias toward motorcycle riders who they perceive as reckless, deviant, unsafe, and having no regard for others on the road. Ultimately, this can lead to extra hurdles for claimants awaiting payouts. Some situations of bias against motorcycle riders from motorists, insurers, and court systems include the following:
- Assumed Negligence on the Motorcyclist’s Part. It may be assumed that the rider was irresponsible and unnecessary blame may be blamed on the motorcyclist.
- Inexperienced Motorcyclist. Insurance companies may try to claim that the motorcycle rider lacked the experience necessary to ride safely.
- The Motorcyclist Was Speeding. Many people have, at one point or another, seen a motorcycle rider speeding or lane splitting; this may lead to the notion that every rider speeds or otherwise rides carelessly.
- Motorcycle Riders Can’t Be Easily Seen. While it is true that motorcycles are typically harder to spot than automobiles, it doesn’t give drivers a free pass to be inattentive.
Let us set the record straight—motorcyclists are not responsible for the negligent actions of drivers who are legally obligated to remain vigilant behind the wheel and keep a proper lookout for those on two wheels. Our team will not settle for less on behalf of a client simply because the insurance company wants to protect their profits.
Don’t Go Up Against the Insurance Company Alone
Motorcycle accidents can lead to devastating, long-lasting ramifications. If you or a loved one is injured in one of these incidents, you should not hesitate to pursue legal action against the at-fault party and their insurance company. At Bertoldo, Baker, Carter & Smith, we are committed to protecting your rights against the interest of large, for-profit insurance companies.
Whatever barriers you may face or however challenging your case may seem, our Las Vegas legal team will leave no stone unturned when it comes to pursuing the justice and compensation that you deserve. When everything around you seems bleak, let us be the guiding light toward your recovery.
Contact Bertoldo, Baker, Carter & Smith at (702) 505-8115 to get started with a no-fee, no-obligation case review. Se habla español.