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Who Is Usually At Fault in a Vehicle vs. Motorcycle Accident?


Who Is Usually At Fault in a Vehicle vs. Motorcycle Accident? 

Motorcycle riders face elevated risks of serious injuries when involved in collisions with motor vehicles. And if considerable pain and suffering, a long recovery, and the potential for lifelong disability aren’t enough, motorcyclists also face many challenges when it comes to matters of fault and liability. 

As a personal injury practice that’s been fighting for motor vehicle accident victims across Nevada since 1985, Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen knows firsthand that motorcyclists face tremendous challenges after being injured in motorcycle accidents with vehicles, both in terms of their physical injuries and their abilities to recover financial compensation for their injuries, which are often extensive. It’s why we leverage our experience to guide victims through the personal injury claim process and why we take the time to help them understand how we work to determine fault.  

Fault in Vehicle vs. Motorcycle Accidents: What the Statistics Say 

In Nevada, negligent motorists who cause injuries and losses are liable (legally responsible) for damages suffered by victims, including injured motorcycle riders. This is why determining fault – and more generally negligence – is such a critical component of the motorcycle accident claim process. 

While every case is different, and while many drivers assume that motorcyclists are reckless or careless on the road, the fact is that most motorcycle accidents are caused by the actions of another motorist. Usually, that’s someone behind the wheel of a passenger vehicle or commercial truck.  

This is reflected in data curated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which shows that most multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes occur when motorists fail to see motorcycle riders. This can happen in a variety of ways. Some examples include collisions involving: 

  • Motorists who fail to see or yield to oncoming motorcycle riders when making left-hand turns at intersections.  
  • Motorists who fail to check for motorcycle riders when changing lanes. 
  • Motorists who fail to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists when entering onto roads or highways.  

Challenges for Injured Motorcyclists Seeking Compensation 

While motorcyclists have the right to hold at-fault drivers accountable for negligence and liable for damages, they face many challenges when it comes to securing full and fair compensation. Some of these unique challenges include: 

  • High Stakes. Motorcyclists have little to protect themselves against collisions with motor vehicles and are more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries than occupants of passenger vehicles. Serious injuries and the considerable long-term or life-long repercussions that accompany them raise the stakes when it comes to a personal injury case, and make it vital for riders to effectively prove that another motorist is at fault.  
  • Rider Reputations. Motorcyclists often face preconceptions that they are inherently more reckless on the roads, which can impact their claims and the perception of fault. Sometimes, insurers will attempt to capitalize on the negative reputations associated with motorcyclists in their attempts to minimize their policyholders’ degree of fault, underpay riders, or deny claims entirely. While some of these negative associations may have some basis in real statistics – for example, motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes have higher percentages of alcohol impairment than drivers of any other motor vehicle type, according to NHTSA – they don’t apply across the board to every accident or rider. Nevertheless, some insurers will attempt to use these preconceptions as leverage to pay injured riders less. 
  • Comparative Negligence. Nevada adheres to a comparative negligence model, a legal doctrine that allows for the distribution of fault in an accident based on each party’s proportion of negligence. Notably, a motorcyclist can still recover damages even if they are found to be partially at fault for the accident, but they’re barred from a recovery if their fault percentage is greater than that of the other involved party. This can make riders vulnerable to disputes designed to limit motorists’ degree of fault and maximize their own, such as arguments that riders were illegally lane splitting, riding at excessive speed, or engaging in other reckless behaviors.  
  • Insurance companies. Insurance companies are corporations that care more about profits than people, and they tend to view claims involving injured motorcyclists (who often suffer considerable harm and losses) as major threats to their bottom lines. As such, it’s not uncommon for insurers to aggressively dispute claims brought by injured riders and to do all they can to deny or underpay valid claims. Insurance companies and their tactics can be major barriers to full compensation, but they can be handled effectively with the help of experienced attorneys.   

How An Attorney Can Help 

Because the stakes are high for injured motorcycle riders, and because challenges abound when it comes to seeking full compensation, one of the best decisions injured motorcyclists can make is to seek the counsel and support of an experienced personal injury attorney.  

As your advocate, an injury lawyer can help evaluate your claim and available strategies for proving that another motorist is at fault. Additionally, skilled injury lawyers know how to deal with insurance companies and can effectively advocate for a fair recovery during out-of-court negotiations or at trial when necessary.  

At Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen, we have the experience and resources to help motorcycle riders injured by negligent drivers fight for the justice and compensation they deserve. Some of the ways we work to position riders for the best possible outcomes include: 

  • Investigating the accident scene 
  • Gathering and analyzing evidence 
  • Consulting with medical and accident reconstruction experts 
  • Navigating Nevada's helmet and lane splitting laws regarding liability 
  • Resolving disputes involving comparative negligence 
  • Advocating for the motorcyclists during insurance negotiations or litigation 

Have Questions? We Can Help

Bertoldo Carter Smith & Cullen is a nationally recognized trial practice dedicated solely to fighting for injured victims and families. Over the years, we’ve cultivated a record of success that includes millions of dollars in compensation for motor vehicle accident victims, including motorcycle riders injured by negligent drivers. Some examples of our results in motorcycle accident cases include: 

  • $5.5 million for a motorcycle rider who lost a limb in a traffic accident. 
  • $3.5 million for the family of a motorcycle rider killed in a fatal accident. 
  • $1 million for a motorcycle accident victim who sustained a spinal injury. 

If you or someone you love were injured in a motorcycle accident anywhere in Las Vegas or the surrounding areas, our attorneys are available to review your case and discuss fault, liability, and your right to compensation. Call (702) 505-8115 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.