States and localities enact specific traffic laws focused on motorcycle safety because motorcycle riders are exposed to a greater risk of injury on the road than other vehicle occupants. Motorcycles lack safety features, such as seatbelts and airbags, and do not provide a protective steel frame that enclosed vehicles possess. This is why so many motorcycle accidents end in fatalities, and why other drivers have a duty of care when it comes to avoiding collisions with motorcycles.
Drivers Have a Duty of Care
All drivers have a duty of care while operating motor vehicles that require them to handle their vehicles as a reasonably prudent driver would under similar conditions. If the roadway is slick from recent rainfall, for example, a reasonably prudent driver would reduce speed. A court might find a driver who fails to do so negligent.
A reasonably prudent driver must take great care around motorcycles. Motorcycles are more difficult to see due to their size, so drivers must use extra caution to watch out for them. Drivers must also yield the right of way to a motorcycle when necessary and take appropriate care to avoid colliding with motorcyclists.
Drivers should always follow all traffic laws and rules to help keep motorcyclists safe, including:
- Following the speed limit
- Not driving too fast for weather or traffic conditions
- Checking blind spots before making lane changes
- Not crossing solid or double yellow lines
- Not following motorcycles too closely
- Obeying all traffic signals and signs
When drivers do not follow safety laws regarding motorcyclists, they can cause serious accidents and injuries.
Laws Entitling Injured Motorcyclists to Compensation
Laws that entitle injured accident victims to compensation from liable parties also apply to motorcyclists. If an injured motorcyclist can prove that another driver violated a safety rule or otherwise acted in a negligent manner, the motorcyclist has the right to financial recovery for their medical bills, injuries and other losses. The law deems a driver convicted of a traffic or criminal offense related to the crash automatically negligent, or negligent per se.
Since a negligent driver who causes an accident has a legal obligation to compensate injury victims for all their losses, states require drivers to carry auto insurance. Minimum liability insurance coverage ensures at least some funds to compensate injured victims for a driver’s negligence. This applies to injured motorcyclists, as well.
Common economic losses for which a victim can receive compensation include property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. A motorcycle accident lawyer can easily calculate these losses because they produce plenty of documentation. You can calculate property damage losses with a repair estimate or receipts from a body shop or mechanic. Healthcare providers will thoroughly document medical bills on itemized statements. You can determine lost wages through a statement from your employer that lists the number of hours you have missed from work, along with your hourly wage. Salaried employees can calculate their hourly wage by prorating the salary to a 40-hour workweek.
More often than not, the most significant aspect of compensatory damages in a motorcycle accident case relates to the victim’s pain and suffering. Due to its subjective nature, the value of pain and suffering can vary greatly based on the type of injury and recovery time. Every patient experiences pain differently, and many different factors can affect case value.
Insurance companies often attempt to make a quick settlement by simply doubling or tripling the total cost of the medical bills up to that point, and using that amount to make an offer covering pain and suffering. Such an approach is often not fair to the victim, as it does not take into account the nature of the injuries, underlying medical conditions, complications, or other factors that can exacerbate pain and suffering.
Insurance companies are not on your side, and they are not trying to make you a fair settlement offer. Seeking guidance from an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you get a fair offer.
Motorcyclists Should Take Action to Protect Their Rights Under the Law
Following a motorcycle crash, as soon as you or a family member is able, consult a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. You will not automatically receive the compensation you deserve under the law, as you need to pursue a claim with the insurance company or file a lawsuit.
Insurance companies may call you right away, asking you to give a recorded statement. Do not provide such a statement without your attorney present, as insurance companies will try to use your statement to justify reducing the amount of payout for your claim.
Avoid posting to any social media accounts regarding the accident. Insurance companies hire investigators to comb through a claimant’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and Youtube accounts to find anything that they can use as evidence against your claim. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner you will protect your legal rights from these tactics.
An attorney will know how to file an insurance claim with the carrier covering the negligent driver or other parties, such as a driver’s employer. Each insurance company can have its own process, and your lawyer should work to prevent unnecessary delays or denials. Insurers routinely offer far less than injured claimants deserve, so never accept a settlement offer without a motorcycle accident lawyer’s review.
Your Rights in Civil Court
Some insurance companies will not offer claimants what they deserve even if you submit sufficient evidence and documentation that support liability and your losses. While this can be discouraging, the law provides injured accident victims with the right to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the responsible parties.
The law sets deadlines for a civil claim, however, and you want to ensure you file your case within the necessary time period. Litigation involves complex Rules of Civil Procedure and other applicable laws so you want an experienced motorcycle accident attorney handling your case.
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