How is Fault Determined in a Motorcycle Accident?

It’s nearly impossible to anticipate a motorcycle accident. However, if you find yourself involved in an accident, it’s important to proceed with caution so that you can protect your rights. A motorcycle crash claim can be difficult, and it may prove vital to have a personal injury law professional at your side.

Motorcycle injuries are more likely to be severe in comparison to a car crash. Motorcycles are less stable, less visible, and less protected when compared to passenger vehicles. When motorcyclists are involved in an accident, they lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so they’re far more likely to be seriously injured or killed. Motorcycle deaths are 29 times more likely than passenger car occupants per miles traveled.

determine fault in motorcycle accidents
Image credit: Cory M. Grenier

How Insurance Companies Determine Fault

Insurance companies determine fault in motorcycle accidents by looking at the evidence available. Insurance adjusters use the following information to determine who was at fault in a motorcycle crash:

  • Police reports
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Traffic camera footage
  • Photos of the accident scene, your vehicle, and your injuries
  • Statements from law enforcement officials and accident reconstruction specialists

A variety of factors come into play when determining who is at fault in a motorcycle accident. If you feel as though the negligence of others caused your accident, work with a motorcycle accident lawyer to recoup your damages.

Protect Yourself After Your Motorcycle Accident

Once a motorcycle accident is reported to an insurance company, an adjuster investigates what happened. Insurance agents are on the lookout for information they can use to deny or reduce injured motorcyclists’ claims.

Comparative Fault

Determining fault helps decide the amount of compensation that motorcycle plaintiffs can recover. California, like many other states, uses a pure comparative negligence standard. Once fault is determined, each party is responsible for its corresponding share of the damages.

If a jury allocates 80% of the fault to the defendant and 20% to the plaintiff, then the total amount of damages the plaintiff has access to will be reduced by 20%. However, who’s to blame is not always obvious.

If you were injured while riding a motorcycle, having a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer advocate for you can help when it’s time to determine who is at fault. The insurance company will try to blame you for the accident. They do this to limit how much they pay you. They also may try to deny your claim altogether.

Common Motorcycle Accidents

If you ride a motorcycle, it can be smart to secure uninsured motorist coverage. If another driver injures you in a hit and run type accident and you cannot identify them, then you will need this coverage to receive compensation.

Certain types of accidents are more common for motorcyclists, and it’s important to be aware of the consequences of risky motorcycle behavior. Lane splitting is legal in many states but very dangerous and could lead to motorcyclists being partially at fault for their accident.

Left-hand turns can also be particularly risky for motorcyclists. More than half of all motorcycle accidents, and more than 40% of all fatal motorcycle accidents, occur when a larger vehicle, without the right-a-way, makes a left turn in front of a bike. Motorcyclists could collide with turning vehicles or lose control, attempting to avoid an incident.

At-fault drivers often allege contributory negligence in these situations, and that’s why it’s important for injured bikers to always protect themselves. Motorcycle accident professionals suggest contacting an experienced personal injury law attorney when you’re involved in any type of accident.

California accident laws are complicated. Working with an adept professional can help you overcome stingy insurance companies, uncooperative and negligent drivers, as well as recover damages for all of your medical bills, wages lost from work, property damage, and pain and suffering.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.