Motorcycle accidents are always traumatic events. In a time where you may be dealing with time in the hospital, managing bills and time off work, and working on your recovery, it can be difficult to manage the legal side of the accident. While everyone’s case will be a little bit different, there are some common questions we face when handling motorcycle accidents. Sharing the answers can better help you know what to expect in the coming months.
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Is the Motorcycle Rider More Likely to be Found at Fault?
In any accident, fault is assigned based on the mistakes made by the drivers involved. Some states have a no-fault policy, where each driver involved pays for their repairs and medical injuries. That is not the case in New Mexico, which uses a fault-based system: Each driver is responsible for their costs and the other party’s costs based on the percentage at which they’re at fault for the full accident.
So, in New Mexico, it’s impossible to generalize whether the motorcycle operator or the car driver will be found at fault without specific details of the accident. However, we can generalize from overall trends about these kinds of accidents. The Hurt Report (published in the early 1980s but still the most comprehensive study of motorcycle accidents in the US) found that an error by the motorcycle driver was the cause of the accident 32.9 percent of the time. The other vehicle was at fault 64.7 percent of the time. Stray pedestrians and animals, roadway defects, vehicle failure, and unknown causes added up to about 2.5 percent of the total.
So, in general, the other vehicle is more likely to be at fault…but that doesn’t mean that the motorcycle driver is never at fault. They are the cause of the accident around a third of the time. Consequently, while the other vehicle is more likely to be found at fault, there are still instances where motorcyclists are at fault. These could include situations where the motorcyclist was lane splitting (in states other than California, where it’s legal), disregarding road signs or signals, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Are Motorcycle Accident Injuries More Serious?
Injury in vehicular accidents can be difficult to predict. Sometimes, you see an accident with horrifically totaled vehicles, where both parties walk away unscathed. Other times, relatively minor fender benders result in serious life-long disability. Ultimately, it’s impossible to predict exactly how an accident will play out, though some general rules come into play. Injury is a result of force on the body. The more force there is on the body, the greater the potential for injury.
In an accident, force on the body results from several physical conditions:
- The first is speed. The greater the speed, the greater the forces at play.
- The vehicle’s mass also comes into consideration: The more mass, the more force involved in the accident. But, the difference in mass also plays a role. Two similarly-sized SUVs in an accident will exert roughly the same force on each other. An 18-wheeler hitting a smart car will create far more force on the smart car than the larger truck. At the far end of this spectrum is the motorcycle, which has very low mass and could easily be knocked around by just about any other kind of vehicle.
- The angle of the accident also matters. Head-on collisions apply 100 percent of the force to both vehicles, while lesser angles may mitigate some of the force.
Of course, motorcycles aren’t like other vehicles when it comes to driver protection. With the driver exposed on a motorcycle, there’s nothing to protect them from the collision, so they take much more of the force directly, not to mention that they’re likely to be thrown from their motorcycle in an accident that is at least moderately serious. When a motorcyclist isn’t wearing proper protective equipment, like a helmet, motorcycle jacket, pants, and boots, as well as gloves, the chance for a serious injury increases dramatically.
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Is it Harder to Reach a Settlement for Medical Bills After a Motorcycle Accident?
The key to all automobile accident cases, not just ones involving motorcycles, is that following the correct legal steps can greatly increase your chances of a favorable outcome while missing even a single one can result in an inability to collect anything, even if you’re clearly the victim. That’s why it’s so important to get an attorney experienced with motorcycle accidents. You have a ton of choices when it comes to selecting a lawyer to help you with your case after an accident. Like all professions, those with more experience or who specialize in these kinds of cases will be more able to help you get the best outcome possible.
Experienced lawyers know what evidence needs to be quickly and understand how quickly they need to move to ensure it’s secured. They know when the best time is to send a demand letter and how to manage the complex web of liability to ensure you receive your best settlement. Importantly, they’ve been through the process before and can help you understand what to expect and reduce surprises, giving you peace of mind while you heal from an accident.
How Kane Helps with Motorcycle Accidents
There’s a lot to consider after a motorcycle accident, and it can be difficult to create the space needed for healing when also trying to handle a major case. Kane Personal Injury has extensive experience in litigating these cases and can help you understand the process and what to expect for greater peace of mind. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, contact Kane today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Please note that this article was created for advertisement purposes, and it does not constitute any contractual legal relationship, nor imply one.