Motorcycle accidents are like other vehicle accidents in many ways, but some unique factors relating to motorcycles, such as the causes of motorcycle accidents, the injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents, and the liability issues surrounding motorcycle accidents can be very different from car accidents.
The Risks of Motorcycle Riding
Motorcycles are much smaller and lighter than cars, have only two wheels, and do not enclose the rider in a metal frame. These characteristics among others make motorcycle riding riskier than riding in a car. As compared to car accidents, motorcycle accidents are much more likely to result in death or serious injury. For example, according to the federal government, per mile traveled in 2006, there were 35 times more deaths from motorcycle accidents than from car accidents.
Some of the risks unique to motorcycle riding include:
a) Less visibility to cars. Because motorcycles are smaller and more easily hidden by objects on or off the road, cars are less likely to see them, especially at intersections.
b) Road hazards. Things that have little effect on a car, like debris, uneven road surfaces, small objects, or wet pavement, can cause a motorcycle to crash.
c) No barrier between rider and road. Unlike passengers in a car, bikers are not protected by a container of metal. Motorcycles also don’t have seat belts, and most don’t have airbags. Wearing a motorcycle helmet can offer some protection to bikers, and motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets are more likely to die in an accident than those that do.
d) Less stability. Vehicles with two wheels are less stable than those with four, especially during emergency braking and swerving.
e) Skill level and difficulty. Riding a motorcycle requires more skills than driving a car. Unskilled riders account for a disproportionate number of motorcycle accidents.
f) High-risk behavior. Lighter and more powerful motorcycles such as sport and super-sport bikes can encourage speeding, fast accelerating, and other high-risk behavior.
Liability in Motorcycle Accidents
Liability in most motorcycle accidents is governed by the law of “negligence.” A person is negligent when he or she behaves in a thoughtless or careless manner and causes injury to another person.
In many motorcycle accidents, it is the driver of another car or truck that is negligent. The driver can be negligent by doing something that he or she should not have done (for example, speeding through a red light) or by failing to do something that he or she should have done (for example, failing to check mirrors before making a left-hand turn).
Elements of a Negligence Claim
There are four elements of a negligence claim. The plaintiff must show that:
a) The law required the defendant to be reasonably careful. In car and motorcycle accident cases, this is mandatory. Motorists must exercise care when riding or driving.
b) The defendant was not careful. In determining if the defendant was careful, the law compares the driver’s conduct to that of a “reasonable person.”
c) The defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
d) The plaintiff was injured or suffered losses. If the motorcyclist didn’t get hurt or can’t prove any damages, he or she can’t recover anything, even if the defendant behaved in a careless manner.
To learn more about your potential motorcycle injury case, contact the Law Offices of Paul J. Fina today. Put 26 years of experience to work for you !