This FindLaw article outlines some frequently asked questions about motorcycle crashes. If you have any further questions, please speak with an experienced accident lawyer about the details of your case.
What should I do if I am involved in an accident on my motorcycle?
Do not admit fault or sign anything (i.e., any forms from an insurer) if you can't immediately meet with an accident attorney. You should take photos of any injuries or damage to your motorcycle. Keep copies of any medical records or medical bills. Record any medical expenses related to the accident.
I was in a traffic accident when a car turned left in front of me while I was riding my motorcycle. Who is at fault?
A car making a left turn is almost always liable for a collision with a vehicle coming straight from the other direction. Exceptions to this near-automatic rule can apply if the vehicle going straight was going well over the speed limit or ran a red light.
What does 'comparative negligence' mean when determining who is liable for a traffic accident?
Comparative negligence apportions fault among the drivers involved in an accident based on their contribution. Where a motorcycle is concerned, a common example of comparative negligence might be a situation where the motorcycle's headlamp, brake light, or tail light is out. This is especially true if the accident happened at night.
Will my health insurance coverage or paid sick leave limit my recovery for my motorcycle accident?
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, it is irrelevant whether you paid for medical care out of your pocket or your health insurance covered it. It also doesn't matter whether sick leave or vacation pay covered your lost time at work. Your health insurance carrier may require that you reimburse them out of your settlement (subrogation) for some or all of the amounts it has paid to treat your injuries.
I ride a motorcycle recreationally, usually only on weekends. Do I have to wear a helmet?
Depending on where you live, state law may require you to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. These laws apply regardless of when or how often you ride. Many states have enacted mandatory helmet-use laws for motorcycle riders and their passengers. Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles to find out whether your state has such a helmet law.
I was injured in a motorcycle accident but wasn't wearing a helmet. Can I still recover damages from the other driver?
Even if your state has a mandatory helmet law, your failure to follow that law will probably not prevent you from recovering for your injuries if someone else caused the accident. Depending on where you live, the issue may be relevant to the damages you will recover if it is shown that your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your injuries.
How do I know if a motorcycle helmet meets my state's helmet law safety standards?
When shopping for a helmet, look for a U.S. Department of Transportation label on the helmet (it will read "DOT"). For a helmet to earn a DOT-approved safety rating, the manufacturer must meet or exceed federal helmet safety standards.
I ride a motorcycle and don't understand how the state can legally tell me I must wear a helmet. Is that really something they can do?
Helmet laws have been deemed valid in many courts as a reasonable exercise of state power, justified by the state's interest in protecting the safety of motorcycle riders and other motorists and keeping insurance and health care costs low. If helpful, you can consider it the motorcycle equivalent of state seatbelt requirements.
Do I need to tell the police if I am involved in a traffic accident?
Generally, if a traffic accident involves a death, personal injury, or property damage above a specific amount, you must notify the police. They will usually make a written police report of the incident. The police report will also serve as crucial evidence in any subsequent personal injury claims. It will record:
- The date
- Time of the accident
- Road conditions
- Witness statements
What does a wrongful death claim mean in the context of motorcycle accidents?
If a motorcycle accident results in the loss of a loved one, family members may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. An insurance company often becomes involved, especially if the at-fault party carries an insurance policy.
Remember, dealing with insurance adjusters in such traumatic circumstances can be overwhelming. An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can ensure that the rights of the accident victims are upheld.
How can a motorcycle accident lead to brain injuries?
Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to brain injuries in accidents. This is due to the lack of structural protection compared to passenger vehicles. Even with a helmet that meets DOT standards, riders may still suffer severe brain injury impacts. Immediate medical attention is crucial after any motorcycle accident injury. This is especially true of those involving potential brain trauma. Understanding the impact of such injuries on a motorcycle accident case can be complex. This is why legal counsel is necessary.
How should I handle settlement offers after a motorcycle accident?
After a motorcycle accident, the at-fault driver's insurance company may quickly extend a settlement offer. Remember, insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. Their primary aim is to resolve the motorcycle accident claim by paying out as little as possible.
It's important to consult an accident attorney before accepting an offer. They can help you receive fair compensation that adequately covers your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
What is the statute of limitations for a motorcycle accident?
The statute of limitations is the time limit within which a motorcycle accident injury claim must be filed. The specific time frame varies by state. But if you fail to file within this period, you could lose your right to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit, leading to no compensation. To avoid missing this crucial deadline, consult a lawyer familiar with motorcycle accidents after your accident.
How does comparative fault impact a motorcycle accident claim?
In some cases, more than one party shares the blame for a motorcycle accident. This is where the concept of comparative fault comes into play. If a motorcyclist is found partially at fault, it may reduce their compensation in some states. Speak with a lawyer who is familiar with your state's specific laws on comparative fault and how they may affect your motorcycle accident claim.
Is lane splitting legal, and how can it impact a motorcycle accident case?
Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of stopped or slow-moving cars. This practice is illegal in some states due to the increased risk it poses to bikers.
If a motorcycle accident occurs while lane splitting, it can complicate the case, especially if it is considered in determining the at-fault party. Motorcyclists should speak with a lawyer to understand their local laws on lane splitting and their potential impact on motorcycle insurance and personal injury claims.
If I get into an accident on my motorcycle, should I get a personal injury lawyer to help me?
You should talk to a qualified personal injury attorney, specifically a motorcycle accident attorney, to understand whether you have a valid claim for damages. Issues in your case, like compliance with traffic laws, motor vehicle regulations, medical treatment, and liability, are all best understood by an experienced motorcycle or car accident attorney. Such an attorney can give you legal advice within the context of a client relationship.
Never hesitate to seek professional legal advice following a motorcycle accident. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer for answers to any other motorcycle accident FAQ.