Those injured in motorcycle accidents often hear the term negligence thrown around. The legal standard of negligence most likely impacts your motorcycle accident claim and right to compensation. But just what does negligence in a motorcycle accident mean, and how do you prove it?
Below, the attorneys at TonaLaw explain negligence and how to prove it in a motorcycle accident claim. Additionally, we discuss some scenarios under which a rider may be partly at fault for their injuries and how the law addresses these issues.
What Is Negligence?
Most motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle accidents, use the legal standard of negligence to prove liability in a case. Negligence generally means that a person acted carelessly or without the reasonable care of an average person in the same circumstances, and, as a result, someone is harmed.
For example, if we assume a rider is weaving in and out of traffic. Weaving in and out of traffic is not something a reasonably safe rider would do. If they cause an accident or injury, you could argue that he is driving his motorcycle negligently.
A person could be negligent through inaction or omission. This means that they fail to act where a reasonable person would act because there is a possibility of harm if they don’t act. For example, a rider may be considered to be driving his motorcycle negligently if he fails to signal when turning or fails to stop fully at a stop light. These are both examples of negligence through omission.
How Do I Prove Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident Case?
You generally need to prove four elements for a negligence claim. The elements of negligence are as follows:
- Duty of Care. A motor vehicle operator owes others on the road a duty to act reasonably and safely to avoid causing others harm. A driver or motorcyclist’s duties include following traffic laws and maintaining their vehicles in working condition.
- Breach of Duty. The driver or rider breaches their duty of care when they act carelessly without care for the risk of causing others on the road harm. For example, if a rider is speeding, they’re violating the law and driving their motorcycle negligently.
- Causation. The motorist’s breach of duty or careless acts cause an accident or injury. The careless act must be directly related to the accident or injury. An easy way to understand causation in the speeding example above is that if there is a collision that would not have occurred if the motorcyclist were not speeding, there is causation, but if the collision had nothing to do with the speeding, there is no causation.
- Damages. Someone suffers injuries or harm due to the motorist’s acts. If there are no damages or harm, you can’t sue for negligence.
You must prove all four elements to have a successful negligence claim.
These elements may appear straightforward. However, negligence laws can be very detailed and nuanced, specifically in car and motorcycle accident cases. Plus, it can be difficult to prove some of these elements. An experienced personal injury attorney can best advise you on how to prove negligence in your case.
What Happens if the Motorcyclist Is Partly Responsible for the Accident?
Often, more than one party is responsible for a motorcycle accident. Sometimes, the motorcyclist is riding his motorcycle negligently while a car driver is also driving negligently. What happens under the law when these two collide?
Under New York law, a person who is partly at fault for an injury can still obtain some amount of compensation and damages. However, the compensation is reduced based on the percentage of fault. For example, if the motorcyclist is 20% at fault, they can still recover 80% of their damages from the car driver. In fact, in New York, if the motorcyclist is 99% at fault, they can still recover 1% of their damages from the car driver.
You should speak with a personal injury attorney if you think you’re partly at fault for an accident. Sometimes people think they’re at fault when they’re not legally responsible and settle for far less than they deserve because of this mistaken belief. Don’t make the same mistake. Consult with a lawyer today.
What Percent of Motorcycle Accidents Are the Rider’s Fault?
Accidents can have multiple causes, including a rider, driver, or some other cause. Thus, it’s difficult to give an exact number to the question: what percent of motorcycle accidents are the rider’s fault? However, if a rider engages in certain activities, they are more likely to be considered at least partly at fault for an accident or injury.
Riding Under the Influence
One way to determine what percent of motorcycle accidents are the rider’s fault is to examine the statistics for riding while intoxicated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal accidents in 2021 were riding under the influence. Riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law and inherently risky. Thus, when a rider is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes a crash, there’s a strong argument that they’re riding their motorcycle negligently and at least partly at fault for an accident.
Not Wearing a Helmet
When asking what percent of motorcycle accidents are the rider’s fault, you may not understand how helmet use is involved. Not wearing a helmet can open a rider up to risks that they don’t necessarily experience while wearing a helmet. For example, if you’re riding without a helmet and a bug flies into your face, this may cause you to swerve or crash.
If you’re bringing a motorcycle injury claim, the responsible party could also argue that if you were wearing your helmet, you’d have fewer injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets are 37% effective in preventing motorcycle accident deaths for riders and reduce the chance of head injuries by 69%. Thus, it’s possible that someone could claim that an injured rider with a head injury is partly at fault for the extent of their injuries, particularly if they have a head injury. A judge may reduce their compensation under these circumstances.
Other Potential Rider-Related Causes
There are many other rider-related causes of accidents. Some common rider-caused accidents include accidents involving:
- Unlicensed motorcyclists,
- Inexperienced motorcyclists,
- Unmaintained motorcycles,
- Distracted riding, and
- Motorcyclists failing to abide by other traffic laws.
The potential causes of a motorcycle accident are too large to include all of them here. And while this may not eliminate your eligibility to collect compensation, it will likely reduce it. Plus, the other people involved in the accident may be able to come after you for their damages too.
Contact TonaLaw’s Negligence Attorneys Today
Understanding negligence and how it impacts your potential compensation claim takes much research and knowledge of the legal system. If you’re in Long Island, the attorneys at TonaLaw can help you with your claim. Our attorneys have extensive experience investigating and proving negligence claims, even where the motorcyclist may be partly at fault for an accident. Don’t settle for less than what you deserve. Contact us today.