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Who Is At Fault in Motorcycle Accidents?

January 1, 2024 Legal Team
blurred motorcycle in traffic with the caption: "who is at fault in a motorcycle accident?"

Motorcycles provide riders with an exhilarating experience in the open air as well as gas-friendly transportation to work and school, but when an accident occurs, motorcyclists are highly vulnerable to serious or even deadly injuries. Because a motorcyclist has no buffer between their body and the road or other obstacles, they account for a significant portion of traffic accident fatalities despite motorcycles making up less than 8% of vehicles on the roadways.

Before an injured motorcyclist can make a successful claim to recover their losses—or “damages” in an accident claim—they must first prove that someone else was at fault for their accident. Who is usually at fault in motorcycle accidents and how does a victim prove fault to recover their damages like property damage to their bike, medical costs, lost income, and compensation for pain and suffering?

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Many people hold to the wrongful belief that motorcycle riders are reckless on the road, but the truth is that negligent car drivers are the most common cause of motorcycle accidents. Because motorcycles have a slim, two-wheeled design, it’s more difficult for car drivers to see them and accurately judge their speed and distance. However, all drivers owe a duty of care to motorcyclists sharing the road and must remain vigilant and take every precaution to avoid causing an accident. Common causes of motorcycle accidents include the following:

  • Left turn accidents: when drivers make left turns at intersections, they often fail to see or acknowledge a motorcycle approaching and cause a broadside collision with a motorcyclist with the right of way in the intersection
  • Rear-end accidents: when drivers “tailgate” or ride too closely behind a motorcycle, they may injure the motorcyclist by a rear-end collision when the motorcycle slows or comes to a stop
  • Car door accidents: an alarming number of serious accidents occur to motorcyclists when a driver parking on the shoulder of the road opens their door without checking for the presence of an approaching motorcycle, causing a collision during which the biker flies over the door
  • Distracted driving accidents: these occur when motorists are looking at their phones or adjusting sound systems and collide with a motorcycle
  • Unsafe lane changes: drivers must check and double-check their blind spots before changing lanes to avoid sideswipe collisions with motorcycles
  • Failure to yield the right of way: many drivers feel that motorcyclists don’t have the same rights to a lane as other vehicles and may fail to yield a motorcyclist the right of way at an intersection or when merging into traffic

Driver error is the leading cause of motorcycle accidents but in less common cases, the fault could lie with a negligent road maintenance agency for leaving debris on the road or with the manufacturer of a defective motorcycle part.

Proving Fault, Negligence, and Liability in a Motorcycle Accident Claim

The person at fault for a motorcycle accident is liable for damages when a motorcyclist suffers serious traumatic injuries, even in states like Florida with no-fault insurance laws. Suffering severe, disabling injuries, traumatic limb loss, spinal cord damage, brain injury, or disfigurement has catastrophic impacts on the victim’s life. Proving fault in a motorcycle claim for recovering damages requires documenting evidence showing the following:

  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent causing injury to motorcyclists on the road
  • They breached this duty through an act of negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing
  • The breach of duty directly caused the injuries
  • The injury victim suffered catastrophic damages from the injury such as medical expenses, lost income, and diminished future earning capacity due to disability

A successful claim proving another party at fault for a motorcycle accident can relieve financial hardship and provide compensation for a victim’s pain and suffering. At Shapiro | Delgado | Hofmann, our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers in Sarasota and Bradenton have the skills and resources to prove another party’s fault to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call (941) 954-4000 today for a free consultations