Motorcycle Accidents – Who is to Blame?
A recent motorcycle accident in Acton, Massachusetts highlights the dangers posed to motorcycle operators on our roadways. Massachusetts is a no-fault insurance state, but this type of insurance does not cover motorcyclists. Therefore, before a motorcycle accident victim can secure reimbursement for their injuries and losses, determining fault for the accident is necessary.
Determining Fault for Motorcycle Accidents
According to Statista, there were more than 130,000 motorcycles registered across the commonwealth. With higher fuel prices, it is safe to assume that more operators will be using their motorcycles in good weather. Unfortunately, statistics offered by the National Safety Council (NSC) also indicate the more registered motorcycles on the roadways, the greater the likelihood of one being involved in an accident. Determining fault for a motorcycle accident is not always easy. Some of the potential at-fault parties include:
- Owner of vehicle which struck motorcycle — if a motor vehicle operator fails to use proper caution when making turns, opening their vehicle doors, or when traveling on a multi-lane highway it is possible for them to be at-fault for a motorcycle accident.
- Another vehicle operator — it is also possible for a motorcycle accident to be caused by a car operator who never struck the motorcycle. If someone is driving erratically on the roadways and forces another driver to move out of the way, a motorcyclist may be the victim.
- Roadway maintenance — in some cases, a municipality may bear some of the fault for the accident. Poorly maintained roadways that lack proper warning signs could be partially or completely to blame for the accident resulting in a motorcycle victim’s injuries and damages.
The best way to determine fault for the accident in which a motorcyclist suffered an injury is to review all available evidence. This includes police reports, available traffic cameras, and obtaining witness statements.
Factors Influencing Fault in Motorcycle Accidents
There are several factors which play a role in roadway accidents. The operator of any motor vehicle must ensure they are fulfilling their duty of care which means they must be aware of others on the roadway including motorcyclists. Some of the factors which can result in an accident include:
- Lack of attention — drivers who are not paying attention to the traffic around them are often at fault for an accident. Failing to pay attention to traffic patterns, change in speed, or traffic signals can often result in a driver causing an accident.
- Impaired driving — when someone gets behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcohol, using marijuana, or fails to be aware of the physical changes caused by prescription or over the counter medications, their judgment may be impaired. This impairment can lead to them being responsible for an accident involving another vehicle, including a motorcycle.
- Distracted and drowsy driving — drivers who are having discussions with passengers in their vehicle, eating while driving, texting, or changing the station on their radio may cause an accident. Drowsy driving can often be as dangerous as driving impaired according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
These are only some of the factors which may play a role in being at fault for a motorcycle accident. An accident injury attorney can evaluate the circumstances of an accident and use the available evidence to determine fault for the accident.
How an Attorney Can Help Motorcycle Accident Victims
Many accident victims avoid seeking legal help after a motorcycle accident. Primarily this is because they believe they can handle the claims process on their own and they believe an attorney will slow the process down. However, the more serious an accident, the more likely it is that a victim will benefit from having an attorney advocating on their behalf. Some of the ways an attorney can help victims include:
- Gathering evidence — a lawyer can seek information including sworn statements from witnesses, request tapes from traffic cameras, and obtain information regarding the at-fault driver’s previous driving record. These may all be helpful when filing a claim against an at-fault driver.
- Claims assistance — one reason a claim may be delayed or denied is because a victim did not provide all the available information when filing the claim. An attorney can assist in preparation of a claim to increase the chances of a settlement offer in a timely manner.
- Negotiating with the insurer — there are very few instances where an insurance company accepts the claim at full value without question. Therefore, a negotiation will take place between the insurer and the claimant. When someone is working with an accident injury lawyer, they will have a skilled negotiator working with their best interests in mind.
- Being prepared for court — one of the most significant benefits of working with a lawyer is that in the event the insurance company fails to agree to a fair settlement, an attorney will be prepared to file a claim in court.
By working with an attorney as soon after an accident occurs a victim will have someone who understands how insurance companies work, understands the laws pertaining to fault in Massachusetts, and will continue to advocate for their rights. Insurers are under no obligation to advise an accident victim of their rights. An attorney who reviews a motorcycle accident case can review all evidence, evaluate fault for the accident, and work closely with the victim to make sure they have prepared all documentation related to their claim.
Motorcycle Accident Victims Need Legal Representation
Motorcyclists have very little protection when they are involved in an accident with a car, SUV, or pickup truck. Chances are, motorcyclists are going to suffer a serious injury when they are involved in a collision. Recovering from injuries will take some time, and cause some financial stress for the victim. Being able to count on an attorney to deal with issues of who is at fault, and for helping file a claim can provide a victim with peace of mind that despite their challenges, they have someone working on their behalf.
Accident victims should call a motorcycle accident lawyer immediately after a motorcycle accident if they are having trouble determining who is to blame, and what the insurance company is anticipating as proof of injury or proof of fault. Call Riccio Law at 617-404-8878 to schedule a free consultation.