While you may think that you're guaranteed to win a personal injury lawsuit if you can prove a motorcycle accident was completely caused by another party, that's not necessarily true. In fact, some states don't care at all who caused the accident. Understanding the various forms of fault, or lack of fault, used in motorcycle accident cases is essential to forming the right arguments to win your case.
In states with no-fault policies, you can generally only request compensation from your insurance company and not from the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. You'll need to carry enough insurance coverage to pay for your medical bills, and you should seriously consider a separate disability insurance policy that doesn't include exclusions for motorcycle accidents. However, you're still able to sue for pain and suffering in most states with this policy as long as you have a valid claim to a certain amount of money. An experienced accident lawyer can help you check your state's specific requirements for suing despite the no-fault policy.
Other states determine the exact percentage of fault for each party involved and only allow the drivers who contributed less than 50% of the fault to the collision to file a lawsuit. A modified form of this rule relies on 51% instead, but either way, you'll need to gather as much evidence as possible to limit your percentage of fault. A small detail like a witness claim or an expert's opinion on the damage to your bike could be the only thing determining if you fall within the right parameters to pursue a personal injury case.
Most states, regardless of the fault policies they follow for motorcycle accidents, allow you to sue third parties that weren't directly involved as fellow drivers in the accident. For example, if a delivery truck crashes into you because the driver tried to stop but the brakes failed due to a lack of maintenance by their employer, you can hold the employer responsible and bring a separate suit against them. This is considered vicarious liability, but it is not available in all states, so check with your lawyer before assuming it applies to your case.
The 50% rule is an example of comparative fault, but other states handle it a little differently. Instead of only allowing the parties who are under 50% responsible to sue, they allow all parties to pursue a case but limit how much they can be awarded based on their negligence. If you were 25% responsible for the accident, you can expect to receive 25% less than what you're requesting to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. This again makes it essential to build a strong case to prove exactly how many percentage points you were at fault during the accident. Lawyers refer to this system as pure comparative fault, while a 50% rule is considered a modified comparative fault program.
Finally, the most restrictive form of fault is known as contributory negligence. Only a few states use this rule because it states that a motorcyclist who is even a single percentage point responsible for the accident can not sue for any damages at all. This is quite a strong stance to take because it's possible to prove a tiny amount of negligence in almost any vehicle accident case simply because no one is perfect. If you so much as waited a week to get a scheduled maintenance on your motorcycle, you could end up losing all of your rights to damages from the other party. It's absolutely essential to carry as much insurance protection as possible in states following this rule of fault.Share
7 November 2016
Ten years ago, I was injured in a car wreck while commuting to work. When a driver rear-ended my car, I hurt my back. Unfortunately, I had to undergo a couple of weeks of physical therapy. Even after receiving physical therapy, my back never felt as good as it did prior to the wreck. Have you been injured in a car wreck recently? Consider talking with an experienced accident and personal injury lawyer. This type of attorney can help you decide whether filing a lawsuit is your best course of action to take. On this blog, I hope you will discover the benefits of speaking with an accident and personal injury attorney soon after getting injured in a car wreck. Enjoy!