Who Is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

woman with a head concussion after a motorcycle accident in New York

There isn’t a definitive answer. Every motorcycle crash is unique, so the at-fault party can vary depending on the circumstances. However, a common problem motorcyclists face is that some drivers just don’t look out for motorcycles the same way they look out for other vehicles. As a result, far too many motorists cause motorcycle accidents through pure inattentiveness.

Whatever the reason, motorcyclists almost always bear the brunt of the damage in motorcycle accidents. If you or someone close to you got hurt in a motorcycle wreck because of another party’s bad behavior, you deserve justice and fair compensation for your losses. You can pursue it by filing a motorcycle accident claim with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer. But before you do so, you’ll need to identify the at-fault party or parties.

Understanding Fault in Motorcycle Accidents

Vehicle drivers are especially likely to be at fault in motorcycle accident cases. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes occur because a car or truck driver simply doesn’t see a rider. However, certain other parties could share responsibility, too. For instance, if a faulty car part causes a driver to lose control and crash into a motorcyclist, the manufacturer of the defective component could be liable.

What Are the Most Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents?

The most common types of motorcycle crashes include:

  • Intersection accidents – Negligent drivers often fail to check for motorcycles at intersections, either by failing to look for them or misjudging their speed and distance. Some drivers also make negligent left-hand turns in front of oncoming motorcycles, increasing the likelihood of intersection accidents. If this happens, the careless driver can be liable for subsequent wrecks.
  • Lane change accidents – Negligent drivers frequently change lanes without checking for motorcycles in their blind spots, leading to lane change accidents. Distracted, impaired, or inattentive drivers are particularly likely to cause these types of accidents.
  • Rear-end accidents – Negligent drivers often cause rear-end collisions when they follow too closely behind motorcyclists or fail to notice when motorcycles slow down or come to a stop in front of them. These accidents often involve drivers who are distracted, impaired, or drowsy.
  • Speed-related accidents – Speeding is a common cause of motorcycle accidents. Speeding drivers are more likely to lose control of their vehicles or fail to react in time to avoid motorcycle collisions, especially in poor weather conditions or on curved roads. In some cases, negligent manufacturers who produce defective motorcycles could also be liable for speed-related motorcycle wrecks. For example, a motorcycle prone to wobbling or instability at high speeds could cause an accident even if the rider follows safe riding practices.
  • Alcohol-related accidents – Negligent drivers who choose to drive while impaired are a significant cause of motorcycle accidents. Drunk motorists are more likely to cause wrecks because of impaired reaction time, depth perception, short-term recall, and critical thinking skills.
  • Road hazard accidents – Negligent road maintenance or construction practices can contribute to road hazards that pose severe risks to motorcyclists. For example, a poorly designed or maintained road surface could cause a motorcycle to lose traction and crash.

Who Else Could Be Liable for a Motorcycle Accident?

Someone other than a driver could be at fault for a motorcycle collision. Multiple parties might share liability under certain circumstances. Other parties commonly liable for motorcycle accidents include:

  • Employers – An employer is usually liable on behalf of its employees when those employees cause harm while carrying out work-related duties. So, for example, an employer could be liable for a motorcycle accident if its employee crashed into a motorcyclist while driving a company car or traveling for work-related reasons.
  • Government agencies – Government agencies are usually responsible for local road conditions. If a government agency fails to maintain or repair local roads as necessary, it could be liable for motorcycle accidents that occur due to poor road conditions.
  • Manufacturers – A manufacturer could be liable if it designs or produces a defective part that contributes to a motorcycle crash.

Compensation You Could Recover After a Motorcycle Accident

New York’s no-fault insurance laws do not apply to motorcyclists, so you’ll need to seek compensation from other sources if you suffer injuries or other losses in a motorcycle wreck. State law requires vehicle owners to purchase auto insurance with minimum liability coverage limits, which include:

  • $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage
  • $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in liability coverage for injuries resulting in death
  • $10,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage

In some cases, you might want or need to sue the at-fault party instead of or in addition to filing an insurance claim. However, you must abide by a strict deadline if you do so. In New York, you have just three years to file most types of personal injury lawsuits, including motorcycle accident lawsuits. In some cases, the timeline is even shorter, so it’s always best to hire a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible after a motorcycle accident.

The money you recover from an insurance claim or lawsuit against a negligent party might compensate you for your:

  • Emergency room visits, physical therapy, prescriptions, and other medical expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Lost future earning capacity
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring or permanent loss of limb
  • Property damage

How Partial Fault Could Affect Your Case

If the other side accuses you of contributing to the motorcycle accident, your degree of responsibility could negatively affect your compensation claim. Suppose investigators determine you are partly responsible for what happened. In that case, the insurance companies or the courts will likely reduce your financial award based on your percentage of shared fault under New York law. Speak to a lawyer about your case immediately if any party tries to shift the blame to you after a motorcycle accident.

Protect Your Rights with a Dedicated Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Finz & Finz, P.C. has 40 years of experience fighting for injured motorcycle riders in New York. If you got hurt in a motorcycle accident, we want to fight for you, too. Call us today at (855) TOP-FIRM for your free initial consultation session.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.