Was defendant driver’s conduct reasonable?
Liability in most motorcycle and auto accidents is established by fault or negligence. By law it is the duty and responsibility of all motorists to use due diligence of care not to harm or injure another while driving or riding. In determining whether a defendant to an accident claim exercised due care, the law compares the driver’s conduct to that of a “reasonable person.”
Has defendant driver violated cyclist’s right-of-way?
Findings from The Hurt Study—Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, conducted by the University of Southern California— have demonstrated that in multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way, thereby causing the accident in two-thirds of accidents studied. The study further shows that 92% of motorcycle riders involved in an accident have received no formal training. Since motorcycles have only two wheels, forward motion is necessary to achieve stability. It takes skill and experience to bring a motorcycle safely through a situation where the cyclist’s right-of-way has been violated by another motorist.
Due to exposure, motorcyclists’ injuries are more serious
Injuries sustained by cyclists involved in motorcycle accidents are by nature more serious than injuries suffered by other motorists in similar crashes. Motorcycles are smaller, lighter and lack the framework necessary to mitigate injuries of impact. Defendants to a motorcycle accident claim and their insurance companies have a great deal of potential financial exposure at stake and so their insurance carrier’s defense team needs work that much harder to deflect liability and minimize financial awards for injuries to plaintiff. These awards may include past and future medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering and all other remedies available by the law.
Insurance company defense strategies
When a motorist acts in a negligent manner and their negligence is the sole and single cause of a motorcycle accident, the motorist (defendant) may be found solely liable for claimant’s injuries. The jury’s award could potentially meet or even exceed defendant’s insurance policy limits depending upon the amount of coverage defendant has. The insurance carrier’s strategy against a judgment of liability might include the defense crash team’s search for evidence to establish plaintiff’s negligence through eyewitness statements and expert discovery. The defense team will often criticize the excessive speed of the rider. Or in a case involving a rear-end collision, defense will usually allege that the speed plaintiff was traveling was unreasonably slow or that plaintiff suddenly or improperly stopped.
Another strategy used by defense would place some “degree” of fault upon the plaintiff. In Indiana, a claimant who is found to be greater than 50% responsible for their own injuries cannot receive compensation for their claim under the comparative fault law. Defense may declare that their client was unable to see claimant and that claimant acted irresponsibly by not wearing apparel that would increase their visibility on the road. By convincing the jury that plaintiff had a significant amount of contributory negligence in the actions shaping the accident, defense could significantly reduce or even eliminate financial awards to the plaintiff.
Experienced attorneys mount a proper investigation of the accident
To prepare an adequate case on behalf of motorcycle injury victims, a vast amount of attorney’s time and resources must be allocated to the investigation process. Charlie Ward is a personal injury attorney experienced in representing injured motorcyclists and families of those who have lost their lives in accidents involving motorcycle, auto and trucking accidents. The law office of Ward & Ward receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on our client’s behalf. Call Charlie today at 317-639-9501 to discuss your motorcycle accident and receive a free analysis of your claim.