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Can I Sue a Driver who Hit Me While I was on a Motorcycle?
Injuries and property damage after an accident involving a motorcycle accident are substantially different from accidents with a car or truck. No matter how many safety innovations motorcycle manufactures design, or how much safety gear its rider wears, nothing protects a motorcycle rider as well as four walls, a roof, seatbelts, and airbags protect a car or truck's inhabitants.
In any vehicle accident, a personal injury lawsuit may only be filed after attempting to reach a settlement with the at-fault driver's insurance provider. If the other driver is deemed at fault, and you are unable to reach a reasonable settlement, you may file a personal injury suit.
Liability after a Motorcycle Accident
Assigning liability after an accident is a matter of establishing whether one of the drivers was negligent or reckless. All drivers share the responsibility of keeping America's roads safe; this is a "legal duty of care" common to all 50 states, even if individual legislation differs from state to state. If the other driver is found negligent or reckless, liability is established, which helps prove your case.
Typically, an accident involving a motorcycle involves negligence. This may involve the driver doing something he or she should not have done, such as speeding, or not doing something he or should have done. With motorcycle accidents, this commonly translates into properly checking mirrors and blind spots before making turns or lane changes.
It is not always the person driving the car or truck who is at fault. If the motorcycle driver causes a vehicle to crash due to his or her reckless or negligent behavior, he or she is liable and may not seek damages.
The Four Elements of a Negligence Claim
If you are filing a negligence claim, you must prove four things:
- The law required the defendant to exercise care. This is proven in an automobile accident case, as all motorists must exercise care while driving.
- The defendant violated the first element by not exercising care. The law determines whether the defendant's conduct was "reasonable."
- The defendant's conduct caused your injuries.
- You were injured or suffered property losses, or both. If you cannot prove damages, you cannot recover anything, no matter how negligent the defendant's behavior was.
Proving Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident
You must prove negligence or liability when making your claim. You have a number of options to do this, by gathering evidence supporting your claims. Evidence helps you prove your case, as well as determining which driver liability belongs. If the court decides you share a portion of the blame, that portion is deducted from any damages.
Evidence to Prove Your Claims
If you wore a helmet at the time of the accident, save it, whether or not it sustained substantial damage. If you did not wear a helmet, you are not likely to prove that injuries to the head or face were solely caused by the other driver.
If the police responded to the scene of your accident, they likely created a police report, which includes witness information, diagrams of the scene, and any citations given. Request a copy.
If you are able, take photographs of your motorcycle, the vehicle that hit you, and the accident scene itself. Take photos from multiple angles and look for items like whether paint transferred from vehicle to vehicle. You also want witness statements and contact information, whether police reported to the scene or not.
Surveillance cameras, such as those at local businesses, may provide footage of the accident. Speak to the business owner about obtaining a copy of the tape. Your attorney may subpoena a copy if necessary. Also, create a written record of the accident while the details remain fresh in your mind. Include anything the other driver said, especially admissions of guilt like "I didn't see you."
Visit a doctor as soon as possible after the accident and obtain copies of your medical records. This includes statements from paramedics if you were transported via ambulance, as well as your admittance chart. Finally, return to the scene for more photographs. You may see changes to the scene, such as repaired stop signs or traffic signals that should compare well with your photos right after the accident.
Schedule a Free Consultation
If you are the victim of a motorcycle accident, schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. He or she will advise you on the merits of your case and help set reasonable expectations as regards possible damages. Bring the evidence you gathered to your initial consultation, to help the attorney correctly analyze your case.