How is a Motorcycle Accident Case Different?

by | Oct 21, 2019 | Motorcycle Accidents |

Is a motorcycle case different than an auto accident case? 

Both types of cases are based on negligence, and the issues will include proof of liability, proof of damages, and whether there is comparative negligence that would reduce your recovery. But there are some differences in how a motorcycle accident case is seen by the insurance company and potential jurors. 

One issue that arises at every stage of a motorcycle accident case is potential anti-motorcyclist bias among jurors and insurance adjusters… What are the issues that make a motorcycle accident case different than an auto accident case, and how can your SC motorcycle accident attorney use them to your advantage? 

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident in the Myrtle Beach area, the Myrtle Beach motorcycle accident attorneys at Coastal Law want to help you recover full compensation for your injuries. Call us or send an email to schedule a free consultation about your motorcycle accident case. 

How is a Motorcycle Accident Case Different than an Auto Accident Case?

The most obvious – and difficult – hurdle for your motorcycle accident lawyer is the anti-motorcyclist bias that permeates every stage of your case, including the damages amount, questions of liability, and whether comparative negligence will be a factor in your recovery. 

How will potential jurors, most of whom will not be motorcyclists, see questions of who was at fault in the accident, who was responsible for the potentially severe injuries suffered, and whether “comparative negligence” is a factor in your case? 

How does the potential bias of jurors affect the settlement offer that you will receive from the insurance company? 

Differences in Liability

The anti-motorcyclist bias that many non-motorcycle riders have can affect how potential jurors – and therefore insurance company adjusters – evaluate liability in your case

Some of the unique issues that impact motorcyclists, and that the insurance company may be considering, include:

Visibility: Motorcycles are less visible than other types of vehicles, and cars will often turn in front of a motorcycle or make a lane change into a motorcycle’s path because they didn’t see the motorcycle. 

Low visibility on a motorcycle does not affect liability, however. Every motorist on the highway owes a duty of care to every other person on the highway to look before turning – especially when it comes to motorcycles. 

A driver’s failure to look before turning into a motorcyclist’s path is never the motorcyclist’s fault – it is negligence, pure and simple, and the driver’s failure to look before turning establishes liability against the driver.

Road hazards: Gravel, grass clippings, mud, water, or other small obstructions on the roadway that would not affect a car or truck can cause a motorcyclist to crash

If you are driving along an otherwise empty highway, hit a patch of gravel, and crash, whose fault is that? It might be the adjoining property owners’ fault if the gravel is coming from their driveway or parking lot and they failed to remove it from the roadway… 

If you are forced into a patch of grass, gravel, or water because you are avoiding a careless driver who nearly hit you, that, however, is most likely the other driver’s fault. They cannot say, “well, if you hadn’t been on a motorcycle you would have been okay…” 

If, but for the other driver’s negligence, you would not have hit the gravel in the road, the other driver is liable for the resulting crash. 

High-risk driving: If you are speeding, popping wheelies, or otherwise driving unsafely when the crash happens, you are more likely to be liable for the accident and, if you do recover damages, they may be reduced or even canceled out by the comparative negligence rule

When you are following the rules of the road, however, and another driver causes you to crash, this is not a factor in your recovery. Your attorney will do everything they can to counter any perception on the part of jurors or the insurance company that motorcyclists are, by nature, high-risk drivers. 

You are not a high-risk driver, though, and, if there is no evidence of negligence on your part, your attorney will show the jury (and insurance defense) that you were not violating any traffic laws when the other driver slammed into you…

Differences in Damages

Damages tend to be higher, on average, in a motorcycle accident case than in an auto accident case. This doesn’t mean that insurance companies should pay less – it means that they will usually pay more. The negligent driver does not get a break because their accident victim happened to be on a motorcycle…

Less protection: Motorcyclists are more likely to suffer more severe injuries because they do not have the same protections that a person in a car would have – seatbelts, airbags, and a protective wall around them. 

This does not mean that the negligent driver should pay less in damages, however. It means that a driver who negligently strikes a motorcyclist – who has every right to use the roadway just as a car’s driver has the right to use the roadway – will pay more in damages. It is not the motorcyclist’s fault because they are on a motorcycle. It is the driver’s fault for not paying attention or for causing the accident. 

More severe injuries: Motorcyclists tend to suffer more severe injuries than drivers of other types of vehicles and fatalities are more common. 

This is not a reason for an insurance company to pay reduced damages nor is it a factor that jurors can consider at a trial. The negligent driver is responsible for the damages that were proximately caused by their negligence, regardless of the severity of the injuries or the type of vehicle the accident victim was driving. 

Failure to wear a helmet: SC law does not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet, and your attorney will ensure that a jury in your case understands that the failure to wear a helmet in SC cannot be held against you. The negligent driver must pay full and fair compensation – even if you suffered head injuries and were not wearing a helmet. 

Comparative Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident Case

The comparative negligence rules apply in a motorcycle accident case as in other types of accident cases. 

If you were speeding or violated another traffic law that contributed to the crash, your recovery could be reduced by as much as half – or barred completely. Things that will not be considered as comparative negligence in SC include:

  • Whether you were wearing a helmet or other protective gear;
  • The fact that you were riding a motorcycle; or
  • Unfounded assumptions that motorcyclists engage in “high-risk” behaviors. 

A motorcycle does not “assume the risk” of crashes caused by careless motorists, and the legal doctrines of “assumption of the risk” or comparative negligence do not apply to motorcyclists simply because they choose to ride a motorcycle. 

SC Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Myrtle Beach

If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident because of another driver’s carelessness, the Myrtle Beach motorcycle accident attorneys at Coastal Law want to help you to recover maximum compensation

Call now for a free consultation to discuss your case, by calling (843) 488-5000 or sending us an email.

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