Determining Legal Responsibility for a Motorcycle Accident

iStock_000028630886_XXXLargeThe most important factor for determining who is at fault in a motor vehicle accident is determining who was negligent. Everyone is required to follow their state’s traffic laws and rules of the road, and in case of a motor vehicle accident liability will be determined using these rules.

In some cases it is obvious who was at fault. If one driver runs a stop sign which causes an accident, they are clearly at fault. In other cases, deciding who was at fault is much more difficult. in which case the laws of negligence will be used to determine who is to blame. A person is negligent when they fail to act with reasonable care, and that failure causes injury to another. Proving negligence in a motorcycle accident involves four main elements.

The first thing you must show to prove negligence in a motor vehicle accident is that the law required the defendant to be reasonably careful. In any case, state laws require a driver to act with reasonable care, so proving this part is a given. Next, you will have to prove that the defendant violated the duty of care. To decide if the defendant was being unreasonably careful the law will compare their conduct in that situation to that of a reasonable, prudent person. A reasonably careful driver would be expected to do things like stop at a red light, watch the road for crossing pedestrians, and follow other vehicles from a safe distance. If their behavior was not that of a reasonable and careful person, then they will be have violated the duty of care.

The next element involves proving the defendant’s failure to act with reasonable care caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff must show their injury was directly caused by the defendant’s conduct, and not by another event or accident. Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that they were injured or suffered losses. The plaintiff can only recover damages if they have an injury or monetary losses, for things like lost wages, lost earning capacity, property damage, or pain and suffering. If there is no injury or missed work, the plaintiff cannot recover losses.

When forming your case in a traffic accident, it helps if you have as much support as possible showing that the other driver, pedestrian, cyclist, or motorcycle operator was at fault. The first place you might find support is the police report. If police came to the scene of your accident, they made an official accident report. This report can be obtained from the traffic division of the police department. Sometimes these reports directly refer to one party as the negligent party, but other times it may simply mention there was negligence involved. Either way, a police report can help corroborate your argument.

In addition, there is something called “no-doubt” liability which may simplify your case. In certain types of accidents, no-doubt liability provides that the other party is at fault for the accident almost 100 percent of the time. For instance, if you were hit in a rear-end collision, it is almost never your fault. Left-turn accidents can also involve no-doubt liability. When a car is making a left turn and is involved in a collision with a car coming straight in the other direction, the car turning left is almost always to blame.

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