Common Factors that Determine Fault in Motorcycle Accidents

Henriksen LawMotorcycle Accident, Motorcycle Accident Attorney

a motorcycle crashed into the side of a sedan

Few things compare to the ultimate freedom of riding a motorcycle. They’re nimble machines, lighter and more maneuverable than cars, which makes them easier to navigate through traffic. Plus, you’re not sealed inside a metal box. You get to soak in the scenery, feel the sun on your skin, and breathe in fresh air. You’re free to take scenic routes, explore new places, and discover hidden gems you’d never notice from the confines of a car. 

But motorcycles come with serious risks. First off, they offer way less protection than cars. One wrong move, and you could end up with some gnarly injuries. 

Motorcycles are also smaller and harder to spot on the road. People in cars sometimes won’t see you coming, and that can lead to some nasty accidents. 

If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident in Utah, you have probably suffered an injury (perhaps serious), and you want to know what you can expect as compensation. But before you get there, you’ll have to establish fault for the crash.

5 Elements Used to Determine Fault in Motorcycle Accidents

For motorcycle accidents, the fault is usually assigned based on negligence, meaning the party who acted recklessly might be held responsible. However, Utah is a modified comparative negligence state with a 50% at-fault bar. According to this, you cannot recover any damages if you’re 50% at fault for the accident. If you’re less than half at fault, you’ll receive a partial damage award. 

But what factors are used to prove negligence in motorcycle accident cases? Let’s find out! 

1. Eyewitness Accounts

People who saw the accident go down can be super helpful in determining fault in motorcycle accident cases. Their statements about what they saw and how things unfolded carry some serious weight. In case you don’t need to be taken to a hospital after the crash, consider talking to the people present at the scene. 

Knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorneys in Utah are skilled at finding and interviewing witnesses to get their testimony. Lawyers can also evaluate their credibility and compare their statements to the facts of the case. 

2. Police Reports

When the cops show up at the scene, they’ll gather information on the accident and put it down in a report. This report can be a big deal when it comes to establishing fault. Basically, it includes details like road conditions, weather, any citations issued, and statements from those involved. It can also have the officer’s opinion on who caused the accident.

3. Physical Evidence

Sometimes, the physical evidence in motorcycle accident cases can speak volumes. Skid marks, debris, damage to the vehicles, and their position after the accident- all these elements can help paint a picture of what went down and who might be at fault. A reputable Utah motorcycle accident lawyer can bring in an accident reconstruction specialist to evaluate the evidence and piece together what happened during the crash.

4. The Other Driver’s Actions

In most motorcycle accident claims, your end goal is to find the other driver at fault to receive compensation for your injuries. As such, determining what they did or did not do leading up to your accident is crucial to your case. 

Your motorcycle accident attorney in Utah will speak to you in detail about what you remember seeing the driver do before they hit your bike. Obvious signs of negligence immediately before an accident can include: 

  • Speeding 
  • Erratic driving 
  • Tailgating, honking, or passing other cars aggressively 
  • Drifting into other lanes 
  • Disregarding traffic signs and signals 

A combination of physical evidence and witness testimonies can support your claim regarding the other driver’s reckless behavior.

5. Other Parties

Make no mistake- multiple people can be at fault for a motorcycle accident. For example, in the event of an automotive defect, the manufacturer of the vehicle or part may be liable for your injuries. Or, if you’re injured in a crash with a commercial driver, the driver’s employer could be partially at fault due to negligent hiring practices or poor supervision of its workers. 

A thorough investigation of the case should be able to reveal if additional parties are at fault for your motorcycle accident case. Talk to a Utah motorcycle accident attorney to know more! 

How to Prove Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident

As per the American Bar Association, here’s what your motorcycle accident lawyer will need to demonstrate to prove negligence in your personal injury case.

1. Duty of Care

First, you must establish that the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. Since the law requires all drivers to exercise caution and obey traffic guidelines, this step is the easiest. 

In case the defendant was a company or government entity (such as a state-owned vehicle), you’ll want to consult your motorcycle accident lawyer about demonstrating a duty of care.

2. Breach of Duty of Care

Next, you also have to provide evidence that the defendant violated their duty to drive safely. A violation entails someone acting without a reasonable level of caution or in a manner that could have harmed someone else. For example, did the other party drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Did they run a red light? Any of these violations would count as a breach of duty of care.

3. Cause of Injury or Damages

Your motorcycle accident attorney will establish that the injuries you suffered were a result of the accident. Some injuries are pretty apparent, such as broken bones or concussions. Other injuries/damages may be harder to prove. 

In case you suffered pain and anxiety, it’s easier for the at-fault party or their insurance company to say the accident didn’t cause the damage or that they aren’t as serious as you’re claiming. Consult a motorcycle accident attorney in Utah for more information!

4. Damages

Finally, you’ll need to show that you suffered damages because of your injuries, such as medical bills, therapy, lost wages, lost opportunities, property damage, and emotional distress. Your lawyer can help you compile all the evidence to prove each of these damages from your accident. 

The Bottom Line

Being in a motorcycle accident can change your life forever. At the end of the day, you may have to deal with severe physical, mental, and emotional anguish. The last thing you’d want is to run from pillar to post trying to fight for a settlement

Proving fault in a motorcycle crash is difficult. But the right lawyer can strengthen your case by anticipating possible defenses and negotiating with insurance companies. They’ll take the burden of justice off your shoulders, so you can focus on recovering.

Did you or a loved one sustain injuries in a motorcycle crash? The Utah motorcycle accident attorneys at Henriksen & Henriksen can help determine liability for your damages. We’ll help you recover the compensation you deserve and need. Call us today for more information!