Who Is Liable If a Motorcycle Hits My Car?

Last Updated on February 12, 2021

If a motorcycle strikes your vehicle, you will likely emerge from the accident with less pain, suffering, and medical bills than the motorcyclist. If the motorcyclist’s negligence, however, is the cause of the accident, he or she will still be liable for damages. To be more accurate, it is the motorcyclist’s insurance provider that will pay damages.

How is liability determined if a motorcycle hits a car? Will the motorcyclist’s insurance company pay to fix your vehicle? How can you file a claim for such an accident? Should you hire a lawyer to help your case? Below, we’re explaining eveWho Is Liable if a Motorcycle Hits My Carrything you need to know about liability in motorcycle-car collisions.

A Question of Liability

Plenty of factors determine liability in accidents involving motorcycles and automobiles. Oftentimes, liability is not clear-cut when a motorcycle strikes a vehicle.  The events that led up to the accident along with evidence that identifies the true cause of the collision determines each party’s percentage of liability.

Insurance adjusters can usually determine fault in most motor vehicle accidents. To do so, they look at the damages, take statements from both parties, and seek witness statements or camera footage. After assessing damage and determining fault, they usually can reach a settlement. Sometimes, however, if a settlement cannot be reached, you might have to hire an insurance lawyer.

Do not attempt to prove the motorcyclist is negligent through self-representation, also known as pro-se representation. This is a time to rely on an accomplished personal injury attorney to prove the motorcyclist’s negligence or the negligence of another party (such as a local government that failed to properly place a stop sign or other traffic sign/signal).

Biker Liability

More often than not, motorcyclist error is the cause of motorcycle accidents. In fact, in two-thirds of all accidents studied, the biker is responsible. Bikers often ride in excess of the posted speed limit. Some bikers slide-out as a result of over-braking, leading the biker to lose control of the bike and possibly fly off of it, striking another vehicle. Furthermore, bikers often take turns too wide, under-corner, and make additional mistakes on curves. This can lead to a loss of stability, traction, and subsequent control of the motorcycle, setting the stage for legal liability from an accident.

Always Take Down Witness Information

If one or several witnesses see the accident, their statements can be essential to proving the biker’s liability. Be sure to write down witness names and contact information after the accident. Take a video recording of their statements. You can use your mobile phone to record all of this information.

In some cases, it only takes one witness statement or testimony to prove the motorcyclist’s liability in the accident. If the witness sees the biker riding too fast or in a reckless manner, and you record their statement, this can go a long way in proving fault.

Click here to read our article on how to gather witness statements after an accident.

Did the Biker Follow the Rules of the Road?

It will prove that much easier to prove the motorcyclist’s liability if he or she failed to follow the rules of the road. For example, if a red-light camera caught the motorcyclist running through a red light immediately before colliding with your vehicle, his fault will be hard to deny.

Plenty of motorcyclists also split lanes in an unsafe manner. Lane splitting refers to when motorcycles drive in between lanes. It usually happens on a multi-lane road when rows of vehicles are stopped in traffic. Lane splitting is when the motorcyclist simply rides between the stopped cars.

Though some state laws permit motorcyclists to split lanes, lane splitting must be done in a prudent, safe, and cautious manner. If lane splitting puts the safety of others in jeopardy, it is unsafe and illegal. Furthermore, speeding, riding while drunk or high, and riding while distracted also make it that much easier to prove the biker’s negligence and subsequent liability.

A Personal Injury Attorney Will Help Determine Liability

If your vehicle is damaged or you are injured in an accident involving a motorcycle, it is in your interest to hire an attorney. Your personal injury attorney will review the facts of your case and help you prove the biker or another party acted in a negligent manner. Your attorney will build the case against the negligent motorcyclist so you can square your focus on fixing your car and healing your body. Plenty of personal injury attorneys actually go to the extent of providing no-cost consultations and contingency fees. This means you will not pay any legal fees unless a settlement or court award is won.

The Elements of Negligence in the Context of Motorcycle-Vehicle Collisions

In order for your lawyer to prove the motorcyclist acted in a negligent manner, he or she must prove that the individual violated his or her duty of care to those in the area. It is the motorcyclist’s obligation to operate the motorcycle in a safe manner. Furthermore, all motorists, including those who ride motorcycles, are legally obligated to ride/drive in a manner that prevents accidents.

Your attorney will embrace the challenge of comparing the motorist’s actions with those of a reasonable individual. If the motorcyclist did not act as a reasonable person would, he or she breached the duty of care. Even speeding a few miles per hour over the posted speed limit or violating a seemingly minor traffic rule constitutes a breach of duty.

The next component of negligence is causation. Your personal injury attorney will be tasked with proving the motorcyclist acted in a negligent manner that caused the collision, ultimately resulting in damages. Furthermore, your attorney must be able to prove you actually suffered damages as a result of the accident in question. The injuries and other losses in question must be causally related to the accident.

Damages are proven with auto repair bills, medical bills, proof of lost wages, and/or proof diminished earning capacity after the injury.

It is somewhat of an uphill battle to prove that a motorcyclist acted in a truly negligent manner that caused the accident, your injuries, and related damages. Let your attorney handle this challenge on your behalf while you recuperate.

Liability Might Extend Beyond the Motorcyclist

There is a chance that the motorcyclist is not the only negligent party. It is possible that another motorist or even the driver of the vehicle struck is also partially negligent. Furthermore, as noted above, the local government might have failed to maintain the road in the proper manner or failed to have posted appropriate traffic signs or signals. Even the maker of the motorcyclist and mechanic who worked on the motorcycle can be found negligent following the accident.

In other words, there is a chance liability will extend to multiple parties, resulting in the payment of damages from several individuals or groups.  If your car is damaged or you are injured in a motorcycle-automobile accident, focus on repairing your vehicle and bouncing back from your injuries. Let your attorney sort through the details of your case to identify all potential liabilities and pursue justice on your behalf.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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