Motorcycle Accidents: Frequently Asked Questions About Determining Fault

For many motorcycle enthusiasts, nothing compares to the ability to hop on their bike and hit the open road. Unfortunately, this love of the road can be shattered by a devastating accident. If you were recently injured in a motorcycle accident, chances are your attorney has discussed the idea of establishing fault. If the concept of establishing fault is confusing, here are a few questions you may have about how the law and insurance companies determine who is responsible for a motorcycle accident:

How is Fault Typically Determined in a Motorcycle Accident?

Like any other motor vehicle accident, determining fault in a motorcycle accident is very complicated. Typically, the courts or your insurance company will take several factors into consideration, including:

  • The official police report – Typically, the insurance company and courts will take the official police report under consideration when determining fault and negligence. In many cases, if you're in an accident, the insurance company won't even make a decision about your case until they obtain a police report
  • Was it a rear-end or left-turn collision? – In the majority of cases and states, the person who was either the vehicle at the rear in a rear-end collision or making a left turn is found at fault.
  • Evidence – Finally, the insurance provider and the courts will take any evidence collected in the crash into consideration when determining fault. For example, if you're in a motorcycle accident and take several photos of your damaged vehicle and your injuries, the courts and insurance companies will take this into consideration when determining fault.

Do All States Take Fault into Consideration?

In some cases, fault isn't even a consideration after an accident. These are called "no fault" states. According to Nolo, these states include Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and Utah. If you live in one of these states, you will typically not file a claim with the other driver's insurance company. Instead, any compensation for lost wages, medical bills and damage to your car will be paid by your insurance company.

However, according to Nolo, there are some instances when you can forego your state's no-fault laws and seek compensation from the other driver's insurance company or even file a claim. For example, if you are severely injured in an accident and the cost of your lost wages and injuries surpasses the cap on your insurance claim, you can sue the other driver.

What Are Some Common Laws in States That Recognize Fault?

In states that recognize fault in motorcycle accidents, there are other laws that apply. For example, there is the 51 percent rule. Basically, a motorcyclist or car driver can only recover money from their or the other driver's insurance company if it is determined they are less than 51 percent responsible for the accident.

There is also a 50 percent rule, which is similar to the 51 percent rule. However, in this case, the driver must be considered less than 50 percent responsible for the accident in order to seek compensation. Because the fault-based laws can be tricky, it is vital to contact an attorney if you are ever in a motorcycle accident.

What If I'm Not Wearing a Helmet?

Finally, if you are ever in a motorcycle accident and are not wearing a helmet, you might be wondering if you can file a claim for injuries sustained to your head and neck. The ability to file a claim for these types of injuries is dependent upon your state's motorcycle helmet laws. If your state has strict motorcycle helmet laws, it can be tricky to seek damages for your head and neck injuries. However, you might be able to seek compensation for injuries sustained to other parts of your body.

In states that don't have strict motorcycle helmet laws, seeking compensation for head and neck injuries is typically much more successful.

Determining who is at fault in a motorcycle accident can be tricky. If you are ever in a motorcycle accident, don't hesitate to contact a motorcycle accident attorney who can help you get through the tricky process of determining and proving fault.