Who is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

Motor cycle accidents can be caused by many factors, including other drivers, or riders themselves.

Motorcycle accidents can be some of the most devastating wrecks a person can experience. They can result in serious injuries, including paralysis, head trauma, loss of limbs, or even death. Determining who’s at fault after a motorcycle crash is vitally important for the motorcycle accident victim to recover damages they’re owed by the liable party.

This May, the personal injury lawyers at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys are observing Motorcycle Accident Awareness Month by publishing a series of blog posts and how-to articles about motorcycle accidents and safety. Motorcycle riders are much more likely to suffer major injuries than drivers in auto accidents, so it’s important to secure an experienced law firm in your motorcycle accident claim.

If you’ve been the victim of a Louisiana motorcycle accident, you need an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to help you with your case. The compassionate lawyers at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys are committed to helping you heal by finding you the compensation you deserve after a motorcycle wreck.

The Most Common Cause of Motorcycle Accidents

By a wide margin, the most common cause of motorcycle accidents is the recklessness of passenger vehicle drivers. Whenever a car and a motorcycle collide, the passengers of the car have a much lower risk of injury than the motorcyclist. Many traffic disputes center around who has the right of way, for example in the following accidents:

  • Left-turn accidents, which can occur when
    • A motorcyclist is trying to pass a driver that’s turning left
    • A driver makes a left-hand turn without noticing the motorcycle rider
    • A motorcyclist tries to overtake a left-turning driver
  • Distracted drivers
  • Unsafe or reckless lane changes by either motorist
  • Brake-checking, an aggressive driving practice that involves moving in front of a vehicle and tapping the brakes, to make them slow down. Brake-checking is dangerous for anyone, but especially so when motorcycles are involved.
  • Failure to yield by either motorist
  • Lane-splitting, or when a motorcyclist rides between two traffic lanes when traffic is slow or heavy.  While lane-splitting laws vary by state, in Louisiana the practice is generally illegal.
  • Bad weather

Due to the relative rarity of motorcycles when compared with cars on the road, and due to their smaller size, some drivers simply fail to notice motorcyclists in their vicinity. Tragically, this is another main cause of motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle crashes can also be caused by poor road or highway maintenance, or unclear signage.

The Increased Risk of Riding a Motorcycle

These factors and others add up to a greatly increased risk of death for motorcyclists involved in traffic collisions. In fact, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die after a collision versus passenger car drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

The most common fatal injury in these accidents is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is why it’s always recommended to wear a helmet. In Louisiana, the law requires motorcycle helmets to be worn at all times, and on all types of roadways, so it’s not only safer, it’s required!

The Unexpected Fact of Motorcycle Accident Speeds

High rates of speed aren't always the main cause of motorcycle accidents i Louisiana.

Surprisingly, the majority of motorcycle accidents happen at the low speed of 30 mph—which slows to 21.5 mph at the time of impact. In fact, only one in a thousand motorcycle collisions occur at speeds above 85 mph.

What this means for motorcyclists is that they must be vigilant, even when cruising on surface streets, in town, and through suburban neighborhoods. Passenger cars can pose a danger to motorcycle riders at any speed, and the consequences of an impact can be costly or even deadly to the motorcyclist.

How Insurance Companies, Judges, and Juries Determine Fault for a Motorcycle Crash

While car drivers are more often found mostly or completely liable after a motorcycle wreck, both their and the motorcyclist’s actions are considered when determining liability. If unsafe roadways are partly at fault for the accident, the government agency in charge of managing the road could also be held responsible.

In any case, liability is determined through a negotiation process with each party’s insurance company and lawyers. If an agreement is unable to be reached, your case will be argued in a court of law. Louisiana awards damages based on the concept of pure comparative liability, meaning

  • Multiple parties can be found liable for an accident, and
  • Each liable party is responsible for their portion of the damages awarded

In order to get the maximum amount possible as compensation for your injuries, you need to hire an experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyer to advocate on your behalf. A firm like Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys will be able to find necessary evidence, file legal documentation, and even argue for you in court if need be.

What to Do After Being in a Motorcycle Accident

Immediately after a motorcycle accident, you or someone on the scene should call 911. Paramedics will arrive to provide life-saving emergency care to those injured, and the law enforcement officer’s report will serve as vital evidence in your claim.

The Big G, representing Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys, Louisiana's premier motorcycle accident lawyers.

As soon as you can after the motorcycle accident, call Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys at 888.501.7888. You’ll receive a free legal consultation about your case from one of our Louisiana motorcycle accident attorneys on your options going forward.

We’re committed to helping our clients, no matter what. That’s why we offer the G Guarantee: we don’t charge you a dime unless we win your case. Give us a call today to get started on your path to healing.