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Updated by Justin Smith on Nov 07, 2018
Headline for 5 Unique Issues in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
Justin Smith Justin Smith
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5 Unique Issues in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to damages as compensation for your losses — whether you’re located in Alabama, California, or some other state. Importantly, however, motorcycle accidents often involve issues that are less commonly-encountered in other motor vehicle accident lawsuits. Let’s take a closer look at five of them. Consider the following.


Motorcycle Collisions Tend to Be Severe

As a general rule, motorcycle collisions — even those that occur at a low speed — tend to be more severe than car accidents or truck accidents under similar conditions. Motorcyclists do not have the benefit of “crumple zone” material to absorb the impact of a collision. In fact, if a motorcyclist is subjected to a side-collision, for example, then the full force of the impact will be imposed on their body directly, thus causing substantial harm.

Given the likelihood of a severe — possibly even catastrophic and disabling — injury in the motorcycle accident context, the damages can be quite high. Simply “winning” the case is not sufficient. You’ll have to secure adequate damages to cover what are likely to be substantial losses. It’s important that you consult a qualified attorney who understands not only how to win a case, but also how to obtain maximum compensation on your behalf.


Lane Splitting Regulations

Lane splitting is rather common among motorcyclists. Essentially, lane splitting is when a motorcyclist rides in the narrow gap between two lanes, or weaves between the lanes excessively, typically to avoid gridlock traffic.

Lane splitting laws vary from state-to-state. In California, for example, lane splitting is perfectly legal. In Alabama (and most other states), lane splitting is illegal, and will only be allowed if there is a sudden emergency or some other justifying circumstance.

If you’ve been injured while lane splitting, you’re not entirely without options for securing compensation, though the road to recovery may be difficult. If you’re in a pure comparative fault state, then you can bring a claim against the defendant and your damages will simply be reduced by your contribution of fault (i.e., by lane splitting). If you’re in a contributory negligence state, such as Alabama, then you will be unable to recover damages if the court finds that you are even partially at-fault for your own injuries (even as low as one percent at-fault).


Roadway Defects

Those who possess or otherwise control property — public or private — have a duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition for entrants. This duty applies to roadways, too. If you encounter and suffer injuries due to a roadway defect that exposed you to an unreasonable risk of harm, then you may sue and recover damages from the individual or entity who controlled that roadway.

In the motorcycle accident context, even minor roadway defects can be hazardous. For example, a small pothole could pose no threat to cars and trucks on the highway, but to a motorcyclist, could lead to a serious accident — when designing and maintaining roadways for the public, the property owner (possessor/controller) must also account for motorcycle use. If they do not repair defects that could pose a unique and unreasonable risk of harm to motorcyclists, then they can be found liable for damages.


Drivers Unaware of How to React

Many drivers are unfamiliar with riding motorcycles, and do not quite understand how to react to the presence of motorcyclists on the roadway. This can lead to situations in which the driver reacts inappropriately, thus causing an accident.

For example, motorcyclists often try to make themselves more visible to drivers by swerving gently in their own lane. This behavior may confuse drivers who are unfamiliar with the reasoning behind it, making the driver think that the motorcyclist is actually attempting to shift into their lane.


Helmet Use and Liability

If you do not wear a helmet, then — whether helmet use is required by law or not in the applicable state jurisdiction — you may find that your damage recovery is significantly impacted. Helmet use can have an enormous influence on the severity of your injuries. Failure to wear a helmet can spell the difference between a few broken bones and permanent brain damage.

Unfortunately, juries are less likely to award you significant damages in cases where the facts show you were not wearing a helmet. Not only will the damages attributable to the defendant(s) be unclear, but the jury may have less sympathy for your story, as they may see you as unnecessarily exposing yourself to injury risks.