Who Is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

If you have been in a motorcycle accident, figuring out who caused it might be the last thing on your mind. This is especially true if your vehicle received damage or you suffered injuries. The fault of the accident is with one of the parties involved, though, and it is necessary to find out who it is in case someone files a third-party claim. The most important step in determining who was at fault for a motorcycle crash is to gather evidence. A motorcycle accident attorney is best equipped to deal with this process. They can also handle the insurance company while you recover from the accident.  To speak to an experienced Michigan attorney, reach us through our contact page or call 1-866-226-6833 today.

What Are the Most Common Accidents Involving Motorcycles?

Motorcycle accidents are not that different from other motor vehicle accidents. They often result from a fairly short list of causes, many of which are based on the negligence of a biker or other vehicle driver. Motorcycles tend to be smaller than other vehicles on the road, and therefore they are more difficult to see. Motorcyclists sometimes take risks that lead to collisions. At other times, truck or car drivers fail to notice a motorcycle alongside them or in their path. The following are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents.

Left-hand Turns

Motorcycle collisions often occur when a car or other motor vehicle is making a left turn. Crashes could result from negligence by car, truck, or motorcycle drivers, depending on the circumstances. Common scenarios leading to left-turn accidents include the following:

  • A driver fails to notice an oncoming motorcycle while turning left.
  • A motorcyclist attempts to pass another vehicle on the left as that vehicle is making a left turn. This kind of maneuver by a motorcycle is known as lane-splitting, and it is illegal under Michigan law.

Intersections

Motorcycle crashes may occur at intersections due to a driver not seeing a motorcyclist, or a motorcyclist not seeing another vehicle on the road. While left-turn accidents are perhaps the most common danger motorcyclists face at intersections, other types of intersection accidents are also possible. If two motorcyclists are sharing a lane at an intersection, for example, another driver might only see one motorcycle, resulting in a collision with the second motorcycle. Accidents may also result from someone running a red light or failing to yield the right of way.

Driving While Inebriated

Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in Michigan and every other state in the country. It is a significant cause of all types of motor vehicle accidents. A motorcycle rider could get too close to a car with an inebriated driver. A motorcyclist who rides while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is at serious risk of a crash. Accidents related to DUI may include head-on collisions, which can cause serious, or even fatal injuries.

Poor Road Conditions

The condition of the road itself can be a major factor in motorcycle accidents. Because of their size, motorcycles tend to be more susceptible to road debris, potholes, and other hazards. An inattentive biker could end up in an accident because of these conditions, but sometimes even the most alert motorcycle rider cannot avoid this kind of accident.

Bad Environmental Conditions

Weather conditions are a common cause of vehicle accidents, and motorcycle drivers are particularly at risk from rain, snow, ice, and other elements. Motorcyclists must be especially careful during lane changes and turns when weather conditions are bad.

What Percentage of Motorcycle Injuries Result in Death or Injury in Michigan?

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. By comparison, only around 20% of accidents involving passenger vehicles like cars or trucks lead to injuries or fatalities. The NHTSA states that, based on the number of miles traveled, motorcyclists are 4 times more likely to suffer injuries in a crash than occupants of cars. Those injuries are 16 times more likely to be fatal.

The NHTSA reports that head injuries are one of the main types of motorcycle accident injuries. It notes that helmets may reduce the risk of fatal injuries by 29% and of traumatic brain injuries by 67%.

How Do You File a Claim After a Michigan Motorcycle Accident?

Michigan law views motorcycles differently than other vehicles. A motorcycle is not, legally speaking, a “motor vehicle” in this state. This makes filing a claim for property damage or personal injury more difficult, but there are ways for motorcyclists to recover damages from insurance claims. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help.

The first problem involves Michigan’s No-Fault Law, which allows people to make injury claims on their own insurance without regard to who was at fault in an accident. Unlike other drivers, motorcyclists are not required to have insurance that includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. A rider may still be able to recover damages through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. No-fault claims only cover damages like medical bills and lost wages, though. An injured rider will almost certainly want to pursue pain and suffering damages as well, which requires a claim against the at-fault party.

Next, motorcycle accident claims tend to be more expensive than other auto accident claims because of the possibility of more serious injuries. Insurance companies might fight harder to avoid paying the full value of the claim. An at-fault driver’s insurance coverage limits also might not be enough for the total amount of damages.

Finally, both at-fault drivers and their insurers often attempt to blame injured motorcyclists for accidents. If they succeed in pinning the blame on the motorcyclist, the rider might not be able to recover any damages at all. Evidence is necessary to counter the at-fault driver’s allegations.

How do You Determine the At-Fault Party in Motorcycle Accident Cases?

Proving who was at fault in a car accident or motorcycle accident requires evidence from the accident scene, the police report, and other sources. Evidence that the other driver or rider was breaking the law, such as by speeding, running a red light, or driving while intoxicated, can help establish fault for the accident. Evidence that a rider lacked the experience or skill necessary to operate a motorcycle safely may also determine fault.

Michigan’s no-fault law allows people injured in motorcycle accidents to recover compensation regardless of who is to blame. These damages only cover certain losses, though. To recover for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering, a person must make a claim against the at-fault driver or rider. Insurance companies in Michigan tend to treat these claims with automatic suspicion, especially when a motorcyclist is making the claim. A personal injury lawyer can help navigate these issues.

What Forms of Compensation Can You Receive From the At-Fault Party?

Michigan law limits the type of damages people may recover in no-fault claims, as well as the damages a loved one may recover in a wrongful death claim. These damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages; and
  • Compensation for attendant care and other expenses associated with someone’s injuries.

Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and disfigurement require a claim against the at-fault driver.

Why Should You Hire A Law Firm After an Accident?

Once a motorcycle accident occurs, it is important to move quickly in order to ensure that you can receive the maximum amount of compensation possible. You will need to deal with insurance companies that might be skeptical of your claims and motivated to minimize the amount they have to pay. Through all of this, you might also be dealing with injuries and pain.

A motorcycle accident lawyer can be an indispensable resource in navigating the many legal and financial issues that will come up. Let your attorney handle the details so you can focus on your recovery.

Michigan Might be A No-Fault State, But Someone Caused the Accident.

Steven and Jared Matz are dedicated personal injury lawyers with many years of experience representing motorists who have suffered injuries in motorcycle accidents in Michigan. To schedule a free consultation with a skilled Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer, contact the firm today online or by phone at 1-866-22Not33 (​​1-866-226-6833).

Steven Matz

Written By Steven Matz

Steven Matz
Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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