Who Is At Fault for a Motorcycle Accident in New Jersey – The Driver or Rider?
To win in a personal injury lawsuit after an accident, the injured party must prove another driver was at fault. When an accident involves a motorcycle and another vehicle, this could be difficult. In most cases, the driver of the other vehicle caused the accident. However, motorcyclists often have an uphill battle because of the perception that they are naturally reckless individuals. Jerry Friedman, Esq. knows this prejudice all too well. As a motorcyclist enthusiast, he brings his passion for bikes and the law into the courtroom when he fights for the rights of motorcyclists and their families. Below, our New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyer looks at determining fault in a motorcycle accident.
Common Reasons Other Motorists Cause Motorcycle Accidents in New Jersey
Motorists are often at fault when an accident involves a motorcycle and another vehicle in New Jersey. It is not uncommon for the driver of an automobile or truck to say, “I never saw the motorcycle” or “the motorcycle just appeared out of nowhere.” They are not necessarily lying. However, the reason they failed to notice the motorcyclist is not because of some reckless conduct on the part of the biker. In most instances, the driver was not paying proper attention to the road. Keep reading while our New Jersey attorney for motorcyclists hit by trucks talks about the reasons why a truck, car, or another vehicle driver may endanger a motorcyclist.
Distracted driving is a constant problem and the cause of many accidents on New Jersey roads and highways. The risk to motorcyclists is more significant due to their small profile on the road. For example, accidents often occur when a motorcycle and another vehicle are traveling in the same direction in separate lanes. If a driver changes lanes without taking the time to determine that the road is clear, they could collide with an unseen motorcycle.
Accidents involving motorcycles and other vehicles also occur when a driver makes a left-hand turn and fails to notice a motorcycle approaching or misjudges the approaching bike’s speed. These types of collisions can be especially devastating for a motorcyclist who is unable to stop in time.
Many drivers struggle with judging the speed of a motorcycle. When this is coupled with negligent conduct, such as speeding, tailgating, or ignoring traffic rules, accidents occur. Furthermore, a simple act such as opening a door or pulling out of a parking space could cause catastrophic injuries to an unseen motorcyclist.
Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Accident in New Jersey
Prevailing in a personal injury claim arising from a motorcycle accident requires proving the other driver was negligent. The burden of proof is on the injured cyclist. Our Hamilton Township motorcycle accident attorney will use the available evidence to try and establish four elements.
- The driver owed the motorcyclist a duty of care.
- The driver breached the duty of care.
- The breach of duty caused the accident and the motorcyclist’s injuries.
- The motorcyclist suffered actual harm.
Every driver in New Jersey owes a duty of care to other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, on the roads around them. This means that they should operate their vehicle with the same degree of safety as another reasonable driver would under the same or similar circumstances.
For example, a driver should not operate their car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some cases are not as clear; for instance, in a severe thunderstorm, a reasonable driver might travel well below the posted speed limit.
A breach of duty occurs when a motorist’s behavior fails to adhere to this standard. In some cases, a breach of duty is not difficult to prove. If a drunk driver rear-ends a motorcyclist who is stopped at a red light, it is not hard to see that the driver acted negligently. However, not every breach is clear cut. In many cases, proving a breach of duty is the most challenging part of a lawsuit involving a motorcycle.
The breach of duty must have been the cause of the accident and injuries. Again, proving this will depend on the evidence available. In the example above, a motorcyclist’s injuries were caused by a drunk driver who failed to stop their car in time. If the brakes on a person’s vehicle failed, then the cause of the accident could have nothing to do with the driver’s negligent behavior.
Sharing Fault for a Motorcycle Accident in New Jersey
In personal injury cases, New Jersey follows a modified comparative negligence doctrine. Under this legal doctrine, fault will be apportioned between those involved in an accident. Furthermore, the potential award an injured motorcyclist might receive could be reduced if they are partially to blame for the accident. For example, if a motorcyclist is awarded $50,000 but found to have contributed 10% to the accident, their award would be reduced to $45,000. If a motorcyclist is found to have been 51% at fault, they will be prohibited from being awarded any compensation.
This system of fault could be unfairly applied to a motorcyclist. Our New Jersey motorcycle accident attorney understands how to combat this prejudice that motorcyclists face with juries, judges, and insurance companies. There is a common belief that motorcyclists are inherently risk takers. Jerry Friedman is an experienced Winslow motorcycle accident lawyer focusing on litigation involving motorcycle accidents and an avid rider. Knowing the hurdles motorcyclists encounter in personal injury lawsuits helps him better prepare for defense attorneys, juries, and insurance providers.
Call Our Experienced New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Attorney for a Free Consultation
When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident with another vehicle, they are could be facing devastating injuries, huge medical expenses, and lost income. An injured cyclist and their family should not have to fight for their just compensation alone. Our New Jersey attorney for spinal injuries caused by motorcycle wrecks has years of experience representing those motorcyclists hurt by other drivers’ negligence. If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, call 1-800-LAW-4-HOGS (1-800-529-4464) to schedule a free consultation.