Motorcycle accidents are often devastating and painful. Rehabilitation is usually a slow, painful, and arduous process. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that an estimated 80 percent of motorcycle wrecks result in injury or death. There's no doubt riding a motorcycle comes with certain risks, however, you deserve the same reasonable duty that other drivers are obligated to give passenger-car drivers. When that duty is neglected, the outcome is often disastrous for the victim on the motorcycle. In this article, we'll discuss all things liability when it comes to motorcycle accidents.
If you've been hurt in an accident due to someone else's negligence, call our motorcycle accident lawyers in Arizona or New Mexico today. Our team of experienced attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve and need. You can set up your free consultation by calling or texting (602) 345-1818. Alternatively, you may fill out this form, and we will reach out to you to schedule an appointment.
What Does “Comparative Negligence” Have to Do with It?
Arizona and New Mexico are at-fault states, meaning that the liable party in a motorcycle accident will be responsible for paying the damages associated with that accident. Most personal injury cases revolve around proving who the negligent party was. In the case of multiple negligent parties, liability may be shared. Arizona adheres to the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under these laws, partially liable parties are still entitled to compensation. In these circumstances, a party's injuries will be reduced by the percentage at fault they are proven to be for the accident in question. For example, if a party was rewarded $100,000 in damages, and they were found to be 80 percent liable, they'd receive $20,000 of the reward. This is a large reason to have an attorney on your side to help prove liability in a motorcycle accident. If you need help proving fault, contact our motorcycle accident law firm today.
Common Scenarios and Fault
There are some scenarios that commonly cause motorcycle accidents. In this section, we'll discuss these scenarios and how fault may play into each.
Not Wearing a Helmet
Many injured parties in motorcycle accidents wonder if not wearing a helmet impacts fault in the accident. The answer is it depends. Pursuant to Arizona law, motorcycle operators and riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. For motorcyclists over 18, a helmet is not required. The law also states that, regardless of age, all riders and operators of motorcycles must wear protective glasses, goggles, or a transparent face shield, unless the bike is equipped with a protective windshield.
If you've broken the law, you'll likely receive a citation. However, you may still be entitled to compensation, depending on the types of injuries you've suffered. If you were breaking the law and sustained an eye injury, which a mandatory protective measure would have prevented, compensation is unlikely. However, if an at-fault driver caused injury to you, whether you had on a helmet or not, you could receive compensation. Consult an attorney to understand any personal liability in your case.
A Car Forces a Motorcyclist off the Road
Unfortunately, this common scenario often leaves motorcyclists to turn to their own insurance policies. This type of accident is legally referred to as a “phantom vehicle” incident, and it is typically covered under “uninsured motorist” coverage. Proving an unknown driver caused the accident may be difficult. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help you navigate this situation with the insurance company.
A Left-Turning Car Causes an Accident
In Arizona, commonly drivers making left turns are proven to be liable. This is because Arizona's right-of-way traffic laws require vehicles turning left to yield at intersections to opposite-driving motorists. Even so, the law provides exceptions, such as with green light arrows. Having a motorcycle accident lawyer on your side can help you place liability on the right party.
Changing Lanes Results in a Side Impact
Drivers commonly claim to not see motorcycles when side impacts happen during lane changes. Some scientists speculate that passenger vehicle drivers have trained themselves to only recognize other passenger cars and trucks, resulting in them often “tuning out” motorcycles, bikes, and other smaller vehicles.
Insurance companies are often quick to blame the motorcycle driver in these instances, citing “lane splitting” as the reason for the collision. Lane splitting refers to a motorcycle riding between two lanes of traffic or between adjacent rows of vehicles. This has previously been outlawed by statute in Arizona completely. If a motorcyclist was proven to have been lane splitting, they may share fault with the other driver(s) involved.
Recent Arizona laws may make this even more complicated. SB 1273 was signed into law in March of this year, which permits motorcycle riders to get along the side of and pass a car that is stopped in the same lane. The law stipulates that this sharing of lanes will be legal as long as the speed limit is 45 miles per hour or slower and the motorcycle doesn't exceed 15 miles per hour. The law is slated to go into effect 90 days after the Legislature ends this year's session.
Call or Text Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you've been hurt in a motorcycle accident, even if you believe it was your fault, schedule a consultation. You may still be eligible to receive compensation even if you contributed to a percentage of the fault, as per comparative negligence rules. To set up your completely free consultation with our motorcycle attorneys in Arizona, call or text (602) 345-1818. You may also fill out our online form to request your consultation.
Do you have more questions about motorcycle accidents in Arizona? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions about Motorcycle Accidents here.
Our online content is not intended to serve as a substitute for actual legal advice. We advise that you speak with an actual attorney about your specific case.