One of the biggest factors in any case is the visibility of the motorcycle. Virtually all drivers understand that it is generally harder to see a motorcycle than a car, whether in a rearview mirror, a side mirror or straight on.
Our eyes are trained to look for the size and shape of vehicles, so they don’t always notice a motorcycle, and that is something we have to deal with as attorneys. We have to do all we can to show that the motorcycle was indeed visible and that the other vehicle would have seen it if they had been careful.
One thing that helps with establishing visibility is that, with modern motorcycles, a light comes on automatically when they are started. That said, the visibility of the motorcycle is always a big issue.
Misconceptions Regarding Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle riders in general understand that the public does not appreciate them and that people who only drive cars and not motorcycles tend to be fearful of motorcycles. Sometimes, they can be annoyed by motorcycles and sometimes they can be jealous of their ability to split the lane in a traffic jam.
Probably one of the biggest misconceptions comes with motorcyclists who believe they have no fault in an accident.
There is a school of thought in which juries frequently find some comparative fault on the motorcycle for reasons like car drivers being annoyed, jealous, angry or fearful of motorcycles. Some believe the motorcyclist should be partially at fault just because they took the risk of getting on a motorcycle in the first place. The misconception of motorcycle riders is that they will never be found to be at fault in an accident, whereas they might be, even if it was unfairly so.
Will An Expired License Or A Traffic Ticket Affect The Case?
The presence or absence of a license would not be admissible in court, so it will never be a factor, even if an insurance companies or defense attorneys might argue the point. The lack of a license simply does not prove fault. If someone was rear-ended while stopped at a stoplight, the fact that the victim did not have a license is meaningless.
The only relevance the lack of a license might have would have to do with the issue of experience riding a motorcycle, although the attorney will normally fight to keep it out. The same issue can be established without bringing up the license or lack thereof. The defense could ask the person how long they had been riding, how many hours they had ridden, whether they were trained to ride and whether they went to a school to learn how to ride, without bring the license into it.
Tickets would not come into play, either. The only criminal charge that can come into evidence sometimes, and that has to be dealt with, would be regarding felony convictions, which usually have to be within 10 years. A ticket, even one with an outstanding warrant for non-payment, would never come into evidence.
How Can Someone Unintentionally Hurt Their Own Motorcycle Accident Case?
Casual statements made to people like police officers, treating doctors, ambulance attendants or emergency room staff, can all be taken out of context, which can hurt the case. We often see clients who are asked by their doctor how they feel, and they reply by saying they feel fine, never better.
Unfortunately, the person’s condition could get worse after that, and they may be in significant pain a week later. However, the insurance company and the defense could take the position that the case ended the day the person told the doctor they were better, even though it is very common for medical conditions to wax and wane.
Some clients may also tell someone, like their doctor, that they had just completed a 100-mile bike ride across Death Valley and they were feeling great, not realizing that the 100-mile ride through Death Valley will appear on their chart, and allow the defense the opportunity to show that the person was not hurt. Too often, casual statements can be taken out of context and they can literally hurt the client very much.
Would Not Wearing A Helmet Make The Case More Difficult?
Yes, because the insurance company would argue that if the person had worn a helmet, they would not have received the injuries that they did. If the person received a head injury, it would be common sense that not wearing a helmet would leave the motorcyclist at least partly at fault.
On the other hand, if the motorcyclist injured their knee, ankle, leg or arm, the fact that the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet would not really matter, although it may make the jury think that the person was a negligent rider. However, the person’s attorney would have to show reasons for that and argue against it.
For more information on Factors Affecting A Motorcycle Accident, please call (916) 565-2100 today to schedule a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.