Any motorcycle accident or collision is likely to have greater consequences for a motorcycle rider(s) than for those in a car. Due to the minimal protection that a motor bike offers, it’s important for anyone riding to be as proactive and cautious as possible while on the road. However, even the safest motorcyclists can experience an accident, and if that happens, you’ll want to know your options for compensation. A motorcycle accident lawyer in Winston-Salem can help you understand your rights and the next steps to take.
How to Determine Liability
Frequently, a motorcycle accident claim comes down to negligence – also known as recklessness – on the part of one or more of the drivers involved in the accident. The law requires that anyone operating a motor vehicle take active, deliberate steps to avoid causing harm to anyone else, so negligence includes both commission and omission–things that a driver did that they shouldn’t have and things they did not do and should have. Liability in these cases is fairly straightforward. Whichever driver behaved negligently is liable for any injuries.
Conflicting Claims of Negligence
In some cases, more than one of the drivers involved in the accident is determined to have behaved recklessly, complicating the claim. In these cases, it is common for a car or truck driver (or their insurance company) to bring up the actions of the motorcycle operator as a defense against a negligence claim. North Carolina is a contributory defense state, which means that if you are determined to be even partly at fault for the accident, you are not entitled to any compensation. Never say or write anything to an insurance adjuster or anyone else involved in your claim that could be construed as an admission of fault; you could seriously damage your claim.
The Four-Step Negligence Claim
A negligence claim actually has four parts, four propositions that whoever is making the claim needs to prove in court. The first part is assumed in any accident: the person being sued (called the defendant) was required by law to exercise reasonable care to avoid hurting someone. The second part is related: the defendant did not do what was required by law, that is, the defendant was not careful. The third part is normally proven by medical records of some kind: the person making the claim or suing must have actually undergone some kind of loss or injury. The fourth part links the rest together: those injuries were caused by the defendant’s failure to exercise caution. Although these four parts are fairly straightforward, it can often be difficult to prove all four of them in court. It is generally a good idea to seek legal counsel if you intend to make a negligence claim.
Another common cause of motorcycle accidents is a mechanical failure of the motorcycle. These normally fall into two categories, faulty manufacturing or faulty design. Problems with manufacturing include defective parts or vehicles and parts that have been damaged or rendered unsafe at some point between the factory and the place where the buyer purchased the motorcycle. Problems with the design include any sort of design flaw that makes the motorcycle unsafe; a common example is the handful of motorcycle designs that don’t take into account the speeds they will be driven. At these high speeds the front wheel becomes unstable, often leading to crashes. In either case, you may be able to make a product liability claim against the manufacturer or seller. Product liability claims are even more complicated than negligence claims and, if you intend to make such a claim, you should certainly seek out legal counsel.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
As with any motor vehicle accident, it is important to document everything possible in the wake of the motorcycle accident. As soon as you have sought out whatever medical attention you need, try to note down as many details as you can about the accident, including the actual events, any possible witnesses, the timing of the events and any relevant road conditions such as visibility, weather and the surface of the road.
Keep all medical documentation and bills for any medical treatment related to the accident and make your own records by photographing and making notes. Whether you are making a negligence claim or a product liability claim, find a motorcycle accident lawyer in Winston-Salem who has experience in the type of claim you’ll be making to walk you through the process and find anything you might have missed.
Find a Qualified Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Winston-Salem
After a collision, you’re likely feeling panicked and maybe even helpless. Lewis & Keller is here to relieve that panic and help you win compensation for your injuries. Our team can handle everything from compiling evidence to representing you in court. We’ll do the heavy lifting so that you can focus on recovering. Contact us by filling out the form below or calling 336-804-8387 to speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.