Who Is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

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Who Is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents

Understanding who is at fault in most motorcycle accidents and how fault is determined can help you pursue justice and fair compensation following a motorcycle crash. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand who is at fault and build a claim for fair compensation.

Common Parties Responsible for Motorcycle Accidents

While many situations can lead to a motorcycle crash, inattentive, aggressive, or intoxicated drivers are the most common. Although the other driver is often at fault, other parties may be liable as well. Parties that can be at fault in a motorcycle accident include the following.

Passenger Vehicle Drivers

Passenger vehicles are the most common source of motorcycle accidents in the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the vast majority of traffic accidents with motorcycles occur when a driver of a motor vehicle fails to see a motorcyclist. They may switch lanes without checking mirrors and blind spots, or they may fail to yield the right of way.

Drivers that are distracted, speeding, or drunk may fail to see a motorcyclist when making a left turn or changing lanes, leading to especially dangerous situations for bikers.

Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

Operators of commercial trucks are especially prone to overlooking motorcyclists. While more motorcycle crashes occur due to passenger vehicles, commercial truck collisions with motorcycles are equally dangerous. Since semi-trucks are much larger and heavier, the ensuing damage and injuries can be catastrophic.

Common causes of truck collisions with motorcycles include inattentive driving and driving while intoxicated. A truck driver that fails to check or signal before changing lanes can easily overlook a motorcycle next to their trailer. Similarly, an inattentive or intoxicated truck driver may overlook a motorcycle when turning a corner, maneuvering the trailer, or stopping at a signal.

Sometimes a truck operator does all they can to avoid an accident, but the circumstances that led to the accident are fully or partially out of their control. In that case, the trucking company may carry some liability. For instance, if the driver was driving over Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hour limits because of an unreasonable delivery schedule, the company could be liable for a motorcycle accident that occurs as a result.

Additionally, if the trucking company fails to repair, maintain, or replace truck systems or components, they could be at fault if a truck equipment failure causes a motorcycle accident.

Utilities and Government Entities

A major cause of motorcycle accidents is debris in the road. Since motorcycles require balance and momentum to remain upright, gravel, sand, dirt, grass, and other obstacles in the roadway can cause the biker to lose control.

Common situations that can lead to dangerous road conditions for motorcycles include road construction, utility work, landscaping work, and poor road repairs. A motorcyclist injured due to conditions caused by a utility company or government entity could sue those organizations for their injuries.

Motorcycle Manufacturer or Distributor

In some cases, a manufacturer or distributor will be aware of a defect or issue in a motorcycle but fail to conduct a recall or issue a warning. Unaware motorcyclists can suffer severe injuries in accidents caused by these defects.

If your motorcycle accident occurred due to a system or component failure caused by a defective part, the manufacturer could be at fault. A product defect in a motorcycle can lead to dangerous loss of control. Even losing control at a moderate speed can be devastating.

Determining Fault is Critical for Your Motorcycle Accident Claim

Establishing who is responsible for your motorcycle accident lets you determine who to pursue for damages. While you may be aware of the accident’s cause, you must also be able to prove it. Specifically, you must prove the following elements of negligence:

Duty of Care

First, you must show that the at-fault party had a duty of care to you. For example, drivers on the road have a duty to take reasonable care to avoid causing harm to others. They owe a duty of care to other people on the road. A construction company or utility provider has a duty to ensure the road is free of debris or obstructions, or that there is sufficient warning for road users to avoid dangerous conditions.

Breach of Duty and Causation

To prove fault, you must also establish that the at-fault party’s failure in their duty of care directly or indirectly caused your motorcycle accident. You may use photos, videos, witness statements, and police reports to establish how the accident occurred and what conditions led to it.

Indirect causation can be a little more difficult to prove. For instance, say a trucking company indirectly caused your motorcycle crash by forcing their driver to meet an unreasonable schedule. You could request the driver’s delivery schedule, driving log, contract, milage tracker, and other information to show how the trucking company’s unreasonable expectations indirectly led to your motorcycle accident.


You must show that the motorcycle crash caused by the at-fault party’s negligence resulted in economic and non-economic losses. Motorcycle accidents can be expensive. You may experience injuries that take months or years to heal. In some cases, you could suffer effects for the rest of your life. In a motorcycle accident claim, you can prove these damages and seek financial recovery for your losses, including:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Lost income
  • Lost income potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional and mental distress
  • Loss of consortium

Motorcycle victims may lose mobility, experience disability, or be otherwise unable to engage in motorcycle riding or other activities they previously enjoyed. Any losses that compromise the victim’s quality of life may be pursued in a personal injury claim.

Considerations When Establishing Fault in a Motorcycle Accident

As many motorcyclists are well aware, other drivers do not offer bikers to same care that they might offer to other drivers. Motorists may try to say you were fully or partially at fault for the accident to try and reduce their own blame. As riders ourselves, we know how frustrating it is to face these accusations, especially when the other driver is the one who was negligent or careless when operating a deadly machine.

Michigan follows a modified comparative negligence doctrine, outlined in Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 600.2959. Essentially, if victims are found to be partially at fault for their accident, their damages may be reduced. However, if victims are found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, their damages are reduced and they may miss out on valuable non-economic losses, too.

Negligent parties and their insurers will try to use this law to hurt your chances at compensation, but Michigan personal injury lawyers can help you navigate these tactics and other legal pitfalls.

Injuries and Harm in a Michigan Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle accident injuries are more likely to be catastrophic or deadly, since motorcycles do not protect riders from impact.

Common injuries suffered by motorcyclists in collisions include:

  • Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Damage to the eyes and face
  • Neck, back, and spinal cord injuries
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Sprains and strains
  • Severe lacerations
  • Road rash

In addition to physical injuries, motorcycle accident victims may experience mental and emotional injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.

A Skilled Attorney Can Help You Determine Fault in a Motorcycle Accident

When you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, you have a legal right to pursue damages from the at-fault party. However, determining who is at fault in a motorcycle accident can be complicated.

In addition, legal requirements for proving fault and seeking compensation vary by state. A knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney in your area can help you understand how to prove fault in your state.

Christensen Law has the knowledge and experience to help motorcycle accident victims recover from serious injuries caused by another’s negligence. Contact our office today to discuss your legal options and find out how we can help you seek the compensation you deserve.