Failure to Yield Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Boston, MA
Failure of car and truck drivers to yield when making a left turn into the path of motorcyclists is a leading cause of motorcycle crashes resulting in serious injury or death.
In fact, it’s one of the few scenarios outlined in 711 CMR 74.00 in which a motorist (in this case, the driver making the left turn) may be presumed to be more than 50 percent at-fault. As our Boston motorcycle accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman know, that number is significant because according to Massachusetts’ comparative negligent statute, MGL chapter 231 section 85, plaintiffs are barred from prevailing in a negligence lawsuit if they share more than half the blame. A presumption the defendant is at least 51 percent in-the-wrong means there is a good chance you can establish liability and win your case for damages.
Nearly 5,300 motorcyclists were killed in a recent year (part of a years-long upward trend, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ). Part of that is because more people are riding motorcycles (some well into their seventh and sometimes eighth decade, a factor that puts them at heightened risk for more severe injuries). Part of it is because an increasing number of drivers are distracted by cell phones. But another issue – one that has plagued motorcyclists for as long as they have shared the road – is that left-turning motorists simply don’t check twice to make sure they’re clear to do so.
Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and other drivers haven’t trained themselves (as they have a duty of care to do) to use reasonable care and give an extra glance in their blind spots before making their turns.
Drivers also tend to misjudge the speed of motorcycles, wrongly perceiving the speed of something relative to its size. A car or truck approaching at 45 mph tends to have a more intimidating profile than a motorcycle traveling at the same speed.
Operators of motorcycles often have little time to react in a failure to yield crash, even when they are driving defensively. Sometimes, the unfolding scenario results in the victim’s vehicle striking that of the at-fault driver, which creates some confusion at the scene about who is responsible. It is imperative plaintiffs contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible to launch a prompt and thorough investigation of the evidence and build the best case for recovering damages.Failure to Yield in Motorcycle Collisions
Failure to yield is a violation of state traffic laws pertaining to right-of-way. It establishes which vehicle (or road user) has the right to proceed over another in a given situation. If a driver proceeds when another vehicle has the right-of-way, they can be issued a traffic citation. If they cause a crash, they can be found liable (legally responsible) to compensate those injured for their losses.
There are several laws in Massachusetts pertaining to failure to yield.
In general, these pertain to the right-of-way in various traffic conflicts at/ with:
- Intersections and right turns on red, MGL chapter 89 section 8;
- Pedestrians, bicyclists and other travelers, MGL chapter 90 section 14, MGL chapter 89 section 11;
- On highways and when approaching various traffic control devices and signs, MGL chapter 89 section 9;
- Emergency vehicles, MGL chapter 89 section 7.
There are no laws that specifically pertain to motorcyclists’ right-of-way, but motorcycles are treated on the road like any other vehicle. The problem is many drivers only half pay attention when they’re behind the wheel. They may be passively observing larger vehicles, but they aren’t specifically checking for motorcycles. That’s why so often we hear at-fault drivers exclaim, “The motorcycle came out of nowhere!”Why Motorcyclists are At-Risk by Left-Turn Drivers
Unless the left turn lane is controlled by a traffic signal (a green arrow with multiple designated turn lanes), drivers turning left need to approach the intersection by getting into the furthest left lane and getting as far over as they can without interfering with oncoming traffic. The driver must yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic, which includes vehicles making right turns from other directions.
In a lot of Boston motorcycle accident cases, the crash happens because the left-turning driver proceeds with the turn while a motorcyclist traveling the opposite direction is turning right or going straight. The motorcyclist in that scenario has the right of way, which the left-turning driver fails to yield.
Even in cases where a motorist is making a left turn onto a two-lane road into the left lane, that driver still needs to wait for the motorcyclist to finish the right turn before proceeding. Either the driver doesn’t see the motorcyclist or else they do see it, but erroneously assume the motorcyclist doesn’t need the entire lane because bikes are smaller. They end up clipping the motorcycle in mid-turn.
The NHTSA researches characteristics of fatal motorcycle crashes involving one or more other vehicle. What they discovered was that 35 percent of passenger vehicle drivers in these cases had failed to yield right-of-way to motorcyclists. That was compared to 4 percent of motorcyclists who were faulted for the same thing.
Another analysis by the Federal Highway Administration found that of the 77 percent of motorcycle crashes that were coded as “multiple vehicle,” nearly half were the result of a turn by the other driver. More than 66 percent of motorcycle accidents took place at an intersection. That same report found that “traffic scanning errors” – i.e., failure to watch for motorcycles – was a primary contributing factor in 70 percent of the crashes were the other driver was deemed at-fault.
Similar findings were gleaned in an older study published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, which stated in conclusion after in-depth analysis of more than 2,000 fatal motorcycle crashes: “Left turns and failure to yield were common factors associated with the involvement of other motorists.”
If you’re injured by a motorcycle crash in Boston in which the other driver was cited for failure to yield, you probably have strong grounds for a successful civil case. We can help you formulate a solid legal strategy to recover appropriate damages.
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