Rear-End Collision Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Boston, MA
Drivers in Massachusetts have a legal obligation to others to use reasonable care in operating their vehicles, and that includes keeping a safe distance from a motorcycle ahead so a collision can be avoided if someone stops abruptly. It also means paying attention at all times so you aren’t suddenly surprised when traffic ahead slows or stops.
Failure to exercise adequate care often results in rear-end collisions, which are especially perilous for people on motorcycles because they lack a vehicle frame, airbag or seat belt that come standard in passenger vehicles. Boston motorcycle accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can answer your questions about whether you have a viable case following a rear-end motorcycle collision.
It’s important that you team up with an injury law firm that has experience, resources and a track record of proven success because these types of motorcycle accidents are often some of the most devastating in terms of the extent of injuries. They can include:
- Spinal cord injury;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Broken bones in the jaw and face;
- Broken teeth;
- Shattered or crushed limbs;
- Road rash injury;
- Severe contusions and lacerations;
These cases can also be challenging if you, the motorcyclist, were operating the vehicle in the rear (as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported to be the case in 68 percent of rear-end crashes involving motorcycles and passenger vehicles). Determining fault might also be difficult if more than two vehicles were involved (i.e., chain reaction).Massachusetts Presumes Fault of Rear Vehicle
In general, all motorists have the responsibility to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, taking into consideration both speed and existing road conditions. Failure to do so can create an immediate hazard that may result in a crash.
There is a regulatory presumption, established by 211 CMR s74.04(3) that the operator of a private passenger vehicle was more than 50 percent at fault if the driver collides with the rear section of another vehicle. That presumption is rebuttable if contrary evidence can be presented.
Further, 720 CMR 9.06(7) requires drivers not follow another vehicle more closely than what is both reasonable and prudent in light of the circumstances.
One can rebut the presumption of fault in a rear-end motorcycle accident if they can show there were extenuating circumstances over which the driver had no control. Some examples might be:
- Evidence there was a mechanical failure with the rear vehicle;
- Testimony that the vehicle ahead made a sudden or unexpected stop or lane change;
- Evidence the vehicle ahead was illegally stopped on the road.
Courts are very particular in applying these exceptions. For example, it’s usually not enough for one to say a vehicle ahead stopped abruptly because such occurrences are to be expected to some degree in traffic; that’s why we maintain an assured clear distance. The sudden stop must be both abrupt and unexpected. For example, the driver ahead suddenly stopping in an intersection because another car is running a red light is probably not unexpected (though the red-light runner in this scenario may also share blame and thus be a named defendant). However, a vehicle arbitrarily stopped on the highway probably would be unexpected.Motorcycle Accident Caused by Rear-End Collisions
Almost all rear-end collisions are the result of negligent driving. Some of the commonly-cited causes of rear-end collisions include:
- Following too closely.
- Distracted driving.
- Impaired driving.
- Failure to obey traffic rules.
The practice of following too closely is sometimes referred to as “tailgating,” and it’s listed by the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles as being an act of aggressive driving. Motorcyclists are more likely to be tailgated than other drivers.
One U.S. study published in the Journal of Safety Research discovered more than three-quarters of rear-end collisions involving teen drivers (when teens were in the rear) happened while the teen was distracted. When that distraction was a smartphone, reaction times were much slower. In fact, about half the time in that scenario, the teen didn’t even brake or swerve to avoid causing a crash.Why Rear-End Collisions are So Dangerous for Motorcyclists
Although rear-end collisions are often just “fender-benders” if two sport utility vehicles are involved, the size disparity between an SUV and a motorcycle means they are potentially deadly incidents.
When a car, light truck or SUV strikes the back of a motorcycle, it usually lifts the back wheel of the bike off the ground, resulting in the motorcyclist flipping forward onto the pavement. If the vehicles are traveling at high speeds, a rear-end collision can end with the motorcyclist being run over. Alternatively, if a motorcycle operator runs into the back of a vehicle ahead that has suddenly stopped, the bike may stop, but the rider may not. Velocity throws the rider forward. In some cases, motorcyclists end up being thrown on the car or over the car and may even land in front of the car.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s research reveals more than a quarter of rear-end collisions occur while drivers are stuck in heavy traffic. The good news is it’s possible at least one vehicle is probably traveling at a low speed or stationary, which can reduce injury risk. It’s not eliminated though, especially if the rear vehicle is traveling at high speeds, something we often see when drivers are drunk and distracted). That scenario can also mean a greater likelihood of a chain reaction crash.
Our dedicated team of motorcycle accident attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of these cases and fight to obtain full and fair compensation for your losses.
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