What if the Other Driver Was At-Fault?

When a motorcycle accident results in injury or death, those affected may have grounds to pursue compensation against any who were negligent in causing the crash. This usually starts with an analysis of the other driver’s actions.

If the other driver was at-fault, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and legal costs.

At Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, our experienced motorcycle injury attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that at-fault drivers are held to account and you receive the compensation you deserve.

Drivers are Often At-Fault in Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcyclists are in a unique position on the road in that they enjoy a certain degree of freedom, but they are also exposed to a fair amount of dangers that other drivers are not. For example, there are no substantive protective barriers between the motorcyclist and the road. Riders are more vulnerable in inclement weather and when facing road defects.

More often than not, when a motorcycle collides with another vehicle, it is the other vehicle driver who is to blame.

In fact, according to the well-regarded “Hurt Report,” a comprehensive study of motorcycle accident cause factors and countermeasures, found that:

  • Three-fourths of all motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle;
  • In two-thirds of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle (usually a passenger car) the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcyclist’s right-of-way and caused the crash;
  • Motorcyclists are five times more likely to be injured and 25 times more likely to die in a crash, per vehicle mile traveled, than someone in a passenger car.

A big part of the problem, safety advocates say, is that drivers simply aren’t watching the way they should. Motorcycles are admittedly smaller visual targets, which means they are more likely to be obscured by weather or road conditions or other vehicles. This is a big problem at intersections, where about 7 in 10 motorcycle accidents happen.

Massachusetts No-Fault Accident Law

Massachusetts is a no-fault state with regard to auto insurance.

Contrary to the moniker, this does not mean no one will be found at-fault or that drivers who are at-fault won’t ever be held accountable. Rather, what it means is that for relatively minor injuries and property damage, injured motorcyclists will collect personal injury protection (PIP) benefits through their own auto insurance company.

Drivers can’t take one another to court for crash-related costs – unless certain conditions are met. In order to step outside that no-fault system, there are certain thresholds the accident has to meet. Those include:

  • Incurring $2,000 or more in reasonable medical expenses;
  • Injuries that resulted in permanent or serious disfigurement, disability, bone fracture or major loss of sight or hearing.
Presumption of Fault

Motorcyclists may have an easier time proving their case if the circumstances fall under the provisions of 211 CMR 74.00, which outlines the standards of fault and situations in which an operator’s fault is presumed to be more than 50 percent. Some of those scenarios include:

  • Rear-end collisions – Operator in the rear section of another vehicle presumed to be at-fault;
  • Out-of-lane collisions – Operator who is partially or completely out of his or her lane and thereafter collides with another vehicle will presumed at-fault;
  • Operating in the wrong direction – Operators who collide with other vehicles while moving in the wrong direction on the road are presumed at-fault;
  • Collision while backing up – Operators who strike another vehicle while backing up are presumed at-fault;
  • Opened or opening vehicle doors – Operators who open a vehicle door – or leave one open – in a lane of traffic are presumed at-fault.
  • Collision at a ‘T’ intersection – Operators coming from a roadway that terminates onto another roadway and thereafter collide with another vehicle on that intersecting throughway are presumed at-fault.

At the very least, motor vehicle operators are required to carry an auto insurance policy limit that provides a baseline:

  • $20,000 for any one person’s injuries;
  • $40,000 for each accident where more than one person is injured;
  • $5,000 for property damage;
  • $8,000 in PIP benefits

The law does not require drivers to carry uninsured/ underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) benefits, but it’s a wise decision. An estimated 1 in 5 drivers don’t carry insurance – despite the law – and even those who do may not have enough coverage to ensure you are fully compensated for your losses. In those situations, UM/ UIM coverage from your own insurer will be critical.

Contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation.

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