It’s no secret that motorcycles are more dangerous than standard automobiles. While it’s easier to end up in a crash, it’s also easier to fall victim to others’ negligence. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, you may wonder how insurance companies determine fault. This depends on many factors. Here’s what might happen after you file your claim.
What Is Fault?
When an incident is someone’s fault, you might consider them to be entirely or mostly responsible. Proving this, however, can be very difficult. The other party may argue vehemently against you, and you may not have enough evidence on hand to argue your case. Fortunately, the law specifies how to handle these tricky situations.
The state of Arizona is an at-fault state. This means that insurance companies spend time trying to determine who was responsible for a vehicle collision. This isn’t always clear-cut, as the blame sometimes lies with both parties. In these cases, an adjuster may assign a percentage of the blame. In the end, this percentage dictates who pays the other and how much each party owes.
Who Is Usually Responsible for a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorists are sometimes quite vocal about motorcyclists, and many believe operators of smaller, more dangerous machines pose unnecessary risks to themselves and others on the road. Despite this, the majority of accidents involving two-wheeled vehicles are the car or truck driver’s fault.
This doesn’t, however, mean that cars or trucks are almost always responsible. Given that motorists driving four-or-more wheeled vehicles instigate around 60% of incidents, motorcyclists cause the other 40%.
Unfortunately, motorcyclists are at a far greater risk of serious injury or death in an accident. Since they’re so exposed to the road, they can easily find themselves vulnerable to injuries that other motorists don’t usually suffer. This can make it tricky to assign fault, as exposed riders often suffer much more damage.
How Is Fault Assigned After a Motorcycle Accident?
In Arizona, fault depends on a breach of “reasonable care.” Everyone licensed to operate a motor vehicle has a responsibility to exhibit a reasonable degree of care while driving. They must, in other words, pay attention, obey the law, and keep others’ safety in mind. Anytime someone breaches this responsibility, they are acting negligently.
Common examples of negligence include texting while driving, drinking alcohol, using narcotics, and driving an uninspected vehicle. Other factors that are harder to prove could also qualify as negligent. Operating a car after a night without sleep can impair you as much as several alcoholic beverages. Simply failing to pay attention while turning or switching lanes can lead to a catastrophic event.
Adjusters see certain negligent behaviors much more often in collisions involving motorcycles. These include situations in which car drivers open doors without looking or turn left at a light without observing a motorcyclist’s right of way. Since small motorcycles are shaped differently than standard cars, some drivers appear not to notice them as easily as trucks and cars. This unfortunate fact has caused many accidents.
How Does Arizona Determine Damages After a Motorcycle Accident?
In Arizona, insurance companies determine damages based on financial losses that the harmed party incurs. These losses include those caused by physical injuries, property damage, and non-physical factors like emotional distress or lost income.
After insurance companies calculate the damages, they assign the fault percentages to each party and use this to determine awards. If you had an accident for which the other person was 70% responsible and you were 30% responsible, for example, you can recover 70% of the damages you incurred.
In some rare cases, a driver may exhibit particularly excessive and even intentional recklessness. In such instances, Arizona allows for punitive damages that can punish a defendant and provide you with a greater award.
What Conditions Are Most Likely To Cause a Collision?
The most common causes of a motorcycle accident are:
- A driver turning left while switching lanes fails to pay attention
- A motorcyclist passes too quickly and is cut off
- A car driver turns left without heeding an approaching motorcyclist
Because each of these events is caused by inattention, both internal and external factors can make them more likely. In Arizona, alcohol or drug impairment is a factor in one-third of all traffic fatalities each year. Distractions such as texting or talking on the phone also cause injuries and deaths.
At night, inadequate lighting may increase injury risk. Inclement weather can compound this risk further.
Why Do You Need Legal Support After an Injury?
If you’re injured after an accident, you probably have a lot to deal with. Seeing various doctors and rehabilitative specialists may occupy a significant portion of your time. You may have experienced a head injury, which can cloud your judgment or cause you to forget key details. You may even have symptoms that don’t appear initially and instead show months later.
Proving the collision was another person’s fault is a complicated job that takes a dedicated team. To collect all of the available evidence, you need to compile video footage, police reports, pictures of the scene, and other elusive data points. A skilled attorney knows how to gather and present evidence to demonstrate your innocence.
What Can You Do To Stay Safe?
If you plan to ride for any significant amount of time, you need to purchase safety equipment. Both helmets and protective clothing can minimize the injuries you might sustain during a crash. While Arizona law does not require you to wear a helmet, wearing one can save your life.
In 2018, only 1,395 riders of 2,806 who had been in a motorcycle mishap were wearing a helmet. According to the CDC, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and increase survivability by 37%.
A motorcycle accident can be traumatic and personally devastating, so you need the best legal support you can get. For the most knowledgeable legal team in Arizona, contact MDK Law Group today or visit us online for a free consultation.