When Is a Motorcyclist at Fault for an Accident?
Motorcyclists are often the victims in crashes. Car drivers fail to see the small, maneuverable bikes, leading them to pull out in front, switch lanes or open a car door from the curb. But it’s not always the larger vehicle that’s at fault in a motorcycle crash. Motorcycles are regularly involved in single-vehicle accidents. They’re also sometimes responsible for multi-vehicle crashes, often due to risky behavior or inexperience.
So what should you do if you’re in a crash with a motorcyclist, and how can all drivers stay safer on the road?
When motorcyclists are at fault
Riding a motorcycle is a high-risk activity. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 5,000 motorcyclists died in 2019. Responsible riders take that risk seriously, following traffic laws and driving defensively. But not all do. Some motorcyclists will drive aggressively, passing on the shoulder, weaving in and out of lanes, tailgating or driving through crosswalks. Speeding is a major issue, making it harder for other drivers to see the bike and for the rider to control its movements.
Motorcyclists also sometimes ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Riding a motorcycle takes a lot of skill—coordination, balance and constant focus. For a rider who is impaired in any way, it’s much more likely that they will make poor decisions, lose focus or mishandle the bike.
Because Georgia is a contributory negligence state, it’s sometimes possible for both the motorcyclist and the car driver to be partly at fault. Injured motorcycle passengers can often hold the operator responsible as well.
Ways motorcyclists and drivers can stay safer on the road
Motorcyclists are often severely injured in a crash. The lack of protection offered by a bike means accidents that may have been fender-benders when involving two vehicles are much more serious.
To improve their skills, motorcyclists should take education classes. The Georgia Department of Driver Services offers sessions for every level of expertise. Taught by rider coaches, the classes can give new riders the skills they need to drive defensively. For more experienced motorcyclists, the classes hone those skills, giving riders the information they need to make split-second decisions.
Motorcycle riders should also practice riding in different conditions, though always avoiding rides in dangerous weather or on unsafe surfaces. Be sure to wear protective clothing and a DOT-approved helmet.
Because cars so often fail to see motorcycles or drive aggressively around them, motorcyclists should always follow traffic laws, double check before changing lanes and expect cars to cut in front of them when crossing intersections.
Car drivers can also make the road safer for everyone by looking out for motorcyclists, especially when entering an intersection, turning, opening a car door or merging. Simply slowing down and remembering that riders have very little protection can go a long way toward helping ensure drivers and riders get to where they’re going safely.
Talk to a Macon motorcycle injury lawyer today
If you’ve been hurt in a crash caused by a motorcycle, you need help proving that the wreck was not your fault. The Macon motorcycle attorneys at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill will help ensure your case is handled fairly. Contact us for a free consultation today.