Understanding Negligence in Motorcycle Accident Claims
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Orange County
As in other types of personal injury claims, negligence plays a large role in motorcycle accident cases. In order to have grounds to bring an injury claim after a motorcycle accident in Orange County (or anywhere in California), you must be able to prove that someone else acted negligently and that this was what caused the accident and/or led to your injuries.
Continue reading to learn more about negligence in motorcycle accident claims in California, or contact Gill Law Group, PC to speak to an experienced Orange County motorcycle accident lawyer about the specifics of your case. We can help you understand your legal rights and determine whether you have grounds to file a personal injury claim. A successful claim allows you to recover compensation for your damages—things like medical bills, lost wages/income, disability, and pain and suffering—and hold the negligent person or party accountable.
What Is the “Duty of Care?”
You may have heard that other drivers owe you a “duty of care” while you are on the road, but what exactly does this mean? Essentially, the duty of care is the responsibility we all have to take reasonable steps to avoid harming another person. When it comes to operating a motor vehicle, every driver has a duty of care to others on the road. This means that all drivers are required to obey all traffic laws and exhibit reasonable caution so as to avoid causing an accident or foreseeable harm to someone else. When drivers fail to do this, they have breached the duty of care.
Breaching the duty of care is generally considered negligence. This is critical, as it establishes the fact that you have grounds to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit against the person (or entity) that caused your accident. Without negligence, there is typically no case.
The only exception to this is in the case of defective or faulty products. When a defective product—such as a motorcycle, SUV, or auto part—causes or contributes to an accident, the victims do not necessarily need to prove that the manufacturer of that product was negligent. They may be able to pursue a product liability claim under the doctrine of strict liability, breach of warranty, or another legal doctrine. Visit our Product Liability page to learn more.
Examples of Negligence in Motorcycle Accidents
Both other drivers and motorcyclists themselves can be negligent. But even if a jury determines that you were partially at fault for the accident, this does not necessarily bar your ability to recover compensation under the state’s pure comparative negligence rule (see more below).
Some common examples of negligence in motorcycle accidents include:
- Motorists who are texting while driving or are otherwise distracted
- Motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol/drugs
- Road rage, aggressive driving, and other reckless behavior
- Traffic law violations, including speeding, running red lights, etc.
- Fatigued driving and motorists who fall asleep at the wheel
- Motorists who make unsafe lane changes or turns
- Motorists who fail to check for/see motorcyclists on the road
These are just some examples of how negligence can contribute to or cause a motorcycle accident, but there are many other forms of negligence, all of which can have disastrous consequences.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
Many states, including California, follow the rule of comparative negligence. Under this rule, injured individuals are still permitted to file personal injury claims and recover damages when they were partly to blame for the accident that led to their injuries.
There are two forms of comparative negligence:
- Pure Comparative Negligence: With pure comparative negligence, an injured party is permitted to file a personal injury claim regardless of the percentage of fault they are assigned. For example, an injured individual could still seek compensation after an accident for which they were 99% at fault.
- Modified Comparative Negligence: Under this version of comparative negligence, injured parties are not allowed to file personal injury claims when they are more than 50% at fault for an accident. In other words, the other person/party must be more at fault than you for you to be able to file a claim.
California follows the rule of pure comparative negligence, meaning you can still seek compensation after a motorcycle accident if you were partly at fault, no matter how much fault you are assigned. However, you cannot seek compensation if you were fully (100%) at fault for the accident.
How Does Fault Affect My Recovery?
While you are not prohibited from filing a motorcycle accident claim if you were partly at fault for the accident, your degree of fault will affect your recovery.
Under California’s pure comparative negligence rule, your total recovery will be reduced by your at-fault percentage if you are found to share liability. For example, if a jury decides that you were 20% at fault for the accident, your recovery will be reduced by 20%, meaning you will only be able to collect 80% of the total award.
Why You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Negligence is a critical element of your motorcycle accident claim. It is also a fairly complex issue. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Your attorney will be able to conduct an exhaustive investigation into the accident to determine what happened and who was negligent. To do this, your attorney will likely look at various key pieces of evidence, such as the accident report, your medical records, eyewitness statements, nearby surveillance footage, and more.
At Gill Law Group, PC, we are proud to represent injured motorcyclists throughout Orange County. Our motorcycle accident lawyer has a proven record of success in very complex litigation and can provide the aggressive advocacy you need.