Who Can I Sue After a Motorcycle Accident?

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Who Can I Sue After a Motorcycle Accident?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Injuries following a motorcycle accident can be severe. You may be entitled to compensation following your crash, but do you know who you should sue?

The motorcycle accident lawyers at Malman Law would like to discuss proving fault, top causes of motorcycle accidents, and which parties you may be able to sue following a collision.

Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Crash

To recover damages in a motorcycle accident case, you must prove that another motorist was negligent. Negligence is defined as failing to exercise reasonable care. In driving, all road users have an obligation to follow traffic regulations when operating their vehicles to keep others safe, including motorcyclists.

Negligence can be an act or omission. For example, another driver is negligent if he or she is speeding (an act) or if the driver does not signal when changing lanes (an omission).

Four elements must be proven in a negligence claim:

  • Duty of care: the driver had a duty to obey traffic signals and to drive responsibly
  • Breach of duty: the driver violated said duty of care (i.e., failing to yield right-of-way)
  • Causation: the motorcyclist suffered injuries as a direct result and as a foreseeable consequence of another driver’s actions
  • Measurable losses: a motorcyclist may be able to recover for harm caused by the accident (i.e., lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering)

Proximate vs Direct Cause

Causation can be a difficult element to prove in a negligence claim. Causation involves a direct link between another motorist’s actions and the motorcycle crash. Showing this cause-and-effect relationship will show that another driver is liable for your motorcycle accident.

There are two types of causation: proximate and direct. Proximate cause entails that an accident or incident was foreseeable through another person’s action or omission. For instance, if another driver fails to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist, it would be foreseeable that a crash would take place.

Conversely, direct cause, also known as cause, in fact, would require that a motorcycle crash would not have taken place if the other driver had not acted in a certain manner. Direct cause can be proven with the “but for” test. For example, if another driver rear-ended a motorcyclist after running a red light, the accident would not have occurred “but for” the defendant’s reckless driving.

Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Drivers are not always aware of motorcyclists. Another motorist may not spot a motorcyclist or may simply not allow space between their vehicle and the motorcycle.

In examining motorcycle crashes, there are common causes such as:

Unsafe Lane Changes

If another vehicle operator decides to quickly change lanes, then the motorcyclist may have to maneuver quickly to avoid a collision. This could cause the motorcyclist to lose control of his or her bike, resulting in devastating injuries.

Hazardous Road Conditions

Rough terrain and poor weather increase the chances of a motorcycle crash. A motorcyclist must drive with caution when navigating slippery roads and driving over debris, rocks, and broken asphalt.

Left Turns at Intersections

Since drivers are not expecting to see a motorcycle, motorcyclists are often overlooked on the road. In a large percentage of accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle, the other vehicle was making a left turn while the motorcycle was traveling straight or passing the vehicle.

On a two-lane road, the motorcyclist will need to spend time in the wrong lane to pass the lead vehicle.

Distracted Driving

In a recent year, 3,522 lives were taken due to distracted driving. Distracted driving is a major contributor to motorcycle accidents. Distracted driving is anything that takes a person’s attention away from driving, such as texting, talking on a cell phone, and changing the radio station.

Sudden Stops

If the vehicle in front of you comes to an unexpected stop, a motorcyclist may not have enough time to react. The motorcyclist may swerve to avoid rear-ending the vehicle, which can result in hitting other vehicles or rolling over, causing a chain reaction of accidents.

Parties That May Be at Fault

A number of parties may be responsible for causing a motorcycle accident, including:

The other driver

In most motorcycle accidents, another driver, whether it be a truck driver, car driver, or another motorcyclist, is at fault for the accident. In most cases, a personal injury claim would be made with the at-fault driver’s insurer.

An employer or company

If another driver was acting under the “scope” of his or her employment, liability may lie with an employer. This is common if you are hit by a commercial truck driver since the driver is most likely “on the clock” and has an employer to answer to.

In this scenario, you will most likely be filing an insurance claim with the trucking company’s insurer.

Parts manufacturer

Whether it be a manufacturing or design defect, a motorcycle that does not function properly is inherently dangerous

Given the circumstances, you may be eligible to pursue legal action against the parts manufacturer and even the assembly crew, designers, engineers, and distributors of the motorcycle.

Dealership

If the dealership that sold you the bike knew that there may be a problem or was fraudulent, you may be able to sue them for damages.

Local Municipality

Illinois leads the nation for the worst roadways, with 73% of its roads in need of repair. If a road or highway is in bad shape, you may be entitled to compensation.

If poorly maintained roads contributed to your accident, you may be able to recover under the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act. You must show that the government displayed a conscious disregard for the safety of its road users. There is a one-year statute of limitations to file your claim.

A Chicago motorcycle accident lawyer will be able to discuss your legal options, given your particular case. Sometimes, settling your claim through insurance may provide you with the most benefit.

What If I Am Partially at Fault?

In accordance with Illinois law, if an injured person bears fault for an accident, the victim’s recovery amount will be reduced based on the percentage of fault. An injured party can only recover damages if he or she is less than 50% at fault for an accident. This is known as comparative negligence.

For example, if you are determined to be 40% at fault for an accident, and the other driver is 60% at fault, your damages will be reduced by 40%. If you filed a claim for $60,000, you will only receive $36,000 in damages.

Be aware that the insurance company may attempt to assign fault when, in fact, you may have not contributed to the accident at all. This may be in the insurance company’s efforts to pay less on your claim and keep more money in their pockets.

A Chicago Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near You

Following a motorcycle crash, you may be in a daze. It may not be obvious who is liable for your accident. That is where an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help. If you have been in a motorcycle accident, we want to hear from you. Contact Malman Law today to schedule your free consultation.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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