People sometimes mistakenly believe that when a motorcycle has been involved in an accident with another vehicle, it’s usually the motorist’s fault. These assumptions are oftentimes based on the difference in size between a motorcycle and a passenger car or larger vehicle. But responsibility for any accident is dependent on the actions of the driver and/or motorcyclist, both of whom could be to blame.
Circumstances in Which a Motorcyclist Could Be Partially at Fault for an Accident
Intersections can be especially unsafe for motorcyclists, particularly in heavy traffic. The cause of motorcycle accidents at intersections is often lowered visibility. Many victims are struck when a motorist makes a left turn in front of them.
Although most left-turn accidents are the fault of the individual who turned, sometimes the person coming straight through the intersection is partially at fault. Let’s say a motorcyclist is going through one of the more dangerous intersections in Atlanta -- Marietta Road NW and Bolton Road NW, for example -- when struck by an SUV turning left.
The motorcyclist could be found partially responsible for the crash if it’s demonstrated that he/she was speeding, or if an officer suspects the rider was intoxicated and administers a Breathalyzer test. If the results show the motorcyclist is legally over the limit, he or she could be considered partly at fault.
Another circumstance in which a motorcyclist might be partially liable in a collision is when the rider violated lane-splitting laws. This is the act of driving the bike between two lanes of cars that have either slowed down or stopped. With the ability to navigate easier through heavy traffic, motorcyclists may take advantage of this. But lane splitting is against the law in Georgia. As a result, the rider might be partially to blame if struck by another vehicle.
There are many other scenarios in which both the driver of another vehicle and a motorcyclist are at fault in a crash. The next issue that must be considered is whether or not partial liability will impact the recovery of damages.
How Partial Fault Could Affect Compensation in a Personal Injury Claim
The degree of fault assigned to a motorcyclist will determine two things. The first is his/her ability to recover any damages. As long as fault is determined to be 49 percent or less, some form of compensation may be available. But if it reaches 50 percent or higher, it doesn’t matter how serious the injuries; no damages can be recovered.
The second thing that has to be determined is how the amount recoverable will diminish when the degree of fault is 49 percent or less. Let’s say the motorcyclist’s degree of fault was just 5 percent, and damages totaled $15,000. That amount would be reduced by $750, still allowing for $14,250 in compensation.
But if the motorcyclist is assigned a 49 percent degree of fault, and damages totaled $25,000, that amount would be reduced by $12,250. The motorcyclist would only be entitled to recover $12,750. This could create a significant financial burden, so it’s important to work with an attorney who can ensure that blame for the accident is properly directed.
How Partial Fault Could Affect Insurance Coverage in a Motorcycle Accident
Georgia is an at-fault car insurance state. So the insurance company of whoever is responsible for the accident is expected to cover the costs. Because of that, a motorcyclist might have to turn to his or her own insurer to cover some of the costs if partially at fault. This can sometimes get complicated, so it’s always best to have assistance from an attorney.
In fact, it’s almost always in a motorcyclist’s best interest to secure legal representation whenever an accident has resulted in serious injuries. Legal counsel, such as that at the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, can ensure that one’s rights are protected throughout the whole process. If you need more info, read our free eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Accident Cases in Georgia – The Truth about Your Injury Case or simply call 404-474-0804.