What Must I Prove to Win My Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Receiving compensation for injuries or damage caused by a motorcycle accident is often necessary to cover expenses such as medical bills, motorcycle repair, and loss of earnings. However, many people find the prospect of getting involved in an accident lawsuit daunting, in part because they don’t know what they will be asked to prove in order to win the case.
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we have extensive experience helping clients who have suffered injuries after a motorcycle accident receive the full compensation they deserve.
Common Reasons for Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle enthusiasts are well aware of the danger involved in riding a motorcycle. If an accident does occur, it is likely to be severe because of the lack of protection motorcycles offer compared to other types of vehicles.
Motorcycles are less stable than most other vehicles, less visible, more vulnerable to weather and road conditions, and need more physical strength to drive, all of which increase your risk when riding. Although motorcyclists themselves can cause accidents, often other factors lead to collisions or crashes, including:
- Drivers going over the speed limit. This inhibits their ability to avoid a collision and often leads to more serious injuries because of the greater impact involved.
- Looking at a cellphone while driving, even just for a moment, distracts the driver and can cause a collision.
- Poor road conditions. This could be anything from lack of adequate signage and faulty traffic lights to potholes, fallen debris, and untreated icy roads.
- Suddenly openly car doors while parked without looking can cause motorcycle riders to swerve off-course, potentially causing a dangerous accident.
- Manufacturing or design defects can make the motorcyclist lose control and lead to an accident.
- Driving while impaired or under the influence of alcohol or drugs diminishes your ability to notice and react to hazards puts other motorists in danger, including motorcyclists. Driving while sleep-deprived or taking drowsy medication also affects your ability to control a vehicle safely.
- Many motorcycle accidents are caused by unsafe maneuvers, like sudden stops, lane changes, left turns, and lane splitting without checking for other vehicles. These are more likely to occur if drivers are distracted or inexperienced.
Depending on the cause of the accident, a different party may be liable, such as another driver or manufacturers.
Types of Motorcycle Injury
Because motorcycles are less crashworthy than most other vehicles, there is a higher risk of severe injuries and fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, per vehicle mile, motorcyclist fatalities occurred nearly 27 times more frequently than passenger car occupant fatalities. Common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Road rash
Michigan Insurance Law
In Michigan, the law requires car owners to have no-fault insurance. In the event of an accident, the insurance covers damages such as medical expenses, loss of earnings, and replacement vehicles, no matter who caused the accident. If a motorcyclist has an accident involving a motor vehicle, they can claim damages on the back of the no-fault insurance, even if they caused the incident.
Motorcyclists are not obliged to have no-fault insurance. Instead, they must get traditional liability insurance known as PLPD coverage. This gives the motorcyclist liability if they are the at-fault party in an accident that causes death, bodily harm, or property damage.
Despite the requirement for no-fault insurance in Michigan, there are certain instances where an injured party may make an at-fault claim to recover pain and suffering compensation and other damages.
The most significant exception to the no-fault rule is if the motorcyclist was in an accident involving a motor vehicle that caused them serious injury, permanent disfigurement, or death. The accident must be caused by the car or truck driver’s negligence, and the motorcyclist cannot sue if they are more than 50% at fault.
What Must I Prove to Win My Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
In Michigan, the victim of a motorcycle accident has the proof of burden. This means it is their responsibility to prove that the accident occurred because of the third party’s negligence and that the injuries or damages they claim to have were caused by the accident.
Proving Motorcycle Injuries
After a motorcycle accident, it’s imperative you seek medical attention, even if you feel fine. You must report all symptoms to the police, EMTs, and emergency room medical staff, however small they seem, since often minor symptoms can indicate larger issues. You should also record and report delayed symptoms as some injuries take time to show themselves.
If you are given follow-up appointments, for instance, with your general practitioner or physical therapist, you must attend them. Not going to these appointments is not only potentially detrimental to your health, but insurance companies will use your lack of attendance to disprove your personal injury claim.
It is also crucial you keep a copy of all your medical records, such as X-rays and medical bills. Document your symptoms, prescriptions, and medical appointments. Date these notes and include photos of injuries where possible.
Proving You’re Not At Fault
In motorcycle accident cases, you must prove that the other party’s actions caused your injuries. You should provide evidence that shows:
- You were not under the influence when you sustained your motorcycle injuries.
- You were driving safely, e.g., not speeding.
- You were wearing a helmet and other protective gear.
- You had a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement (CY).
Where an accident causes a death, an accident reconstruction of the scene will be conducted, usually by the Michigan State Police, to determine as best as possible how and why the accident occurred. The results can significantly help wrongful death motorcycle collision claims.
Act Fast to Gain Your Rightful Compensation
If you or a family member has been involved in a motorcycle collision and plans to put in an accident claim, you must act quickly, especially as proving negligence can be a lengthy process. In no-fault cases, motorcycle accident victims have one year to make a claim, whereas the statute of limitations in Michigan for pain and suffering cases is three years.
Establishing negligence in a motorcycle accident is a complex process. Working with a law firm experienced in personal injury cases like Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., is the best way to receive the compensation you deserve. Call our law offices today at 1-888-MICH LAW (1-888-642-4529) to schedule your free consultation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.