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Are Motorcyclists Always at Fault in Fixed-Object Collisions?

Just because another motorist was not directly involved in a motorcycle crash does not always mean the biker was at fault. Any third-party negligence that contributes to a motorcycle crash can remove some or all of the liability from motorcyclists, allowing them to pursue personal injury claims for expenses related to their serious injuries.

Based on 2011 data, nearly half of all fatal motorcycle collisions involved another type of motor vehicle, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the NHTSA also estimates that motorcycles are more likely than any other vehicle to be involved in fatal collisions with fixed objects. But this does not automatically mean that the motorcyclists are at fault, since they can be victims of circumstances beyond their control, such as the following:

  • Loss of control caused by potholes
  • Cones and other road construction objects in the road that may be hidden by a larger vehicle in front of a motorcycle
  • Distracted drivers swerving out of their lanes and forcing bikes off the road into street signs or other fixed objects
  • Vehicles that suddenly drop unsecured items onto the roadway

These are just a few possible causes of fixed-object collisions, but they illustrate that liability can fall to municipalities responsible for negligent roadway maintenance or to other drivers whose recklessness can result in crashes in which they are not directly involved. Still, proving fault poses significant challenges when only a motorcycle remains at the accident scene. Motorcycle accident attorneys often enlist forensic investigators who can reconstruct an accident after the fact. These specialists use scientific methods to show, for example, that hitting a bump or pothole at a certain speed would send a bike into the direct path of a light pole.

Even in single-vehicle accidents, motorcyclists can suffer serious injuries. Do not automatically assume that you have no legal right to compensation just because no other vehicle was directly involved in your crash. Talk to a Fort Lauderdale lawyer about your options.

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