Who Is At Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?


Riding on two wheels can be exhilarating. However, it also exponentially increases your risk of injury and death. While motorcycles comprise just 3% of all registered vehicles and less than 1% of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S., a shocking 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2020 were motorcyclists. The Insurance Information Institute revealed that motorcycle riders were 27 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than people in passenger vehicles.

Even if a motorcycle accident does not result in death, it can still be devastating. Motorcycle collisions can cause serious injury, including broken bones, internal trauma, head trauma, loss of limbs, paralysis, and head trauma. Helmets can drastically improve a motorcyclist's chance of survival in traffic accidents, but they cannot protect the rest of your body. 

Of the utmost importance in any legal claim for loss of life, personal injury, or other damages is determining who is at fault. When a person's negligence causes a motorcycle accident, the at-fault party may be held legally responsible for injuries or property damage incurred. 

Read on to learn about common causes of motorcycle accidents and how police and insurance companies determine who is at fault. 

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

When an at-fault motorcycle accident occurs, determining which party is legally responsible often depends on the cause of the accident. Below are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents.

Reckless Driving

Speeding and reckless driving, either on the part of the motorcyclist or another motorist, are among the top causes of motorcycle accidents. When any motorist drives above the speed limit, drives aggressively or tailgates the vehicle ahead of them, this can cause traffic accidents. 

Many motorcyclists, particularly those driving sport bikes, try to reach excessively high speeds, which makes losing control of the bike much more likely. The higher the speed of any vehicle, the more severe the crash.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication, are also considered reckless driving and can cause accidents.

Left-Turn Accidents

Left-turn accidents are one of the main types of motorcycle collisions. These accidents typically occur at intersections in two ways:

  • A motorcycle rider attempts to pass a car that is turning left
  • The driver of a car turns left without seeing or heeding an oncoming motorcycle in the opposite direction

Splitting the Lanes of Traffic

Lane splitting takes place when a motorcyclist drives between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic. While Ohio law does not specifically prohibit lane splitting, it can be a highly dangerous practice.

Unsafe Roadways

Hazardous road conditions, such as uneven pavement, potholes, loose gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, poor lighting, non-functional traffic signals, or debris on the roadway can cause serious motorcycle accidents. 

With just two wheels, motorcycles are much less stable than standard vehicles, which means they are more susceptible to dangerous road conditions.

Distracted Driving

Any time a driver's attention is diverted from the road or from the task of driving, the chance of an accident occurring increases. Some common reasons for distracted driving include: 

  • Texting while driving
  • Adjusting the car radio
  • Applying makeup
  • Talking on the phone
  • Reading or performing other actions that are not related to driving

Blind Spots

Because motorcycles are generally much smaller than other vehicles, other drivers can more easily miss them, particularly if the motorcycle is in the other driver's blind spot. This can cause accidents when an oblivious driver changes lanes or otherwise maneuvers in traffic while failing to notice a nearby motorcycle.

Poor Weather Conditions

When you drive any vehicle, poor weather conditions increase the chance of an accident occurring. This is especially true with motorcycles, which are smaller, less stable, and harder to control than vehicles with four wheels. 

When visibility is low or road conditions are dangerous due to weather conditions, motorcyclists are at increased risk of injury or death in traffic accidents, because they are much less protected than those riding in passenger vehicles.

How Fault Is Determined

In any traffic accident, law enforcement authorities and insurance providers must determine who was at fault for causing the collision. Fault is determined by examining a variety of factors, which may include:

  • The police report about the incident
  • Traffic citations
  • Traffic camera footage
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Photos of the accident scene and vehicles involved
  • Photos of the accident victim's injuries
  • Medical reports and records
  • Statements from law enforcement authorities and accident reconstruction experts

If you were involved in a motorcycle accident, it is essential for you to consult an experienced personal injury or wrongful death attorney. This attorney can help by investigating the incident to determine which party or parties are responsible, and to what degree.

Depending on each party's percentage of liability, the injured person could be entitled to compensation for their injuries, including their medical bills. 

No-Fault States

In some states, each party that is involved in a motorcycle or other traffic accident must file a claim with their own vehicle insurance company, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Ohio is not a no-fault state, which means a driver who is found to be at fault for an accident can be deemed financially responsible for any injuries or damages they caused. 

Can Motorcycle Drivers Be Sued From an Auto Crash?

It is entirely possible that a motorcycle driver who is found to be at fault in a traffic accident can be sued for damages by the accident victim. 

Ready to Talk to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?

After reading this article, you should now be familiar with the common causes of motorcycle accidents and how to determine fault for a motorcycle accident

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact one of our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers, whether you have been found at fault or not. We can help you gather evidence to prove who caused the accident and use that evidence to build your personal injury or wrongful death case against the responsible party.

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If you have been injured or have lost a loved one as a result of another person's negligence, you deserve to be fully compensated for your losses. The simple fact is that you should not be forced to pay the price for another person's careless or reckless actions.