Determining Motorcycle Accident Liability in New York

Motorcycle accident liability generally depends on whether a traffic law was broken and/or if negligence played a role in the accident. Accident victims must establish the other driver was at fault for the accident due to his or her careless and/or reckless actions, like distracted driving or speeding.

Additionally, fault could go both ways. The driver of a motor vehicle might have been talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash, but the motorcyclist could have been speeding. In that case, a determination would need to be made as to each party’s degree of fault in the crash.

Accident Fault is Based on Negligence 

Not slowing down in inclement weather is an example of negligence. Motorists are expected to be extra careful when the roads are slick and dangerous. When a motorist does not adjust speed or driving behavior accordingly and it results in an accident, the driver would likely be at fault.

Drivers owe others on the road a duty of care, and breaking this duty is considered negligent. Driving erratically is a breach of this duty, as is failing to drive safely in adverse weather conditions. In many cases, accident victims may establish the other driver’s fault by presenting evidence of a traffic violation.

Accident Fault Based on Violation of Traffic Laws 

Distracted driving is not only negligent, but certain forms are also against the law in the state of New York. Drivers are not allowed to use a handheld device for talking or texting. Because this is a primary law, it means even without another violation, officers can issue tickets for using one. Of course, distracted driving also would play a significant role in determining fault.

Another example of a traffic violation that may determine fault is the act of lane splitting. Motorcyclists sometimes do this in order to avoid being slowed down by stopped traffic. It’s done by maneuvering the bike in between lanes of vehicles. But in New York, it is against the law, so this could also be helpful in establishing fault if it played a role in a crash.

Other examples of violations that could help establish motorcycle accident liability include speeding, impairment and failing to yield. One of the benefits of a traffic violation is that it’s often noted in a police accident report. This can help prove who was responsible for a crash.

When More Than One Party Is at Fault in a Motorcycle Accident 

Fault doesn’t always rest solely on one party. Sometimes the actions of both (or multiple parties) play a role in the cause of a crash. When this is the case, degree of fault of each party is important.

In some states, once an injured person reaches a certain percentage of responsibility for the accident, the ability to recover damages is prohibited. However, in New York, even if someone was 99 percent at fault for a crash, compensation is recoverable. Of course, the amount would be reduced based on the degree of fault assigned.

If the individual is 99 percent at fault, only one percent of the individual’s damages are recoverable. Likewise, if an individual is 20 percent at fault and is found to have $100,000 in recoverable damages, the individual can recover only $80,000.

Because motorcycle accidents often cause serious or fatal injuries, it may be a good idea to consult an attorney. Further, if accident fault is disputed, talk to an attorney about establishing motorcycle accident liability. Call (800) 246-4878 to reach an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates and get started on your claim today.

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