Many motorcycle accidents caused by cars happen at intersections. In particular, left-turn accidents can be very dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 39 percent of fatal two-vehicle motorcycle accidents in 2011 occurred when another vehicle was turning left and the bike was going straight, passing or overtaking the vehicle.
Fault in a Left-Turn Accident
It’s important to note that while most of the time fault is with the person making the left turn, this isn’t always the case. One example is when a motorcyclist going straight through an intersection is speeding. A couple of miles over wouldn’t likely impact the case, but going well over the posted speed limit might.
Another possible exception to fault in a left-turn accident is when the motorcyclist is in the wrong lane; for instance, driving straight through the intersection while in the opposite left turn only lane. The driver making the left turn wouldn’t be expecting the motorcycle to proceed through the intersection in this case.
If the motorcycle went through a red light, this could also be used as an argument by the driver turning left in his or her defense. In circumstances such as these, both parties may be at fault. It may then impact the amount of compensation that is recoverable.
But in many cases, fault lies strictly with the individual who turned left. That’s because one of the rules of the road is that a motorist doesn’t make a left turn unless it’s safe to do so, which means there are no approaching vehicles or any oncoming traffic is far enough away that the driver can make the turn safely.
One of the arguments that drivers sometimes make is that they couldn’t see the motorcycle. Visibility may be a challenge but it doesn’t invalidate a driver’s responsibility to ensure it’s safe before making a left turn.
When Both Parties Are at Fault in a Motorcycle Accident
If the driver turning left was at fault but the motorcyclist was also to blame for the accident, it could reduce the amount of damages available. Since New York follows pure comparative negligence laws, this allows for recovery of compensation no matter the person’s degree of fault.
But let’s say a motorcyclist is found 45 percent responsible in a left-turn accident because it’s proven that he/she had been speeding. If the biker’s damages total $15,000, the amount recoverable is just $8,250 ($15,000 minus 45 percent). This may not be enough to cover repairs to the bike, medical bills and lost income, let alone allow for compensation for pain and suffering.
This is why bikers should never assume that the driver turning left automatically at fault for an accident. It’s best to talk with an attorney, especially if injuries are serious.
Evidence Necessary to Prove a Motorcycle Accident Was Caused by a Car
Physical evidence can go a long way in establishing the type of accident. If there’s any kind of dispute about whether or not it was a left-turn crash, damage to the bike and vehicle may clear that up.
Witnesses can prove invaluable in this type of case. Not only could a bystander testify to the fact that a vehicle turned left directly in front of a motorcycle. But the person might be able to note that the driver failed to look before turning. Or a witness may back up the motorcyclist’s claims that he/she was driving at the posted speed limit.
Red light cameras, nearby surveillance cameras, and even police reports can shed light on liability for the accident. Seek consultation with an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates to discuss your case in greater detail. A lawyer will explain the types of evidence that may help establish that the motorcycle accident was caused by the car. Call 800-246-4878.