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Are Motorcyclists at a Legal Disadvantage After a Collision With a Car?

Motorcyclists are often seen as reckless drivers who are more likely to cause accidents. This reputation is unfair and untrue. In reality, most motorcycle riders are very careful and cautious drivers, especially since they understand how vulnerable they are if they become involved in an accident. However, because of this faulty reputation, motorcyclists are often blamed for accidents, even when they are not at fault.

These false impressions make it very difficult for motorcyclists to receive fair compensation after an accident. Insurance companies may try to lowball motorcycle riders or deny their claims altogether. Therefore it is essential for motorcycle riders to seek experienced legal help after an accident.

Are Motorcycle Collisions in NYC Common?

Preliminary data in New York by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research showed that motorcycle crashes involving injuries and fatalities skyrocketed from 2019 to 2020, including a 5.46 percent increase in NYC. The number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities is also significantly overrepresented yearly compared to other vehicles. As a result, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die and four times more apt to be injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2020 than those in passenger vehicles.

Their Unfavorable Media Portrayal Led to a Negative View of Motorcyclists

Movies and television shows often portray motorcycle riders as reckless, law-breaking rebels. Early movies such as The Wild One and Easy Rider set the trend, and it wasn’t helped by news about violent motorcycle gangs such as the Hells Angels. While some motorcycle riders do fit this description, the vast majority of motorcyclists are upstanding citizens. They not only ride their motorcycles for enjoyment but because these bikes are more economical and convenient. Unfortunately, the portrayal of motorcycle riders in the media has led to a stereotypical view of motorcycle riders by some members of the public.

Why Is It Important to Hire an Injury Lawyer Who Can Combat Negative Views of Motorcyclists?

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to hire an experienced injury lawyer who can help you get the compensation you deserve. A lawyer will be able to investigate your crash and gather evidence to prove that you were not at fault. He or she will also be able to combat any negative views of motorcycle riders by insurance companies and juries.

Insurance Company Bias Against Motorcyclists

Motorcycle riders are predisposed to prejudice by the public, a tactic used by defense lawyers for insurance companies. As a way of muddying the waters, the defense will try to show that the rider was to blame for their own injuries in court.  They’ll say the rider did not avoid an accident by taking evasive action.

There are a myriad of ways in which the motorcycle driver can be blamed for the accident, including:

  • Taking too long to slow down to avoid an accident
  • Not being in the correct part of the traffic lane
  • Not wearing sufficient protective gear
  • Lack of driving experience or safety training
  • Not being conspicuous enough to avoid the collision
  • Suffering a medical or mental condition that led to the accident
  • Not getting out of the way when an accident was about to occur

Placing Fault on the Motorcycle Itself

The motorcycle is another potential attack target by the insurance company and their lawyers. It is common for insurance companies to have the motorcycle’s entire frame inspected for aftermarket modifications or additional parts that may have contributed to its handling issues.

A motorcycle’s performance is also considered. Motorcycle muffler pipes can be loud, so defense lawyers may argue that the motorcyclist couldn’t hear or react to the oncoming vehicle in time to avoid a collision because of the noise.

As part of their investigation, insurance investigators may also check the tire pressure on the damaged motorcycle and the torque on its rotating components to try and blame the motorcyclist. The investigators’ crash assessment in a motorcycle accident is extensive, so any lawyer must be prepared to defend their client against unbased verbal accusations. For example, if the damage to a motorcycle is in an upper section, the lawyer for the insurance company or at-fault driver may say there were control issues that led to the collision. On the other hand, if the lower part of the motorcycle sustained damage, lack of appropriate traction may be suggested as a cause.

An injury lawyer can refute these claims by having engineers examine the motorcycle immediately. These expert witnesses can be used to uncover any false allegations made by the defense or at-fault party’s insurance company.

Juries Are Often Biased Against Motorcycle Riders

A bias against riders can sometimes be evident in motorcycle cases. Whether true or not, motorcycle riders, especially those riding cruisers or sports bikes, are viewed as being reckless and driving too fast by many in the general public. For motorcycle personal injury lawyers, this is concerning when preparing for a trial, especially when selecting a jury. Press and cinema depictions of motorcyclists are likely to have influenced some potential jurors.

The biker’s lawyer must be prepared to counter both covert and overt implications of bias against motorcycles as a whole. It has been explicitly ruled by courts that a jury cannot be instructed that negligence can be assumed from merely using a motorcycle for transportation.

Educating Jurors in Motorcycle Accident Cases

Prejudiced jurors with less adventurous opinions may believe that motorcycle riding is inherently dangerous. Only a small percentage of potential jurors are likely to have experience handling motorcycles, which means their views must be changed to help the client get fair compensation for their injuries.

Potential jurors may come to the table with incomplete, inaccurate and even biased ideas about what they should know in order to decide factual questions about motorcycle riding. Therefore, evidence may be used early in the trial to show jurors how the rider controls the motorcycle, and what a rider is capable of doing in a safe and reasonable manner, and most importantly, the reasons why they would.

In motorcycling, qualified instructors and experienced riders are experts who can provide credible understanding. They can explain how speed, velocity, centrifugal forces, weight, gravity and momentum interact, as well as how human reaction times affect equipment performance.

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