Are Drivers Always At-Fault for Hitting a Motorcyclist?

driver passing motorcyclist Riding a motorcycle has its inherent risks, but drivers are expected to stay alert and be extra cautious for motorcyclists. When a motorcyclist is hit by a car, it is often presumed the driver is to blame for the accident. However, that is not always the case.

Motorcycle riders should never assume that a driver sees them and will yield. There are certain situations when a motorcyclist may be deemed partially at fault for causing an accident.

Below, we discuss liability in these cases and what it takes to pursue compensation for your losses. If you have been injured in a motorcycle-related accident, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm to learn more about your rights in a free initial consultation. This meeting comes with no risk or legal obligation.

Get answers to your questions: (877) 888-5201

Drivers and Motorcyclists Share Responsibility

Driving a car and riding a motorcycle may require different knowledge and skill, but drivers and motorcyclists share responsibility for creating a safe environment.

A driver must be aware that a motorcyclist may be closer than he or she may appear, and a motorcyclist must ride defensively. Both drivers and motorcyclists are required to share the road with awareness and caution for others. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation outlines several safe driving techniques and proper protocols for operating a motorcycle to help prevent accidents and injuries.

Drivers have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring motorcyclists. This includes watching for motorcyclists, yielding the right of way and maintaining a safe following distance. A driver who changes lanes or turns into a motorcyclist’s path can cause a serious accident.

Motorcyclists also have certain responsibilities, such as slowing down before entering a turn, wearing protective gear, staying out in the open and avoiding riding in a driver’s blind spot. It is illegal for a motorcyclist to ride between lanes or rows of stopped or slow-moving traffic going in one direction.

Fault in the Event of an Accident

Motorcycle-related accidents are often due to driver negligence. Situations in which a driver may be at fault for hitting a motorcyclist include operating a vehicle while drowsy, distracted or impaired.

Traffic safety laws are in place for a reason and when drivers violate these laws, they may be liable for damages. Many violations can lead to an accident, including but not limited to speeding, following too closely, failing to yield, running red lights or stop signs and improperly passing.

However, there are other situations when a motorcyclist could be at fault for an accident and any resulting injuries. Perhaps the motorcyclist was recklessly weaving in and out of traffic, completely oblivious to the safety of others on the road, or disregarded road signs and failed to use turn signals.

Wisconsin is a comparative negligence state. Even if a motorcyclist is found partially to blame for an accident, he or she may still be able to recover compensation. This extends to motorcycle passengers. However, you will not be able to recover compensation if you are more at fault than the driver.

An Oshkosh motorcycle accident lawyer from our firm is ready to review your situation in a free case review and make sure that you are not assigned unnecessary blame. Not having a lawyer by your side could hurt your chances of obtaining fair and just compensation.

Why Drivers Often Fail to See Motorcyclists

Drivers often fail to see motorcyclists due to something known as inattentional blindness. This refers to a driver’s failure to notice an object in plain sight. This is different from being in a driver’s blind spot.

The brain processes so many things at one time that it only pays attention to things it determines are important or top priority. Since driving requires you to complete multiple tasks simultaneously, the brain assesses the most important ones to focus on and removes the rest. All too often, motorcyclists are removed by the brain. That is why drivers are likely to experience inattentional blindness and cause an accident.

Even the safest drivers on the road have a risk of not seeing motorcyclists around or near them. A driver may still pull out in front of a motorcyclist no matter the weather or traffic conditions.

A driver cannot use inattentional blindness as an excuse to say that he or she is blameless for an accident. It is also important to note that inattentional blindness is impossible if a driver is actively looking for motorcyclists on the road.

Insurance Company Bias Against Motorcyclists

Even though motorcyclists are often less at fault in an accident with another vehicle, many insurance companies still seem biased against motorcyclists. There are negative stereotypes that make it harder for motorcyclists to recover compensation after an accident. Compensation is important for injured victims, especially motorcyclists, since they are more vulnerable to serious, life-threatening injuries.

Negligence may be assumed despite the facts and evidence saying otherwise. Motorcyclists are often considered to be reckless, involved in a gang or have a criminal record. An insurer may try to pinpoint ways that the motorcyclist could have done things differently to have avoided the accident.

Some people may have seen a motorcyclist going too fast or going in and out of traffic and wrongly perceive that all motorcyclists are likely to do this. While some motorcyclists may be speeding, many are more than careful and cautious not to endanger the lives of others sharing the roadway.

Bias against motorcyclists often comes down to insurance companies trying to save themselves money. They will look for any way to undervalue or deny a claim, especially related to motorcycle accidents.

We Advocate for Injured Victims’ Rights. Call Today

Sigman Janssen has helped many injured accident victims over the years recover compensation after being injured by someone else’s negligent behavior. We understand how difficult this time must be for you and your family, which is why we are prepared to fight for the maximum compensation possible.

The initial consultation is free of charge without any obligation to hire our firm. If we determine that you have a case, there are no upfront fees to utilize our services. We only get paid if you get paid.

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