- November 16, 2023
- Attorney David Mann
- Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle riders face unfair biases and are often assumed to be at fault for motorcycle accidents, but most often, that is not the case. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents happen due to the fault of another driver, usually because the driver doesn’t see the motorcycle rider. Despite this, insurance companies, judges and juries are influenced by this bias, and will often make it difficult for motorcyclists injured in accidents to collect fair compensation for their injuries.
If you or a loved one was injured or someone has died in a motorcycle accident caused by another party’s negligence or fault, you should be entitled to compensation through insurance or a lawsuit. According to Georgia law (OCGA) §51-1-6), the negligent driver is legally liable for the accident damages. But insurance companies are out for profit and often will attempt to deny claims, get you to accept less than your case is worth, or make it seem as if the accident was your fault, especially if there is a motorcycle involved.
Motorcycle accidents typically result in serious injuries, and it’s difficult to fight for fair compensation on your own. Fortunately, an experienced Georgia motorcycle accident lawyer can help get past these biases, investigate your case and show that someone else was responsible, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
When is a Motorcyclist at Fault for an Accident in Georgia?
Motorcycle accidents happen for many reasons, and there are times when the motorcyclist is at fault or did something to contribute to the accident. Motorcyclists may be at fault if they are doing something reckless, such as weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, running a red light, or lane-splitting, which is illegal in Georgia. However, the small size of motorcycles makes them more difficult for other drivers to see, and it is often the driver of another vehicle or an outside occurrence such as a defective road or severe weather that causes or contributes to the crash.
Here are some of the most common ways another driver may cause a motorcycle accident:
- Failing to give the motorcycle a full lane’s width – A motorcycle should be treated just like any other vehicle on the road and given an entire lane in which to maneuver.
- Failing to signal a lane change, traffic merger or turn – Motorcyclists need to know when the driver in front is going to change positions or turn.
- Failing to check mirrors or blind spots – Car drivers must check for other vehicles, including motorcycles, before they change lanes, merge, or turn at an intersection.
- Following too closely – Motorcyclists may need to change speed or make a sudden adjustment to avoid potholes, loose gravel, or slick spots in the road, and car drivers must allow the time and space to safely make those adjustments.
- Failing to register that a motorcycle is present –– A driver might miss seeing a motorcyclist, for example, when the driver makes a left-hand turn at an intersection and doesn’t see an oncoming motorcyclist until it is too late.
Who is Liable in a Motorcycle Accident?
Since Georgia is a “fault” accident state, anyone responsible for accidents is held liable and must pay for their victims’ damages. However, liability must be proven; to win your case, your attorneys would have to show that another party, the defendant in the case, was negligent and at fault for causing the accident.
All drivers have a duty to drive responsibly and avoid causing accidents. If someone neglects this duty, that party may be held legally liable for resulting injuries. Proving negligence requires showing the existence of the following elements:
- Duty — You were owed a duty of care by the defendant not to cause harm.
- Breach — The defendant breached that duty of care by actions or failure to act.
- Cause – This breach caused your injuries.
- Damages — You suffered damages as a result.
In a successful lawsuit, you may receive an award, called damages, for your losses and injuries. Georgia allows awards for both compensatory damages and punitive damages.
1. Compensatory damages include general and special damages.
- Special damages are for your monetary losses, such as:
- medical and rehabilitative expenses
- property damage, such as to replace a ruined motorcycle
- lost income from being unable to work.
- General damages are those that do not have a specific dollar value, but negatively impact your life. Examples include past and future pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability, or loss of enjoyment of life.
2. Punitive damages may also be awarded in some rare situations. Georgia statutes (O.C.G.A., 51-12-5.1) state that punitive damages are awarded if there is “willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or … conscious indifference to consequences.”
If the crash results in death, Georgia’s wrongful death statute (OCGA §51-4-2) allows the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased victim to file a wrongful death claim. Damages may include potential lifetime earnings of the deceased and loss of intangible items, such as advice and companionship.
When is a Motorcyclist Liable for an Accident?
Like any other driver, a motorcyclist is liable for an accident when found to be at fault for causing it. In many accidents, both the motorcyclist and other drivers may have done something to contribute to the accident. In this case, Georgia has a comparative negligence law stating that the person who is negligent must take responsibility for their actions by paying a share of the damages based on the fault they are determined to have.
As long as you are less than 50% responsible for the accident, you can still receive compensation for your injuries and other expenses. This is true even if you are found to be 49% at fault. Your damage award, however, would be reduced by the percentage you are found to be at fault. For example, if you are deemed to be 20 % at fault and the award is for $100,000, you would still be able to receive $80,000.
If you are found to be 50% or more responsible for your motorcycle accident in Georgia, you would not be able to collect anything, however, and you would be liable for the other driver’s damages.
Get Help from Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Proving fault in a motorcycle accident is challenging, and there is a lot at stake, but the experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at the Mann Law Firm can help you get fair compensation for your losses and injuries. As a motorcycle accident lawyer dedicated to seeking maximum recovery for motorcycle accident victims in Macon and across Georgia, David Mann knows how to put his background and experience to use to benefit his clients in investigations, settlement negotiations, and in court.
The Mann Law Firm provides a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your motorcycle accident and determine the best way to proceed. We work on a contingency basis, so you pay nothing unless we win a settlement for you.
Do not delay, as there are deadlines for filing. Call us today at (478) 742-3381, so we can get started with a free review of your case while the evidence is fresh and witnesses can be found.