Automobile safety technology has advanced considerably over the last 100 years. Yet vehicle collisions still kill or seriously injure millions of Americans every year. Motorcycle safety technology has barely budged over the past century. So, it is no surprise that motorcycle wrecks are 30 times deadlier than other vehicle collisions. Non-fatal motorcycle crash injuries are also much more serious than non-fatal vehicle collision injuries.
Quite frankly, these victims need money to pay these medical bills and otherwise put the pieces of their lives back together. Fortunately, a Marietta personal injury lawyer has several legal options in these cases. Each one usually results in maximum compensation for serious injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Negligence Per Se
Safety law violations cause many motorcycle wrecks. Failure to yield the right-of-way is a good example.
When tortfeasors (negligent drivers) make unprotected left turns, they often don’t see small motorcycles in a sea of large pickups, SUVs, and other vehicles. Therefore, the tortfeasor turns directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
Under the negligence per se doctrine, tortfeasors are liable for motorcycle wreck damages as a matter of law if:
- They violate safety laws, and
- Those violations substantially cause injury.
Sometimes, negligence per se is a presumption of negligence, as opposed to absolute proof of negligence. In these situations, a Marietta personal injury lawyer needs to introduce additional evidence to conclusively prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
This time-saving shortcut is often unavailable, even if the tortfeasor clearly broke a safety law. Because of the motorcycle prejudice, which is outlined below, emergency responders often don’t cite tortfeasors in these situations.
As mentioned, negligence is basically a lack of care. A Georgia ordinary negligence claim has four elements.
Most drivers have a duty of reasonable care to avoid accidents whenever possible. This duty is higher in some situations.
Drivers breach their duty of care when their actions don’t measure up to the standard of care. Common breaches of duty include:
- Speeding, tailgating, turning before looking, and other aggressive driving issues, and
- Driving while drunk, on drugs, while fatigued, or otherwise impaired.
Not every driving mistake is a breach of care. There’s a difference between speeding 5 mph over the limit and 20mph over the limit.
The breach must cause damages. Specifically, in Georgia, a breach must substantially cause injury. Bad weather and other conditions may contribute to car crashes, but they do not substantially cause them.
Normally, a victim must sustain physical damage to obtain compensation. Some exceptions, like the negligent infliction of emotional distress doctrine, apply in some situations.
The aforementioned motorcycle prejudice is an informal defense. To many jurors, motorcyclists are thugs who operate recklessly without considering the safety of other people.
Formal defenses, like comparative fault, apply in many motorcycle wreck cases. Comparative fault basically shifts blame for an accident off the tortfeasor and onto the victim. For example, in the aforementioned left turn wrecks, an insurance company lawyer might argue that the victim didn’t watch where s/he was going, and therefore the victim substantially caused the wreck.
Evidence, and the proper presentation of this evidence, is usually the key to overcoming defenses and obtaining maximum compensation.