bike accident lawyerAn important task for a bike accident lawyer is establishing who is at fault in a motorcycle accident.  The fault determination is rarely black and white.  In fact, it’s very possible that both motor vehicle operators will share some of the fault in the bike accident.  Depending on the laws in your state, you may be found to have contributed to your own injuries in some way.  This article will discuss the various comparative negligence principles that may apply to your case.

The historical theory of contributory negligence

For a long time, “contributory negligence” was the theory that governed situations where the injured person may have helped to cause the accident or his own injuries.  Under contributory negligence, if it can be proven that the injured person contributed to the accident in any manner, that injured person will no longer be entitled to compensation for their injuries.  According to law, this would be the case regardless of the other party’s level of responsibility.

An example of contributory negligence

If someone slips and falls on someone else’s property because of water on the floor that was not removed, for example, the property owner would likely be held negligent.  But, if it can be proven that it was raining that day, the injured person saw the water but chose not to avoid it, then there could be a finding of contributory negligence, preventing compensation.  Some states still follow this theory.  However, both Arkansas and Missouri have done away with this strict theory.

Missouri’s Comparative Negligence Theory

There is a more lenient theory of comparative negligence which says, basically, that your compensation may be limited based on the percentage of your responsibility for the accident.  So, for instance, if it can be established that you were 20% responsible for the accident, meaning the property owner would only be 80% responsible, then would only be entitled to 90% of the compensation to which you would otherwise be entitled.  A bike accident lawyer would understand how to defend against this theory of negligence.

Arkansas’s modified comparative fault theory

Under the modified comparative fault system, the injured person can only recovery for damages resulting from the accident if that person is less than 50% at fault.  There are 33 states that recognize the Modified Comparative Fault Rule.  Twelve states follow the 50% Bar Rule, meaning the injured party cannot recover if he or she is 50% or more at fault.  In those cases, the party could recover, but recovery will be reduced by the degree of fault.  Arkansas, is one of those states.

Another version of the Modified Comparative Fault Rule

A slightly different modification recognized in twenty-one states is the 51% Bar Rule.  Under this modified rule, a damaged party cannot recover if that party is 51% or more at fault. However, the damaged party can recover if it is 50 percent or less at fault, but that recovery would be reduced by its degree of fault.

Motorcyclists may be more prone to contributing to an accident

We all recognize that riding a motorcycle is often more dangerous than driving a car.  However, if you know what to do, riding a motorcycle can give you the best possible option for avoiding an accident.  In other words, with their incredibly powerful brakes, obstruction-free vision, excellent handling and very efficient tires, motorcycles can be safely handled.  Knowing how to avoid common motorcycle accident situations can mean the difference between injury and death.

Know the basis of motorcycle safety

Studies have shown that, the best way to decrease the risk of being injured in a motorcycle accident is to be well-educated in motorcycle safety in general.  In fact, if you are a new motorcyclist, it is extremely important that you complete a basic course in operating a motorcycle.  Another way to reduce the risk is to invest in appropriate motorcycle safety gear. Also, bright colors are very useful in helping other drivers to notice you on the roadway.

Tips for avoiding the most common accident situations

Two of the most common situations are when a car turns left in front of you or changes lanes into you.  In order to avoid a car turning in front of your bike, you need to see the situation coming.  As a motorcyclist, you often need to be more observant than the automobile and truck drivers on the road with you.  As for sudden lane changes, the best way to avoid this dangerous situation, is to be aware of blind spots and stay out of them as much as possible.  If you can see a driver’s eyes in their mirrors, they can see you, if they look of course.
If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, contact us online or call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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