Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Arkansas and Missouri

Depending on when you grew up, your parents may have required you to wear a helmet whenever you road your bike or skateboard.The same rules should apply to motorcycles – and they do, since 1967. Back then, the federal government required every state to enact motorcycle helmet laws.  If they did not, the state would not qualify for certain federal funds for highway safety. Arkansas helmet laws are pretty standard, but it is still good to be familiar with the ins and outs of these laws before traveling through the state on your Harley. Motorcycle Helmet Law in Arkansas According to Arkansas helmet law, Arkansas also requires motorcycle operators and passengers under the age of 21 to wear a helmet. Three-wheel motorcycles equipped with a cab and a windshield, and do not exceed twenty horsepower (20 hp), are excluded from the requirement.Many municipal police departments use these types of vehicles. All motorcyclists and passengers in Arkansas must wear protective glasses, goggles or face shields, regardless of age. Helmet Laws – Are they Even Necessary? Nearly half the states in our country require helmets to be worn by all motorcyclists. Most of the remaining states, at least require helmets for certain categories of people. Only Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire do not have a motorcycle helmet law. The federal government still urges each state to adopt a universal law and to enforce that law. But, why is this so important? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 4,381 motorcyclists were killed in crashes in 2013.  Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13% of all motor vehicle crash fatalities in 2013.  That is more than twice the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997. Motorcycle Helmet Law in Missouri Missouri is one of the states that has a limited motorcycle helmet law.  Missouri’s law requires any motorcyclist under the age of 21 to wear a helmet while traveling on the roadways. The fine for failing to wear a helmet in Missouri is no more than $25 per offense. There are divided opinions regarding the need for mandatory helmet laws in Missouri.  Those who oppose a mandatory helmet law believe that adults should be free to decide whether to wear a helmet. Proponents of mandatory helmet laws say that the law, not only protects motorcyclists during accidents but also saves the state money in medical expenses. Do Helmets Really Provide Adequate Protection and Prevent Death? Statistics show that every year, more than 2,200 individuals die in motorcycle accidents and more than 55,000 more are injured.  A helmet is a motorcyclist’s most effective piece of safety equipment. While helmets will not prevent crashes, they can reduce the number of deaths and disabling injuries that occur as a result of motorcycle collisions.Statistically, the benefit of wearing a helmet is overwhelming.  According to one report, a motorcyclist is 16 times more likely to die in a crash than the driver of an automobile. However, wearing a helmet reduces that risk by nearly 30%.Another fact to consider is that head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. The University of Southern California conducted a study of 900 motorcycle accidents. The results showed that wearing a helmet was the single most critical factor in reducing, or even preventing, head and neck injuries in motorcycle operators and passengers. Why not use common sense? If someone was going to hit you on the head with a baseball bat, would you rather have a helmet on your head or not? The answer is obvious, and the answer is the same for falling off your motorcycle and hitting your head on the ground. If you have questions regarding automobile accidents or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

Can a Bike Accident Lawyer Help if I am Partly at Fault?

An 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.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

4 Dangerous Myths about Riding a Motorcycle

Motorcycles are smaller and less stable than automobiles, so they allow for a smaller margin of error when it comes to operating them on the roadways.  The statistics show that thousands of people are injured in motorcycle accident each year, and most of those accidents are the result of rider error.  But, many of types of accidents can be avoided with the knowledge that your bike accident lawyer can share with you to dispel some of the myths about riding a motorcycle. Myth No. 1     Lay down your bike if you think you’re going to crash It is never a good idea to try to “lay down” your bike, especially if you are traveling at high speeds.  In most cases, laying down your bike will do more harm than good.  Instead, it is best to reduce your speed as much as possible, using both of your brakes in order to mitigate a bad wreck. Myth No. 2     Racing tires make your bike safer on the road Unless you intend to go more than 200 miles per hour on the highway, racing tires will not perform any better than regular tires.  Motorcycle racing tires, like automobile racing tires, are designed to use the immense heat generated from high speeds to create better grip on the roadway.  Therefore, using these tires on a normal highway, going the speed limit, will not make your bike any safer. Myth No. 3     18 to 25 year old bikers are at higher risk of injury You might assume that younger drivers would be at higher risk simply because of inexperience.  While that might be true, generally speaking, the NHTSA reports that those at highest risk of death are motorcyclists aged 40 to 55 years old.  Don’t assume that simply because you have been riding for 20 years you are less prone to be injured while riding.  Accidents can happen and you shouldn’t allow your experience to make you overconfident and less cautious. Myth No. 4     Get your dream bike when you first start riding It would be surprising if a motorcyclist’s dream bike was the safer beginner’s model.  Most likely it’s a head-turning sports bike or a powerful Harley.  However, most young riders aren’t born ready to handle the kind of power that a top of the line motorcycle can bring.  It is more important for every rider to learn to handle a more basic model and then progress at their own pace before jumping on that dream bike. Be safe and be patient and you’ll get to ride that dream bike one day. What makes motorcycles more dangerous? Motorcycle riders are inherently exposed to dangers not faced by automobile drivers because of the lack of a protective barrier between a motorcyclist and the road.  Also because of the lack of safety features found in passenger vehicles, such as seatbelts, airbags, and a metal frame, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer serious or even catastrophic injuries.  Motorcyclists must remain aware of their surroundings as they are much smaller than passenger vehicles and may be more difficult for other drivers to see. How to avoid motorcycle accidents There are a few steps motorcyclists can take in an effort to reduce the risk of being involved in a serious or fatal wreck.  First, take good care of your motorcycle.  The better you maintain your motorcycle the less likely your machine will be the cause of an accident. Also, wearing protective clothing and equipment is a necessity.  Without the outer protection that cars provide, equipment like goggles, boots, gloves and other protective clothing can be very helpful in protecting your skin and body in a crash.  Of course, you should not ride without a helmet. Make sure you are seen and heard by the other motorists Many accidents are the result of other riders on the roadway failing to see motorcycles.  The reality is, many drivers are not used to looking out for bikes and only register the absence of another car.  So, it is important for motorcyclists to make themselves as visible as possible.  Use your lights to be seen and your horn to signal danger.  That will help others realize you are there.  Avoid heavy traffic and maneuver to large open spots on the roadway with fewer vehicles whenever possible. If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

Guardrails Can Be Hazardous to Bikers

Guardrails and other roadside barriers are designed to protect vehicles from running off the road or bridges or colliding with trees and other obstacles.  However, to bikes on the roadway guardrails can pose more of a threat.  As a bike accident lawyer knows, if a bike hits a guardrail, the likely result is the rider will be thrown from their bike and injured. Motorcyclist dies after striking a guardrail in Florida We have all seen guardrails on major highways and roadways throughout the country.  While they have certainly saved many lives and reduced the risk of accidents and injuries, they can pose a safety risk to motorcyclists.  A motorcyclist was fatally injured in early February 2016 in Florida after he smashed into a guardrail.  He had difficulty maneuvering on a left curve and went off the road, crashing into the guardrail and ejecting him from his motorcycle.  Although he was wearing a motorcycle helmet, his injuries were too severe. Studies suggest that some guardrail designs are defective There have been recent nationwide studies that raise serious concerns about the actual safety of these devices. According to on study, the new design of some guardrail terminals may be more likely to lead to serious injury or death. The guardrail “terminals” or “heads” are the start and end pieces of the metal guardrail.  The purpose of these terminals is to absorb the energy from the impact of a vehicle. Yet, according to widespread news reports, the new guardrail terminal design has been piercing through vehicles. How to handle an unexpected corner It is not an uncommon situation.  Bikers often find themselves trying to negotiate a curve but realize they may not be able to make it around successfully.  The best way to handle this situation is to straighten up, taking as much lean out of the bike as you can, and try to control the bike as smoothly as you can.  Trust your bike and ride it out.  The best way to avoid this situation is to only ride as fast as you can see the road ahead of you.  You must give yourself sufficient time to see and respond to the visual clues that suggest the road’s direction. Why motorcycles have a higher risk of injury The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in 2011 that 4,612 motorcyclists were killed in accidents.  This was an increase of 2 percent from the 4,518 motorcyclists killed in 2010.  Another study conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), reported that also in 2011, Arkansas reported 60 motorcycle accidents and 77 in Missouri. Why are motorcycles different from cars? One obvious reason that bikers are at higher risk of injury is because of the nature of a motorcycle.  Motorcyclists are more exposed to injury literally because they lack any substantial protective barrier between themselves and the road or any obstacles they hit.  Another unique factor is that most other motorists are not used to anticipating or looking for a motorcycle. Due to the minimal safety features that are provided by passenger vehicles (e.g., seatbelts, airbags, and a metal frame), motorcyclists usually suffer more extensive, and often catastrophic, injuries. Affirmative steps you can take to protect yourself The good news is, there are steps you can take as a motorcyclist that may help to reduce the risk of being involved in a collision.  First step – take good care of your bike.  The better you maintain your motorcycle the less likely the bike itself will be the cause of an accident. Also, wearing protective clothing and equipment cannot be overlooked.  Since motorcycles provide no outer protection, gear like a helmet, goggles, boots, gloves and other protective clothing are crucial for protecting your skin and body in an accident. Tricks to avoiding motorcycle accidents It is important for motorcyclists to be seen and heard by other motorists near you.  You can do this by keeping your lights on so you are more visible.  Never hesitate to use your horn to signal other motorists and help them to recognize where you are.  Again, stay watchful in turns and curves and avoid heavy traffic when at all possible.  If you cannot avoid multi-lane interstates, the safest place to be is in the far left lane.  That way you have a better opportunity to avoid merging and exiting traffic. 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.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

Common Defenses in Motorcycle Accident Cases

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is common to take legal action in order to receive compensation for your medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering.  If you are considering whether to file a lawsuit, it is important to at least become familiar with some of the common defenses in motorcycle accident cases.  That way, you can prepare for them.  This is equally important, even in situations where a lawsuit is not filed.  Defenses are still important in negotiating settlement with an insurance carrier. Categories of defenses in motorcycle accident cases There are basically two categories of defenses that most often arise in motorcycle accident cases: those based on the facts and those based on the law.  Factual defenses can only be based on the specific factual circumstances of each case, and often include the failure to mitigate damages and contributory or comparative negligence.  On the other hand, legal defenses can bar a claim, based on some law or regulation. Statute of Limitations Defenses in Motorcycle Accident Cases The most common defense in motorcycle accident cases, as well as many other types of personal injury claims, is the statute of limitations.  The “statute of limitations” refers to the deadline or time limit imposed on bringing a legal claim.  This time limit is different depending on the state law that applies.   A statute of limitations restriction the time frame within which a motorcycle accident case may be filed. The allowed amount of time varies depending on the state.  The statute of limitations in Arkansas for personal injury claims, including auto accidents, is three (3) years from the date the injury was sustained. In Missouri, the time limit for bringing a personal injury claim is five (5) years. Liability Defenses in Motorcycle Accident Cases The most common factual defenses in motorcycle accident cases involve proving who is at fault. It is very common for a defendant to try to prove the plaintiff played a role in causing the accident.  This is where the concept of comparative negligence comes in.  In a state that follows the comparative negligence doctrine, each party is assigned a certain percentage of responsibility for the accident. Missouri follows a pure comparative fault system, and Arkansas follows the more common modified Comparative Fault system. With that system, if the percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence reaches a certain threshold, then the plaintiff’s recovery will be completely barred. The Failure to Mitigate Damages Under the law, an injured party maintains the responsibility to mitigate damages which means that, if anything is done to make the injury worse, the amount of potential recovery may be reduced. For instance, if the injured party is ordered by his doctor to avoid certain activities following a motorcycle accident and those instructions are not followed and the injuries worsen, the amount of recoverable damages will be reduced. If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

Common Motorcycle Accident Scenarios

Motorcyclists are well aware of the serious risks of being involved in potentially catastrophic accidents.  A recent motorcycle accident in San Diego demonstrates how, even the most careful motorcyclists can suffer debilitating injuries.  A San Diego City College student lost a limb after being struck by an automobile while on his motorcycle.  So, what can motorcyclists do to avoid such injuries?  Being familiar with some of the common motorcycle accident scenarios may be a first step. When a car turns left in front of you One of the most common accident scenarios occurs when a car unexpectedly turns left in front of a motorcyclist.  Automobile drivers often have a tough time estimating the speed of a motorcyclist, or simply do not see a motorcycle on the roadway at all.  The trick to avoiding these types of accidents is to pay attention to the other drivers around you.  If you can anticipate the potential accident, you may be able to adjust your direction and speed, in order to avoid the collision.  Look for cars at an intersection waiting to turn left or gaps in traffic near an intersection of a parking lot.  If you can allow yourself sufficient time to avoid the accident, it could make the difference between life and death. Unexpected rough patches in the road Another common cause for motorcycle accidents is rough or uneven road surfaces.  If you are trying to round a corner and hit a patch of gravel, leaves, ice or any other dangerous surface, you run a serious risk of sliding and being thrown from your motorcycle.  The first precaution to take is to always approach a curve in the road more slowly.  Doing so may allow you enough of an opportunity to see the rough patch in order to avoid it.  If not, traveling at a slower speed can be helpful as well. Automobiles cutting you off in your lane It is not uncommon for cars to change lanes all of a sudden, without using their turn signals.  This can cause sever motorcycle accidents as well.  One way to help prevent such an accident is for the motorcyclist to be very diligent, paying attention to a car driver’s blind spots and avoid them as much as possible. If you can see a driver in his or her sideview mirror, then it is very likely that the driver can see you, as well. Also pay attention to a car’s turn signal coming on or a vehicle veering toward your lane. Remember to slow down and ensure that you stay out of the driver’s blind spot. Protect yourself as best you can The first line of defense is wearing protective gear.  While you might have a feeling of invincibility when riding, it is the other drivers on the road that you have to be aware of.  A distracted automobile driver can cause a fatal accident unexpectedly and completely unintentionally.  So, protecting yourself as much as possible is always important. If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

The Benefits of Having an Attorney After a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle accidents are often catastrophic.  They typically change the lives of the victims, as well as their families.  Litigating a motorcycle accident case can be very overwhelming, as there are many issues that can arise with regard to liability and proving damages.  For these, and many other reasons, the benefits of having an attorney after a motorcycle accident should not be overlooked. What to do immediately after the accident Until you have the opportunity to consult with an attorney, there are a few things you should know about how to handle yourself, after you have been involved in a motorcycle accident.  First, don’t sign anything without consulting an attorney first. If you do, you may jeopardize your chances to recover for your injuries.  If you are approached by an insurance company, do not allow them to take a recorded interview.  You have the legal right to refuse. Why do I need an attorney? Besides the obvious fact that the legal process can be confusing and complicated, with various deadlines and documents to file, the insurance companies that generally represent the at-fault drivers are very aggressive.  Their goal is to settle the case for as little as possible, and they know how to accomplish that goal with an unsuspecting victim.  An experienced personal injury attorney, familiar with the specific issues common to motorcycle accident cases, will be better suited for handling the tactics of the big insurance companies. What benefits do attorneys provide? There are many aspects of litigating a motorcycle accident case that an attorney will handle.  The importance of preserving evidence cannot be overstated.  An attorney will send investigators to the scene of the accident to gather the evidence necessary to establish liability.  Gathering evidence is one of the most important first steps in litigating a motorcycle accident case.  Of course, your attorney will handle all of the drafting and filing of necessary paperwork, and dealing with the requests from insurance companies. Overcoming bias against motorcyclists Another issue that may be more specific in motorcycle accident cases is the personal bias many people have against motorcyclists in general.  This may be due to stereotypes or simply a lack of familiarity with the culture of bikers.  Nevertheless, these preconceived notions or judgments against motorcyclists should not be allowed to play a role in obtaining the appropriate compensation for victims of a motorcycle accident. The reality is that even jury members are not immune to these unfounded biases, and may be less likely to award an appropriate verdict to a motorcyclist, even if liability is clear.  Because of this, it can often be difficult to reach a proper settlement of these cases before trial.  The need to establish a concrete case for liability can be even more important for an injured motorcyclist. If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

Beware of Hidden, Closed Head Injuries Following a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcyclists are often exposed to dangers on the road that other motorists do not encounter.  First, other motorists have more difficulty seeing motorcycles as quickly and clearly as other vehicles, which makes motorcyclists more likely to be struck.  To make matters worse, motorcyclists do not have a significant protective barrier between them and the road, or another vehicle.  If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, even if you were wearing a helmet, you must be cautious of closed head injuries, which often go undetected. What is a “closed head” injury? Closed head injuries, also referred to as traumatic brain injuries, are different from open head injuries in that nothing actually penetrates the brain.  Instead, a closed head injury is normally caused be a blow to the head.  Because of the nature of this type of injury, it is not easily detected.  Nevertheless, they are common and very dangerous if not diagnosed.  A closed head injury can also result in a concussion, which can have serious consequences, as well. What is a Concussion? The medical definition of a concussion is “a mild traumatic brain injury, usually occurring after a blow to the head.”  Contrary to what some people believe, loss of consciousness is not required for the diagnosis of a concussion.  A concussion can lead to, what is referred to as “post-concussion syndrome,” which describes the common symptoms of a concussion that can last for months. Symptoms of post-concussion syndrome Typically, Post-Concussion Syndrome involves headaches, dizziness, memory difficulties, weakness and nausea.  These symptoms occur in most people within the first 7-10 days following the initial trauma.  They normally subside within 3 months, but can persist as long as a year or more.  Other less common symptoms may include impaired attention, fatigue and emotional instability.  All of these symptoms can easily be dismissed by health care providers who are unfamiliar with the syndrome. Other complications following a closed head injury In addition to Post-Concussion Syndrome, closed head injuries can also lead to Post-Traumatic Amnesia, which is not to be confused with the brief disassociative reactions that many accident victims experience, as their mind attempts to shield them from the traumatic event.  A mild traumatic brain injury can cause dysfunction of brain cells, on a more temporary level. More serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain, which in turn, can result in long-term complications or even death. Delayed diagnosis of closed head injuries In many cases, motorcycle accident victims feel well enough to go home following their initial emergency room visit.  It may be several days before they visit their family physician.  That is typically when the first symptoms begin to occur.  All too often, neither the victim, nor the treating physician, will easily make the connection between the motorcycle accident and these new symptoms.  This disconnection is what often delays the diagnosis of a closed head injury. If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

Factors in Settling a Motorcycle Accident Case

One of the first questions personal injury clients ask is how much their case is worth.  The trouble is, there are so many factors to consider, all of which are unique to every situation and every client.  That makes it nearly impossible to accurately predict how much a motorcycle accident case may be worth.  Nonetheless, parties often make attempts at settling a motorcycle accident case, and there are some common factors that can be considered in reaching a probable value. Determining the value of a motorcycle case When attorneys make an effort to “value” a case, they are simply making the best guess at what a jury might award the injured party.  Attorneys must also factor in what the person being sued may be willing to pay, in order to avoid trial.  Ultimately, the amount the injured party (i.e., the client) is willing to accept to settle the case, must be taken into account.  Factually speaking, the two major factors in determining the value of the case are: (1) how bad the accident was and how serious the injuries were that resulted, and (2) how likely the jury will find the defendant responsible for the accident. The plaintiff’s injuries and losses Motorcycle accident cases, and personal injury cases in general, are difficult to value for settlement because not all of the damages are concrete.  In other words, expenses for medical treatment, lost wages, and property damage are easy to value because there is a “concrete” amount of loss.  You have the bills for your medical treatment, your pay stubs and estimates for the repair or replacement of your motorcycle.  It is the less concrete damages, such as “pain and suffering” which can only be determined with an educated guess.  Each case and each jury are always different.  However, reviewing previous jury awards in similar motorcycle accident cases, can provide a start. The extent of the defendant’s liability Another important factor to consider is whether the jury is likely to find that the defendant is actually liable, or responsible, for your injuries.  If you have little or no evidence that the defendant was at fault in the motorcycle accident, then the value of the case will likely decrease considerably.  If fault is not clear cut, a defendant may be more inclined to take the chance with a jury.  To the same degree, the injured client may be more willing to accept a smaller settlement, if the chances at trial aren’t too good. Bias against motorcyclists Unfortunately, clients involved in motorcycle accidents have another hurdle to overcome, and that is the bias against motorcyclists, in general.  The reality is, many juries have preconceived beliefs about motorcyclists.  Motorcyclists, or bikers, are often seen as irresponsible, unfriendly and hot-tempered.  Some may even assume they are involved in criminal activity.  While certainly none of these characteristics could be fairly imputed to every motorcyclist.  However, human nature and unfair stereotypes cannot always be avoided.  For this reason, it becomes even more important to make a concrete case for liability and damages. If you have questions regarding settlement, or any other motorcycle accident issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading
Motorcycle Accidents

Determining who is at Fault in Motorcycle Accidents

Figuring out who is required to pay for injuries and property damage, following a motorcycle accident, is based on both the actual circumstances and the laws in the state where the accident occurred.  Generally speaking, state laws fall into one of two categories or theories of liability: “no fault” or “comparative fault.”  As such, determining who is at fault in motorcycle accidents can be a challenge. No fault theory of liability In states that apply the “no fault” theory of liability in motorcycle accident cases, the injurer party is compensated for their injuries and other damages through their own insurance company.  In those states, your compensation for economic damages is limited to your insurance coverage, so it is crucial that you have adequate insurance coverage for yourself.  Typically, you can file a lawsuit to recover only non-economic damages, resulting from a motorcycle accident, such as pain and suffering.  In some cases, this type of recovery is only available if the amount exceeds a certain level. Fault based theories of liability Determining who is at fault for a motorcycle accident is more complicated in states that take fault into consideration.  In those states, you will file your insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.  So, it is important to determine exactly who is at fault for the accident.  In most “at-fault” states, the degree of fault each driver bears, determine who much each party is responsible for paying. Explaining the “comparative fault” system In states that follow the “comparative fault” system for determining who is at fault for a motorcycle accident, there are three possible scenarios: pure comparative fault, modified comparative fault and pure contributory fault.  Fault is determined by evaluating several factors, such weather and road conditions, how fast each vehicle involved in the accident was driving, and whether the drivers were impaired or distracted in any way.  Missouri is a “pure comparative fault” state, whereas Arkansas is a “modified comparative fault” state. Missouri’s pure comparative fault system In a pure comparative fault state, each driver can only be compensated for the percent of the damages they did NOT cause.  Each driver remains responsible for the part of the damage they caused.  So, for instance, if Jack and Lisa are involved in a motorcycle accident resulting in $10,000 worth of damage and injuries, and Jack is 80% at fault, then Jack can only recover $2,000, which represents the 20% of the damages for which Jack was NOT responsible.  Likewise, Lisa would be entitled to the other $8,000. Arkansas’s modified comparative fault system The modified comparative fault system, a driver can only recovery for injuries or damages resulting from the accident if that driver is less than 50% at fault.  If the situation with Jack and Lisa was analyzed under this system, Jack would not be able to recover anything because he was not less than 50% at fault. If you have questions regarding liability for motorcycle injuries, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

Continue Reading