Following any type of accident, including a motorcycle accident, one of the primary tasks of a motorcycle accident lawyer is determining who is required to pay for the resulting injuries and property damage. There are so many factors involved in determining liability, including the circumstances surrounding the crash and the legal requirements in each state. In a state where fault must be shown, conducting an independent investigation can be crucial.
Why investigation is necessary
In many cases, the investigation conducted by the police is insufficient in determining who caused a motorcycle accident. The investigation led by the police in cases that result in criminal charges are often more helpful, such as with DUIs or reckless driving cases. In those types of cases, your motorcycle accident lawyer can use the findings of the police department as the springboard for his own investigation. On the other hand, when the investigating officer decides that criminal charges are not warranted, that no one party is at fault, the accident report will likely not have any real helpful information. In those cases, an independent, third-party investigation into the accident is required.
Be sure to preserve all relevant evidence
First, it is critical that all evidence is preserved at the scene of the motorcycle accident, as soon as possible. Part of gathering pertinent evidence is taking pictures of the location where the accident occurred, as well as, all damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. You should also take pictures of your injuries, to preserve them before they resolve themselves.
Interview the witnesses at the scene
A crucial part of investigating any type of personal injury claim, including motorcycle accidents, is interviewing all witnesses who have some knowledge regarding the accident. Especially important are the eyewitnesses, if any. There may also be witnesses who observed the accident scene around the time of the accident, as well as, anyone who has come into contact with any of the parties. It is best to conduct interviews immediately after the accident, when a witness’s memory would be fresh. It may also be helpful to interview the responding police officers and emergency personnel.
Investigating the vehicles involved
In addition to taking pictures of the vehicles involved, those vehicles should also be inspected carefully. An investigation should include examining the condition of vehicle parts, such as brakes, tires and steering components. The reason for examining the other vehicles involved is to find any defects or lack of maintenance, as well as, evidence of recent repairs, which may play a role in determining who is at fault.
Determining liability is essential to a successful claim
Following a serious or fatal motorcycle accident, the road to recovery for the victims can be a long one. Both the victim and the victim’s family will suffer an emotional impact, as well as, sustaining substantial medical expenses. Recovering these losses is normally accomplished through a negligence lawsuit brought against one or more of the other parties involved. In order to be succeed in court, you must be able to show that the other party was at fault for the accident.
Both Arkansas and Missouri apply fault-based insurance laws, which require all drivers to carry auto insurance. The “fault” element of these laws means that the driver who is responsible for the accident will bear the financial responsibility for the injuries and property damage resulting from the accident. This is where having a motorcycle accident lawyer is important.
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 John and Sarah was analyzed under this system, John would not be able to recover anything because he was not less than 50% at fault.
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 John and Sarah are involved in a motorcycle accident resulting in $10,000 worth of damage and injuries, and John is 80% at fault, then John can only recover $2,000, which represents the 20% of the damages for which John was NOT responsible. Likewise, Sarah would be entitled to the other $8,000.
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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