Obtaining Compensation in Motorcycle Crashes

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Multiple restraint layers protect vehicle occupants in car crashes. But motorcycle riders have no such protections. As a result, motorcycle riders are thirty times more likely to die in these incidents. Even if the victim survives, the wreck’s physical and emotional injuries are usually permanent, at least to an extent.

Since the injuries are so severe, the amount of compensation is usually substantial. To obtain maximum compensation, most St. Louis personal injury attorneys follow the same three-part process. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Determining Cause

Generally, the tortfeasors (negligent drivers) in motorcycle crashes say things like “I never saw you” or “You came out of nowhere.” Such statements are essentially admissions of liability. The tortfeasor is trying to blame the rider for operating recklessly. But in reality, these people admit that they were not maintaining a proper lookout.

This failure is especially acute in left-turn motorcycle wrecks. Generally, the tortfeasor, who is making a left turn against traffic, turns directly into the path of an approaching motorcycle rider. 

Driver impairment, such as alcohol use or operator fatigue, also causes a number of motorcycle wrecks in Missouri. Typically, such impairments affect both motor skills and judgement ability. As a result, it’s impossible to safely operate heavy machinery, like a motor vehicle.

Establishing Liability

Failure to look collisions usually involve either the negligence per se rule or the ordinary negligence doctrine.

Ordinary negligence is a lack of care. Most noncommercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. This responsibility requires operators to drive defensively and avoid accidents when possible. Failure to look violates this standard of care. 

Other elements of an ordinary negligence claim include cause and damages. There must be a direct link between the breach of duty and the victim’s injuries. These injuries and damages must be tangible. Near misses do not qualify.

Sometimes, state law establishes the standard of care. And, failure to look violates the traffic code. Under the negligence per se rule, tortfeasors might be liable for damages as a matter of law if:

  • They violate safety laws, and
  • These violations substantially cause injuries.

Negligence per se only applies if first responders issue a citation. Frequently, they only do so in fatal accident claims, and sometimes not even then.

The Helmet Defense

Missouri lawmakers recently eliminated the motorcycle helmet requirement for riders over 21. As a result, failure to wear a helmet might come up much more frequently now. But in Missouri, the so-called helmet defense is very limited.

First, this defense has limited applicability. Lack of a helmet does not affect the liability portion of a trial. Such behavior can rescue the amount of compensation the victim receives, but only by 1 percent.

That reduction is only available if the insurance company proves the rider was helmetless and the lack of a helmet, as opposed to the tortfeasor’s negligence, proximately caused the victim/plaintiff’s injuries.

Motorcycle crash victims are normally entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Louis, contact Schultz & Myers, Personal Injury Lawyers. Home and hospital visits are available. 

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