You were sitting at a red light on your motorcycle, waiting for the light to turn so you could pull ahead—then in the blink of an eye, you were on the ground with your bike flung to the other side of the street. Someone rear-ended you. Luckily, you are still alive, though injured. But what should you do now? Who is liable for your medical costs and other expenses? Here is a look at how fault is determined in such cases, and how to go about seeking compensation if the other driver is, indeed, at fault.
Who Is at Fault?
It's usually assumed that in a rear-end collision, the driver who hits from behind is at fault for the crash. This is especially true when you had been sitting still at a red light prior to the crash. After all, the driver can't argue that you braked suddenly or pulled out in front of them; you were standing still! There are, however, a few exceptions in which you may be named liable or partially liable for the collision.
1. Your lights were not on.
Did the accident happen at dusk or after dark? If so, where your tail lights functional and on? If the light were off, the other driver could argue that they simply did not see your bike, which is a valid point. In such cases, you may be named partially liable for the crash. The judge would probably feel that the other driver should have been doing a better job of watching out for you, too—but of course your lack of lights had an impact.
2. The light was green.
Had the light turned green, unbeknownst to you? If so, this could be part of the reason why the other driver slammed into you. If you were texting or otherwise distracted and you, therefore, failed to move forward through the green light as the other driver would have expected you to, then you may be named partially liable.
There are also cases in which a third party may be named partially liable for a rear-end collision. For instance, did a person cut across traffic on a bike, distracting the other driver and causing them to slam into you as they attempted to avoid hitting the person? If so, that person may be partially liable.
How Do You Collect Damages from the Other Driver?
If you are pretty confident the other driver is at fault for the crash, which is almost always the case, then your first step should be to file a claim with their insurance company. If the insurance company makes an offer that will cover all of your medical costs and other expenses, then you can accept it and move on. But more often than not, the insurance company will either deny that the other driver is liable or make you a low offer. In this case, you need to contact a motorcycle accident attorney.
Your attorney will then start by suing the insurance company to collect money to cover all of your damages. This may prompt the insurance company to offer you a larger settlement. Or you may end up in court with the insurance company, in which case a judge will decide whether or not you are due the settlement you are asking for. If the other driver did not have insurance, then your lawyer can help you sue the driver directly.
Being rear-ended at a red light is scary, especially when you're on a motorcycle. But rest assured; this type of accident is almost always the fault of the other driver, and a lawyer can help you recoup the money you are due.