Possible Liable Parties in a Multi-Vehicle Motorcycle Accident
Determining fault is essential in motorcycle accident claims because it directly affects where compensation will come from and how much you could receive for your injuries. Often, there are multiple parties responsible, including:
The Lead Biker
If you’re riding in a group, the person acting as the lead bike must have the requisite knowledge and experience. For example, the leader should advise all participants on routes, road rules, proper formation, and hand signals before setting off.
Group riding has many advantages over solo motorcycle journeys such as safety in numbers and many combined years of training. However, each biker must keep to their position within the lane and stay in contact with other riders. Since lane splitting is illegal in Massachusetts, another rider could be at fault for an accident caused by riding too close to nearby vehicles.
If you’re a motorcyclist, you know firsthand how other road users often treat bikers. They may be pushed off the road, tailgated, or sideswiped by angry drivers. You may need eyewitness statements to prove that another driver was acting negligently or breaking a traffic law in the moments leading up to the crash.
Mechanics or Motorcycle Manufacturers
If another rider seems to be the cause of the accident, it’s worth noting whether their motorcycle was in proper working order. An inspection of the wrecked bike could reveal problems with the brakes, lights, fuel lines, engine, or other components that the manufacturer should have corrected.
All riders and passengers in Massachusetts must wear helmets and are encouraged to wear eye protection, gloves, and other protective gear. A biker's injuries might be much more severe if any safety features weren’t designed or put together correctly.
Local municipalities are responsible for repairing and maintaining roadways, so they are safe for all types of vehicles. A failure to correct potential hazards (such as potholes or obscured signs) could open the state or city government up to liability.
What If I Share Liability for the Crash?
Massachusetts follows a no-fault car insurance system, so you will file a claim with your own motorcycle insurance carrier after a crash. Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits will cover medical bills up to your chosen policy limit and up to 75% of lost wages. If you exhaust these policy limits but are still not restored to a pre-injury state, you have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.
Under Massachusetts’ comparative negligence law, you can file a personal injury lawsuit if you are less than 51% to blame for an accident. However, the amount of your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, perhaps the person ahead of you was the root cause of the accident, but you could have prevented a chain reaction crash if you’d swerved left instead of right. You may have a reduced settlement, but you won’t be entirely responsible for your injury expenses—and you have the potential to win significant pain and suffering damages.
Our MA Injury Lawyers Can Determine Who Is at Fault
Insurers often try to escape liability, trying to underpay claims or outright deny them. If you have been hurt in a motorcycle crash, the attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP are here to help. Please reach out to us, or call 508-879-3500 to schedule a no-cost case evaluation. You can also learn more about your rights in our free guide, What You Can Do to Get a Full and Fair Settlement After a Car Accident.