Settlement Roadblocks in Motorcycle Crash Claims
Because these wrecks cause such serious injuries (the motorcycle rider crash fatality rate is thirty times higher than the vehicle occupant fatality rate), significant compensation is available in these claims. Therefore, insurance company lawyers usually pull out all the stops in an effort to deny, or at least reduce, the victim’s compensation, regardless of what the victim needs or deserves. As a result, these claims are difficult to successfully resolve.
For a Sugar Land motorcycle accident lawyer, a successful resolution is a process that begins with prompt medical treatment. Motorcycle wrecks often cause latent head injuries and other wounds that are difficult to diagnose and treat. Next, a lawyer collects evidence and builds a strong case that withstand insurance company defenses, like the ones discussed below. Through it all, a lawyer tenaciously fights for you.
Contributory negligence is basically an umbrella term that covers several different defenses. The same law covers these defenses. Texas is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. We’ll translate all that Legalese below.
First, let’s look at the kinds of comparative fault in a motorcycle crash claim. The first focuses on both the victim and tortfeasor (negligent driver). The second focuses almost exclusively on the victim.
Finger-pointing after a tragedy like a motorcycle wreck is a time-honored tradition. Insurance company lawyers point their fingers at victims if at all possible. For example, if the motorcyclist changed lanes without signaling and the tortfeasor was speeding, insurance company lawyers ignore the tortfeasor’s excessive speed and blame the victim.
A high speed is much more hazardous than an unsafe lane change. Speed multiplies the risk of a collision and the force in a collision. At most, an unsafe lane change raises the risk of a wreck. If the insurance company can’t prove the victim’s unsafe conduct substantially contributed to the wreck, the judge won’t allow the defense.
If the jury considers it, they must divide responsibility 60-40, 70-30, or on another percentage basis. If the tortfeasor was at least 51 percent responsible for the wreck and injuries, the victim receives a proportionate share of compensation.
Assumption of the risk, a similar motorcycle wreck defense, is also known as the helmet defense. A naked head isn’t enough. This defense is only available if the victim’s failure to wear a helmet, not the tortfeasor’s negligence, substantially caused the victim’s injuries.
Helmets reduce the risk of impact-related head injuries. But they don’t affect the risk of motion-related head injuries. When riders fall off their bikes, their brains slam against the insides of their skulls, helmet or no helmet.
If this motorcycle wreck defense goes to the jury, the same percentage-of-responsibility distribution rules apply.
The Motorcycle Prejudice
This defense is similar to comparative fault. However, the motorcycle prejudice doesn’t focus on the victim’s conduct.
Psychologically, many jurors believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs who care little about their own safety or the safety of others. This attitude often affects the way jurors view comparative fault as well as the overall claim for damages.
An attorney must change minds to overcome the motorcycle prejudice defenses. This change usually involves separating the victim from the prejudice. It’s okay, at least from the victim’s perspective, if a juror believes most riders are reckless thugs, as long as the juror doesn’t believe the victim is a reckless thug.
Separation evidence usually includes background information, like the victim’s occupation and family status. Attorneys must tread lightly in this area since a judge could rule this evidence is irrelevant and therefore inadmissible.
Connect With a Thorough Harris County Attorney
Injury victims are entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Missouri City, contact the Henrietta Ezeoke Law Firm. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.