Can I Sue After Motorcycle Accident?

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A mangled motorcycle lies in the middle of the road after an accident.

Yes, but you must show that the accident was not your fault. It’s not enough to demonstrate that another party’s actions led to the crash – you must also prove that you had no responsibility whatsoever due to North Carolina’s pure contributory negligence laws.

Pure contributory negligence is a legal concept that acknowledges more than one person can be at fault or contribute to an accident or injury.

In some states, liability is determined by which party is mostly at fault (more than 50 percent). In others, each party is expected to pay for some of the damages based on their percentage of responsibility.

But in pure contributory negligence states like North Carolina, the injured party, or plaintiff, must be 0 percent responsible for an accident, or they can’t collect any damages. That means that if a vehicle driver was 99 percent responsible for an accident and you were 1 percent responsible, you won’t be able to recover your damages.

Proving you were not at fault is therefore crucial, and the best way to do that is to contact a North Carolina motorcycle accident lawyer immediately.

They will begin searching for evidence in your case immediately – which is important because some types of evidence are only available for a limited time. For example, a doorbell or traffic camera may have captured the event, showing exactly how the accident happened – but video footage from these sources is often erased frequently to free up space for new recordings.

What Can I Expect From a Motorcycle Lawsuit?

We generally begin by seeking compensation for your damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company (unless they are uninsured).

In some cases, the other driver is insured, but your damages exceed the limit of their liability policy. Under state law, drivers may have as little as $30,000 in bodily injury liability per person.

Unfortunately, motorcyclists are often at a disadvantage in an accident with a vehicle and, as a result, may have multiple serious injuries. If your damages exceed the other driver’s insurance coverage, we can sue the driver directly or look for alternatives (such as your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage).

How Do I Prove a Motorcycle Accident Is Not My Fault?

Proving that an accident was not your fault will be an essential concern for you and your lawyer.

The other driver and/or their insurance company may not accept responsibility for the accident. Even if the other driver admits they were at fault, there is a good chance that their insurance carrier will still want to avoid paying your claim.

In North Carolina, they often do this by stating you were partially responsible for the accident. Under contributory negligence rules, the insurance company would not be obligated to pay your claim.

Gathering Evidence for a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

Your attorney will immediately assign an investigator to begin collecting evidence in your case. As we mentioned earlier, video evidence can be beneficial, and if it’s available, we’ll find it.

Sometimes accidents happen in areas where there are no cameras. Many motorcyclists love to ride the open road in scenic, rural areas without many buildings or intersections, which can mean a lack of video evidence of a crash.

Fortunately, there are other types of evidence we can look for:

  • Witnesses – The responding officer will usually look for witnesses when they arrive after an accident, but they may be distracted if someone is badly hurt. In other cases, witnesses might leave the scene before the police arrive for various reasons.

Law enforcement agencies are often very busy, and the responding officer only has limited time to compile a report, so they may not have a chance to canvas the area – but our investigators do. Sometimes we’re able to locate additional witnesses.

  • Black box data – After we file a lawsuit for your accident, we can ask the court to access the other vehicle’s black box data. Almost all new US cars (and motorcycles) sold today have an event data recorder or EDR.

This box records various information that manufacturers use to improve safety in cars. However, this wealth of data is often useful when determining fault in an accident.

In many cases, EDRs record the vehicle’s speed, if the driver brakes, if the driver swerves, what direction it’s going when an impact occurs, steering choices, the force of impact, etc. We may better understand what happened by comparing the data from your bike’s EDR to the vehicle’s EDR.

  • Photos from the scene – If you or someone you know took pictures after the accident, these are frequently helpful in reconstructing the scene. We always recommend taking photos after an accident, but we also understand that this is sometimes impossible due to injuries.
  • Smartphone records – We can also ask the court for the other driver’s phone records to learn if they were texting or using their phone at the time of the accident.

What Damages Are Available in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

Your attorney will ask about your injuries and other effects the accident has had on your life to determine your damages. These may include:

  • Current and future medical bills – Your lawyer will ensure nothing is overlooked, including physical therapy, mobility aids, accessibility accommodations for your home, travel expenses if you need to see a specialist, etc.
  • Lost income or earning potential – You deserve compensation for any time you’ve missed at work due to the accident, even if it was covered by PTO or paid sick days. If your injuries were severe enough to prevent you from returning to work or working at the same pace, you might also seek damages for lost earning potential.
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement – You should include any permanent injury in your damages, whether or not it affects your work.
  • Pain and suffering – We will consider both your physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Loss of consortium or companionship – If your injuries have impacted your relationship or a loved one has passed because of the accident, you can seek damages for loss of consortium.
  • Wrongful death – Additional damages are available if a loved one dies in a motorcycle crash, including funeral costs, loss of financial support, medical bills related to the accident, and more.

Contact Tatum & Atkinson for Help With Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

At Tatum & Atkinson, our legal team has recovered over $100 million in compensation for our clients. If you or a loved one have been hurt in a motorcycle crash, please call us at 800-LAW-0804 for a free consultation about your injuries.

Remember, we only charge a fee once we win or settle your case, so call today to find out your next steps.