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Proving Negligence in Motorcycle Accident Cases

Proving Negligence in Motorcycle Accident Cases

Apr 22, 2024

The latest statistics published by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles show that our state saw an estimated 493,060 total crashes in 2022. Of those, 3,743 were motorcycle accidents, which resulted in 2,869 injuries and 206 fatalities. Here at Paynter Law, our attorneys often find themselves in a position helping those who’ve suffered catastrophic injuries in crashes or family members who’ve lost a loved one far too soon. Proving negligence in motorcycle accident cases like these is key to recovering the maximum compensation they deserve. Below, we’ll share what goes into doing that.

Evidence Is a Critical Component to Meeting Your Burden of Proof

Unlike criminal cases where prosecutors work collectively with police investigators to gather and analyze evidence, the responsibility to do this is your own if you plan to file an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against the person who you allege caused you harm. If you’re working with a motorcycle accident attorney, you can reliably expect them to assist you in this process. 

Since we mentioned that evidence is key to proving negligence in motorcycle crash cases, let’s discuss items of evidentiary value and the impact they may have on your ability to have a successful claim or lawsuit. Those are:

  • An accident report: While this document prepared by law enforcement does not specifically assign fault, insurers and attorneys alike use its description of the crash scene and how the crash occurred, whether any citations were issued, and other details included in it to make liability determinations.
  • The driving records for the motorist who struck you: This report can be helpful if there’s reason to believe that the motorist who is believed to have caused the crash has a history of reckless driving and you either want to use that track record to substantiate your contention that those driving behaviors contributed to your crash or use that information to justify your request of punitive damages, for example, at trial (or to do both).
  • Photographs and videos showing damage and injuries as well as what happened: Photographic evidence like this can prove what traffic patterns and weather were like at the time of the crash and provide a way for insurance adjusters, attorneys, and jurors to visualize how the collision might have occurred based on the damage that exists, and show the extent of injuries and the impairments they caused.
  • Witness testimony: This can paint a visual picture of what happened and also fill in the blanks or bring up added insight that is not readily apparent about how the collision unfolded. 
  • A crash scene reconstructionist report: Traffic engineers and reconstructionists rely on measurements of skid marks, looking at damage left behind to cars and at the scene, traffic light patterns, and other factors to reach well-reasoned conclusions about how the accident occurred.

The list above certainly isn’t exhaustive. For example, if there’s reason to suspect that a motorist who struck a motorcyclist was drunk at the time of the crash, one might request toxicology results. So, while some of the evidence that we collect following motorcycle wrecks may be fairly standard, in other cases, it depends on what’s known or suspected about how the crash occurred.

Understanding the Elements of Negligence Applicable to Motorbike Accidents

While evidence collection may vary by case, one factor that doesn’t change is the four general elements victims must prove in order to establish negligence occurred. Being able to do this is key to holding the responsible party liable for their actions and, thus, your accident-related losses. Those elements you must establish include:

  • The person who struck you owed you a duty of care (they had a responsibility to act in a way to keep you safe)
  • The individual who hit you breached (violated) the duty of care they were responsible for exercising
  • You suffered harm because that person who collided with you violated their duty
  • You incurred documentable losses because they caused you harm

Provided you can establish these elements of negligence, North Carolina law allows you to file a civil action holding the person who caused your injuries or loved one’s death financially liable for what they did.

How the Involvement of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Your Case Can Impact the Outcome

Proving negligence in motorcycle crash cases isn’t easy. Instead, it takes an attorney and sometimes the skilled eyes of reconstructionists and medical experts to make sense of evidence and to piece together how it establishes negligence of a specific individual or entity. 

Completing analyses like these can take time, and filing deadlines apply to cases like these, which is why we encourage you to reach out to our law firm, Paynter Law, as soon as possible if you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle crash. Meeting with one of our attorneys for a consultation is free and allows us to discuss what happened, review any evidence you may have already, and advise you of your legal rights. Contact us now