If you want to hold another driver accountable for your motorcycle accident, you and your attorney will need to show that they were negligent. “Negligent” is a common term in legal cases, but what does it actually mean? How do you show that someone was negligent — and that their negligence caused your accident?
Knowing the basics of proving negligence in a motorcycle accident case can help you gather the relevant evidence after your crash and prepare for the claims process.
Understanding Negligence in Accident Cases
Having a proper understanding of the term “negligence” is essential to proving that another party was negligent in your accident. People often confuse the concepts of “negligence” and “strict liability,” though they actually have slightly different meanings.
For someone to be negligent in an accident, they must have known their actions were risky. Operating a vehicle outside traffic laws is an example of doing something that you know is risky.
Meanwhile, in a strict liability case, you would just need to show that the other person is liable for your damages, even if there was no negligence at play. An example is a dog bite case — property owners can’t always control their dogs, but they’re still liable when their dogs bite visitors.
Neither negligence nor liability involves intent. A driver doesn’t need to intend to cause an accident to be financially responsible for your damages.
The Four Elements of Negligence
Negligence involves four key elements — duty, breach, causation, and loss. Providing evidence to support these tenets will help you show that another driver’s negligence caused your accident.
- Duty shows that the other driver was responsible for maintaining a safe environment while on the road and preventing accidents.
- Breach demonstrates that the other driver failed to maintain this environment, violating their duty to you.
- Causation shows that the driver’s behavior caused an accident.
- Loss supports that you experienced damages from the accident.
Negligence Per Se
California law recognizes “negligence per se” as a shortcut to the above elements of negligence. If a driver broke a traffic law, you only need to prove causation and loss. Breaking the law is an automatic example of breaching duty of care.
Still, a driver does not need to break the law to be negligent in a motorcycle accident case. Talking on the phone using a handheld device while driving is legal in California, but a driver could still be negligent if they were using a hands-free device, became distracted by the phone conversation, and rear-ended you.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident?
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you establish negligence in a motorcycle accident and seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
If the negligent party broke the law, you only need to prove causation and loss to have a valid accident case.
Showing that the other driver caused the accident is perhaps the hardest step in proving negligence in a motorcycle accident case. Car accidents can happen quickly, and understanding exactly why the accident occurred can be challenging.
Your attorney will sit down with you to discuss what you remember from the accident and attempt to paint a picture that shows what actually happened. They will seek any video footage from other drivers, witnesses, or surrounding businesses that may have recorded the accident.
Other evidence can also support your case, such as:
- Witness testimonies
- Photos of the damage
- Professional analysis of the damage
- Police reports
- Medical records
Showing as much evidence as possible will reduce any doubt that you were partially to blame for the accident.
To collect compensation from an insurance claim or lawsuit, you must show that you suffered a loss due to the other party’s negligence. Insurance claims generally cover two types of losses after motorcycle accidents:
- Property damage
- Physical injury or illness
If you already had some medical conditions before the accident, the insurance company may assume that the damages you’re claiming in the accident were pre-existing. You’ll need clear medical records, medical bills, and statements from a physician to prove that the accident caused these injuries.
Proving property damage is usually a little easier, as crash damage is pretty obvious. But if your motorcycle had pre-existing issues, such as a damaged headlight or a slow leak in the tire, the insurance claim likely won’t cover those.
California’s Comparative Negligence Laws
The other driver does not need to be 100% responsible for the accident for you to claim compensation from them. California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that as long as the other driver was at least 1% responsible, you can file a claim for your damages.
The insurance company will review the accident details and assign a percentage of blame to all parties involved. If the insurer finds you 10% responsible, for instance, you’ll only be able to seek 90% of the value of your damages.
If you believe the other driver was 100% negligent, don’t risk sacrificing any of your compensation amount. Working with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney is key to proving negligence in a motorcycle accident.
What If the Insurance Company Assigns You Partial Blame?
The insurance company’s ruling isn’t always the final word. If you believe the insurer has wrongfully placed partial blame on you for the accident, your attorney can help you appeal their decision and negotiate for a higher offer.
Insurance companies are in the money-making business, and they often do everything they can to reduce payouts. Your attorney will help you provide clear evidence of your damages to raise your offer.
If the insurer refuses to budge, you may decide to take legal action. Many insurance lawsuits settle out of court, which means you probably won’t need to actually go to court to increase your payout.
Consult a Qualified Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you’re attempting to prove negligence in a motorcycle accident, don’t go it alone. The attorneys at Khalil Law Group in Newport Beach, CA, can provide professional legal guidance and support for motorcycle injury claims.
Call Khalil Law Group today at 714-617-7870 to arrange your free consultation.