The joy of riding a motorcycle out on the open road can be shattered when there’s an accident involving another vehicle, especially a much larger vehicle. While there are laws and recommendations to protect motorcyclists, accidents still happen. Sometimes the motorcyclist is liable, but often, it’s the other driver. Here’s what you need to know about liability in motorcycle accidents with other vehicles.
How Is Liability Determined in a Motorcycle Accident in Nova Scotia?
The law focuses on negligence. If the accident happened due to negligence on the part of one or both parties in the accident, the negligence needs to be proven in order to establish who’s responsible for the damages from the accident.
Among the types of negligence that either the driver of a car or the operator of a motorcycle could be at fault for include:
Distracted driving. Distractions take many forms, whether looking at a phone, changing settings on the vehicle’s dashboard, turning to look at a passenger, or eating while driving. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes and attention off the road is a distraction.
Driving under the influence. Drivers who use alcohol or drugs (including some types of over-the-counter medications) can be impaired and not legally safe to use the roads.
Aggressive driving. This includes rapid veering from lane to lane (often without using turn signals) or tailgating (following another vehicle or motorcycle too closely, which can lead to rear-ending if the vehicle in front has to stop suddenly).
Noncompliance with traffic laws. This can include anything from speeding to running red lights.
What Is Nova Scotia’s Comparative Negligence Law, and How Could They Affect My Motorcycle Accident?
Nova Scotia follows what is known as contributory negligence. This means that in an accident, all people involved are going to be assessed for their contribution to the accident. In a case where one driver is clearly fully at fault (for example, a drunk driver who hits a motorcycle who was traveling lawfully and at the speed limit), the liable driver will be responsible for 100% of the damages. Those damages are paid first by the driver’s insurance company, but if the medical bills and damage to the motorcycle are significant, it may become a claim against the driver themself.
However, in cases where both parties have some fault in the accident, the injured person’s claims could be reduced in proportion to their share of the fault. For example, say the driver of a vehicle was driving while under the influence. They hit a motorcycle that ran a red light. Both parties have some liability. Hypothetically, the fault could be portioned out as 70% to the drunk driver and 30% to the motorcyclist who ran the red light. If the motorcyclist is awarded $10,000 in damages, their award would be reduced by 30%, and they’d receive $7,000.
Working with experienced motorcycle accident lawyers is highly recommended, as anyone involved in an accident will be motivated to reduce their own fault in the accident. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will know how the other side will approach these types of cases and will work to gain the best possible outcomes for you.
What Are Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
Motorcyclists don’t have the benefit of airbags and seatbelts, which make them more at risk when in an accident with another vehicle, especially a much larger vehicle. There are numerous types of injuries that can occur. Some are minor, but others are life-changing. Common motorcycle injuries include:
- Bruising, scarring, and road rash.
- Degloving (this refers to the outer layers of skin and tissue being torn away, exposing the underlying bones, muscles, and connective tissue).
- Broken bones. Any bone in any part of the body can be subject to fracture in a motorcycle accident.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). This can either be something like a concussion, where the brain tissue is harmed but the skull remains intact, or it can involve the skull being fractured or pierced open.
- Spinal cord injuries. This can be very serious and could lead to partial or extensive paralysis.
- Amputation. Limbs may be severed at the site of the accident, or there may be injuries so severe that surgical amputation is needed.
What if the Bicyclist is Determined to be At Least Partly at Fault for the Accident?
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Injured While Riding My Motorcycle in Nova Scotia?
First, see a doctor. You may feel fine, but there are injuries, including severe ones, that don’t exhibit symptoms right away. If left untreated, those injuries can become life-threatening.
Your next step is to call NOVA Injury Law at 902-706-5205 to schedule a free case review. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable personal injury lawyers knows how to evaluate accidents involving motorcycles, and we know what evidence to investigate to determine who was at fault and responsible for the damages.
Those are important things to do. Equally important is what you should not do, and that’s to engage in any form of communication with the other party’s insurance representatives or lawyers. If they try to call, email, or send you a letter, don’t respond, but forward all communication to your lawyer. They may try to get you to say something that indicates you were at fault, or they may try to convince you to agree to a much lower settlement than you should be able to get. They don’t represent you, so don’t engage with them.