Although you may drive your motorcycle in a responsible way, the same can't be said for other people on the road. If you take action to avoid hitting another vehicle and get into an accident, you can still sue for damages even if the other person doesn't hit you. Here's what you need to know about recovering compensation for damages in no-contact accidents.
Suing for Negligent Behavior
People have a legal duty to be careful of other drivers and operate their cars, trucks, and motorcycles in a safe manner when on the roadways. If they fail to do so, they may be found to be negligent and held liable for any and all outcomes that result from their actions (or failure to act).
To successfully sue for negligence in a no-contact accident, you must prove four elements:
- The person had a duty to exercise reasonable care
- The person failed to exercise said care
- Their actions caused harm
- The harm resulted in actual damages (e.g. physical injuries)
For instance, a person drifts into your lane because he or she was texting and not paying attention to the road. You stomp on the brakes or swerve to avoid hitting them but end up crashing into a tree. The person can be held liable for the damages caused and made to pay you compensation for your losses provided you can prove those losses are the direct result of the crash.
Challenges to Proving Your Case
The first challenge you'll face is proving the person acted negligently. If the driver of the other vehicle has a valid reason for taking the action he or she did while on the road, the individual may be able to escape liability. For instance, if the person swerved into your lane to avoid hitting a child, they may be able to successfully use the Sudden Emergency Doctrine as a defense against charges of driving negligently.
The Sudden Emergency Doctrine removes the standard of care people must take in cases where they are suddenly faced with an emergency situation through no fault of their own. As long as the person can prove he or she acted the same as any other reasonable person would in similar circumstances, the individual typically won't be held liable.
Without that assignment of liability, it can be difficult for you to make a case that the person should be responsible for your losses. You may still have a case, though, if the person's actions were caused by a third-party (e.g. the individual swerved to avoid an oncoming drunk driver). In this situation, you can go after the third-party for your losses.
Another issue you'll face is proving the events happened as you claimed. This will be particularly challenging if the other driver doesn't stop and you don't have any identifying information that could help you track down the perpetrator. Not only will it be difficult to sue the other person for compensation for damages, you may have a hard time convincing your insurance provider to pay your claim.
In this situation, you'll need to find witnesses who will corroborate your story. These witnesses can be:
- A passenger riding with you on the bike
- People who stop to help you on the road
- Video recordings taken by other drivers, security cameras, or traffic cameras
If you're able, get the contact information of everyone at the scene of the accident so you, your insurance company, and/or your attorney can follow up with the people to get their version of events, which may help your case.
You should also make note of whether or not there were any traffic or security cameras that may have recorded the event. These digital records aren't kept forever, so the sooner you can request the footage from surrounding businesses and the local government the better. Additionally, you may want to spend a little time looking on video sharing sites like YouTube to see if anyone recorded the event and uploaded it to the Internet.
For more information about litigating no-contact accidents or assistance with recovering damages in your case, contact a motorcycle attorney from a firm like Hinkle Law Offices in your area.