Motorcycle enthusiasts know what a joy it is to be on the open road. Experienced riders also know how dangerous other drivers can be. While a fun and economical way to travel, when riding a motorcycle, you are especially vulnerable to serious injury. If you or a loved one suffers traumatic harm in a crash, a Montgomery County motorcycle accident lawyer is here to help.
Catastrophic, life-changing injuries can occur in a motorcycle accident. Often, no matter how careful you are, if another driver is careless, you could be at risk of severe harm. Our team of experienced Montgomery County injury attorneys understand the severity of these accidents and can advocate for you and your loved ones.
What are the Motorcycle Laws in Pennsylvania?
In a lawsuit following a motorcycle wreck, a court will look at the facts to determine who is at fault. Bikers must understand the basics of motorcycle law in Pennsylvania to ride safely and increase the chances of compensation in the unfortunate event of a crash. There are a few fundamental laws related to operating a motorcycle in Pennsylvania.
Motorcycle riders under the age of 21 must wear a helmet. For motorcyclists over 21 years of age, helmets are not mandatory if the rider has been licensed for two years or has completed an approved safety course. Eye protection is always required for all riders, as is a passenger seat and footrest if there are others on board.
Specific equipment is required, like right and left mirrors and a compliant muffler. Pennsylvania has mandatory inspection rules as well as a required minimum insurance coverage. Additionally, while two motorcyclists can ride side-by-side, they cannot “lane split,” in other words, pass between rows of vehicles or share a lane with them.
In the aftermath of an accident, a court will first assess how the accident happened and who was at fault. A Montgomery County attorney could gather evidence from the accident scene to prove the motorcyclist was obeying all the legal requirements.
How Could a Motorcyclist Recover Losses?
Every civil lawsuit involves two elements of proof – liability and damages. Liability refers to who is responsible for the accident, and damages are the amount of money awarded to compensate for the motorcyclist’s losses. In the event of a motorcycle accident, an attorney in Montgomery County could build a strong claim to prove both liability and damages.
What Are the Basic Elements of Civil Liability?
Every successful motorcycle accident case is built on a foundation of “legal negligence.” More specifically, a plaintiff generally must prove that the defendant named in their lawsuit or settlement demand was negligent in some way, which involves proving that four elements of legal negligence apply to their circumstances.
A person may be considered negligent if they owed a duty of reasonable care to someone else, violated that duty by acting recklessly or carelessly, and directly caused an accident through that misconduct that resulted in the recoverable damages the plaintiff is seeking compensation for. Every motor vehicle driver automatically assumes a duty of care towards everyone else around them, including motorcyclists, but demonstrating the other components of negligence can be tricky without guidance from an experienced Montgomery County attorney.
In a crash, if the motorcycle rider followed all legal requirements and was riding carefully, there is a good chance the motorist caused the collision. However, in Pennsylvania, a court will use comparative negligence, that is, analyze any fault on the part of the injured party. The police report and eye-witness testimony will help reconstruct the accident and determine who was responsible. If a court or jury decides that the motorcyclist was less than fifty-percent responsible, they are entitled to compensation.
After determining liability, a court hears evidence about damages: financial loss, pain and suffering, and present and future medical care necessary to make the injured person “whole.” Damages can be complex, as injuries in a motorcycle accident may be severe, involving anything from broken bones to paralysis, head and spinal injuries, even amputation. A claimant will need to gather evidence regarding personal injuries, lost wages, medical bills and treatment, and anything else related to their losses or disability.
How Could Comparative Fault Impact Recovery?
While a motorcyclist who is found less than 50 percent at fault for their own injuries is still allowed to pursue financial restitution following a motorcycle crash, they cannot seek recovery for the full value of their damages. Under Pennsylvania’s modified comparative fault system, any percentage of fault a plaintiff bears for an accident will result in a proportional reduction of any damage award they receive from a civil court. For example, if a motorcyclist bears 25 percent of the fault for an accident, they could only recover for 75 percent of their total injuries and losses.
Are There Time Limits on Motorcycle Accident Claims?
No matter how severe or life-altering an injured motorcyclist’s damages are following an accident, they only have a limited amount of time to pursue civil compensation. According to 42 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes §5524, a statutory filing deadline of two years applies to all personal injury litigation, so any prospective plaintiff who waits more than two years after discovering their injuries to file suit will likely be time-barred from recovering any compensation for that particular accident. Among other services, a seasoned motorcycle wreck lawyer in Montgomery County could provide irreplaceable assistance building a strong case and getting the litigation process started before this deadline expires.
Reach Out to a Montgomery County Motorcycle Accident Attorney for Help
After a crash, medical and financial issues can be stressful to handle on your own. You or your loved one may be in the hospital or require long and ongoing treatment and care. If you are unable to work because of your injuries, medical bills can quickly add up. In these difficult circumstances, you need a team of experts prepared to advocate for you and your family. Contact a Montgomery County motorcycle accident lawyer to help you on the road to recovery.