The Mn Criminal Defense, Personal Injury & Family Law Blog
Motorcycle Crash Defenses and Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers
June 25, 2019
When four-wheel vehicles are involved in collisions, multiple restraint layers protect the people inside. But when motorcycles are involved in crashes, the victims have almost no protection. So, motorcycle riders are thirty times more likely to die in these incidents. In fact, in many motorcycle-vehicle collisions, the vehicle occupants are uninjured and the motorcycle rider is nearly killed.
In catastrophic injury cases like these, Brainerd, MN injury lawyers work hard to obtain compensation for both economic and economic damages. Typically, this compensation is substantial. Most motorcycle wrecks involve head, spine, or neck wounds. These injuries are very expensive to diagnose, treat, and recover from. Due to the nature of these injuries, motorcycle crash victims must also endure significant pain and suffering, often for many months.
Since so much is at stake, insurance company lawyers often pull out all the stops to reduce or deny compensation. Some of the more common defenses are outlined below.
The comparative fault doctrine affects may vehicle Crow Wing County vehicle collision claims, especially those wrecks which occur in or near intersections. Essentially, contributory negligence shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim.
Assume the motorcycle rider is lane-splitting. It’s illegal to ride between the lanes in Minnesota, and dangerous to do it anywhere. At the same time, the tortfeasor changes lanes without signaling or looking. If a crash occurs, and it probably will, emergency responders will have a hard time determining fault. Both operators drove illegally.
In that scenario, emergency responders almost always side with the tortfeasor. The motorcycle prejudice, which is outlined below, is partly to blame. Perhaps more importantly, if the victim was killed or seriously injured, emergency responders usually only hear the tortfeasor’s side of the story.
So, even if emergency responders gave you a ticket, you should always reach out to a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer. Since there is a difference between fault for the collision and liability for damages, an attorney can still obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
Brainerd, MN injury lawyers typically have two chances to debunk the contributory negligence defense. First, the judge must allow the defense. For example, if our fictional victim was really riding side-by-side, which is legal in Minnesota, a judge may not allow the defense. Second, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer can minimize the victim’s responsibility before the jury and emphasize the tortfeasor’s responsibility.
Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim was 49 percent responsible for the crash in the eyes of the jury, the victim still receives a proportional share of damages.
Last Clear Chance
This defense, which is another example of the fault vs. liability issue, often comes up in left-turn crashes. Statistically, about a third of motorcycle crashes fall into this category. A tortfeasor tries to make a left turn against traffic, does not see an oncoming motorcycle, and turns directly into the rider’s path.
In these situations, if the motorcyclist had a chance to avoid the collision but failed to do so, the rider is legally responsible for the crash.
That chance could be changing lanes quickly or slowing down suddenly. But these maneuvers are much harder to perform on a motorcycle. Often, even experienced riders lose control of their bikes in these cases. That loss of control may cause a more serious crash. Additionally, traffic conditions often do not allow unpredictable movements.
So, despite insurance company efforts, this defense usually does not apply in motorcycle crash cases. The bottom line is that the victim must have the last clear chance, as opposed to any possible chance.
Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyers and the Motorcycle Prejudice
Many Crow Wing County jurors are more willing to embrace doctrines like contributory negligence because of the motorcycle prejudice. Lots of people believe bikers are rebels who have little or no consideration for other people on the road. This feeling is not as strong as it was back in the 1970s and 1980s, but it is still deep and wide.
Unlike comparative fault and last clear chance, the motorcycle prejudice is not in any law book. But it is real, and Brainerd, MN injury lawyers must be ready to deal with it.
One of the best ways to defeat the motorcycle prejudice, or any other prejudice for that matter, is to separate the individual from the group. It’s rather easy to hate a group, but it’s very difficult to hate an individual. This approach also does not offend juror sensibilities.
Contact a Tenacious Attorney
Motorcycle crash victims are entitled to substantial compensation, but there are substantial obstacles. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.