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Are Motorcyclists Usually At Fault?

Are Motorcyclists Usually at Fault?

Are Motorcyclists Usually at FaultMotorcycle accidents happen every day on Virginia roads. With motorcycles offering little to no protection for riders, it’s no surprise that accidents can result in severe injuries or even death. Injured parties have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault party. How do you determine who is at fault? Are motorcyclists usually at fault?

Circumstances vary in every accident. Determining who is responsible for a motorcycle accident can be a challenging process. While some motorcycle riders might be at fault for the accident, that’s not to say they usually are at fault. If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Numerous factors lead to motorcycle accidents. However, accidents are rarely accidents in the literal sense, as driver error is almost always involved. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include the following.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is more than texting and driving. Anything that takes your eye off the road for even a second can result in a devastating accident. 


High-speed accidents involving motorcycles can cause catastrophic injuries or death. Speeding doesn’t necessarily have to be over the speed limit, either. Someone driving too fast for conditions, such as during a rainstorm, could be responsible for causing the accident. 

Failure to Yield 

Some drivers fail to see a motorcycle rider or refuse to yield the right of way. That can result in a severe collision and devastating injuries. 

Driving Under the Influence

When a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they put countless lives at risk. A drunk driver may fail to see a motorcyclist on the road or react in time to avoid an accident.

Failure to Follow Other Traffic Regulations

Drivers who fail to follow other traffic laws and run a red light or stop sign can cause devastating accidents, especially involving motorcycles. Many of these are T-bone accidents, which often cause severe to catastrophic injuries. 

When Is a Motorcyclist at Fault?

It’s easy to assume that motorcycle riders are typically at fault for an accident. However, that’s not always the case. One of the most common examples of when a motorcyclist might be at fault involves lane splitting. Virginia allows motorcycles to ride two abreast in a lane, but lane splitting—riding between lanes—is illegal. If a motorcyclist is lane splitting, it could be hard for a vehicle to see them. 

Who Is Responsible for a Motorcycle Accident?

Determining fault in a motorcycle accident is often a complex process. In Virginia, as with many other states, the at-fault party in a motorcycle accident is typically responsible for any damages incurred. The at-fault party is usually the one who caused the accident due to negligence or recklessness. If you suffered injuries due to another party’s negligence in a motorcycle collision, you could file a claim for damages. However, recovering compensation in Virginia is complicated because of contributory negligence. 

Contributory Negligence in Virginia

In Virginia, contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that can affect the outcome of a motorcycle accident case. Contributory negligence means you cannot collect any money for your injuries if you’re even 1% at fault for the collision. Contributory negligence can be a significant hurdle for motorcycle accident victims, which is why it’s crucial to work with an experienced lawyer in Virginia. 

Insurance company adjusters will do whatever possible to attribute that 1% at fault to you, so they don’t have to worry about paying out any damages. Sometimes, the insurance company might deny your claim early on, assuming you will not challenge their decision. 

Helmet Laws in Virginia

In Virginia, all motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet when riding on a motorcycle. This law applies to all riders, regardless of age or experience level. Helmets must meet or exceed the standards set by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). That means that riders must wear a helmet that was tested and certified to provide adequate protection in the event of an accident.

Wearing a helmet is not only required by law but can also help protect riders from serious injuries or death. Studies have shown that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by up to 69% and reduce the risk of death by up to 42% in the event of a motorcycle accident.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer Today

Determining fault in a motorcycle accident is rarely straightforward. While drivers are often responsible for accidents involving motorcycles, there are situations where a motorcyclist may be at fault too. Virginia’s contributory negligence law could make it more challenging for accident victims to recover damages. That’s why working with an experienced attorney is essential if you sustain injuries in a motorcycle accident. 

If you seek answers to questions such as, Are motorcyclists usually at fault?” contact The Law Firm of Carlton F. Bennett, PLLC. We have nearly 50 years of experience assisting injured victims get the compensation they deserve. Our firm holds the record for the largest verdict in Norfolk at $10.2 million. Schedule an initial consultation with our office to discuss how we can assist you.

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Carlton F. Bennett Mr. Bennett is recognized as an expert in traumatic brain damage litigation, nursing home malpractice, and wrongful death cases. He has obtained numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts for traumatic brain injury survivors, and other cases involving serious injuries.
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