Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating and, in many situations, may be more economical than driving a car or truck. It is also the riskier mode of transportation given the relative lack of protection for the rider. Even when wearing the appropriate helmet and protective gear, a motorcycle rider is likely to suffer serious injuries if they are involved in a crash with a larger vehicle.
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
Just as with auto accidents, the injured victim in a motorcycle crash can sue the at-fault driver for compensation, including the cost of medical treatment, lost wages, and payment for pain and suffering.
Although the same legal principles apply, motorcycle accident cases present unique issues and obstacles to overcome. Therefore, if you have been injured in a motorcycle crash, it is important to find a lawyer who is not only skilled in personal injury law but also has specific experience handling motorcycle accident cases.
Comparative Fault in Motorcycle Accidents
As we discussed in a recent blog post, the victim’s compensation in a personal injury case may be reduced or even eliminated altogether if they are partially to blame for their own injuries. The comparative fault argument is often leveled against motorcycle riders, especially those who do not obey the rules of the road.
It is important to remember that the same traffic laws apply to motorcyclists and car drivers alike. Despite the improved maneuverability on a bike, it can still be considered reckless (and therefore illegal) to weave in and out of traffic, leaving little space between vehicles. Also, tempting as it may be when caught in a traffic jam, it is illegal in Minnesota to “lane split” or drive between two lanes of cars.
Failing to obey traffic laws, or otherwise ride carelessly or recklessly, will shift the blame onto the motorcycle rider, reducing or completely eliminating any chance of recovery in a lawsuit.
The Law Regarding Motorcycle Helmets in Minnesota
Although helmets should be considered a necessity for anyone riding a motorcycle, they are not legally required in Minnesota – except for riders under 18 years old or those who are operating with only a learner’s permit.
Despite the absence of a legal requirement, refusing to wear a helmet can negatively impact a rider’s hopes for compensation in the event of an accident. This impact, not surprisingly, comes into play in cases of head and brain injuries. If a motorcycle rider who declines to wear a helmet suffers head trauma in an accident, the jury in the case is allowed to reduce the award of damages if they believe wearing a helmet would have reduced the severity of the injury. If avoiding head injuries wasn’t enough motivation, this is one more reason to wear a helmet whenever you get on a motorcycle.