Most motorcycle accidents have a clear-cut cause—a driver’s car makes physical contact with the motorcycle, causing injury to the motorcyclist. But that’s not always the case. There are also instances when a driver causes a motorcycle accident without ever making contact with the motorcycle itself. These accidents are referred to as “no-contact” accidents, and they happen with frequency in Los Angeles and elsewhere across the country.
Establishing liability in a no-contact motorcycle accident is tricky, but it can be done. What must be proven in this type of accident is that the driver of a passenger vehicle was negligent either in an act or in omission and that negligence caused the motorcycle accident. For example, a passenger vehicle cuts off the motorcyclist in traffic, and the motorcyclist crashes as a result during an attempt to avoid colliding with the car. Even though the motorcycle and the car did not collide, the act of the driver—cutting off the motorcyclist—was the impetus behind the accident. Another way that this no-contact crash might play out is when a motorcycle and a passenger car are traveling in separate lanes; the car changes lanes abruptly without signaling to the motorcyclist beforehand. To avoid a crash, the motorcyclist swerves, ultimately losing control of the motorcycle and becoming injured.
If either of these scenarios can be proven, either by eyewitness accounts, police investigation, or through dashcam footage, for example, then the motorcyclist has grounds for filing a claim for damages. The onus of proof, obviously, is on the motorcyclist, and it can be a difficult road to find and establish that proof. In California, all drivers are required to obey traffic laws; they must be proactive in trying to avoid accidents and causing harm to others on the roadway. When they don’t, and accidents occur, they can be held liable for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages that result from their negligence.
The law (and consequently, juries) use the standard of “reasonable person” to establish negligence. Would a reasonable person have acted in the same manner as the at-fault party? If it is determined that a reasonable person would have acted in the same way, then the person was not negligent. In determining negligence, the courts look at both sides in an accident, holding both drivers and riders of motorcycles accountable for staying vigilant on the road and staying abreast of any obstacles that might result in a crash.
Essentially, a no-contact motorcycle accident is just like a traditional motorcycle accident. The issue at hand, however, is not the collision of two vehicles, but the negligence of a driver and/or rider.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, even if there was no collision involved, contact our office to arrange a confidential consultation. Our motorcycle accident attorney is adept at helping our clients recover damages due to them and offers a free, no-obligation case review at your convenience.