Who is usually to blame for a motorcycle accident?

This article focuses on why non-motorcyclists are usually responsible for most motorcycle collisions.

California can be a particularly deadly place for motorcycles, with motorcyclists accounting for a far higher share of overall traffic fatalities compared to the national average, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Unfortunately, it is all too common in motorcycle accidents for various parties, from the police to the insurers, to assume that it is the motorcyclist who is at fault. In fact, in most motorcycle accidents, especially those involving a collision with another vehicle, it is the non-motorcyclist who is at fault.

A look at California motorcycle accidents

Before looking at who is to blame for most motorcycle accidents, it is worth considering the risks motorcyclists currently face in California. The GHSA's most recent report on motorcycle accident across the country shows that motorcyclist fatalities rose by 10 across the nation in 2015 to 5,010. For California riders, the good news is that the Golden State was one of only a handful that saw a decrease in motorcyclist fatalities.

However, that is not to suggest that California motorcyclists face fewer threats than riders elsewhere in the country. In fact, motorcyclists account for about 17 percent of overall traffic fatalities in the state, which is significantly higher than the national average of 14 percent (which itself is a huge increase from the mere five percent figure seen as recently as 1997). Difficult terrain, a long riding season, and increasing traffic are just a few of the hazards California riders face on a routine basis.

Non-riders responsible for most crashes

Of course, motorcyclists are also much more likely to suffer severe injuries or even death when involved in an accident that would be considered relatively minor for other types of vehicles. But what may surprise some is that motorcyclists generally do a good job of staying safe on the road, despite their reputation for being risk-takers. As the Sun Sentinel reports, a 2013 study found that in collisions involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle, such as a car or truck, the non-motorcyclist was responsible for the accident in 60 percent of the cases.

The most common cause of motorcycle collisions is failure to yield, usually by a car or truck driver who hasn't checked his or her blind spot or aggressively tries to get ahead of a motorcyclist. While motorcyclists can help reduce their risk of injury or death by wearing reflective clothing, helmets, and maintaining a safe distance, it is ultimately up to car and truck drivers, who enjoy the relative safety of being enclosed in their vehicles, who need to ensure they are more aware of their surroundings.

Motorcycle accidents

For those who have been hurt in a motorcycle accident, help is available. A personal injury attorney who has experience representing accident victims against large insurance companies will be in the best position to offer clients the help they need when pursuing whatever comp ensation they may be entitled to.