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Most motorcycle riders literally have only the clothes on their back to protect them when cars hit them. As a result, motorcyclists are almost thirty times more likely to die in these cases, when compared to four-wheel vehicle occupants. Even if they survive, these victims usually suffer head injuries, broken bones, and other wounds which are permanent, at least to an extent. These injuries are even worse if, as is often the case, the victim had a pre-existing medical condition.
Typically, these victims are entitled to substantial compensation. But insurance companies do not just give this compensation away to everyone. Instead, a San Jose motorcycle accident lawyer must build an evidence-based case. This evidence must be strong enough to withstand some common insurance company defenses.
Generally, the evidence in a motorcycle crash claim includes witness statements, the police accident report, and medical bills. Such evidence is like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The evidence itself means little until an attorney, often by working with an accident reconstructionist, puts the pieces together into a picture. This picture usually involves the ordinary negligence doctrine or the negligence per se shortcut.
Ordinary negligence is basically a lack of care. Most noncommercial motorists have a duty of reasonable care in California. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents when possible. A failure in either area could be negligence.
Negligence per se is usually the violation of a safety law, like the DUI law. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate such laws and cause injury could be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Device distraction is a good example of how these doctrines work. California has a hands-free law. It’s illegal to hold and use a smartphone or other device while driving. So, if such a device distracts the tortfeasor and leads to an accident, the negligence per se rule could apply.
Hand-held phones are not the only device distracting problem. In fact, they might not even be the most serious problem. Hands-free phones are almost as distracting as hand-held phones. Yet such devices are legal. Moreover, hands-free phones give many tortfeasors a false sense of security. Although the hands-free law is inapplicable to such wrecks, these drivers could be liable for damages, under the ordinary negligence rule.
Device use logs often provide critical evidence in these claims. Furthermore, many tortfeasors admit that their devices distracted them just before the crash.
Contributory negligence is one of the most common defenses in motorcycle wreck claims. This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, the insurance company might admit that the tortfeasor made an illegal turn, but blame the accident on the victim’s excessive speed.
The motorcycle prejudice makes many jurors more likely to embrace defenses like contributory negligence. Many people think that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs who disregard traffic laws. An attorney must be ready to defuse this legal hand grenade.
Other insurance company defenses, which often come up in rear-end or head-on wrecks, include sudden emergency and last clear chance. These doctrines excuse liability if the victim created an unreasonable hazard, perhaps by weaving between lanes, or didn’t do everything possible to avoid a crash.
Most motorcycle collisions are legally complex cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in San Jose, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.
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