Statistics demonstrate that despite motorcycles making up just 3% of all vehicles on the road, they account for 14% of road fatalities, primarily because a motorcyclist has far less protection against accidents than those in a car.
Serious, life-changing injuries are common; even minor accidents can lead to painful road rash and broken bones.
In Hendersonville, the community was devastated when the dean of a local high school died from a motorcycle accident, simply underscoring that this form of transportation while exhilarating, has its dark side.
While any personal injury law case can be challenging, those involving motorcycles have a variety of unique considerations that must be accounted for when arguing a client’s personal injury or wrongful death case.
Here, we’ll examine some of the factors that may influence the outcome of cases where you’d need to hire a Hendersonville motorcycle accident lawyer.
Extent of Injuries
All personal injury lawsuits hinge upon how badly the victim was injured and what costs – both current and future – this will impose on them.
Some expenses are quite straightforward, such as medical bills from the hospital and the damage to personal property like their motorbike.
Others, though, are more challenging to identify; these include the possibility of future disability and the attendant medical expenses, as well as the future wage reduction that may come with this injury.
Lawyers must work closely with medical professionals who can assess the extent of injuries and identify what needs they may have to live a full and active life.
There is also the element of pain and suffering, which is unique to personal injury suits and can be difficult to quantify.
Use of Safety Precautions
Whether negotiating with insurance agencies or convincing juries at a trial, the victim’s use of safety precautions will often be a paramount consideration.
Even if the injuries are self-evident, the absence of a helmet can assign more blame to the client, which will lower the settlement.
Riding without a helmet is illegal in Tennessee, thanks to the high risk of serious brain injuries or spinal cord damage.
While car drivers still must drive responsibly around motorcyclists and act by the rules of the road, they may be assigned less blame for the severity of injuries if they hit a rider who was not wearing a helmet, as it would be expected that the rider’s condition would have been better if they had followed the law and protected themselves.
Tennessee operates under the principle of modified comparative negligence, meaning that both the defendant and plaintiff are assigned a percentage of the fault; if the plaintiff is more than 50% to blame, they will not be able to file a lawsuit.
However, if the plaintiff has any fault, their compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault.
For example, if the plaintiff were determined to be 40% negligent, their compensation would be reduced by 40%.
This is why it is crucial to identify how much blame lies with the plaintiff: it can entirely change how much they can claim.
Like riding without a helmet, lane splitting – the act of passing a car while in the same lane – is illegal in Tennessee.
It can also result in serious injury to the rider, as cars can start moving without warning or may open their doors, hitting the motorcycle in motion.
A rider injured while lane splitting may be held more responsible, as they have the same obligation to follow the law as the driver who hit them.
This can dramatically diminish their settlement options, both from the insurance and from a jury trial.
Bias Against Motorcyclists
If a case is going to a jury trial, lawyers must account for the fact that many jurors may have a biased opinion against motorcyclists.
They may believe this mode of transportation is unnecessarily dangerous, and they may have witnessed reckless behavior by motorcyclists in the past that will color their opinion of whether the plaintiff was at fault for their injuries.
It’s important for lawyers seeking to convince a jury of their client’s claim for compensation to consider the popular opinion of motorcycle riders and seek to dispel these myths.
This bias can be overcome, in part, by demonstrating that the motorcyclist was following the rules of the road and acting responsibly when they were hit.
Discussing the victim’s community activities and overall character can be of great benefit.
Lawyers also must remind jurors that the goal of a personal injury case is to identify who was at fault and identify the amount of compensation the victim is entitled to rather than assign criminal liability, as this lowers the burden of proof for the plaintiff.
Jurors may not understand the differences between a personal injury suit and a criminal case, and this must be emphasized throughout the trial.
Motorcycle accidents are physically, financially, and legally devastating, and they must be treated with proper care when negotiating with insurance agencies or taking a case to trial.
Any motorcycle lawyer in Hendersonville, TN, or throughout the Volunteer State must consider these factors as they work to get justice for their client.