Even if a rider was partly at fault, they might still recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit
Written by: Enjuris Editors
Learn what you need to know about getting in a motorcycle wreck in Arizona, including common causes, state laws, fault, liability, securing damages and more.
Boasting 3 of the top 5 sunniest cities in the country (Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson), Arizona is the perfect state to trade in your car for a motorcycle.
Unfortunately, motorcycle riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle and as a result motorcycle accidents are typically more serious than car accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motorcyclist deaths occur 28 times more often than deaths in other vehicles.
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident—as the motorcyclists or as a motor vehicle driver—it’s important to understand the laws governing motorcycles, the damages that might be available, and how a motorcycle accident may differ from the typical car accident in Arizona.
Motorcycle accident statistics
In 2017, there were 207,610 registered motorcycles in Arizona—an increase of more than 27,000 from 2013. Clearly, riding motorcycles is becoming more popular in the state.
Unfortunately, motorcycle fatalities have also gone up. In 2013, there were 128 fatalities, and in 2017 there were 161 fatalities.
The following is a breakdown of motorcycle crashes by geographic location in 2017:
Arizona Motorcycle Accidents Statistics (by type of geographic area)
Property Damage Only
Clearly, most motorcycle crashes happen in urban settings such as a city or town.
Causes of motorcycle accidents in Arizona
There’s a well-documented stigma against motorcyclists in the United States. When there’s a motorcycle accident, many people (including insurance companies) assume it was the fault of the motorcyclist. In reality, the majority of motorcycle accidents in Arizona don’t involve any improper actions taken by the motorcyclists.
Some common causes of motorcycle accidents that aren’t the fault of the motorcyclist include:
Being struck by flying objects (such as cigarettes, pebbles, and insects)
Windblast from other larger vehicles
Being struck by a vehicle following too closely
Being struck by a vehicle’s extended mirror
Being struck by a merging vehicle
Poor road conditions
Nevertheless, there are times when a motorcyclist causes the accident. The chart below shows the various operation violations that led to motorcycle accidents in 2017:
$15,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident
$30,000 for total bodily injury or death in an accident (i.e., for all persons harmed in one accident)
$10,000 for property damage per accident
It’s against the law in Arizona to operate a motorcycle without liability insurance. Tweet this
Failing to maintain the required liability insurance can lead to finds and the suspension of your motorcycle registration and/or driver’s license. Reinstating these privileges can be expensive and time consuming.
Fault in motorcycle crashes
After an accident, the insurance companies and personal injury lawyers will attempt to determine who was at fault for the accident.
In motorcycle accident cases, determining who’s at fault generally involves determining who was careless or “negligent.”
Examples of actions that might result in a motorcyclist or motor vehicle driver being found negligent include:
Sometimes, both the motorcyclist and the motor vehicle driver are careless. So what happens then?
Arizona follows the pure comparative fault theory. Under this theory, the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover is reduced by a percentage that reflects the plaintiff’s degree of fault – no matter what that percentage may be.
Samantha is riding her motorcycle with a broken brake light. Jill is following Samantha too closely in her car. Samantha slams on her breaks to avoid a pothole and Jill rear-ends her. Samantha sues Jill and the trial court determines that Jill was 70% at fault for the accident, while Samantha was 30% at fault. In this scenario, Samantha would only be able to recover 70% of her damages due to Arizona’s pure comparative fault laws.
Enjuris tip: The statute of limitations in Arizona for most personal injury claims is 2 years. If you’re suing a public employee, you must file a claim with the appropriate public entity within 180 days.
What damages are available in a motorcycle accident?
All too often, an injured person chooses not to pursue a personal injury claim because they’re unaware of the damages that are available. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the damages available in a motorcycle accident.
Arizona awards both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to those losses that you can put a price tag on. Non-economic damages refer to losses that don’t have a clear dollar value.
Here is a breakdown of the two categories:
Types of Damages in Arizona Motorcycle Accident Cases
Both motorcyclists and motor vehicle drivers can agree that accidents involving motorcycles are particularly dangerous, and best avoided.
The best decision a motorcyclist can make is to wear a helmet. When a helmet is used, only 4.67% of motorcycle accidents in Arizona are fatal. When a helmet isn’t used, that number jumps to 9.81%. Similarly, 1.11% of passengers are killed in motorcycle accidents when they’re wearing a helmet. When passengers aren’t wearing a helmet, 16.36% are killed.
Other tips for staying safe and avoiding motorcycle accidents include:
Keeping a safe distance between motorcycles and cars
Avoiding drugs and alcohol
Wearing proper footwear and clothing
Making sure your motorcycle is the right fit for your body type
Holding the hand grips firmly
Choosing the proper lane position
Riding within your abilities
Enjuris tip: For more tips on motorcycle safety, read the Motorcycle Operator Manual published by the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.