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How jurors' biases, a lack of knowledge, and stubborn insurance companies muddy the legal waters
A motorcycle accident is just as harrowing and disrupting to your life as a car accident, if not more so. An accident that takes place surrounded by solid steel construction is very different from potentially being flung from your bike and landing on concrete at a high rate of speed.
Additionally, accidents involving motorcycles are usually more complicated to resolve (for infuriating reasons). Let’s examine the inherent biases juries have regarding motorcycle crashes and how insurance companies will likely fight your claim every step of the way.
Some people don’t think motorcycles belong on the road
Motorcycles have a distinct culture, as do many of their riders. Unfortunately, that social awareness can work against them in court. To someone who doesn’t ride a motorcycle or know somebody who does, being a motorcyclist can have negative connotations of loud Harley Davidsons, their rowdy riders clad in leather and denim. Of course, not all motorcycle riders are the same — but overcoming this bias can be difficult in court.
Much of presenting a case is determining how a plaintiff will look to a jury. Unfortunately, there are unfair stereotypes surrounding motorcyclists, and many ignorant jurors will view them as something akin to outlaws or gang members. This could be a significant disadvantage in the courtroom if you have been injured in an accident while riding your bike.
Other jurors might believe the road should be reserved for cars only. Not only that, but they might think motorcyclists understood the risk by choosing that mode of transportation. Those who hold this belief may think that you have no right to be on the road and therefore have no right to be compensated for your injuries.
Fortunately, an attorney can help you plan strategies to overcome this unfair stereotyping.
Not everyone understands how to ride a motorcycle
Riding a motorcycle is very different from driving a car. You have to react differently when going around turns on the road and be far more aware of other drivers. A fast stop may not be possible when you’re on two wheels instead of four.
For someone with little to no motorcycle knowledge, and who has no concept of how to properly drive a motorcycle, this lack of awareness can work against you. Jurors have to be taught the mechanics of proper motorcycle driving safety, and this crash course takes attention away from your injuries.
Injuries are usually worse in a motorcycle accident
When you get into an accident on a motorcycle, there’s a significant chance that you will be thrown from your bike. This can cause severe injuries such as broken bones, ruptured organs, and traumatic brain injuries (which can happen regardless of whether or not you were wearing a helmet).
Motorcycles also don’t have lap belts or shoulder harnesses like a car does, and a helmet can only protect you so much. The leather that motorcyclists wear isn’t just a fashion choice — the material actually protects against road rash in the event of a fall. Leather doesn’t do much in the way of protection against fractures or concussions, though.
So if you should get into a motorcycle accident, your injuries will likely be more extensive. Jurors must understand that such injuries are typical of motorcycle accidents, and negligence should be properly placed upon the responsible party (i.e., another driver or a manufacturer).
Insurance companies may try to deny your claim
Regardless of whether you drive a car or ride a motorcycle, insurance companies will always try to make a lowball offer to settle the case as soon as possible. Get a good lawyer who will fight to ensure your rights are protected. In certain states, you may be eligible for partial compensation if you’re determined to be less than 50 percent at fault for an accident.
If you were injured while riding a motorcycle, expect to be treated differently than if you were injured in a car. Societal biases, the severity of your injuries, and the games insurance companies play can make the situation far more complex.
Fortunately, you can resolve the case in your favor if you get a good lawyer who will defend your rights in court. Find someone near you who is experienced in motorcycle law.
See our guide Choosing a personal injury attorney.