It's no secret that there are biases against motorcyclists. The stereotype of the wild, reckless biker started way back in the 1940s and has continued to evolve through news accounts and popular movies ever since. That negative bias can carry over into the legal arena when a motorcyclist has been injured, making it harder for them to receive a fair settlement. What can your attorney do to combat this bias if you're a cyclist who has been involved in an accident?
It involves focusing on the facts, not hearsay.
If the police officer who responded to the scene of the accident shares in the bias against motorcyclists, the bias may show in the official accident report. When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle or a truck, the officer may automatically blame the cyclist.
Keep in mind, however, that police officers rarely are actual witnesses to the accident, which makes their reports inadmissible "hearsay." The officer can make a judgment call and cite the motorcyclist for the accident based on nothing more than his or her own beliefs and the statements of the other driver. If you're a cyclist who has been in an accident with a larger vehicle, you may have been too injured at the time of the crash to even give your side of the story.
However, that won't stop an insurance company from trying to use the police report to push you into a quick (and low) settlement. Having an attorney who understands motorcycle cases represent you in negotiations with the insurance company can force insurance adjusters to focus on the facts of the case, not hearsay.
It also involves overcoming biases with education.
A study in Florida analyzed 10 years' worth of data involving motorcycle cases. In 60% of cases involving another vehicle, the other driver was at fault. In many cases, the other driver will claim that they simply didn't see the motorcyclist.
The problem is especially severe when other vehicles make a left turn. Drivers in trucks and passenger cars will turn into the path of an oncoming motorcycle because they either misjudge the distance between their vehicles and the approaching motorcycle, are distracted on cell phones (or for other reasons), or aren't even aware that a motorcycle is on their left due to blind spots or simple inattentiveness.
If the case does go to court, a motorcycle accident attorney can help overcome the jury's bias against motorcyclists by educating them through the use of expert witnesses. However, helping a jury see past potential biases is only part of the job. Motorcycle accident attorneys often use accident re-creation experts in order to show the jury that the other vehicle was at fault. They can help a jury visualize the actual scene and show how easy it is for an unaware driver to simply miss seeing the motorcyclist in his or her path.
For more information, contact a motorcycle accident attorney to discuss your case.