Boston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Boston is home to a thriving community of motorcycle riders who use their bikes for both pleasure and commuting to work. However, they also face inherent risks every time they hit the road, simply because of the unpredictability of other drivers.
Pursuant to Massachusetts state law, you could work, with the help of an experienced Boston motorcycle accident lawyer, to hold at-fault drivers liable for injuries they cause you. A dedicated Boston motorcycle accident attorney from the Law Office of John J. Sheehan can discuss your case with you in a free consultation. Call (617) 925-6407 to go over your legal rights and determine whether you have a claim worth pursuing.
Who Is Liable for My Boston Motorcycle Accident?
Any time someone is injured in an accident, they have the right to hold the at-fault parties responsible. This can help victims of motorcycle accidents and other auto accidents get compensation for their injuries by proving liability in court and having the judge award damages paid by the at-fault driver and their insurance company. Before you can get compensation, you need to prove that the other driver was “liable,” which could be affected by helmet laws.
To prove that another driver is at fault for a motorcycle crash, claimants are tasked with proving four elements of “negligence”:
- The defendant owed a duty to the victim/plaintiff
- The other driver did not fulfill this duty
- The plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the driver’s breach of duty
- The victim suffered losses because of the injuries received in the accident
Proving “negligence” in this way means that you do not need to show that the driver meant to cause a crash or did something very bad to cause the crash. Instead, you merely need to show that they messed up and did something wrong behind the wheel, such as speeding, texting while driving, or even failing to signal before turning. Other mistakes that are not themselves traffic violations can also show a breach of duty, such as when a driver causes an accident because they were having an argument with a passenger or checking a map for directions.
In many cases, the driver who hit you will try to claim that they were not the only person at fault and that your actions played a role in your injuries. Sometimes defendants will be so bold as to say that because you were riding a motorcycle instead of driving a car, it is your fault that you got injured. These arguments are meritless, and our attorneys will stand up for your right to drive a motorcycle by redirecting blame to the driver who actually did something wrong.
However, if the defendant can prove that you did violate traffic laws or make mistakes while operating your motorcycle, the court may agree that you are partly at fault and reduce your damages proportionately under “comparative negligence” rules. E.g., if you are found 10% at fault, your damages will be reduced by 10%. Our Boston motorcycle accident lawyers can fight for you and work to prove that the other driver was liable for your crash.
Boston Motorcycle Helmet Laws and Liability for Crashes
Enacted in 1967, the helmet law for motorcyclists in Massachusetts is one of the strictest in the country. According to this law, any person who operates a motorcycle or is a passenger on one must wear protective headgear that conforms to the minimum safety requirements established by the Commonwealth.
One major role that this helmet law plays in motorcycle accident cases is the potential for reduced compensation for injuries. The modified comparative fault standard discussed above can limit compensation to an injured plaintiff based on their contribution to the accident and injury. Failing to wear a helmet will not actually cause a crash, but it could contribute to how bad your injuries were.
Financial recovery could be affected by the decision not to wear a helmet. For instance, a victim who suffered a head injury because they did not wear a helmet could possibly be found 50% liable for their head injury. While the other driver still caused the crash, the head injuries are only as bad as they are because of the lack of a helmet. If the injuries are in an unrelated area – such as a broken arm – our attorneys will fight to keep evidence of the lack of a helmet from affecting the case’s outcome.
Even with 50% fault, you can still recover damages, but at a 50% reduction. If you are found more than 50% at fault, recovery would be barred.
Common Types of Motorcycle Crashes
Motorcycle accidents happen in a few common ways. Depending on how the accident happened and what the other driver or drivers did to contribute to the crash, liability can be assigned to different drivers. Typically, common types of accidents are usually resolved the same way, and you can reference the examples here to help you figure out who is at fault in your motorcycle accident case.
Single-Vehicle Motorcycle Accidents
In a crash that does not involve any other vehicles, it is usually pretty clear that the driver was at fault. If you were the driver, then you may be able to recover damages in a first-party claim against your insurance company. If you were injured as a passenger, you may have a case against the driver.
When one car changes lanes into another car, the car can often take the impact. Motorcycles, however, can be easily knocked over or thrown off the road, potentially leaving operators seriously injured. The driver who changed lanes or merged into another vehicle is often at fault in these cases.
Drivers often disregard following distance on the highway, especially around motorcycles. If a driver followed too closely and hit you, they would be at fault for tailgating.
It is often simple to determine who is at fault when an accident happens in an intersection because the signs and traffic lights dictate who is legally allowed to be in the intersection at what time. Whichever driver ran a red light or stop sign is probably at fault for the crash.
Left Turn Accidents
When an oncoming car is making a left turn, they are supposed to yield to cars and motorcycles going straight. If they fail to do so and turn across your path, causing a crash, they should be at fault for the crash.
This list hardly describes all possible types of motorcycle accidents. If you were injured in a different type of crash, contact our Boston motorcycle accident and injury lawyers for help determining who was at fault and getting compensation.
Recoverable Damages in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits in Boston
The injuries that result from motorcycle accidents can be severe. Injuries most commonly seen in motorcycle crashes include many different types of traumatic injuries, some of which are minor and some of which can be very serious:
- Cuts, lacerations, and bruises
- Road rash and other abrasions
- Traumatic brain injury and other head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and other neck and back injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Internal injuries, e.g., organ damage, broken ribs, punctured lungs
Depending on how severe the injuries are, you could spend months or years in recovery. The damages that result from your injuries in the case will depend heavily on the severity of the injuries, what expenses you need to pay for medical treatment, and how the injuries affect your life going forward. For many victims facing permanent injuries or disabilities, the damages you claim could be very high.
Actual recovery for financial compensation may depend on the individual facts of the case and whether the motorcyclist shared any percentage of the blame. Some common recoverable damages are as follows:
- Lost wages during your recovery
- Loss of earning capacity (future lost wages)
- Medical bills from emergency treatment, rehabilitation, ongoing care needs, and other costs
- Childcare expenses
- Medical transportation
- Loss of consortium
- Other economic damages
- Damages for physical pain
- Damages for mental suffering
- Damages for emotional distress
- Lost enjoyment of life and various activities (e.g., if your injuries keep you from riding a motorcycle again)
- Other non-economic damages
In cases of wrongful death, the family of a deceased motorcycle accident victim could also be entitled to claim “punitive damages.” These additional damages are paid not to compensate the family for something that happened but rather to punish the at-fault driver or their employer for repeat or severe negligence. In many cases dealing with commercial drivers, such as truckers and bus drivers, the accident investigation unveils internal problems such as violations of trucking regulations or overworked drivers. In some cases, the court might order additional damages to punish these drivers and their employers, paying you additional money for the deadly accident. These damages are rare, so talk to a lawyer to learn more.
Calculating Damages in Your Boston Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
It is vital to have a Boston motorcycle accident lawyer go over your case with you and discuss the particulars of what damages you might be able to claim. Every case is different, and you should never rely on standard descriptions of damages to tell you what damages you may be able to claim in your case. You should also avoid relying on the insurance companies or the at-fault driver to tell you what your case is worth. Instead, work with a Boston motorcycle accident lawyer who works for you and has your best interests in mind in your case.
Let Our Boston Motorcycle Accident Attorney Help with Your Case
Any driver who contributed to the cause of your motorcycle accident may be held liable for damages. Our skilled Boston motorcycle accident lawyer can evaluate your case and help you explore your legal rights and options. To get started on your case, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Boston motorcycle accident lawyers.