A motorcycle accident can lead to significant losses, often impacting the motorcycle driver more so than the car driver. Tennessee is an at-fault state which means, in the most simplistic of terms, that the driver at fault must compensate the victim for the losses they’ve caused. But what if you think you may be at least somewhat to blame for what occurred as the motorcycle rider?
You can sue if you were partially at fault in a motorcycle accident. Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC to learn more about what to do in your specific case. We’re available 24 hours a day and offer free consultations.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
In some situations, the cause of an accident is very obvious. For example, if a distracted driver slams into the back of your motorcycle while you are sitting at a red light, that driver is 100% at fault for the incident. Other times, both parties may share some of the blame.
In every situation, you should not admit fault in any way. Instead, let your motorcycle attorney help with that process. Simply provide the facts to the police.
When two parties share the blame in an incident, this is called comparative negligence. Fault sharing like this is not uncommon across the U.S., but it does change what happens when you need to file a claim against the other party for insurance coverage or to receive compensation for your losses.
The 50% Rule of Fault
In Tennessee, the 50% rule applies. That means that a judge or other party will assign a fault percentage to you based on the evidence in the case. You can sue the other party for your damages if they caused more than 50% of the losses you’ve suffered, but that is only the case as long as you are less than 50% responsible for those losses.
Then, your award is lowered by that percentage. Let’s say you’re in a motorcycle accident that results in $50,000 worth of damage, but the court finds you to be 25% responsible for the incident or losses.
In this situation, you would be only able to seek out 75% of the losses you’ve incurred ($37.500). If the court stated you were 60% to blame, you would not be able to seek out compensation for your losses.
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Why Would You Be Responsible for the Motorcycle Accident?
One of the most confusing things for many motorcycle drivers is understanding why they may be partially responsible for what occurred. It really is dependent on the situation, but consider a few situations.
Tennessee law requires that all motorcycle riders wear a helmet. There’s a good reason for that since accidents can lead to serious traumatic brain injury. If a vehicle strikes you on your bike, but you did not have a helmet on, the court assumes that your losses may have been less if you had a helmet.
Therefore, you are partially to blame for not wearing one. That may not seem fair, and that’s why you should be working with a motorcycle attorney who will help to minimize the risk of this type of defense cutting into the compensation you are owed.
Laying Down the Bike
Motorcycle riders often find themselves in the situation of making a decision like this. Laying down the bike is often necessary, especially when the alternative is that you would strike a car and potentially go flying over the handlebars.
Yet, laying down the bike also means painful losses. If you have to do so because another driver cut into the lane too close to you or didn’t even see you, that puts you at risk.
In this type of incident, you may be considered partially to blame, or the insurance company may try to say that. They may try to state that you could not control the bike, and that’s what led to the incident. This is obviously not the situation, but it can be a defense used in court to lessen your compensation.
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What to Do When You Could Be Partly to Blame
Suppose you are partially to blame for a motorcycle accident or think you could be. In that case, you absolutely should work with a motorcycle attorney who can help minimize any claims made against you. As a modified comparative fault state, Tennessee law makes it possible for you to seek out compensation above and beyond what you caused – proving that, though, is hard to do.
When you work with a motorcycle accident attorney, we can help you with the following:
- Determine who is at fault based on the evidence of the case
- Prove that you are not at fault at all in some situations
- Work to document the losses you’ve faced as a result of the other driver’s actions
- Pursue a settlement with the insurance company for your losses
- Avoid claims made against you
- Go to court when necessary to fight for the compensation owed to you
Our legal team will help you to learn what your legal rights are in a situation like this. If you feel that you should not be to blame at all, we’ll work to prove that is the case as well. The key here is to work with a legal team as soon as possible so that you have the ability to prove what occurred.
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At Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC, we work closely with our clients to ensure they understand their rights. You should still sue if you are partially to blame for a motorcycle accident, and we can help you learn what to expect. Set up a free consultation with us today.