Motorcyclists are governed by the same traffic laws and rules of the road as are drivers of other motor vehicles. Motorcyclists must signal before turning or changing lanes, for example, and are prohibited from lane-splitting, i.e., travelling between two lanes of traffic headed in the same direction. Though some motorcycle accidents are caused by traffic-law and rule violations by motorcyclists, far more are caused by violations or negligence by other drivers.

Accidents Caused by Failure to Yield Right of Way to Motorcyclists

motorcycle accident traffic lawsOne of the most common road-rule violations resulting in motorcycle accidents is the failure of drivers of cars or other vehicles to give motorcyclists their right of way. Motorcycles are considered motor vehicles and are entitled to the same rights of way as other vehicles. Failing to give the right of way to motorcyclists at intersections controlled by stop signs, for example, often results in collisions that could easily have been prevented. Other common instances of right-of-way violations causal of motorcycle accidents occur when drivers are making left turns and cut off motorcyclists in oncoming traffic, entering or leaving construction zones, merging into traffic, making lane changes, or taking over lanes already occupied by motorcyclists (forcing motorcyclists to engage in lane-splitting). Though drivers frequently claim that their inability to see a motorcycle was the cause of a collision in these circumstances, drivers’ negligent failure to keep a proper lookout for motorcycles is often determined to be an accident’s cause.

Accidents Caused by Failure to Keep a Proper Lookout for Motorcyclists

Drivers often neglect to check blind spots for motorcycles in addition to larger vehicles. Because motorcycles are far more difficult to see than larger vehicles, drivers have a duty to make sure that all blind spots into which a motorcycle could fit are checked before making lane changes or other maneuvers that might result in collisions. This is particularly true for drivers of larger vehicles, such as vans, SUVs, and trucks, which may have more blind spots than smaller cars.

Drivers are also required to anticipate and watch for frequent lane changes by motorcyclists. Debris on roadways and changes in wind conditions often lead motorcyclists to change lanes more often than drivers of other vehicles, who are not affected by such conditions. Motorcyclists may also change lanes to remove themselves from the blind spots of other vehicles. Though these maneuvers may appear careless and random to other drivers, they are often employed to protect motorcyclists’ safety and to prevent collisions and other accidents.

Accidents Caused by Negligence in Construction Zones

Though motorcycle accidents may be caused by negligently designed, controlled, or maintained construction zones, accidents in these zones are often due to driver negligence. Construction zones may contain uneven pavement, for example, including changes in pavement level between one lane and another. If a driver moves into a lane already occupied by a motorcycle, the motorcyclist may be forced to come into contact with the uneven pavement to avoid colliding with the vehicle. This can cause a motorcyclist to be thrown from his or her bike, to lose control of the bike, or to veer into other vehicles, resulting in sideswipe or other collisions.

Accidents Caused by Following Motorcycles Too Closely

Collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles may also occur when drivers follow too closely behind motorcycles in front of them. Motorcyclists may slow down without using their brakes, so that motorists may not be alerted to the change in speed by the cycle’s brake lights. Drivers need to be aware that motorcycles (as well as other vehicles) may be slowed in this manner and follow at a safe distance to avoid collisions caused by a failure to immediately detect a motorcyclist’s reduction in speed.

Accidents Caused by Other Road-Rule or Traffic-Law Violations

Any violation of traffic laws or rules of the road by drivers of vehicles involved in motorcycle-vehicle accidents may be found to constitute driver negligence. When the rule or law violation is determined to have caused an accident and a motorcyclist’s resulting injury or death, the driver may be found liable for the damages suffered by the injured cyclist or deceased cyclist’s family as a result. Such violations, in addition to those discussed above, can include failing to signal before changing lanes, driving above posted speed limits or at excessive rates of speed for weather or road conditions, and failing to obey traffic signals. Drivers may also be found to have negligently caused motorcycle accidents by talking on phones or engaging in other activities that cause driver distraction.

Motorcycle accidents are caused in many ways, including driver negligence, unsafe construction sites or roads, or defects in motorcycles and cycle safety equipment. Our highly skilled national motorcycle-accident team has extensive experience with all types of motorcycle accidents and works with the best of experts to determine the causes of an accident and the identity of all those who may be held legally responsible for a motorcyclist’s injury or death. If you have been injured or a family member has been killed in a motorcycle accident of any kind—in any part of the country—our respected motorcycle-injury attorneys can help you obtain every bit of the compensation to which you are entitled.