- A motorcyclist can recover compensation for injuries sustained in a sideswipe accident caused by a negligent driver.
- Motorcyclists can use evidence, such as police reports and eyewitness testimony, to establish a driver’s fault in a sideswipe accident.
- Insurance companies use various tactics to try to reduce an injured motorcyclist’s compensation, but a personal injury attorney can help prove your case.
The aftermath of a motorcycle accident can take a huge toll on all aspects of a motorcyclist’s life—physically, emotionally, and financially. If you or someone you love has been injured in a sideswipe motorcycle accident, it’s natural to have questions about the law and what steps to take next.
How Injuries Can Affect a Settlement in a Sideswipe Motorcycle Accident Claim
When it comes to a settlement for a sideswipe motorcycle accident claim, the amount of compensation that you can receive is largely determined by the injuries you sustained. Some motorcycle accidents result in minor injuries, while other motorcycle accident victims aren’t so lucky.
Several factors are considered by insurance companies and personal injury attorneys alike when determining a settlement for a sideswipe motorcycle accident claim.
Type of Injury
Motorcyclists can suffer a wide variety of injuries from a sideswipe accident. The type of injuries that you sustain can impact the settlement you are offered from an insurance company. For example, a biker who suffered minor injuries, such as scrapes and bruises, would be presented with less compensation than a person who suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Severity of Injury
Insurance companies—along with the personal injury lawyers who battle them—also consider the severity of a motorcycle accident victim’s injuries when calculating a settlement.
A broken ankle may require crutches and physical therapy but may not be as debilitating as other types of motorcycle accident injuries. Seriously injuring one or both arms, for example, can make it difficult or even impossible to complete day-to-day tasks like eating, picking things up, or putting your clothes on in the morning. In addition, serious injuries can require a significant amount of surgeries and rehabilitation—none of which are cheap.
When calculating a motorcycle accident settlement, an insurance company will factor in the severity of your injuries, the overall impact they have on your life, and the costs of treating them.
Permanency of Injury
When calculating a settlement for a motorcycle accident claim, a driving factor that can affect your settlement amount is whether your injuries are temporary or permanent. For example, a motorcyclist who suffered a broken arm may heal in a few months, whereas one whose spinal cord was severed can suffer permanent paralysis. Similarly, traumatic brain injuries sustained in a sideswipe motorcycle accident can have a lifelong impact on a person’s cognitive function and the ability to read, process emotions, and even talk.
In addition, motorcycle accident victims who suffer permanent injuries often require costly long-term care. A personal injury settlement should reflect the level of permanency of the injuries sustained, along with the anticipated impact that the injuries will have on the victim’s quality of life in the future.
At the end of the day, there is no cookie-cutter answer as to the amount of compensation you could receive from a motorcycle accident claim. These figures vary from case to case and are based on the facts surrounding your accident and the injuries you sustained.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can work to ensure that your settlement covers these costs.
Determining Negligence in Georgia Motorcycle Accidents
“Negligence” refers to a person’s failure to exercise the level of care toward others that a reasonable person would have exercised if faced with the same circumstances. When a driver’s carelessness results in a sideswipe accident with a motorcycle, the driver can be held liable for injuries that the motorcyclist sustained.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you or your attorney must prove the following elements to establish the driver’s negligence:
- The driver owed you a duty to drive carefully;
- The driver breached the duty of care owed to you;
- The driver’s breach of this duty was the cause of the accident, along with your resulting injuries; and
- You suffered damages because of the accident (in the form of the injuries you sustained).
Georgia follows the rule of “comparative negligence,” meaning that if a motorcyclist is determined to have any fault in a sideswipe accident, the compensation the motorcyclist is entitled to will be reduced by their percentage of fault. A motorcyclist who is determined to be 50% or more at fault in the accident will be barred from recovering compensation.
At-Fault Drivers Commonly Violate Georgia Traffic Laws in Sideswipe Motorcycle Accidents
If you have been involved in a sideswipe accident on your motorcycle, you will need to establish the other driver’s fault to have a successful personal injury claim. One way to prove the driver was to blame is by showing they broke one or more traffic laws when your accident occurred. Common violations that result in sideswipe accidents include:
A driver who fails to change lanes properly and causes a sideswipe accident can be held liable for a motorcyclist’s injuries. Examples of improper lane changes include not checking mirrors or blind spots before changing lanes, failing to use a turn signal or even accidentally drifting into another lane.
The Atlanta area is surrounded by numerous interstate highways where speeding often occurs. Many sideswipe accidents are caused by drivers who were breaking the speed limit laws.
The “Hands-Free Georgia Act,” signed into law in 2018, prohibits a driver from having a cell phone in their hands—or even on their lap—while operating a vehicle. Despite this law, drivers still frequently use cell phones to call and text while driving, which can distract a driver from spotting a motorcyclist when changing lanes.
Methods of Proving that a Driver Violated Traffic Laws in a Sideswipe Accident
Establishing that a driver violated a traffic law while driving can be critical when it comes to proving that the driver’s negligence resulted in a sideswipe motorcycle accident. Examples of evidence that can be used to establish a traffic violation include:
- Detailed photographs of the accident scene and the injuries you sustained
- The police report written by the officer who responded to the accident scene, which can provide a summary of the crash and any traffic tickets that were issued to the driver
- Statements from eyewitnesses who saw the accident happen
- GPS and other relevant data from the driver’s car and cell phone, which could show that the driver was speeding or using their cell phone at the time of the accident
- Dash camera footage from the driver’s vehicle or any vehicles that were passing by at the time of the crash
- Surveillance cameras from local businesses or streets near the scene of the accident
- Testimony from expert witnesses or accident reconstruction specialists
A seasoned personal injury attorney will know how to utilize a wide variety of evidence to show that a driver violated a traffic law and that you were injured as a result.
In addition to the evidence listed above, it’s a good idea to keep a daily journal after your accident with a detailed description of your pain level, emotional state, and general quality of life. Keeping a record of the days and months following your accident can help you, your attorney, and the insurance company understand what physical, emotional, and financial struggles you faced as a result of your sideswipe accident.
Defenses That Drivers May Have in a Sideswipe Motorcycle Accident Claim
Unfortunately, some drivers are unwilling to admit that they were at fault for sideswipe accidents and can even try to pin the blame for the accident on the biker. If an at-fault driver asserts that the motorcyclist was the cause of the accident, the driver’s insurance company will work as hard as possible to reduce compensation to the injured motorcyclist.
Insurance companies have a few go-to defenses when fighting a motorcycle accident claim:
The Motorcyclist Could Have Prevented the Accident
One of the most common ways an insurance company can try to shift the blame onto you is by saying that you could have prevented the accident. An insurance company may try to assert that you should have seen the car coming, didn’t get out of the car’s way fast enough, or should have worn more visible clothing.
If you think you’ve been wrongfully blamed for your motorcycle accident, it’s important to reach out to a personal injury attorney for guidance. Your attorney will work to gather evidence to show that you could not have done anything to prevent the accident.
The Blind Spot Defense
When a motorcyclist is involved in a sideswipe accident, a driver’s insurance company will often assert that the driver did not see the motorcyclist at the time of the accident because the motorcyclist was in the driver’s blind spot. This is essentially an insurance company’s way of saying, “accidents happen, but it wasn’t our driver’s fault.”
If an insurance company uses this defense, a motorcycle accident attorney will get to work to prove that the driver should have seen the motorcyclist but collided with the motorcycle anyway.
The Motorcyclist Was Lane-Splitting
Lane-splitting is a maneuver where motorcyclists drive between lanes or rows of traffic as a way to navigate around slow-moving or standstill road congestion. Because lane splitting can make it difficult for drivers to see a motorcyclist in their blind spots, Georgia is one of many states that specifically prohibits the maneuver.
If a motorcyclist was lane-splitting at the time of the accident, the driver who collided with the motorcyclist could use this as a defense to show that the accident was not their fault. This can have a negative impact on the motorcyclist’s potential compensation for injuries sustained in the accident.
One of the most effective ways to show that a motorcyclist was not lane-splitting at the time of a sideswipe accident is through testimony of drivers, passengers, and anyone else who witnessed the accident. A motorcycle accident lawyer can use this testimony to show that you were not at fault and help establish liability on the part of the other driver.
Sideswipe Accidents Can Permanently Change a Motorcyclist’s Life
The injuries a motorcyclist can face after a sideswipe accident can be devastating, and sometimes permanent. Common injuries that unfortunately occur due to sideswipe accidents include:
- Broken bones, especially in the extremities that came into contact with the side of the car during the accident
- Whiplash caused by the motorcyclist’s neck being jerked back and forth, especially at high speeds
- Traumatic brain injuries, especially if the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash
- Spinal cord injuries, which can result in permanent paralysis
- Road rash caused by the motorcyclist skidding across the pavement
- Serious lacerations and internal bleeding from direct contact with the side of the car or from the motorcycle landing on the biker during the collision
If you were involved in a sideswipe motorcycle accident, the injuries listed above might be painfully familiar. No matter what type of injuries you sustained, you likely have a few—or perhaps many—questions about what steps to take next to protect your rights.
If you have questions, we’re standing by with answers. At The Millar Law Firm, our attorneys are well-versed in representing clients who have been injured in motorcycle accidents. We have been helping clients obtain the compensation they deserve in personal injury cases for nearly three decades.
Why You Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you were involved in a sideswipe accident, you don’t have to face your battle alone. A seasoned personal injury attorney can provide you with the experience you need to recover the damages you are entitled to after a motorcycle accident.
At The Millar Law Firm, personal injury is our only area of practice and has been for almost 30 years. We have built our practice around personal injury law, and we’re committed to helping motorcyclists who were injured in sideswipe and other accidents. We’ll handle the insurance companies for you so that you can focus on the number one priority after a motorcycle accident: healing to your fullest extent possible.
Do you have questions about pursuing a personal injury claim? We’ve got answers—our legal team is standing by to discuss your accident and determine whether you may have a claim. Our consultations are completely free, so you have nothing to lose.
To schedule a case evaluation and explore your legal options, call (770) 400-0000 today.