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Attorney Jared Pursley
Carlsbad Personal Injury LawyerBlogMotorcycle AccidentFormal and Informal Defenses in Motorcycle Wreck Claims

Formal and Informal Defenses in Motorcycle Wreck Claims


Legal defenses in motorcycle crash claims rarely succeed. The burden of proof in a civil claim is only a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. That’s one of the lowest standards of proof in California courts. So, a little evidence goes a long way. Plus, in most cases, jurors sympathize with motorcycle crash victims, usually because these victims sustain such serious injuries.

These injuries include broken bones, head injuries, internal injuries, and other wounds that are usually fatal or permanent.

These wounds are very expensive to treat. A Carlsbad motorcycle accident lawyer goes to court and obtains the compensation victims need to pay accident-related expenses and move on with their lives. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

Comparative Fault

This doctrine is a two-part defense. First, an insurance company lawyer must convince a judge that the victim’s negligence substantially contributed to the wreck. Second, an insurance company lawyer must convince jurors that the victim’s negligence substantially caused the wreck.

Excessive speed illustrates substantial contribution. Riding 5mph over the limit probably doesn’t affect the risk of a collision. Riding 20mph over the limit, especially if the victim was zipping through traffic, may substantially contribute to a wreck.

That’s not all. Next, an insurance company lawyer must sell comparative fault to jurors. If they believe both drivers substantially contributed to the wreck, they must divide responsibility on a percentage basis (50-50, 70-30, etc.) between the two motorists.

California is a pure comparative fault state. Less than a dozen other states have such a law. In the Golden State, victims are eligible for proportionate shares of compensation even if they were 99 percent responsible for a wreck.

The helmet defense is a slightly different form of comparative negligence. An insurance company lawyer argues that the victim’s failure to wear a helmet, as opposed to the tortfeasor’s negligence, substantially caused the wreck.

Evidence on this point must be specific. Lawyers cannot simply cite safety statistics. Usually, a doctor must testify that the victim would have been injured in the same way if s/he’d accidentally fallen off the bike.

Additionally, in California, failure to wear a helmet could also affect fault for the accident itself, not just the amount of damages the victim should receive.

In both cases, a Carlsbad personal injury lawyer typically uses evidence to refute the comparative fault defense. Accident reconstruction engineers discuss the cause of the crash and doctors discuss the cause of head and other injuries.

Motorcycle Prejudice

The prejudice against riders could be a standalone defense or it could make jurors more likely to embrace a formal defense, like comparative negligence or the helmet defense.

Deep down, many people believe motorcycle riders are Hell’s Angels-like thugs who operate their bikes recklessly and even menacingly.

Once again, evidence is the key to refuting this defense. Usually, this evidence separates the victim from the prejudice, as opposed to dispelling the prejudice. Generally, it’s very easy to hate a group, like women or Republicans. It’s hard to hate an individual, like Mary or Ralph.

Contact a Hard-Working San Diego County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Carlsbad, contact the Pursley Law Firm. We routinely handle matters throughout the Golden State.

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