The rules of the road are technically the same for motorcycles and automobiles, although the operation of the vehicle and the physics and mechanics that will be involved are really different.
Fault and No Fault
I do not do any work in no fault states. In the states where I practice the injured person has to prove the other party was at fault for causing the accident. The award depends on the percentage of fault that was found on the part of the motorcyclist as opposed to the other vehicle. Since the insurance company for the other vehicle wants to show that the motorcyclist contributed to the cause of the accident, a great effort is required to show that the motorcyclist had no way to avoid the accident.
Motorcyclists are particularly susceptible to head injuries. Some states do not require helmets, whereas some other states do require them. The defense will examine the helmet to see if it was a contributing factor if there is a head injury. Sometimes the helmet itself may be defective, although we this is increasingly rare. For certain types of injuries, a full face helmet has been repeatedly shown to offer much greater protection than a three quarters helmet or a half helmet. This is particularly true in preventing injuries to the mouth and the jaw.
On the other hand, many people get head injuries on motorcycles even if they’re wearing the best full face helmet money can buy. Brain injuries tend to happen primarily as a result of the brain sloshing around in the skull during an accident. The damage to the brain results from the brain hitting against the rough areas inside the skull. Fractured skulls are rare, compared to brain injuries, because of the brain is more commonly injured by hitting the inside of the skull. Up to a certain point a helmet can protect the head, but no helmet prevents the brain from moving inside the head.
Is an Expired License or a Ticket a Factor?
Mere traffic tickets are not normally allowed into evidence in the accident case trial.
The fact that a rider was driving without a license or even a motorcycle endorsement is not normally allowed into evidence, because this fact does not indicate anything about the way the person was driving at the time of the accident, and in most cases the judge will not allow it into evidence.
Even though it may not be evidence in the trial, insurance adjusters will try to argue that settlement should be reduced because of the failure to have a license. If the license was suspended, it is worse than a simple failure to obtain a motorcycle endorsement.
In fact, studies have shown motorcycle riders who have no license or no motorcycle endorsement, are far more likely to have accidents. Even so, this usually does not become evidence at trial, for the reason given above.
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