Motorcycle accidents happen more frequently than they should in the state of Alabama. In fact, in a single year in Alabama, there were 92 fatal crashes involving motorcycle or moped riders, according to the Alabama Department of Transportation. These accidents, even when they are not fatal, can have devastating consequences for motorcyclists and their families, resulting in expensive medical costs, disability, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more in many cases.
Because Alabama is an at-fault insurance state, and all drivers and motorcyclists are required to carry liability insurance, if you are in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, that driver’s insurance is typically responsible for paying damages. But what happens in the event that you are partially to blame for your accident?
Situations Where You May Be Partially to Blame
Even when fault for an accident seems obvious, an insurance adjuster may be able to use evidence against you to establish that you were partially to blame. There are two types of negligence of which you may be found guilty:
Negligence per se. Negligence per se is the breach of a law or ordinance. As it pertains to motorcycle accidents, you could be found partially to blame for your crash if:
- You weren’t wearing a helmet (Alabama law requires all motorcycle operators and passengers to wear protective headgear);
- You were lane splitting (riding between lanes of traffic or between rows of vehicles);
- You and other motorcyclists were operating your bikes more than two abreast in a single lane; or
- You were breaking any traffic law, such as speeding, drinking while driving, etc.
General negligence. You may also be found partially at fault for an accident if you committed an act of general negligence – the failure to execute a reasonable duty of care and this act contributed to your crash. Examples of general negligence might include:
- Operating your motorcycle while distracted;
- Operating after having a single drink (even if your BAC is below the legal limit);
- Operating at an unsafe speed for conditions (even though under the speed limit); or
- Performing an unsafe maneuver.
Negligence Is a Bar to Recovery
All states have negligence laws on the books, which dictate how a claimant’s/plaintiff’s own negligence affects their ability to recover compensation. Most states allow for recovery even when a plaintiff contributes to their injuries. However, Alabama is not one of them. Alabama is a pure contributory negligence state, which means that if a plaintiff is found to be at fault for their injuries in the slightest, even one percent, they are completely barred from recovery. This means that even if the driver who hit you was 99 percent to blame, you may be unable to recover compensation if your one percent of fault can be proven.
The Importance of Protecting Yourself
Alabama’s pure contributory fault laws are unusually strict, and they require motorcyclists to do due diligence when riding and navigating the claims process. Some things to keep in mind:
- Always operate your motorcycle safely and within the parameters of the law – do not give a court reason to reject your lawsuit based on a small error;
- Carry medical payments insurance coverage, which will help to pay for your injuries after a crash regardless of fault; and
- Hire an experienced Alabama motorcycle injury attorney – when you need to recover compensation after a motorcycle accident in Alabama, you need an attorney on your side who knows how to prove the negligence of other parties and negotiate for compensation that addresses your losses.
Contact Our Law Firm Today
At the law offices of McPhillips Shinbaum, LLP, we know that you can’t afford to have your claim denied because of a small act of fault – or an accusation of fault – on your part. When you hire our law offices, our experienced and knowledgeable Alabama motorcycle accident attorneys will immediately get to work building your claim and helping you to recover every penny you deserve. We collect evidence to improve your chances of winning your claim or lawsuit if your case goes to court.