As the weather starts to get warmer, the urge to take your motorcycle out for a ride might be getting stronger. Motorcycles are a unique beast in the way our traffic system treats them; some states such as Missouri require drivers to wear protective gear like helmets, while other states, like Kansas, do not.
We encourage you to check out this website to see a complete state-by-state breakdown of motorcycle driving laws. http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/State-Laws.aspx
These laws respond to the increased seriousness of motorcycle accidents. By their nature, motorcycles offer much less protection to their riders. Because of this, riders would do well to take as many precautions as possible—even those that are not required. Per mile traveled, motorcycle deaths outnumbered deaths from car accidents 35 to 1 in 2006.
Negligence law generally governs motorcycle crash cases, so the conduct of both parties can come into play. For example, let’s say that a small car and a motorcycle get into a collision; both drivers (luckily) survive the accident, but the motorcycle driver is seriously injured. The motorcycle driver files a lawsuit against the car driver for negligent driving. In this trial, the conduct of the motorcycle driver could also be examined to determine if his own recklessness or negligence contributed to the cause of the collision.
The amount that the motorcycle driver could receive in damages depends upon how his state law treats “fault.” Missouri uses something called “pure comparative fault” which means that a person filing a lawsuit may still recover some damage money even if they are found to be 99% at fault, as long as the other party is 1% at fault. This may sound crazy, but don’t worry, the party being sued only has to pay 1% of the money damages. Missouri’s law on pure comparative fault actually developed from a personal injury case involving a motorcycle. See Gustafson v. Benda 661 S.W2d 11 (Mo. 1983).
Kansas uses a “modified comparative fault” system which means that as long as our motorcycle driver is found by a jury to be 50% at fault, he may recover his money for damages. However if he is even found to be 50% at fault, he may not recover any money at all. Additionally, his total recoverable amount will be reduced by his percentage of the fault. KSA 60-258a(a).
Any kind of vehicle accident can be scary and damaging, but motorcycle accidents tend to be the most tragic. Please use caution when operating any vehicle. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, our professional attorneys at Grover Law Firm in Kansas City can help. In order to receive compensation for your injury, including payment of your medical bills which can be extensive in a motorcycle accident, it is essential to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 913-432-1000 or visit our website to request more information. We’ll do everything we can to ensure the best outcome for your case — and your life.