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Proving Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident

According to data from the Arizona Motorcycle Safety & Awareness Foundation (AMSAF), there are approximately 3,000 motorcycle crashes reported in the state each year. Unfortunately, these crashes are disproportionately likely to result in severe injuries. NHTSA reports that motorcyclists are hurt in nearly 80% of crashes. 

Following an accident, you need to know what to do to protect your rights. In Arizona, proving negligence is key to any motorcycle accident claim. Within this article, our Phoenix motorcycle accident lawyer highlights the key points you should know about proving negligence in a motorcycle crash injury claim in Arizona. 

Background: Arizona is a Fault-Based Motorcycle Accident State

Arizona is a “tort” state for motor vehicle accident claims, including motorcycle accidents. For this reason, the fault for a crash matters. It is the key to liability. The party deemed responsible for causing the motorcycle accident is also liable for the damages/injuries that occurred. Here is the key point to understand: Fault for a motorcycle accident is based on negligence

Broadly defined, negligence is the failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances. It involves actions or inactions that are careless or reckless and that contribute to an accident. In motorcycle crash cases, negligence can come in many forms—from motorists running red lights to trucking companies failing to inspect their vehicles.  

What to Know About Comparative Fault in Arizona 

Multiple parties may share fault for the same motorcycle accident. In Arizona, a pure comparative fault doctrine is used to allocate liability—and assign damages—in these cases (A.R.S. § 12-2505). Under our state’s rules, the financial compensation of an injured party (motorcycle accident) is reduced by their own percentage of fault in the accident. In other words, each party to a motorcycle wreck is held liable for their share of the blame for causing that crash. 

A simple example can help to illustrate how the system works. Imagine a motorcycle crash in Phoenix. The accident happened when the motorcyclist was speeding. However, another vehicle contributed to the crash by making an illegal U-turn without looking at oncoming traffic. If the motorcyclist who was speeding is assigned 30 percent of the blame for the crash, he or she would be responsible for 30 percent of their own damages. Even being assigned a relatively small share of blame can take thousands of dollars out of your pocket. 

Every Motorcycle Crash Requires a Comprehensive Investigation

How do you prove negligence in a motorcycle accident claim? The short answer is that you need evidence—and that evidence comes from an investigation. Indeed, all motorcycle accidents in Arizona should be thoroughly and proactively investigated by an experienced attorney. Do not rely on law enforcement and/or an insurance company to handle the investigation. You need your own Phoenix motorcycle accident lawyer who will ensure that the investigation is conducted properly and that you have access to all of the evidence that you need to prove negligence. 

An Overview of Evidence that Can Be Used to Prove Liability After a Motorcycle Crash

The evidence that can be used to prove negligence in a motorcycle accident case can come in a wide range of different forms. Remember, it is crucial to secure as much relevant evidence as possible. The more information you have, the easier it will be to bring a claim. Common examples of evidence that can be used to prove fault in a motorcycle accident claim in Arizona include: 

  • Photographs: You should always take as many pictures as possible after a motorcycle crash. Photographs can help capture the immediate aftermath of the accident. They provide visual proof of the scene, the damage to the vehicles involved, and any relevant road conditions. It is also generally useful to take a video of the crash scene and the crash damage. 
  • Traffic Surveillance Footage: Although not available in every case, traffic surveillance footage can offer an unbiased, real-time account of the crash. The footage can be instrumental in confirming the sequence of events leading up to the motorcycle crash. Key details can include the position/movement of the vehicles, traffic light status, and overall road conditions. 
  • Witness Statements: A statement from an independent witness can also help to prove negligence in a motorcycle accident claim. A person who actually saw the wreck unfold can provide objective accounts that may highlight details the drivers or riders involved might have missed. For this reason, injured victims should try to get contact details for witnesses. 
  • Your Account: Your own account of the motorcycle accident is also very important. Detailing your experience, the actions, and the events as you perceived them adds a personal perspective to the investigation. The narrative can help investigators understand the incident. It is best to write down your account as soon as possible after a motorcycle crash. A lawyer can help. Contemporaneous notes are considered to be more reliable evidence.  
  • Police Reports: As noted previously, every motorcycle crash in Arizona should be reported to law enforcement. Police reports are invaluable in the investigation process. Law enforcement officers who respond to the scene collect information, make initial assessments about who might be at fault, and note any traffic law violations. 
  • Expert Analysis: Finally, expert analysis can offer insights that other forms of evidence cannot. Accident reconstruction specialists, for instance, can use the available data to recreate the crash digitally or through models. An accident recreation expert can also testify about the probable causes of the motorcycle crash. 

Set Up a Free Consultation With a Top-Tier Phoenix Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

At The Law Office of Paul J. Dombeck, PLLC, our Phoenix motorcycle accident attorney provides solutions-focused legal advocacy to victims and families. Hurt in a crash? We are here to help. If you have any questions about motorcycle accident injury claims, please do not hesitate to contact our personal injury firm for a no-cost, no-obligation case review. With a law office in Phoenix, we fight for justice for motorcycle accident victims in Maricopa County and across Arizona. 

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