Riding a motorcycle comes with a number of responsibilities, but no matter how careful you are when driving, accidents do happen. A common question people ask us is if someone hit me on my motorcycle can I sue them? If they are at fault, then of course you can.
There are over 111,000 registered motorcycles in Alabama, but unfortunately the state ranks as the 10th deadliest state for motorcycle accidents, with the Department of Transportation noting that there were close to 1,900 crashes in 2019, with over 1200 injuries reported. Though motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities on public roadways as other drivers, these numbers ought to raise concerns for any motorcycle driver.
The good news is that in the event of an accident between a motorcycle and another driver, it is possible to sue the other driver. In cases where the other driver has caused the automobile accident, they are called the “at fault” party.
What does “at fault” liability mean for Alabama law and motorcycle accidents?
Simply put, an “at fault” state, like Alabama, is one where the driver who bears responsibility for an accident must pay out through their insurance, with police and insurance companies using all available evidence to make the determination.
Motorcyclists and motor vehicle drivers have a legal duty to drive responsibly in order to avoid causing accidents. If a motorcyclist or motor vehicle driver breaches this duty and an accident results, the at-fault party can be held liable.
The way the law works when holding the at-fault party liable is negligence, and there are three categories that must be considered:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, meaning that the driver had a duty to drive safely for the sake of all motorists,
- The defendant breached their duty of care, by taking or failing to take action that they were legally required to do, and
- The breach was the legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
Filing a Lawsuit
Simply put, if someone hit you and you were injured in a motorcycle accident and the other driver was at fault according to the conditions described above, then it is within your right to file a lawsuit claiming compensation for your physical and financial recovery. Proving fault is the work of witnesses, police, and your motorcycle accident attorney.
What compensation is available?
Fortunately, Alabama allows motorcycle accident victims to recover 3 types of damages:
- Economic damages represent the monetary losses caused by an accident (for example, medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage).
- Non-economic damages represent the non-monetary losses caused by an accident (for example, pain and suffering).
- Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant. Punitive damages are only available in cases in which the defendant acted intentionally.
When the other driver’s negligence has been established you can ask for payment through a motorcycle accident injury claim to cover your losses. In legal terms, these losses are called “damages.” The damages you may be able to get include compensation for:
- Current and future medical expenses including doctor bills, hospital costs, rehabilitation and therapy and costs of medical equipment and devices
- Lost time at work while you recuperate from your injuries
- Lost earning capacity if you can no longer work at all or if you are limited in your work
- Pain and suffering for your physical pain and mental and emotional trauma
- Punitive damages meant to punish the negligent party in cases of especially egregious negligence.
You can potentially receive payment for these damages by making a legal claim against the negligent driver who injured you.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, and real estate closings on this website. He is always available in any of the firm’s offices or by phone anytime for a consultation. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply any feedback. We appreciate our readers and love to hear from you!