It’s an open-and-shut case: you were sitting in stopped traffic, waiting for the light to change—when a driver approached your bike from behind a little too quickly. He struck your back wheel, sending you to the pavement and your bike into the car ahead of you. You are in the hospital, and the drivers of both cars are walking around like nothing happened. There is no way you could possibly be held liable for any of the damages, right?
Who Is at Fault If You Are Hit From Behind on a Motorcycle?
Unfortunately, these kids of accidents take place all the time—and they rarely have a positive outcome for the motorcyclist. In addition to suffering far more serious injuries than the drivers involved in the crash, bikers who collide with a car in front of them when they are rear-ended may be held liable for the damage they caused to the vehicle, even though they were not at fault for the cause of the crash.
In order to avoid liability in a rear-end crash, bikers should:
- Signal early. As traffic in front of you begins to slow down, you can alert drivers following behind you by tapping your brakes or weaving slightly in the lane. Many bikers install secondary brake lights or use brighter bulbs in order to increase visibility when stopping.
- Mind the gap. If you are in traffic or stopped at a light, always leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Not only can you be held liable for damages in a chain-reaction crash, you increase the risk of becoming wedged under the car, or thrown into the back windshield if you are struck from behind.
- Check your mirrors. Always keep an eye on your mirrors while riding or stopped at a light to see if anyone is bearing down on you. Keep glancing at your mirrors when you are stopped just in case you need to get out of the way of an accelerating vehicle.
- Plan an escape route. As you slow down in traffic, make a habit of planning where you would go if you suddenly had to escape a vehicle behind you. It is usually safer to take the shoulder than risk darting into oncoming traffic, but the space between lanes may be your only option.
Although you may be partly responsible in your accident case, that does not mean you are not entitled to fair compensation for your injuries. Attorney James Roswold explains how injured bikers can overcome the odds and receive the medical help they need in his book, The Devil’s Advocate: A Biker’s Guide to Accidents and Injuries. Click the link on this page to begin reading your free copy!