A motorcyclist's worst fear is being hit by another vehicle while on the road. While it is a terrifying thought, it is a completely rational and real fear for these drivers. Motorcycle riders do not have seatbelts to keep them in place, nor are there any doors protecting them from their surroundings. For these reasons, motorcycle accidents are often extremely serious, sometimes even fatal. For someone who has been in and survived a motorcycle accident, or for the family members of someone who did not, here are the things to consider when filing for a personal injury claim following a wreck.
Missouri “At-Fault” Laws
In Missouri, there are a few rules to be mindful of when it comes to filing personal injury claims after a motorcycle wreck. First, Missouri is extremely particular about establishing fault. This labels Missouri a “tort state”, meaning that there must be an “at-fault” established prior to filing for compensation. If you were on a motorcycle and were hit by another vehicle, the “at-fault” would be the person that hit you. Whether the other car was not paying attention, distracted by their phone or the radio, or driving recklessly and cutting you off, they will be considered “at fault”. This is because their negligence is what caused the accident, in turn causing your bodily injuries. Our attorneys and paralegals work to establish the “at-fault” before taking on a case, representing only those who were affected by someone else’s carelessness.
A second rule to be mindful of is called “pure comparative negligence”. It is a saving grace for many people. It states that even if you were to be partially at fault for an accident, you can still receive compensation. So, even if the injured party in an accident was 95% at fault, they are still able to receive compensation for the remaining 5%. However, this also means the opposite for someone who was a victim of someone else’s recklessness. For motorcyclists specifically, a common tactic used by insurance companies is placing blame on a victim simply because they were riding a motorcycle. Insurance companies attempt to place liability on the motorcycle rider because there is “risk” involved in motorcycle riding. However, Missouri explicitly states that this is not allowed. A Missouri statute specifically pertaining to motorcycle accidents states, “In any action to recover damages arising out of the ownership, common maintenance, or operation of a motor vehicle, the fact that one of the parties was operating a motorcycle shall not, in and of itself, be considered evidence of comparative negligence” (MO.GOV 537.055). This statute protects motorcyclists from insurance companies saying that these riders are “partially at-fault” for the accident. An experienced lawyer will be well-versed in technical rules like these, and they will protect you from insurance companies trying to take advantage of you. Jerry Wallentine, our personal injury attorney, has experienced these tricks that insurance companies try to use and knows exactly how to avoid them.
Kansas “At-Fault” Laws
For Kansas, the main purpose of their Kansas Automobile Injury Reparations Act is, “to provide a means of compensating persons promptly for accidental bodily injury arising out of the ownership, operation, maintenance or use of motor vehicles in lieu of liability for damages to the extent provided herein” (Kansas Legislature Legislative Resources). While Kansas is also a “tort state”, meaning that the process begins in the same way a Missouri claim would, their stance on comparative negligence differs. This can be attributed to the purpose of their Reparations Act, causing Kansas to use a rule called “modified comparative negligence” for accidents. This means that the state follows a 51% rule; if it is decided that you are 51% or more at fault for an accident in which you sustained injuries, you will not receive compensation. That being said, if you are 41% at fault for an accident, you can still receive compensation. However, the compensation you will receive is based on the percentage left over – this will be the percentage that you are not considered at fault. Also, Kansas does not have a specific statute to protect motorcyclists from this modified comparative negligence. This is an important reason why you should seek out a personal injury attorney, especially if you are unsure of the steps needed to file.
The damages from a motorcycle crash are similar to those of a car wreck. You are able to file for the following with a personal injury claim;
Medical Costs - This includes but is not limited to the ambulance ride, ER fees, a stay in the hospital, pharmacy bills, surgery, rehab, etc.
Future Medical Costs - Medication, devices such as wheelchairs or prosthetics, counseling, physical therapy, etc.
Lost Wages - If you are injured and are unable to work, there are lost wages. These are important days of work that you were forced to miss due to someone else’s negligence and you should receive compensation for those lost days.
Pain and Suffering - This area of damage includes all mental and emotional anguish that one experiences after an accident. It can include things like anxiety while operating a motorcycle, emotional distress due to billing/the situation, or even loss of enjoyment with life in general.
All of these areas are extremely important and play a major role when filing a personal injury claim after a motorcycle accident. With an experienced personal injury attorney, like Jerry Wallentine, all of these damages are put into the spotlight. Lawyers like Jerry will fight for their clients, working toward obtaining the maximum compensation possible for their cases.
“537.055.” Missouri Revisor of Statutes - Revised Statutes of Missouri, RSMo, Missouri Law, MO Law, Joint Committee on Legislative Research, https://revisor.mo.gov/main/OneSection.aspx?section=537.055&bid=28462&hl=.
“Legislative Resources.” Statute | Kansas State Legislature, http://www.kslegislature.org/li_2022/b2021_22/statute/040_000_0000_chapter/040_031_0000_article/.