Who is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?

According to recent annual statistics from the Insurance Information Institute (iii), there were over 5,000 motorcycle accident-related fatalities and 83,000 injuries in 2020. Who is at fault for these devastating accidents? All too often, society is quick to blame motorcyclists, assuming that all of them are addicted to the adrenaline that comes with riding at high speeds.

Come to Kiley Law Group for an empathetic ear. Tom Kiley, Sr., and many other members of our legal team own motorcycles themselves and understand the freedom that comes with being out on the open road. Our law firm is proud to represent motorcycle accident victims and their families. Over the past 40 years, our law firm has represented over 1,000 motorcyclists and helped them recover millions of dollars in damages.

If you or a loved one has been harmed in a Massachusetts motorcycle accident, our legal team wants to help. Call us today or complete the online form to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take your call. 

Who is Really to Blame for Most Motorcycle Accidents?

After a motorcycle accident, it will need to be determined who is at fault and liable for damages. Drivers of motor vehicles often assume that motorcyclists are reckless and careless while on the road. However, many motorcycle accidents can occur because of another driver’s negligent actions. In other words, motorcycle accidents are commonly caused by motorists, not motorcyclists.

Common Driver Actions That Cause Motorcycle Accidents

There are many ways in which human error can contribute to a collision. Consider some of the most common motorist actions that cause motorcycle accidents.

Left-hand turns

Statistics reported by the NHTSA show that 42 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve a vehicle turning left. Drivers turning left should always yield to oncoming traffic unless there is a traffic signal indicating they have the right-of-way.

Many left-hand turn accidents occur when drivers have a green light, but not a green arrow, requiring them to wait till vehicles traveling straight pass by and the intersection is clear. The drivers, turning left, then fail to see the oncoming motorcyclists and turn directly into the rider’s path or strikes the side of the motorcycle.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is one of the top causes of all motor vehicle accidents. A motorist who takes his or her eyes off the road for even a few seconds can collide with a motorcyclist and cause a catastrophic accident.

Distracted driving can take many forms, including:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the phone
  • Programming a GPS
  • Adjusting the stereo
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Looking at the scenery out of the side windows

Inattentional blindness

After colliding with a motorcycle, drivers may say, “I didn’t even see them.” In fact, one scientific study on inattentional blindness has shown that these drivers may be telling the truth.

Inattentional blindness refers to the way the human brain processes hectic environments, such as busy intersections. For example, when driving, the brain will prioritize the largest threats such as a large truck or SUV, perhaps failing to notice smaller threats such as motorcyclists. This could be true even when a motorist looks directly at the motorcycle.


Driving faster than the posted speed limit and overdriving for road conditions is another common cause of motorcycle crashes.

Consider some of the many reasons why speeding is dangerous:

  • It decreases a driver’s reaction time
  • It increases the distance a driver needs to stop or avoid an obstacle in the roadway
  • It decreases a motorcycle rider’s ability to judge whether or not there is sufficient time to turn or pass through an intersection
  • It increases the severity of an accident

Drunk driving

In Massachusetts, it is illegal to drive if you have a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or higher. Statistics show that 32 percent of all motorcycle fatalities were alcohol-related crashes. Alcohol negatively affects the skills a person needs to operate a motor vehicle safely.

Alcohol may impair a driver’s:

  • Judgment
  • Coordination
  • Reflexes
  • Vision
  • Decision making

Aggressive driving

Motorists who drive aggressively are a threat to motorcyclists and everyone they share the road with.

Common aggressive driving behaviors include:

  • Speeding
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Following too closely
  • Running red lights and stop signs
  • Failing to yield
  • Cutting other drivers and motorcyclists off
  • Changing lanes improperly

Motorcycles and Head-On Collisions

The most common type of fatal accident involving a motorcycle is a head-on collision. A head-on collision occurs when the front of a motorcycle collides with the front end of another vehicle or even a stationary object. A head-on collision is among the worst possible accidents for motorcyclists.

Head-on collisions commonly result in severe injuries, such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Head injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Spinal cord injuries

Tragically, motorcycle accidents involving head-on collisions are often fatal. According to statistics reported by the NHTSA, 76 percent of all motorcycles involved in fatal accidents were struck in the front.

How is Fault Determined After a Motorcycle Accident?

Motorcycle accident victims may be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries. However, in order for your claim to be successful, you will first need to prove who was at fault for the accident.

How is fault determined after a motorcycle accident? Personal injury lawyers and insurance companies use evidence to determine who was liable for the accident.

Evidence used to determine fault in a motorcycle collision includes:

  • Citations: If the police issued a ticket to anyone at the scene of the accident, those citations could indicate which party was at fault.
  • Eyewitness statements: The testimony of other motorists, pedestrians, and other bystanders who witnessed the accident can be beneficial when determining who was to blame for the crash.
  • Photos of the accident scene: Photos taken at the accident scene of skid marks, debris, weather conditions, and more can be beneficial in showing how the accident occurred and who caused it.
  • Video footage: Video recordings of the accident from dash cams or surveillance cameras can provide invaluable evidence when determining fault.
  • Police reports: The officer who responded to the accident scene will probably have filled out a full report of the accident, including his or her opinion of who was to blame for the crash.

Tips to Avoid a Motorcycle Accident Injury

The reality is that most motorcycle accidents are caused by drivers of cars and other motor vehicles. However, there are steps that motorcyclists can take to prevent an accident or protect themselves in the event of one.

Consider the following safety reminders to reduce the risk of an accident and injury:

  • Take a motorcycle training course if you are a new rider
  • Wear a helmet and other protective gear
  • Do not ride if you are under the influence of alcohol
  • Do not lane split, especially at high speeds
  • Keep your motorcycle well maintained and in good repair

Compensation Available to Motorcycle Accident Victims

By means of the personal injury claims process, a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to help you recover both economic and non-economic damages.

Accident victims may be eligible to recover the following economic damages:

  • Medical bills: Ambulance rides, emergency room visits, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, surgeries, medications, and other medical expenses accrued as a result of the accident
  • Property damage: Reimbursement for the expense of repairing or replacing your motorcycle
  • Lost wages: Compensation for the time you were unable to work due to your injury
  • Loss of future earning capacity: These damages may be awarded if an injury is so severe that it prevents people from being able to return to the type of work they did before the accident

A motorcycle accident victim may also be eligible to recover non-economic damages, such as:

  • Pain and suffering: These damages are awarded to compensate for the pain, discomfort, anguish, and trauma experienced as a result of the accident
  • Emotional distress: A motorcycle accident may affect a victim psychologically, causing anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and other mental issues

If you suffered the tragic loss of your loved one in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to recover wrongful death damages. These can include compensation for medical bills accrued before the death, loss of support, burial costs, funeral expenses, and more.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

A severe motorcycle accident can be life-altering for victims and their families. The compassionate legal team at Kiley Law Group, though, is here to offer support and legal guidance to support you following your accident.

The majority of motorcycle accidents involving motor vehicles are caused by the motorist, not the motorcycle rider. Unfortunately, even if you are absolutely certain that you are not to blame for the accident, proving fault can be challenging. Our motorcycle accident lawyers can investigate your accident, file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf, and help you recover compensation for your injuries.

At Kiley Law Group, we feel that everyone deserves excellent legal representation, regardless of their current financial situation. This is why we represent our clients on a contingency fee basis: you owe us nothing until we win your case.

Call us at (888) 435-1321 or fill out the online evaluation form to schedule your free consultation. 

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