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Proving Fault in a Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Claim: What Constitutes Negligence With Respect to Massachusetts Motorcycle Accidents?

With respect to all motorcycle accident claims, the grounds for finding that a person or company is responsible for your damages, as a matter of law, is proving that the other party was negligent. The fault of the other party is established by demonstrating that they did something wrong, or otherwise violated a legal duty, namely that they were negligent, and that their negligence caused you, as a motorcycle operator, to sustain injuries or other damages.

The Boston motorcycle accident injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates have many years of experience representing biker accident victims, including family members of motorcyclists killed in motorcycle accidents, and proving the negligence of the other driver. The only cases that our motorcycle accident lawyers will accept are those involving injured riders. We are devoted and dedicated to the biker, so call our expert Boston motorcycle accident injury lawyers or Boston wrongful death lawyers today at 617-787-3700 or email us at We will prove that the other driver is liable to you for all of your injuries sustained in your motorcycle accident.

Our Massachusetts motorcycle accident attorneys are experts at proving the negligence of the other driver. Negligence can be thought of as a finding that the other driver behaved carelessly or otherwise improperly, and that this misconduct resulted in injury to you while you were riding your motorcycle. The at-fault party, namely the person that is found to be negligent, is liable for all damages that were caused in your motorcycle accident due to the negligent person’s carelessness or mistake. Settlement negotiations, and cases in court, often involve a dispute about which party is at fault with respect to the motorcycle accident and is liable for the motorcycle accident injuries.

In motorcycle accident injury claims, the injured biker, legally referred to as the plaintiff, needs to prove that the other person, referred to as the defendant, was at fault for the motorcycle accident and the biker’s injuries. Our Boston motorcycle accident lawyers are experts at proving the fault of the other driver. The biker plaintiff will claim, and we will show, that his or her injuries are due to the negligence of the defendant. Such negligence is based on the defendant’s failure to fulfill his or her legal obligation to uphold the rules of the road, and protect the safety of the motorcycle operator, by causing the motorcycle accident which resulted in harm or injury to the biker.

To show how these elements establishing negligence work, and how we will prove and win your case, take a hypothetical Boston motorcycle accident personal injury case: John goes through a red light on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, MA in his motor vehicle and hits a biker named Bill, who had the green light and the right of way. In a personal injury case based on negligence, Plaintiff Bill will need to show that:

  • As the operator of a motor vehicle on public streets, Defendant John owed all other drivers (including Plaintiff Bill and other motorcycle operators) a legal duty to operate his motor vehicle with reasonable caution and care under the circumstances; and
  • By going through the red light, Defendant John failed to fulfill ("breached") his legal duty owed to Bill as a lawful operator of a motorcycle; and
  • In failing to fulfill his legal duty to drive with reasonable care under the circumstances, Defendant John caused his vehicle to collide with Bill’s motorcycle; and
  • Due to John’s collision with Bill’s motorcycle, Bill suffered compensable injuries (property damage and physical injury) in the motorcycle accident.

Bases for Motorcycle Accident Claims

A person injured in a motorcycle accident, who is able to establish negligence on the part of the other party, may seek compensation for all of the damages or injuries he or she suffered as a result of the motorcycle accident. Such damages include monetary compensation for:

  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages
  • Lost Earning Capacity
  • Scarring or Disfigurement
  • Loss of the Ability to Enjoy Life
  • Pain and suffering

In order to recover for all of these damages suffered in a motorcycle accident, the injured biker must prove that he or she was hurt as a result of the other driver’s negligence, namely the other driver’s recklessness, carelessness or other violation of the rules of proper and safe driving. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the injured motorcyclist, or the injured motorcyclist’s estate, may also be entitled to recover damages for wrongful death or property damage.

When Fault Changes the Grounds for a Claim

In general, motorcycle accident claims are pursued under the laws of negligence where the injured motorcyclist sues the at-fault driver. Some cases, however, arise in which other issues come into play that may change the laws that are used to file a claim or change the party against whom the claim is made.

For example, a motorcycle accident may result from a problem with the machinery in a car. For instance, imagine that a motor vehicle slides on ice and its emergency brakes fail to function, causing it to collide with a motorcyclist. The car manufacturing company could be found liable for a defective product, namely defective brakes, and the motorcyclist could be entitled to recover damages from the manufacturing company. Properly constructed brakes should not fail and then cause a motorcycle accident.

In other instances, someone besides the negligent driver who caused the injury to the biker may have to pay the injured motorcyclist more for their injuries than the negligent driver. If that is the case, it makes more sense to file a claim against the person who would be responsible for the greater damages. For example, if a motorcyclist is injured by an employee driving a motor vehicle on-the-job, the driver may be protected under the law as acting as an agent for his employer. Pursuant to agency law doctrines, the motorcyclist could then file a personal injury claim against the employer.

Who is at Fault?

Proving fault is the most important aspect of a successful motorcycle accident claim. The person whose negligent behavior caused the motorcycle accident is at fault, and is, therefore, liable for all of the damages caused by their carelessness or recklessness. However, sometimes liability is unclear, or there is shared fault. When liability cannot be easily determined, a jury decides fault based on the relative percentage of fault of each of the negligent parties.

Our expert Boston motorcycle accident lawyers have many years of experience in placing the maximum amount of fault possible on the other driver. Please call our Massachusetts biker accident attorneys today at 617-787-3700 or email us at

What is Comparative or Contributory Negligence?

Under Massachusetts law, if the injured biker is also partially at fault for the accident, the biker’s compensation may be reduced or, in certain circumstances, completely barred.

Massachusetts uses a proportional form of comparative negligence that entitles a motorcyclist to recover for some of his or her damages if he or she is less than 51% at fault for the accident. If the injured biker is determined to be less than 51% at fault, but still to have contributed to the accident, the damages that the injured biker is able to recover are reduced by his or her percentage of fault.

How is the Percentage of Fault Determined?

When liability is unclear with respect to a motorcycle accident, insurance company claims adjustors calculate their own percentage of fault in order to decide on the amount of a settlement offer. It is easy to be taken advantage of or to be misled as to your portion of responsibility in the accident if you do not have legal representation.

Our expert Boston, MA motorcycle accident attorneys know how to evaluate the motorcycle accident and effectively present your claim for damages. Our knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyers know how to advocate the lowest percentage of fault possible for our biker clients. This number plays a critical role when we negotiate your settlement, and the experience and skill of our Boston motorcycle accident injury attorneys help us to obtain for you the maximum compensation possible.

Call our expert Boston motorcycle accident injury attorneys today at 617-787-3700.

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