If you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit for a motorcycle accident in Texas, your case will most likely involve the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is a nuanced part of personal injury law with many related rules and requirements. If you need assistance proving or establishing negligence in your motorcycle accident case, consult with an experienced Dallas motorcycle accident lawyer.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is the failure to uphold one’s duty of care, resulting in an accident or injury to others. A duty of care is a legal obligation to exercise a reasonable amount of care according to the circumstances. For example, all motor vehicle drivers have a duty to reasonably prevent collisions. In motorcycle accident law, negligence often takes the form of driver errors, such as violating a traffic law or driving carelessly. Common examples include:
- Driving distracted
- Driver inattention
- Driving under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Illegal turns
- Cutting off a motorcyclist
- Following too closely
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failure to yield
- Running lights and stop signs
In Texas, proving negligence is generally a requirement before you can recover financial compensation for a motorcycle accident. This is because the state uses a fault-based insurance law, where the driver or party at fault for the collision is financially responsible or liable. In a no-fault state, by contrast, all victims will seek benefits from their own insurance providers, regardless of who caused the collision.
What Are the Four Elements of Negligence?
In a motorcycle accident claim, the burden of proving negligence rests with the injured victim, known as the plaintiff. The burden of proof in the civil justice system is lesser than in the criminal justice system. It is a preponderance of the evidence, or enough clear evidence to convince a judge and jury that the defendant more likely than not is responsible for the injuries in question. The burden of proof in a criminal case, on the other hand, is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Having the burden of proof means that it is you or your motorcycle accident lawyer’s responsibility to establish the defendant’s negligence. This takes evidence of four elements:
- Breach of duty
In essence, your lawyer must demonstrate that the defendant owed you a duty to exercise reasonable care, failed to fulfill this duty through a careless or reckless act, and caused your motorcycle wreck. If the defendant did not act in a way that a reasonable and prudent driver would in the same circumstances, and your accident would not have happened but for this negligence, the defendant will be liable. There must also be evidence to demonstrate that you suffered compensable losses in the collision.
Evidence to Prove Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Proving negligence in a motorcycle accident case will come down to the strength of your evidence. This is why it is important to call the police immediately after your motorcycle crash to obtain an official police report. You can also collect other types of evidence at the scene, such as the other driver’s information, photographs of the crash and eyewitness phone numbers. Common evidence used in a motorcycle accident lawsuit includes:
- A copy of the police report
- Citations issued by a police officer
- Videos and photographs
- Surveillance footage
- Signed eyewitness statements
- The motorcyclist’s helmet, clothing and motorcycle
- Accident reconstruction
- Expert testimony
- Medical records and documentation
- An injury journal kept by the victim
Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can make it easier to prove your case. A lawyer can return to the scene of your motorcycle accident to collect evidence on your behalf, such as surveillance footage from nearby businesses. A lawyer will also have connections to investigators and accident reconstruction experts who can demonstrate to an insurance company how the defendant is at fault for the wreck. For more information about proving a motorcycle accident case, contact an attorney in Dallas.