Who Is Liable in a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?

December 23, 2022 Posted In Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents do not always have to involve contact with another vehicle. In a no-contact accident, another motorist’s negligence forces a motorcyclist off the road or into another object. Proving fault in these cases can be highly complex; however, the motorist who caused the collision is liable even if there was no contact. 

Who Is Liable in a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?

Liability in No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents

In California, any party who causes an accident due to their negligence or careless actions can be liable for resulting damages. Therefore, if a motorcyclist can locate or identify the at-fault driver, they can file a claim against their insurer or sue the driver personally for their losses. Even if they only get a partial license plate, it can be reported to law enforcement, and they may be able to use that information to find the driver. 

However, if the at-fault party flees the scene or does not notice that their behavior leads to a motorcycle accident, so they do not stop, it can be challenging to hold them accountable. This is what is known as a phantom driver, and although law enforcement will treat it as a hit and run, there is a possibility that they will not find the at-fault party. In these situations, motorcyclists often have to rely on their own insurance policy to cover their injuries and losses or must pay out-of-pocket unless the at-fault driver is found. 

Insurance Coverage for No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents

Depending on the types of insurance coverage a motorcyclist carries, they may be able to file an accident claim with their own insurance company. For example, collision coverage will pay for property damage and accident-related losses regardless of who was at fault. 

Why No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents Happen

Common causes of no-contact motorcycle accidents include:

  • Driver failure to yield the right of way
  • Driver failure to stop at stop signs or traffic lights
  • When a car swerves to avoid other drivers making illegal or dangerous moves
  • Aggressive driving (e.g., cutting off a motorcyclist)
  • Distracted driving
  • Driver trying to prevent a collision in front of them
  • Driver who merges or changes lanes without looking

This is not an exhaustive list, but most no-contact accidents happen due to driver error. 

Types of Compensation Available

If you can locate the at-fault driver, you have the right to hold them accountable for the following types of compensation: 

  • Medical Expenses: Current and future costs for emergency care, surgery, hospitalizations, rehabilitation, in-home care, prescription medications, and any other necessary treatment. 
  • Lost Income: Current and future lost wages from being unable to work. 
  • Diminished Earning Capacity: The difference in income if you cannot earn at the same level as before the motorcycle accident. 
  • Property Damage: Repairs or replacement of your motorcycle and any other personal items damaged in the crash (e.g., helmet, cell phone, etc.)
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for the pain and discomfort you have had to endure. 
  • Emotional Distress: If you suffered from any psychological conditions caused by the accident, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. 

If there is evidence that the at-fault acted intentionally or with an extreme disregard for the safety of others, the court may award punitive damages. If you or a someone you love was involved in an accident, contact our motorcycle accident attorneys in Riverside for qualified legal representation.

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