When a person is involved in a motorcycle accident with another driver, the focus is often on holding that individual financially responsible for damages. However, sometimes there are third parties who also had a hand in causing the accident that may be overlooked for one reason or another. Here are two parties you may also want to investigate to determine if they too can be held liable and made to pay for any losses you sustained in a motorcycle accident.
The Vehicle's Manufacturer
Sometimes an accident will occur because of a mechanical problem with one or all the vehicles involved. According to one statistic, up to 13 percent of automobile accidents are due to mechanical failures. One study found about 3 percent of motorcycle accidents are caused by the bike's condition. This means that in any particular vehicle accident, there's a possibility that a manufacturer's defect either caused or contributed to the crash.
Determining whether this is the case will usually be easy. Typically, you would know if something mechanical failed on your bike that caused you to get into an accident. For instance, the brakes fail preventing you from stopping in a timely manner. You would simply get the bike checked by a mechanic to determine if the brakes failed because of a defect or normal wear and tear. If it was the result of a defect, then you would sue the manufacturer for damages.
Likewise, the driver of the other vehicle will usually make this claim in his or her response to your lawsuit if a mechanical failure in the person's car or bike contributed to the accident. If the person can prove this to be the case, you can take that information and pursue a claim against the manufacturer.
However, don't be so quick to absolve the driver of liability. The driver may still be partially responsible for the accident if the person knew about the defect but didn't do anything to fix the problem. For instance, if the person's car or bike (or parts on the vehicle) was on the manufacturer's recall list and the individual didn't take reasonable steps to make the vehicle safe to drive, then the person may be required by the court to pay some of your damages. You can research the different vehicle recalls in effect by visiting the information page operated by the NHTSA.
Likewise, a vehicle mechanic may be on the hook if they didn't properly repair the issue and a mechanical failure occurred as a result.
While drivers are overwhelmingly the leading cause of traffic accidents, studies have found that passengers also contribute to them. This is because passengers are often a source of distraction for drivers. For example, among the 58 percent of accidents caused by distracted teens, 15 percent of those incidents were the result of passengers distracting the driver. The distraction can take many forms from showing the driver a text, roughhousing, or even grabbing the steering wheel or handlebars. Regardless, the outcome of the distraction is the driver takes his or her attention off the road and sometimes ends up running into an unsuspecting motorcyclist.
Again, the driver will usually confess how the passenger contributed to the accident. Whether or not you can sue the passenger, however, will depend on the circumstances. If the person was another teen above the age of immunity or an adult, then you could make the case that the passenger was equally liable for the accident and collect compensation from the person as well.
It may also be possible to sue a pet's owner or a child's parent for causing an accident-inducing distraction using the vicarious liability tort as long as the owner or parent is not the driver of the vehicle.
Uncovering all of the people or companies who could be held liable in your motorcycle accident may take some detective work and legal maneuvering. Consult with a motorcycle accident attorney for assistance with putting a case together.