When you are in a motorcycle accident that is caused by another driver’s negligence, you might think that recovering a monetary award for your damages is a simple matter of showing that the driver was negligent. Your damages award, however, will be proportionately reduced by your own negligent actions while you were riding your bike. In Massachusetts, if you are more than 50% responsible for the accident, you will not be entitled to any damages.
Suppose, for example, that you are riding down a road and you see a car ahead of you that is about to pull out into the street in front of you. You might assume that the driver sees you, but instead he pulls out into your path and you collide with the side of his car. That driver might argue that you were partially negligent for the accident because you were wearing dark clothes and you made no overt attempts to make yourself visible as you were riding down the road. There is some legitimacy to this argument. When you are riding straight down a road, the single headlight on your bike does not give a driver any sense of depth perception to judge how quickly you are approaching him. If this argument carries the day, you will be deemed to be partially responsible for the accident and you will receive a lower amount of damages.
Now suppose, instead, that when you see the car ahead of you, you wobble your front wheel slightly. The back-and-forth motion of your headlamp will give the driver a better sense of depth perception. (This is sometimes called a “SMIDSY” maneuver, from the phrase “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You”.) He might still pull out in front of you and later argue that he did not see you, but you will rebut that argument by showing that you took affirmative steps to be seen. With this simple maneuver, you remove your own negligence from the damages equation and you recover a larger damages award.
Liability and damages in motorcycle accidents is rarely straightforward. If you are in a motorcycle accident in Massachusetts, please contact us for a complimentary review of the facts of your case.