Motorcyclists face unique challenges if they are involved in an accident while riding their cycles. One of those challenges is the bias people have about motorcyclists in general. Law enforcement, insurance companies, and those who witnessed the accident often stereotype bikers, assuming they behave in a careless manner, are reckless, and are irresponsible on the road. These prejudices can affect your claim and your ability to obtain fair compensation.
Reasons Behind Motorcyclist Bias in VA
There are certainly many factors that contribute to the bias against motorcyclists, but some of the most common include:
- Pop culture. In movies and tv shows, people on motorcycles are often considered “bad boys.” In the media, motorcyclists are typically portrayed as those who are wild and like to break the rules and push limits. No matter how untrue, these pervasive images have been shown to the public for a long time.
- Road ownership. Everyone likes to have their own personal space, and this can include space on the road. Other drivers can be irritated or even resentful when they see a motorcyclist near “their” space. Additionally, they may be intimidated by a group of motorcyclists riding together and taking up long stretches of road, even when these groups are abiding by the law and riding safely.
- Nervousness. Motorcycles can navigate the road much more easily than a car, especially when there is traffic congestion. Motorcyclists moving through stalled traffic can make other drivers feel nervous, especially if the driver is worried about visibility or has had a close call with a motorcycle in the past.
How Motorcyclist Bias Can Affect an Accident Claim
Bias against motorcyclists can have a negative impact on a motorcycle crash claim. The bias can make others quick to judge and blame the motorcyclist for a crash, even when it wasn’t the motorcyclist’s fault. Because other drivers, witnesses, and even law enforcement may view a motorcyclist as reckless, this bias can lead to:
- Added liability. In an accident claim, determining liability is extremely important. This is especially true in Virginia, which follows contributory negligence rules. This means, if a crash victim is to blame for an accident in any way, he will be unable to obtain any compensation. For motorcyclists, this can be a significant concern, as it is common for others to assume the biker played at least some role in causing the crash. Motorcyclists may find themselves facing blame that drivers of other types of vehicles would not.
- Lower settlement offers. Insurance companies know this bias exists, and they will use that knowledge to offer a low settlement. They may hope that the fear of this prejudice will keep motorcyclists away from pursuing a claim or from enlisting the help of an attorney.
- Reduced damages compensation. Similarly, it may be the case that a judge or jury awards a motorcyclist less compensation than deserved. They, too, may give in to false ideas of a motorcyclist’s careless, unsafe behavior.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, the attorneys at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty, & Joshi, PLLC will review your case and discuss how bias may influence it. Our legal team has helped many motorcyclists address this unfair prejudice to obtain the compensation they needed to recover as fully as possible after a crash. Call our Fairfax office, or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more about how we may be able to help.