Who Is Liable In A Sideswipe Motorcycle Accident in Philadelphia?


Motorcycle accidents can have a large impact on motorcyclists’ lives. Since riders have little to protect them from other vehicles in collisions, they are much likelier to suffer debilitating injuries or to be killed. Sideswipe accidents are common types of motorcycle collisions. These accidents happen suddenly when a motorist veers into the lane occupied by a motorcyclist, colliding with his or her bike. If you or your loved one has sustained injuries in a sideswiped accident, you should contact a motorcycle accident lawyer at Raynes & Lawn to learn about your legal options.

Motorcycle injuries and their impact on settlements

The value of your sideswipe accident claim will largely depend on your injuries. If your injuries were minor, any potential settlement you might receive will be modest. However, if you suffered serious injuries, you might expect to receive a larger settlement.

Insurance companies and motorcycle accident lawyers consider several factors when determining the value of a claim and what a fair settlement should be. Some of these factors include the type of injury you suffered, the severity of your injury, and your likelihood of fully recovering from it. Injury attorneys and insurance companies also look at whether or not the injured victims might share some fault for the accident.

Type of injury

In a sideswipe accident, motorcyclists can suffer many different types of injuries. The particular types of injuries that you suffered can impact your settlement offer amount. For example, if you only suffered soft tissue injuries, you will not be offered as much as someone who suffered a spinal cord injury and paralysis.

Severity of injury

The severity of your injuries is also important for the settlement you might be offered or be able to negotiate. Some of the things that might be considered are the future treatment that your injuries might require, how your injuries impact your day-to-day life, and whether you will have to undergo multiple surgeries and physical therapy to recover. How much it will cost to treat your injuries will also be considered.

How long the injury will last

If your injuries are temporary, your settlement will not be as large as it would be if your injuries caused permanent damage. For example, if your leg was broken, it could take months to heal. By contrast, if you suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, it could cause you to have permanent disabilities and require a lifetime of care. Your sideswipe accident settlement should reflect how permanent your injuries are and the impact that they will have on your quality of life.

Settlements are not one-size-fits-all in sideswipe motorcycle accidents. Instead, the amounts that might be offered are fact-specific and will depend on your injuries. Working with an experienced motorcycle wreck attorney at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer can help you to understand the likely value of your claim.

Determination of liability in motorcycle sideswipe accidents

The vast majority of motorcycle sideswipe accidents happen because of the negligence of a driver or entity. A person is negligent when he or she acts in a way that a reasonable person in a similar situation would not have acted. When a motorist is careless and sideswipes a motorcyclist, the driver might be liable to pay compensation for the motorcyclist’s losses.

To hold a driver liable to pay damages, you will have to prove the following elements of negligence:

  • The driver owed you a duty of care.
  • The driver breached the duty of care.
  • The breach caused the accident and injuries.
  • You suffered damages as a result.

You must prove each of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence to hold the motorist liable. If you cannot prove one of the elements, you will not prevail. Your lawyer might thoroughly investigate your case to gather evidence to prove each of the elements of negligence.

When the motorcyclist shares some fault

Under 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102, Pennsylvania has adopted a rule of modified comparative negligence. Under this rule, you will not be barred from recovering damages if you share some fault for your accident. However, your degree of fault cannot be higher than the other driver’s fault. If your percentage of fault is less than the motorist’s fault, your damages will be reduced by your degree of fault. For example, if your gross verdict is $100,000 and your percentage of fault is 20%, your net verdict will be $80,000.

Proving the driver was at fault

One way to prove that the driver was at fault is by showing that the driver broke a traffic law at the time of your accident. Some of the common types of traffic violations that can cause sideswipe accidents are detailed below.

Improper lane changes

Drivers who improperly change lanes and collide with adjacent motorcyclists can be liable for their injuries. For example, if a driver failed to check his or her blind spot or mirrors, failed to use the turn signal, or swerved over the center line, he or she can be held liable.


Many drivers exceed the speed limit on highways and interstates around Philadelphia. If the driver who wrecked into you was speeding, you can present evidence of this to support your negligence claim.

Distracted driving

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3316, it is illegal for a driver to text while driving. If the driver was reading or sending a text message when he or she collided with you, this can be strong evidence that he or she is at fault.

Impaired driving

It is illegal for motorists to get behind the wheel when they are impaired by alcohol or drugs. However, many people still drive while impaired. If the driver who hit you was impaired by alcohol or drugs, he or she can be held liable to pay you damages.

Gathering evidence

To prove that a motorist violated a traffic law and caused your accident, there are several things that you should do. You will need to gather different types of evidence at the scene of the accident. Your attorney can help you gather other types of evidence such as GPS data and cell phone text records to show what happened.

Immediately after your accident, take detailed pictures of the damage to your bike and the car if you can. You should also try to get the names and contact information of any witnesses and encourage them to remain and give statements to the police.

Make sure to go to the hospital after your accident to be evaluated and treated. Getting medical help promptly can establish a causal link between your injuries and the accident.

You will also want to obtain copies of the police and accident reports. The police report will include a summary of the officer’s investigation, including information about whether the other driver was ticketed.

Get copies of your medical records related to your injuries. Bring all of these types of evidence with you to your consultation with an attorney. If we agree to accept your case, we will work to gather other important types of evidence that could show what happened in the moments leading up to your sideswipe accident.

Contact us today

A sideswipe accident can leave you with devastating injuries and financial losses. To learn about your claim, contact Raynes & Lawn today by calling us at 1-800-535-1797.

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