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Some People’s Biases Leave Motorcyclists in the Lurch

Some People’s Biases Leave Motorcyclists in the Lurch


Some people perceive motorcyclists as a different type of driver than others—but this stigma can result in unfair settlement amounts and even lowball judgments. Here’s what you can do as a motorcyclist to combat this type of stigma.

Motorcyclists understand and accept that this form of transportation is inherently dangerous, but in addition to the obvious dangers, there’s also a tendency for bias against motorcyclists involved in accidents. Unfortunately, a stigma against motorcyclists can have a negative impact on a rider’s ability to recover compensation from an injury.

Each state has its own set of laws for motorcycles, but a motorcyclist is generally required to follow the same road rules as any other driver.

So, how does motorcycle bias affect the outcome of a lawsuit or insurance claim?

As an example, a police officer responding to a crash involving a motorcycle and car might assume that the motorcyclist must be the one at fault. They might assume that the motorcyclist was speeding, engaging in risky driving, or is otherwise more reckless than others, even if that’s not the conclusion based on the evidence at the scene.

Is there a bias against motorcyclists?

Some say yes.

Motorcyclists can be seen as reckless, aggressive drivers who don’t follow rules and who put themselves or others at risk on the road.

However, as with any other type of drivers, some motorists are careful and follow road rules and others don’t.

Unfortunately, this bias against motorcyclists can not only affect how they’re treated at the scene of the accident, but also whether and how much compensation they could receive after a crash.

How does motorcycle bias affect your claim for injury compensation?

    • Presumption of liability. Since motorcyclists face a stereotype that they’re reckless on the road, police officers, insurance adjusters, and a jury will often assume that the motorcyclist is at fault.


    • Low settlement offer. For the same reasons, an insurance adjuster will often offer a motorcyclist a lowball settlement that doesn’t cover the extent of their injuries.


  • Reduced damage award. In a jury trial, a motorcyclist might receive a smaller damage award than a car accident victim for similar injuries because the jury members have an implicit bias against the rider.

How can a motorcyclist protect against bias?

    1. Be courteous. Following a collision, approach the other driver with kindness, show concern for their condition, and don’t immediately make accusations. You can be kind and courteous without admitting fault. Never say that the accident was your fault (even if you think it was, and even if you’re trying to be nice). Let the evidence speak for itself, and don’t make any statements that might hurt you later.


    1. Always wear a helmet. It’s the law in California to wear a helmet. Aside from that fact, it’s also undeniably the safer way to ride. With respect to bias, it also demonstrates that you’re concerned for your own safety and you know the rules and best practices for motorcycling.


    1. Document the scene. If it’s safe to do so, take photos of the scene. This includes the condition of the car and your motorcycle, road and weather conditions, property damage, and relevant traffic signals or signs.


    1. Obtain witness contact information. If there are witnesses at the scene, you don’t need to take a statement, but it’s a good idea to get a name and phone number so you can reach them later. Their statements should be included in the police report, but your lawyer might want to reach out to them as they review the evidence for your case.


  1. Drive safely. It’s important that you follow the road rules, avoid speeding, and demonstrate careful driving on your motorcycle before an accident happens. Avoid lane-splitting, which is illegal in Florida (and every state except California), weaving, or riding in a way that a witness might see as unsafe. If a witness sees you driving carefully and being respectful of other drivers before an accident happens, that witness could be your best ally in a legal case.

In general, you should ride carefully and respectfully all the time; don’t turn on the charm only if you get into an accident. A clean driving record can help you in court if necessary, so avoid speeding tickets or other violations. And, in the bigger picture, the more motorcyclists who drive carefully, the more you work as a community to break down bias.

The right attorney can help you overcome motorcycle bias

The team at MVP Law understands motorcycle bias and the motivations behind it—which means they’re also equipped with the tools to fight it.

For instance, if your case ends up going to trial, your MVP team will thoroughly vet the jurors to try to eliminate any who have a strong bias against motorcyclists.

In addition, California is a comparative fault law state. That means in a personal injury lawsuit, the court can determine that the plaintiff and defendant both bear some liability for the accident. It will ultimately assign a percentage of fault to each party and the plaintiff’s award would be reduced by that amount.

Part of your lawyer’s role is to minimize your percentage of fault so that you can receive the highest possible amount of compensation.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at MVP Accident Attorneys are here to help. Our firm has recovered millions of dollars for California clients, and we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.


brett sachs2
Brett Sachs

Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.

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