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Who Is Responsible for A Motorcycle Accident in Pennsylvania?

Posted on May 10, 2022

Motorcycle accidents often cause severe injuries due to riders’ lack of protection. If you are involved in a collision as a result of another party’s negligence, you might be entitled to compensation for your injury and other losses. However, who can be held responsible will vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. 

Negligent Drivers

Negligent drivers are commonly responsible for motorcycle accidents. Whether it is a car driver, truck driver, bus driver, or another rider, you can file a claim with their insurance company if they are at fault for the collision and you suffered a significant injury. Common reasons why drivers can be held responsible for a motorcycle accident include: 

  • Failure to yield: Failing to yield the right of way to a motorcycle rider—for example, a driver failing to check for a motorcyclist before changing lanes. 
  • Driver Inattention: When a driver is distracted, it can easily lead to a collision. Common distractions are texting or talking on the phone, speaking to other passengers, changing the music, eating, etc. 
  • Speeding: Traveling above the speed limit dramatically reduces a driver’s ability to react quickly and stop to avoid an accident with a motorcycle rider. 
  • Intoxication: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs dramatically impacts a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. 
  • Aggressive Driving: Drivers sometimes refuse to share the road with motorcyclists and engage in aggressive behaviors that cause accidents, such as tailgating or dangerously passing them. 

When Is a Third Party is Responsible For an Accident?

A third party can be liable for a motorcycle accident in some cases. For example, a government entity may be responsible for lack of proper maintenance if preventable, dangerous road conditions lead to a collision. In addition, a manufacturer may be liable if a defective vehicle, motorcycle, or part caused the crash.  


When are Motorcyclists at Fault For an Accident?

A motorcyclist is not always blameless in an accident. A rider may be responsible for a collision if they contributed to or caused it. Some common examples of when a motorcyclist can be at fault are when a crash is caused by:

  • Illegal lane splitting (riding in between lanes of traffic) 
  • Passing too close to a vehicle 
  • Riding in the wrongful lane of traffic
  • Speeding
  • Riding while intoxicated

If a motorcyclist violates the law or their negligence contributes to or causes an accident, they may be entirely or partially at fault. 

Is Pennsylvania a Comparative Negligence State?

Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state. If you are able to step outside of Pennsylvania’s no-fault system to file a motorcycle accident claim against the responsible party, this law will apply to your case. Each party involved will be assigned a percentage of fault that will directly impact how much compensation you can recover. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but found 30% at fault for your injuries, you will recover 70% of your award or $70,000. However, if you are over 50% at fault for the accident, you cannot receive any compensation. This is known as the state’s 51% bar rule.