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Legal Liability Issues for Motorcyclists

Everyone who rides a motorcycle is aware of the risks riders face when they hit the road. In some sense, the risks are part of the thrill that draws people to motorcycles in the first place. But motorcyclists may not be as aware of the special legal risks that come with riding motorcycles.

The limits of insurance

Probably the most significant source of potential risk for motorcyclists is inadequate insurance coverage. Like drivers of cars and other passenger vehicles, a motorcyclist in Nevada is required to carry a minimum level of insurance. The current minimums in Nevada are $25,000 of bodily injury per person, $50,000 of bodily injury per accident, and $20,000 of property damage. For someone on a minimal insurance plan, there are several important considerations:
  • A minimal insurance plan covers injuries and damage caused by the motorcyclist to others, that is to say, when the motorcyclist is at fault. It doesn’t necessarily cover the motorcyclist as well.
  • The minimum coverage amounts are quite low when compared to the significant risk of injury faced by motorcyclists.
  • Policies may have special rules governing passengers that motorcyclists will need to consider before they accept passengers.
Taking out an insurance policy that features higher coverage limits is a good idea. So is taking out additional policies to protect against the possibility of other drivers not having adequate coverage (so-called “underinsured motorist coverage”) can protect against being left without coverage after an accident. Motorcyclists also need to understand how their coverage will change if they are at fault in an accident. Will their policy cover their injuries as well as injuries to others? Will the policy provide for legal fees in such an event? If not, how will the motorcyclist plan for this sort of risk?

Lane splitting and fault in Nevada

Motorcycles are subject to all the usual laws of the road. A particularly important rule for motorcyclists in Nevada to understand is that Nevada law prohibits the practice of lane splitting. The technical definition of lane splitting is simply passing another vehicle within the same lane, or passing between two vehicles down the center of a lane. If a motorcycle gets into an accident while lane splitting the driver is more likely to be considered at fault. Getting into an accident while violating a traffic rule gives rise to a claim of negligence per se. In such cases the other side of the dispute can make the driver who committed the violation responsible for proving that his or her violation of the rule wasn’t the cause of the accident. This burden can be difficult to overcome absent compelling facts that can show how other drivers involved in the accident also committed negligent acts. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in accident cases for over 45 years. If you have been in an accident with a motorcyclist, or you are a motorcyclist and you’re wondering how to handle your legal case, call us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. We’re available at 702-388-4476 or contact us through our website.