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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.

Preventing Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries

Motorcycle accidents often result in serious personal injuries for riders. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, compiles nationwide statistics on motorcycle crashes, which tell an interesting story about the common causes of accidents and injuries. They can also tell us something about how riders can prevent and avoid serious accidents and reduce the risk of serious injury or death.
  1. Get properly licensed. The IIHS reports that in 2016, 27 percent of fatally injured motorcycle drivers did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of their crash. A potential reason for the high rate of fatalities among unlicensed riders is that the riders simply lacked basic skills. One of the key reasons for licensing requirements is they ensure riders have the necessary knowledge to safely operate a motorcycle. Nevada requires operators of motorcycles to hold a Class M driver’s license. To qualify for a Class M license a driver must pass a written exam and demonstrate competency through a driving skills test. Instead of taking these exams a driver can instead complete a course offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
  2. Wear a helmet and have one handy for passengers. Properly designed and fit helmets can go a long way toward reducing a rider’s risk of death or serious brain injury in an accident. Nevada requires motorcycle drivers and their passengers to wear helmets. Riders should also consider wearing other types of protective gear, such as boots, gloves, and leathers to reduce the risk of severe road rash.
  3. Ride defensively. Experienced riders know that the most dangerous thing on the road is other drivers. Even an attentive driver can be caught off guard by a motorcycle hiding in a blind spot. But drivers distracted by phones, radios, and passengers are a constant danger. The best practice for riders is to drive defensively, allowing plenty of space around the motorcycle to allow time to respond to sudden, unpredictable moves by other drivers. Driving defensively is an especially good idea around Las Vegas. Our roads can be dangerous for motorcyclists thanks to our city’s interesting (distracting) sights, high number of tourists, and alcohol-fueled entertainment industry.
  4. Don’t drink and ride. Despite decades of relentless public awareness campaigns people continue to drink and drive at dangerous levels. Motorcyclists are especially at risk of serious accidents when they drink and ride.
  5. Avoid riding while tired. Drowsy driving is dangerous for operators of every kind of vehicle. A motorcyclist who drifts off while riding may be especially at risk of serious injury.
  6. Obey traffic laws. Motorcyclists should be especially mindful of the rules of the road. Obeying traffic signals makes a driver more predictable for other drivers. Obeying posted speed limits, especially on rough surfaces or curvy roads, can be the difference between a controlled skid and a loss of control. Motorcyclists also need to understand and follow the rules for lane splitting and other driving options that are available to them in high-traffic circumstances.

GGRM is a Las Vegas personal injury law firm

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and auto accident cases. We want motorcyclists in Las Vegas to stay safe. If you have questions about a motorcycle accident in the Las Vegas area, call today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or request a call through our website.