Many motorcycle crash attorneys are missing a key piece of knowledge that can help their clients get the compensation they deserve. There are numerous misunderstandings about motorcycling and prejudices about motorcycle riders that are all too common among the four-wheeled public, who comprise the majority of people in this country, a group to which the influential people in your personal injury case—the jurors, judge and insurance adjusters—are likely to belong.
Part of the job of a lawyer representing an injured motorcyclist—a critical part, often neglected, unfortunately—is dispelling these myths and misunderstandings about motorcycle riding and challenging the unspoken prejudices that are commonly held about bikers.
Consulting with an attorney who understands the biases and ignorance that the injured rider is up against can go a long way towards determining the outcome of your case. Below you will find just a couple of examples, which are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of these myths.
Motorcycle riders are aggressive and anti-social
Public attitude about motorcycling has thankfully improved over the last several decades. Not that long ago, bikers were almost universally assumed to be dangerous outcasts or criminals. Nonetheless, this prejudice still remains, albeit in a typically weaker form. Many people still assume, though sometimes subconsciously, that riding a motorcycle is equivalent to possessing certain personality traits that makes one dangerous companion on the road.
This, of course, is nonsense. Though motorcycling still carries the allure of a counterculture, it is thoroughly mainstream today. In 2005, there were in excess of 9 million motorcycles on the road in this country. As an attorney, successfully representing a motorcyclist injured in an accident means making sure that this worn-out stereotype does not color peoples’ judgment in the case.
Motorcycle safety is a contradiction in terms
It’s a well-known fact that riding a motorcycle carries a greater risk of injury and fatality than does driving a car. However, this neutral fact becomes detrimental to one’s case when it is taken to mean that riding a motorcycle safely and responsibly is impossible. Worse still is the assumption that motorcycle riding is inherently irresponsible and that, as a result, the injured rider should bear ultimate responsibility for any injuries he or she sustains on the road. This is a version of what lawyers call an “assumption of the risk” argument—the idea that, merely by riding a motorcycle, one accepts responsibility for any harm that arises out of the inherent risks of the activity. In other words, if you lie down with dogs…. For most people who think this way, however, it’s less a rational argument than a negative attitude towards motorcycling.
What the increased risk inherent in motorcycling actually means is that riding safely simply requires more attention, precautions and skill. It means that the safe rider, as a necessity, is more responsible than a safe driver.