Motorcycle accidents can change a person’s life instantly, especially when catastrophic injuries, excruciating pain, and astronomical medical expenses follow. However, what makes these accidents even more challenging, is if the accident resulted from a failure to yield to the right of way; many motorcyclists often have a hard time figuring out whom they can hold at fault for the crash.
To clear up confusion surrounding right-of-way accidents, especially when it comes to motorcycles, we have prepared the following post. Below, we will dive into the different rules surrounding yielding to the right-of-way, your legal remedies you were injured, and how an experienced right-of-way accident attorney can help you fight for the financial recovery you deserve.
The Rules Regarding the Right of Way
The law never really grants one motorist the right of way. Rather, the law simply details when motorists must yield the right of way to others.
Generally, cars must yield the right of way:
- To pedestrians in a crosswalk
- To an individual with a seeing-eye guide dog
- At yield signs
- To individuals using a white cane
- At ‘T” intersections where individuals must yield to cars on the through road
- At uncontrolled intersections where motor vehicles are already at the intersection
- When on an unpaved road that intersects with a paved road
- When making a left-hand turn, in which the vehicle needs to yield to oncoming pedestrians
- When returning to the roads after the vehicle is parked
Although these regulations are in place to prevent deadly accidents, they still happen, often because drivers are negligent, impatient, or distracted behind the wheel. They may also not know the right-of-way rules or choose to ignore them by running a yellow flashing light or red light without stopping or slowing down. They may even turn left without even checking if other cars are present or aggressively merge into a roadway without any regard to oncoming traffic.
Yet, regardless, how these right-of-way accidents happen, if you have been injured because another car failed to yield to your motorcycle, you should reach out to an experienced right-of-way accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can review your accident, determine what happened, figure out if you have a valid legal case, and help you go after the compensation you need.
What Does It Mean to Yield to the Right of Way?
As a general rule, every motorcyclist, motorist, bicyclist, and pedestrian must do everything possible to avoid a potential crash. That is why the purpose of the right of way regulations is to help prevent some of these devastating collisions from happening.
Typically, when you yield the right of way to another, it means you are letting them go before you. Unfortunately, this concept of the “Yield to the Driver on the Right” rule is often misunderstood and not always followed as it should be, even though it controls most intersections when multiple motorists or drivers arrive at an intersection at the same time.
For instance, if you arrive at a stop sign at the same time as another motorist at a cross street, and they are on your right, you need to give them the right of way to let them go first. However, on the other hand, if you reach an uncontrolled intersection at the same time as another vehicle, the driver that reached the intersection last is the one who needs to yield the right of way.
Do Motorcycles Always Have the Right of Way?
Although they are smaller than most passenger vehicles, motorcyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers when it comes to the rules of the road. As a result, when it comes to the right of way, the same laws that apply to other vehicles apply to motorcyclists, and they too need to follow the laws that indicate who must yield the right of way on the roads in certain situations.
This means that motorcyclists will have the right of way when:
- They are the first vehicle to arrive at an intersection
- A vehicle coming into an intersection is entering from a secondary road
- They are approaching a motor vehicle that is attempting a left-hand turn
In addition, a motorcyclist must also be granted the right of way when they arrive at an intersection at the same time as another vehicle, but the motorcycle is on the right, and the other vehicle is on the left.
What Damages are Available Following a Right-of-Way Accident?
If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident because another individual failed to yield to the right of way, you may be able to pursue legal action for the harm you sustained and sue for damages. Typically, these damages include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Damages: These damages include the actual losses that result from an accident, meaning they are easy to quantify.
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Medical bills including past, current, and future medical expenses related to doctor visits, surgeries, hospital stay, emergency medical treatment, assistive medical devices, and medications
- Personal property repairs
- At-home replacement services including child-care services, cleaning services, or even grocery shopping services
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Other out-of-pocket costs
Non-economic Damages: These damages refer to the rather subjective losses that result from an accident.
These losses are not easy to quantify and tend to include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Loss of a limb
Additionally, you may also collect punitive damages. However, unlike the other compensatory damages, which compensate the victim for their losses after an accident, punitive damages deter others from committing this act and punish the defendant for their egregious actions.
The court will only award punitive damages if the victim’s lawyer can show through clear and convincing evidence the defendant acted with malice and gross negligence.
For these reasons, the best way to determine which compensation you may pursue after a right-of-way motorcycle accident is to reach out to an experienced right-of-way accident attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can go over what happened, determine which damages you may be owed, and help you fight for the maximum financial recovery you deserve.
What to Do After a Right-of-Way Accident?
If you have been in a right-of-way accident, you must take action. Although this is probably the last thing you want to do after this devastating accident, these steps can protect not only your health and safety but your legal rights as well. That is why after a right-of-way motorcycle crash, you should do the following:
#1. Contact the Authorities Immediately
You need to contact 911 immediately after your accident. This is the fastest way to get the police to the scene, notify emergency medical personnel that you or someone at the crash scene needs immediate medical help, and get the accident on record.
Once the local officers arrive, they can perform their preliminary investigation into the accident and jot down their findings in their police report. If you decide to pursue legal action after your crash, this report can provide you and your lawyer with helpful information regarding what happened.
#2. Gather As Much Evidence From the Scene As You Can
If you can gather evidence from the accident scene immediately following the crash, you should document the area. This means you should take photos and videos of the accident from all directions, including pictures from further away and up close.
You also want to take photos of your visible injuries, skid marks on the street, traffic control devices such as yield signs, stop signs, or traffic lights, and any other evidence that can help show how the accident occurred.
#3. Get Information From the Others Involved, but Watch What You Say
Try to exchange information with all those involved in the crash, including names, contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers. However, as you discuss this information, make sure you watch what you say.
You do not want to make any definitive statements about the incident, apologize for anything that happened, or accidentally take the blame for the accident. These comments can impact your legal claim, and affect the amount of money you can receive.
#4. Check for Witnesses Following the Accident and Get Their Information
Neutral witnesses can also support your legal claim. For these reasons, if anyone witnessed the right-of-way accident or the other motorist’s actions before the incident, get their contact information, including names, addresses, and phone numbers. These witnesses can often provide your lawyer with valuable details they can use in your case to help back up your claim.
#5. Get to a Doctor as Soon as You Can
Even if you can walk away from the right-of-way accident with what you believe are minor injuries, you still need to get to a medical professional as soon as you can. Debilitating injuries, such as brain trauma, can take days to manifest, yet the longer you wait to get medical treatment, the more deadly the injury can become. As a result, you need to get to a doctor immediately after the incident.
In addition, seeing a doctor after the accident can also help your legal claim. After a health care professional examines you, they will write down information about your accident and your injuries in their medical report. Consequently, if the insurance company tries to argue that your injuries are not that serious or a result of a subsequent event, this medical report can serve as evidence of a direct connection between the right-of-way accident and the harm you sustained.
Reach out to an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today and Fight for the Justice You Deserve
If a right-of-way accident harmed you on your motorcycle, reach out to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. After this tragic ordeal, the last thing you want to worry about is preparing solid legal arguments to prove your claim and go after the money you require.
Thankfully, with an experienced right-of-way accident lawyer on your side, you will not have to worry about taking on this legal battle by yourself. Rather, you can focus on your healing and recovery while these legal professionals take on this fight.
Once retained, these lawyers can:
- Evaluate your claim, determine if you have a viable legal case, and figure out which legal options you should pursue.
- Answer any questions you have after the accident and provide you with the legal assistance you require during this challenging time.
- Investigate the right-of-way accident and gather the evidence needed to show what happened and who was at fault.
- Hold all those liable for your injuries accountable.
- Ensure that legal documents and motions are appropriately prepared and filed before time runs out.
- Obtain experts such as accident reconstructionists that can substantiate your claim.
- Handle all the negotiations and discussions with the insurance company and go after a just settlement.
- Proceed to trial if the other side does not want to provide you with a fair settlement offer and fight for maximum damages.
If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle right-of-way accident, do not wait any longer to secure legal help from the injury law firm in Houston.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.