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Overcoming Bias in Motorcycle Accident Cases

Thu 29 Feb, 2024 / by / Motorcycle Accidents

Equal treatment under the law is a value in American society. This means that bias should not creep in when a judge or jury is rendering a judgment but that the decision-makers should instead look purely at the facts. Of course, that is not realistic. Everyone brings biases and preconceived notions into decision-making, no matter how hard they try not to. Unfortunately, those biases can impact how an individual decides a case. Those biases can negatively impact you if they are not in your favor. 

One group that understands bias is motorcyclists. Juries, judges, and the general public tend to view motorcyclists as engaging in inherently dangerous behavior. This bias can negatively impact motorcyclists who are bringing a claim after being involved in an accident. The decision maker might assume that if the motorcyclist was not engaged in the “dangerous” behavior of riding a motorcycle, then they would not be in a motorcycle accident. Therefore, they might decide that the motorcyclist is not entitled to some or all damages. This also can be the case with insurance companies. They might assume from the start that the motorcyclist was at fault, and they can devalue or deny a claim. 

Combating this bias can be difficult for attorneys to overcome. However, it is not impossible. A seasoned motorcycle accident attorney can prevent a strong case to a decision maker that mitigates their bias and presents the best version of the facts. 

How Is This Bias Formed?

Biases are typically based on some sort of personal experience. For instance, a person who thinks that a motorcycle is dangerous may have known someone who was in a motorcycle accident before. There are also statistics about motorcycle accidents that speak to the danger that can arise from motorcycle operation. Those statistics show that motorcycles, when involved in accidents, are more likely to result in a fatality. 

Motorcycles encounter many dangers, and people who ride motorcycles can get involved in accidents, some of which can be quite serious. In itself, this does not mean that the motorcyclist is at fault for the accident. 

Common Biases Against Motorcyclists

These are some of the most common biases against motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists are reckless.

Someone who drives a motorcycle is often identified as someone who is reckless. While some motorcyclists are reckless, the vast majority of motorcyclists follow the rules. In fact, motorcyclists are often extremely careful drivers because the risk of accident and serious injury is higher for them due to the nature of their vehicles. There is also the stereotype that motorcyclists travel at excessive rates of speed and weave in and out of lanes. Although some motorcyclists are reckless drivers, most of them are not. 

Motorcyclists are outlaws.

There are some motorcyclists who are members of gangs or other associations or otherwise are outlaws. The vast majority of motorcyclists are law-abiding, regular people who just want to enjoy the road from the vantage point of their motorcycle. 

You can’t see them.

Motorcycles are small, and they don’t have as much light coming off of them as, say, a car. In a sense, a motorcycle can be harder to see than a car. However, they are not impossible to see. Simply because a motorcyclist chooses to operate a vehicle that is smaller than a car does not mean that other drivers are excused from seeing them on the road. 

How Does the Bias Impact My Case?

It is one thing for your neighbor to roll their eyes when they see your motorcycle. It is quite another when you are injured, and trying to get recovery, and you are being dismissed by your insurance company or a judge/jury. You may feel that it is impossible to overcome this bias. 

Insurance companies sometimes act in bad faith to avoid providing adequate compensation to a policyholder. An insurance company remains profitable as long as it pays out less money than it receives in premiums, so it is in its interest to pay out as little as possible. Motivated by this, and combined with bias against motorcyclists, insurance companies can use these biases to their advantage to avoid paying a claim. Without an attorney, a policyholder may just accept the insurance company’s claim rejection. Or, even with an inexperienced motorcycle accident attorney, the attorney may tell the client that the case will not look good in front of a court if the insurance company rejects the claim. An insurance company may also offer a lot less money than the claim is worth. Insureds might take the money, thinking that if they do not accept, then they will not receive anything for their claim.

Juries can also exhibit bias towards motorcyclists. Jurors might simply hear that a motorcycle was involved in an accident and, before even learning the facts, decide that the motorcyclist did something to cause the accident. Or, due to their lack of knowledge about how motorcycles work, they might misinterpret the facts. For instance, it may be that you sped up to make a turn before the accident happened. But, as motorcyclists know, motorcyclists do have to increase their speed in order to make a turn safely. 

Good, experienced motorcycle accident attorneys understand how motorcycles work, and they understand the bias against motorcyclists. They will work to prove the facts of your case and make a clear presentation of your case that combats the biases that will exist.

Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Bias is never a good thing, but it can be a really bad thing when you are trying to recover from an accident and move on with your life. The bias that people, including insurance companies and juries, have against motorcyclists is a real phenomenon. This is why it is imperative to have an experienced motorcycle accident attorney fight for full compensation for you.