Injured While Riding In Winter Weather? How Can You Prove Fault?

Posted on: 11 November 2015

If you're an avid motorcyclist who hates the thought of spending half the year confined behind a glass windshield, you may already have all the necessary equipment to ride in even the chilliest winter weather. While winter riding can give you a new appreciation for nature's beauty, the presence of precipitation, ice, or snow on the roads can put you at a much higher risk of being injured by a driver who loses control of his or her vehicle. If you're hit while riding in rainy or snowy weather and suffer physical injuries or damage to your bike, how can you place fault with the other driver and ensure you're fully compensated? Read on to learn about some ways you may be able to prove fault when injured during inclement winter driving conditions.

Is the mere use of a motorcycle in winter weather considered a dangerous activity?

When a driver is sued for injuries resulting from an accident, he or she may come up with any variety of defenses against liability that attempt to put blame for the accident back on you. In cases involving winter motorcycle injuries, some defendants have argued that riding a motorcycle in slick or icy conditions was a dangerous activity that alone should be sufficient to establish negligence on the plaintiff's behalf. However, in order for you to be considered contributorily negligent (and therefore partially financially responsible for the accident), the defendant will need to show that your driving was careless or reckless when taking the weather into consideration. Unless you were following too closely, traveling too quickly, or driving while distracted, a defendant who makes this argument is unlikely to win.

One area in which some defendants have been able to successfully argue contributory negligence is when motorcycle riders suffer severe head injuries after not wearing a helmet. While a driver deemed responsible for the collision will still be required to pay to repair your motorcycle and pay medical bills not related to head injuries, if the majority of your medical bills are due to cranial trauma that was likely exacerbated by your not wearing a helmet, the defendant's insurance company may fight back against these charges. This defense is particularly common in states with motorcycle helmet laws.

What evidence can you gather to show the other driver was at fault in your accident? 

If there were no (or few) eyewitnesses to your accident and the other driver argues adamantly that the accident was not his or her fault, securing a judgment will require you to think outside the box on ways to prove fault. Reconstructing the scene of an accident can be a challenging task for police officers and insurance adjusters even during good weather -- if snow is still falling (or ice is melting), you may find that there are no physical traces of your accident remaining by the time photographs of the scene are taken.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help establish that the other driver was distracted, traveling too quickly for the conditions, or even impaired at the time of the accident. One way is by subpoenaing the defendant's cell phone records. Even when a cell phone is not in use, it is constantly sending and receiving data to nearby towers. This allows phone operators to track down the GPS coordinates of a specific phone with ease, and can help you prove that a driver was speeding (or texting while driving).

By subpoenaing detailed phone records, you may be able to map the time between GPS points to show that the other driver was traveling over the speed limit as he or she approached the location of your accident. These records should also allow you to see whether the other driver was surfing the web, texting, or talking on the phone just prior to your accident. Because most states have strict laws about cell phone operation while driving, this evidence alone may be enough to tip the odds in your favor.

For more information about recovering damages in a motorcycle accident, contact a company like Scherline And Associates.