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How a Motorcyclist Could Contribute to Their Accident Damages

Motorcycle drivers
If you have sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident, and the other party is a motorist, expect a spirited fight from them to limit your damages. Below are some of the factors the motorist may use to try and hold you at least partially liable for the crash.

Lane Splitting

You engage in lane splitting or white lining if you ride your motorcycle between lanes or more lanes of cars that have stopped or slowed down. Some people believe that lane splitting is inherently dangerous while others consider the practice perfectly safe.

Whatever you believe in, lane splitting is illegal in Wisconsin. Any time you engage in an illegal traffic maneuver, you expose yourself to the risk of liability if an accident occurs. Also, while lane splitting may be safe at low speeds and with adequate space, such conditions may quickly change and make your lane splitting dangerous. 

A motorist in Wisconsin, therefore, can try to hold you liable for some of your accident damages if you were lane splitting at the time of the crash. Whether or not the motorist succeeds with their claim depends on the circumstances of the crash.

No Protective Gear

Some things make motorcycles inherently dangerous than cars. First, a motorcycle is more unstable than a car. Secondly, a motorcycle rider doesn't have a barrier between their body and the road like motorists do. Lastly, motorcycles also don't come with wind barriers.

Due to the above reasons, motorcyclists have several safety gears to protect them on the road. The gear includes things like helmets, gloves, and riding boots. The helmet is particularly important because it protects your head from direct injuries in an accident.

Therefore, a motorist can claim that you should carry part of the blame for your injuries if you didn't have a helmet at the time of the crash. The rationale here is that your injuries would have been less severe if you had used a helmet. The motorist is likely to succeed with such a claim if you sustained head injuries in the accident.


A motorist may also seek to reduce your damages because your driving speed was too fast at the time of the accident. Such a claim may hold water because all motorists must drive at safe speeds. The safe speed is not just the one that the speed limits indicate. Rather, a motorist must take into account other relevant factors such as:
  • The traffic density
  • The road conditions
  • The weather conditions
  • Visibility
For example, a 60 mph ride might be safe on a perfect road with excellent visibility, but the speed may be dangerous on a poor road surface with poor visibility. You may need the services of an expert witness to prove to the court that your speed was safe.

Unauthorized Modifications

Some modifications interfere with the stability of a motorcycle and increase its risk of an accident. Extremely high handlebars are a good example of such a modification. Wisconsin has a limit of 30 inches (above the seat) for handlebars. A motorist may argue that your dangerous modifications somehow contributed to the accident.  

Inadequate Skills

Lastly, a motorist may also use your lack of skills to try to reduce your damages. The intrinsic instability of motorcycles mean that you need high-level skills to ride one safely. If you are an inexperienced driver, the motorist may argue that your lack of skills or inexperience also contributed to the accident.

The defendant may reduce your damages if they succeed with one or more of the above arguments. At Gabert, Williams, Konz & Lawrynk LLP, we can pursue your motorcycle accident case and ensure you get the damages you deserve. Contact us today for a free initial consultation about your case.