Motorcycle riders face unique risks when on the road. Riding a bike requires constant vigilance and a heightened sense of awareness. Other vehicles pose the biggest threat to the safety of motorcycle riders, especially when the drivers of those vehicles engage in negligent or reckless behaviors on the road. In fact, a motorcyclist may suffer injuries even when there has been no collision with another vehicle. This type of accident is known as a no-contact motorcycle accident or a “phantom collision.” When such accidents occur, a motorcyclist may wonder about the liability for his or her injuries and any options for compensation. The dedicated and knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorneys at Karlin & Karlin help injured parties and their families in Glendale, Corona, and throughout the state of California. If you are the victim of a no-contact motorcycle accident, consider calling (888) 365-1555 to schedule a free case evaluation.
The Dangers of a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), motorcyclists account for nearly 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths on roads in the United States. While the vast majority of motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle, many involve no physical contact between the bike and the other vehicle. In fact, a motorcycle does not even need to be in a collision with another vehicle for the rider to suffer severe and life-threatening injuries.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents That Involve No Contact
Some of the most common driving behaviors that may result in a no-contact motorcycle accident include:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Failure to check blind spots
- Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving
- Road rage
- Reckless driving
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
- Mechanical failures or defects in the automobile or motorcycle
The driver of another vehicle who is responsible for a no-contact accident is often called the “phantom driver” because the motorist never makes physical contact with the motorcycle. Some phantom drivers may not notice that they have caused a no-contact motorcycle accident and will keep driving. If the phantom driver leaves the scene of the accident, it can be difficult to identify and locate the driver later, especially if the motorcyclist did not see or remember the vehicle’s license plate and if there were no witnesses.
Liability in No-Contact Accidents
For motorcyclists involved in no-contact accidents, the most obvious challenge is that the phantom driver may leave the scene of the accident. A driver who caused a no-contact motorcycle accident may flee the scene of the accident intentionally to avoid liability or may drive away not realizing that they had caused an accident. California Vehicle Code 20002 requires all motorists involved in accidents to stop their vehicles immediately. Fleeing the scene of the accident, known as a hit-and-run accident, is a misdemeanor crime in California. Determining liability in no-contact accidents depends on whether the at-fault driver can be identified and located.
The Phantom Driver Can Be Identified
California is an at-fault insurance state, which means that the motorist found at fault for the accident is responsible for paying the damages and losses caused to the victim. Identifying the at-fault driver can make the process of seeking compensation after a no-contact motorcycle accident more straightforward. If the phantom driver is identified, the injured party can then file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company to request a fair settlement for medical bills and other losses.
The Phantom Driver Cannot Be Identified
If the phantom driver fled the scene of the no-contact accident, recovering damages will usually be more complicated. The injured party may have limited options for compensation when the at-fault driver’s identity is not known. If the motorcyclist has uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage as part of his or her insurance policy, the insurance provider may pay for some losses and damages. If there is no UM or UIM coverage, the accident victim will have to explore other compensation options, including collision and comprehensive coverage and medical pay.
At Karlin & Karlin, our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys handle all types of motorcycle accidents, including no-contact accidents, in the state of California. We help our clients understand their compensation options based on their circumstances.
Steps To Take Following a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident
There are certain steps a victim of a no-contact motorcycle accident should take to protect his or her legal rights and obtain appropriate compensation, including:
- Calling 911 and reporting the accident to authorities
- Seeking medical attention, even if the victim does not believe that they were injured (some injuries are not apparent immediately after an accident)
- Gathering evidence at the scene of the no-contact accident
- Talking to witnesses and gathering their contact information
- Identifying the phantom driver if possible
- Filing an insurance claim against the at-fault phantom driver or the injured party’s own insurance provider
Seeking Compensation After a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident
Victims of motorcycle accidents might be entitled to financial compensation for their losses and damages, even if there was no contact between vehicles. However, because each case is unique, recoverable damages and the amount of compensation depend on many factors, including the available insurance coverage, the severity of injuries, the determination of fault, and many more. Depending on the circumstances, a victim of a no-contact motorcycle accident may be able to seek compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- The cost of repairing the damaged motorcycle or other personal property
- Loss of income because of the injury
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages
Contact an Experienced Accident Attorney for Help
A victim injured in a motorcycle accident might consider consulting with an experienced attorney to investigate their accident, gather and preserve evidence, and explore their legal options for seeking compensation. A motorcycle accident can be a life-changing event, regardless of whether it involves physical contact between the vehicles. The compassionate attorneys at Karlin & Karlin understand the potentially devastating nature of a no-contact motorcycle accident and are dedicated to helping accident victims determine liability and obtain the compensation to which they are entitled. Consider calling (888) 365-1555 to schedule a free consultation.