Tennessee offers beautiful scenery and year-round riding opportunities for motorcyclists. However, some periods of bad weather can put motorcycle riders in peril—and icy or snowy conditions can muddle a personal injury claim after an accident.
Potential Liability for a Winter Motorcycle Accident
Tennessee follows a modified comparative fault system in car crash cases. Basically, if you are less than 50% to blame for the accident, you can pursue damages against an opposing party. Even if you’re partially at fault, you can still recover compensation in your motorcycle crash claim—but the amount of damages you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
While no driver can be held accountable for poor weather conditions, drivers and motorcyclists can be liable if they didn’t take reasonable precautions to avoid a crash. For example, multiple parties could be partially at fault for:
- Poor maintenance. Riders and drivers have a responsibility to keep their vehicles in good condition and able to respond to any reasonable obstacles. If either vehicle has bald tires, bad brakes, or other non-working components, they may have greater liability for accidents that involve slipping on ice and snow.
- Reason for riding. Motorcycles may be used for pleasure riding but are also a common form of transportation. If you were traveling to or from work, your case will be stronger than if you were out riding for the fun of it when poor weather was in the forecast. In addition, the route you were taking could be considered if you chose to ride over bridges and overpasses, which freeze before other road surfaces.
- Inexperience. Just as novice drivers shouldn’t be on the roads in bad weather, novice bikers should not ride in the winter months unless it’s absolutely necessary. The more years of riding experience under your belt, the better chance you have of proving to a judge that you’re a knowledgeable rider.
- Failure to take precautions. Each operator’s behavior at the time of the crash plays a significant part in an injury claim. If you were wearing warm clothing, had your lights on, had heated gloves or heated grips to keep control of your motorcycle, and were riding at a safe speed, a jury will likely see that you were acting responsibly and taking the weather conditions into account.
- Road debris. Liability goes beyond the operators of the vehicles in a crash. Failure to remove road debris, fix cracks and potholes before they were hidden by snow, plow the streets, lay down ice or grit for added traction, or otherwise respond to snow accumulation could open the city or municipality up to a lawsuit.
- Drinking and distractions. Both riders and drivers have a duty to stay sober and alert while operating their vehicles. Driving under the influence or paying attention to a cellphone instead of the road adds additional risk to an already perilous situation—and the person doing it will be seen as particularly negligent.
- Traveling during active precipitation. It’s a good idea for drivers to check the forecast, but it’s absolutely vital for motorcyclists to know what the weather holds before riding. You might be asked why you couldn’t delay your trip if you knew snow was coming or whether you attempted to keep the journey as short as possible.
Let Us Help You After a Motorcycle Crash
If you were involved in a collision, it will take a skilled Tennessee motorcycle injury attorney to determine who was responsible and who should cover your damages. Even if you are partially at fault, you could still recover significant compensation to cover your lost wages, medical bills, and property damages.
The legal team at GriffithLaw is standing by to help get you the compensation you deserve—and you won’t have to pay anything until your case is won. Get in touch with us today using our online form, or give us a call to schedule your free case evaluation.