In a legal context, motorcycle races refer to specific sporting events involving:
- High-performance motorcycles;
- Dirt bikes; and
- Other types of motorcycles that are intended for competition.
Motorcycle races mostly occur in arenas, special race tracks, or designated areas of a city. Unsanctioned street motorcycle races taking place on public roadways are illegal, and will generally result in criminal consequences for the participants.
Largely because of the high speeds involved, motorcycle crashes are generally considered to be serious, and even fatal for a considerable number of accidents. Motorcycle racing accidents can involve multiple injuries, including but not limited to:
- Head and neck injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Paralysis; and
- Other serious injuries, such as road rash.
Accidents involving motorcycles occur just as frequently as any other vehicle accidents. However, the degree of injury is generally more severe because motorcycles reach higher speeds when compared to most other vehicles, as was previously mentioned. Another reason would be because motorcycles do not provide the same level of accident protection as other vehicles.
The following are some examples of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Head-On Collisions: Also known as a frontal crash, this is a type of auto collision that can cause considerably serious injury and auto damage. Due to the nature of the impact, both drivers are facing each other head-on and as such, are considerably close to the site of impact; this frequently results in fatalities. However, the family members of the victim may be able to sue for wrongful death;
- Left Turn Accidents: These occur when a vehicle attempts to make a left turn, and hits the car that is going straight. Generally speaking, the person who is making the left turn is at fault. However, if the vehicle that was going straight was speeding or involved in some other dangerous activity, the fault of the person turning left may be reduced because the person who was hit contributed to their accident by driving dangerously;
- Lane Splitting: Lane splitting refers to a type of road maneuver that is generally associated with motorcycles. The motorcyclist rides in between lanes of vehicles, usually in order to cut through traffic by passing in between the slower vehicles. When an accident occurs, fault is determined by whether lane splitting is permissible in that specific state, as lane splitting laws vary from state to state;
- Speeding and DUI: Similar to all other vehicles, motorcyclists are not allowed to speed nor can they drive under the influence. When they get into accidents that involve speeding, fatalities are more likely to occur than when two passenger vehicles get into an accident; and/or
- Road Hazards: Motorcycle accidents that are caused by potholes, uneven lanes, or objects on the road are more likely to occur, compared to when a car experiences the same road hazards. When such an accident occurs, the city could be held responsible for any resulting injuries. However, this would largely depend on whether the city is reasonably aware of the hazardous condition, and whether they took any actions in order to remedy or prevent the condition from recurring.
Who Can Be Held Liable For A Motorcycle Racing Incident?
In terms of legal liability for a motorcycle racing incident, this would generally be considered a personal injury law matter. In a personal injury claim, the plaintiff claims that they have sustained an injury, either mental, physical, or both. This injury is due to an act or failure to act by the defendant. A court may award the plaintiff money damages for personal injury.
Personal injury may occur intentionally, such as when the defendant deliberately injures a victim, or intends to commit an act that results in injury. However, a personal injury may also occur unintentionally. If an unintentional injury results from someone’s negligence, the plaintiff may file a lawsuit based on the negligent behavior. Auto accidents, slip and fall accidents, and injuries that are sustained from medical malpractice are all considered to be examples of negligence cases.
Motorcyclists who participate in legal and sanctioned races are generally required to sign some sort of liability waiver which limits their ability to bring legal action associated with the race. An injury liability waiver is a document that is signed by one party that releases another party from liability for harm or damage that the first party may sustain.
A classic example of an injury liability waiver would be the form that a skydiving instruction company has a potential skydiver sign. In this injury liability waiver, the company states that the skydiver will undertake an inherently dangerous activity. By signing the waiver, the participants agree that should they sustain an injury due to an unforeseen risk (not involving the company’s negligence), the participant will not attempt to hold the company liable.
However, even with such a waiver in place, legal action for a motorcycle racing accident may still be brought in many cases. An example of this would be how it may be possible to sue another motorcycle racer if they acted negligently or recklessly during the race.
Examples of acting negligently or recklessly in this context would be if they failed to follow competition rules, which resulted in injury to another participant. Liability can also be assigned if a motorcycle racer is found to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol during a racing event.
In some other cases, a motorcycle racing accident can be caused by a failure or defect with the motorcycle. An example of this would be if there is a brake failure, or a failure associated with the motorcycle’s acceleration system. The manufacturer of the motorcycle could be held liable for resulting injuries under a product defect theory of law.
What Are The Legal Remedies For Motorcycle Racing Accidents?
As previously mentioned, motorcycle racing accidents would be considered a type of personal injury case. As such, the legal remedy for lawsuits associated with motorcycle racing accidents would generally be a monetary damages award.
An injured plaintiff who proves that the defendant committed intentional or negligent injury is entitled to a compensatory damage award. There are two types of damages that a plaintiff may recover: damages for an injury, and damages for the consequences of the injury. Because the law recognizes this distinction, there are two types of compensatory damages: general damages, and specific damages.
General damages are damages that are awarded for the injury itself. These damages most commonly include pain and suffering, as well as mental anguish and/or trauma. Additionally, general damages cannot be easily assigned a monetary value; as such, in order to recover such damages, the testimony of an expert such as a physician or psychiatrist is necessary to assign a monetary value.
Special damages compensate someone for a specific consequence of an injury. Specific consequences include medical expenses, as well as loss of wages. These items can generally be assigned an exact monetary value. Two of the most common examples of this would be how a doctor’s bill lists payment due, while a pay stub can be used in order to determine the amount of wages that were lost due to the injury.
Do I Need An Attorney For A Motorcycle Racing Accident Lawsuit?
If you were involved in a motorcycle racing accident, you will need to consult with an experienced and local motorcycle accident lawyer. An attorney will be best suited to understanding your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws. An attorney will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.