North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

This video features Brian Davis, a Personal Injury attorney based in North Carolina.

Why The Deck is Stacked Against Motorcyclists

Video Transcript:

Brian Davis:

They collided, and my client lost his leg.

Rob Rosenthal:

If you're injured in a crash while riding your motorcycle, do you know how to get help? Well we're going to find out right now, because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer on this episode. Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com. My guest is attorney Brian Davis from North Carolina; he has had many years of helping motorcyclists who have been injured in crashes, and is a rider himself. We'll talk to Brian in just a second, but I want to remind you before we do that, if you have questions about your specific situation that you'd like to ask, just go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and you can ask away right there.

Brian, it’s good to see you as always. Thank you for making some time to answer our questions.

Brian Davis:

Glad to be here, Rob. Thank you.

Rob Rosenthal:

So you live in a beautiful part of the country. I'm guessing, especially this time of year, a lot of people are trying to get back out on their bikes and take some rides.

Brian Davis:

It is time to knock the dust off. Yes, sir.

Rob Rosenthal:

Do you see more riders and therefore more wrecks during certain times of the year? Or does it stay pretty consistent?

Brian Davis:

Yes, it does increase dramatically with warm weather. So we are just now getting into the heart of motorcycle season here in North Carolina.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's just talk about the basics. What are some of the main differences between, say, a motorcycle crash and a passenger vehicle?

Brian Davis:

Well, the main difference is the insurance company always blames the motorcyclist.

Rob Rosenthal:

Really?

Brian Davis:

You know, in car wreck cases you can get rear-ended, but if you get rear-ended on a motorcycle, somehow the insurance company is going to blame you and say you were contributorily negligent; you stopped too short, you weren't paying attention. It's really sort of insanel. So yeah, you almost always get blamed as the motorcyclist.

Rob Rosenthal:

So is there a built-in bias against motorcycle riders, do you think?

Brian Davis:

Insurance companies believe that and act that way. Yes, there is a bias against motorcyclists.

Rob Rosenthal:

I would assume—and correct me if I'm wrong—but are injuries greater on a motorcycle then if you're caged in an automobile?

Brian Davis:

Yes, obviously so. That's the other huge difference between car and motorcycle crashes. Folks on the bikes usually get the worst end of the deal.

Rob Rosenthal:

You mentioned contributory negligence; let's talk about that. Tell us what that is and how that affects us. There's not a lot of states that have that, so tell us more about it.

Brian Davis:

Well, most states are what's called comparative negligence; in other words, they compare the negligence of the injured person to the at-fault driver—the person who caused the crash—and as long as the person who's injured and who's making the claim is not more than 50% responsible for causing the crash, you can still make a recovery; that's called comparative negligence. With pure contributory negligence, which is what North Carolina and I believe four other states in the United States follow, if you are even one-tenth of 1% at fault, you recover nothing if the jury finds you contributorily negligent. So it's a very harsh, archaic rule. It really should be replaced. In fact, there's a bill before the legislature right now in North Carolina to change that law to comparative negligence, but as of yet it's still the law.

Rob Rosenthal:

Sounds like that really puts the insurance companies in a position of power, because they just have to prove 1%?

Brian Davis:

Actually less than 1%, but yeah, virtually nothing. If they can find anything that the motorcyclist did wrong, then they feel they're justified in denying responsibility.

Rob Rosenthal:

So it would seem to me that it’s more important than ever to have an attorney like yourself who has experience and really knows what they're doing for these motorcycle crash cases. Brian, tell us what unique circumstances, what unique challenges you face or things you have to do differently for motorcycle cases than, say, an automobile case.

Brian Davis:

Documentation is everything in a motorcycle case. Motorcyclists often ride with GPS, so we always try to find the GPS data to help us prove that the motorcyclist wasn't exceeding a safe speed. Documentation at the scene, skid marks, gouge marks, all that stuff is incredibly important. You have to almost always have an accident reconstruction engineer in a motorcycle case, because the insurance company is going to point the finger at the motorcyclist. So you have to be able to prove scientifically with an expert that the motorcyclist was doing everything correct.

Rob Rosenthal:

Do you feel like it gives you an advantage in the fact that you're also a rider yourself?

Brian Davis:

Oh yeah. That's a huge advantage, because when I get to a crash scene I can understand exactly what the motorcycle was doing. For example, I've got a case right now over in the far western part of the state, near the tail of the dragon on Highway North Carolina 28, which is also a great road for motorcyclists. My client was just driving along on this rural road and someone pulled right out in front of him, and he had to take evasive action. Anyway, long story short, they collided and my client lost his leg.

Rob Rosenthal:

Oh, wow.

Brian Davis:

So in that situation, being able to go out to the scene, whether it's on my bike or in a car as a motorcyclist, I understand exactly what the motorcycle rider is facing, and why he reacted the way he did. So that gives me a real advantage when I'm dealing with the insurance company; I can really talk to them from the perspective of a rider, and also when I'm talking to a jury.

Rob Rosenthal:

Makes perfect sense. We always talk about how important it is, Brian, to get your attorney involved in the process as soon as possible. It sounds like that might be even more important with motorcycle crashes.

Brian Davis:

It is. You need an attorney on your side as quickly as possible. The main thing that folks need to understand is, if you're in a crash, the first rule is do not give a statement to the insurance company. They are trained to ask questions in a way that puts you sort of under the microscope, and the questions actually sort of suggest that you're in some way at fault. So don't give a statement. Find a good lawyer, and let the lawyer handle the case.

Rob Rosenthal:

Is there a helmet law in North Carolina and how might that affect somebody's case either way?

Brian Davis:

Yes, unlike our sister state to the south, North Carolina is a motorcycle helmet law state. You have to have a helmet if you're riding here. In South Carolina, you do not. So we get a lot of people who come into North Carolina from South Carolina, they're not aware of the law; they come over here without a helmet, and sometimes they get in trouble either with the law because they don't have a helmet on—you can get a ticket—but if they get in a crash, then that is almost contributory negligence as a matter of law, because there is a helmet law here. So it's an important thing to understand. If you're riding a bike I think it's common sense to wear a helmet, but it is the law in North Carolina.

Rob Rosenthal:

If someone's in a crash and then the police come—I don't know if, in your experience, they also have that bias—but if the police officer says you're at fault, that doesn't necessarily mean they don't have a case and shouldn't contact you, is that correct?

Brian Davis:

Sure. Police officers are human. They do the best they can with what they've got. They don't always have the scientific equipment to do the sort of detailed analysis that our experts do when we take them to the scene. So yeah, sometimes police officers get it wrong. So if you're found at fault by the police officer, that's not fatal to your case.

Rob Rosenthal:

Brian, lots of great information as always. I do appreciate you making a little bit of time to answer our questions today.

Brian Davis:

I'm glad to be here. Stay safe out there.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been North Carolina attorney Brian Davis. Remember, if you'd like to ask questions about your specific situation, just go to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page that says “Ask a Lawyer”, and it'll walk you right through the process right there. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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