Most riders think of collisions and side-swipe accidents when they put on their helmets for protection on the open road. It’s usually fairly clear who is at fault in accidents of this kind. But how do you prove fault in a motorcycle accident if the other vehicle didn’t actually make contact with your motorcycle? In a no-contact accident—or phantom accident—proving liability becomes more challenging, but a driver is still at fault for an accident directly caused by their actions, even in a no-contact motorcycle accident.
What is a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?
A motorcycle ride in the open air is an exhilarating experience, but that unenclosed format that feels so freeing also leaves a rider extremely vulnerable in an accident. Motorcyclists must use constant vigilance to protect themselves on the roads. Drivers must also remain alert to the possibility of motorcycles in their vicinity and take reasonable care to protect them by paying attention and carefully following traffic laws. Vulnerable motorcyclists face grave injuries in an accident, even when the at-fault driver’s vehicle did not make physical contact with the motorcycle. In some cases, the driver may even remain unaware that an accident occurred.
An example of a no-contact motorcycle accident is when a car makes an unsafe lane change without seeing a motorcycle in a blind spot. Cutting off a motorcyclist may leave the rider with no option but to swerve off the road or into another lane to avoid a collision. Sudden swerves lead to lost control and a high likelihood of an accident.
No-contact motorcycle accidents are commonly caused by the following actions from an at-fault motorist:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances
- Littering (motorcyclists may swerve to avoid trash thrown from a vehicle ahead of them)
- Failing to adequately check blind spots when making lane changes
- Failing to see an oncoming motorcycle when making a left-hand turn at an intersection, causing the bike to swerve out of the roadway
Can You Still Prove Fault in a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident?
A no-contact accident may require a more intensive investigation to prove, especially if the at-fault driver left the scene either to avoid accountability or because they weren’t aware they caused an accident. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime, but it becomes tricky when an at-fault driver was truly unaware that an accident unfolded behind him/her. In some cases, it’s possible for a resourceful motorcycle accident attorney to identify an at-fault driver who leaves the scene through the following:
- Traffic camera footage
- Motorcycle dashcam video
- Eyewitness testimony
- A motorcycle rider or an eyewitness with a recollection of the vehicle’s license tag number
In most cases, concerned drivers do stop to offer assistance and wait for the police if they’ve caused an accident, making it much easier to prove liability with the identity of the driver, but some accidents require more investigation. If no investigation uncovers the identity of the driver, a St. Louis motorcycle accident attorney can help you file a claim against your own insurance. Because insurance representatives are especially reluctant to pay out claims when another driver was at fault for the accident, it may take a seasoned attorney to counteract the common tactics they use to deny or undervalue this type of claim.
What to Do After a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident
You can help protect your physical safety and financial recovery by taking specific steps after an accident, including a no-contact motorcycle accident. Because bikers experience serious and even grave injuries in a crash, you may need to wait in place for help. If your phone works, ask a helpful bystander to assist you by using your phone or their phone for the following:
- Call 911 to report the accident
- Take pictures of the accident scene, involved vehicles, your motorcycle, and your injuries
- Add contact information to your phone for the involved driver and any eyewitnesses to the accident.
Once you are at the hospital, be sure to tell the doctor about all of your injuries and have a complete evaluation of any symptoms that develop in the weeks following the accident. Gather your medical records, the accident report, and any information you have about the at-fault driver, and contact a motorcycle accident attorney before talking to insurance representatives.