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Can you sue over an accident if you are partially at fault?

The wind in your face, the freedom of the open road and the feeling you get when riding your motorcycle are just some of the reasons people choose motorcycles over other forms of transportation. Since New Mexico often has favorable weather for riding conditions, some motorcyclists operate their bikes year round. Many motorcyclists are aware of the fact that riding a motorcycle puts their lives and well-being at risk, especially in comparison to other modes of transportation. However, this threat isn't nearly as real as when a motorcycle accident happens to yourself or a loved one.

Since so many factors can contribute to a motorcycle accident, it is very possible that the motorcyclist's own error or negligence contributed to the crash. No one is perfect, and it is entirely possible that a motorcyclist became distracted for a mere second. Often, other drivers are not watching carefully enough to motorcyclists in surrounding lanes and at intersections. These two behaviors, if occurring at the same time, could easily lead to a situation resulting in an injured motorcyclist. Even if you suspect that you as the injured motorcyclist are partially at fault, there is a way to seek damages.

Seeking damages this way falls under comparative negligence law. Comparative negligence is a fancy term for how the court apportions fault to the parties involved in a crash. Essentially, depending on state law, comparative negligence measures the percentage of fault a negligent driver is responsible for, and then they (or their insurance company) are responsible for paying that percentage of damages to the injured party. The percent of fault a negligent driver is responsible for does matter and should be discussed prior to filing a suit.

Each motorcycle accident is different, but an injured motorcyclist should not be scared away from filing a suit if they are worried about their percentage of fault. The court may decide that the motorcyclist was only 20% at fault for the crash. This leaves the other 80% on the shoulders of the other party, which could pay many medical bills for the injured motorcyclist. Again, each scenario is different and New Mexico state law will help determine what happens in motorcycle accidents in which comparative negligence is found.

Source: FindLaw, "Motorcycle Accident FAQ," Accessed August 22, 2016

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