How many motorcycle accidents are the rider's fault?

Who Is At Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?

What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents Are the Riders Fault? 

There are currently over 9 million registered motorcycles in the U.S., and that number is likely to increase as car and gasoline prices rise. But it isn’t just the reduced costs that attract people to motorcycles. It is also freedom, versatility, and exhilaration. California is one of the most popular places for motorcycle lovers, with its year round mild climate and lane splitting laws.

However, motorcycle accidents do unfortunately happen, resulting in severe injuries and fatal motorcycle crashes. Sometimes, an accident is caused by another driver. Other times, it is the motorcyclist. If you are wondering “what percentage of motorcycle accidents are the riders fault?” continue reading to find out. 


5 Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes 

Causes of motorcycle accidents and fatal crashes. What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents Are the Riders Fault

Motorcycle accidents occur for a number of reasons. At the end of the day, almost no accident is pre planned or prepared for. A motorcycle crash causes mental and physical harm to all of those involved. 

According to data from the National Safety Council (NSC), more than half of crashes involved two vehicles. Most motorcycle accidents occurred during daytime and in good weather. 67% of motorcycle accidents were in urban settings. 

At the accident scene, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible, including photos, videos, and witness statements. Seek medical attention as soon as possible, as severe injuries may not be immediately apparent.

These are some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents in California: 


Reckless driving and speeding, both on the motorcyclist’ side and the car drivers’ side, lead to some of the most serious and devastating fatal injuries. The severity of the crash increases with speed. Speeding leaves little room for error and does not allow a vehicle driver or motorcycle rider to react in time or slow down. 

Motorcycles can typically accelerate a lot faster than regular passenger vehicles, and have top speeds of 200 miles per hour. 

Alcohol Impairment

Alcohol and/or drug use causes a significant amount of motorcycle fatalities per year. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 1,370 motorcyclists died in alcohol-impaired crashes in 2021, a 16% increase from 2020. 

Drunk driving also leads to thousands of fatal accidents per year. In California, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08% or lower. Drivers who exceed the legal limit amount face steep fines and penalties, and even criminal charges if a fatality occurs. 

Switching Lanes

Drivers who often make sudden or unsafe lane changes may hit a motorcyclist traveling beside them. California is the only state to currently allow motorcycle riders to lane split, which is the practice of riding in between lanes of stopped or slow moving traffic. 

Motorcycle riders must be vigilant and careful when lane splitting next to trucks and SUVS, which have larger blind spots. 

Road Hazards 

Compared to other drivers, motorcyclists and their passengers face more risks from weather and road hazards. Gravel, debris, potholes, and slick roads all significantly reduce overall motorcycle safety. A motorcycle loses its stability and traction much more quickly than a four-wheel vehicle. 

Inexperienced Riders or Drivers 

All motorcycle riders in California must complete a riding test and written test before obtaining a M1 of M2 motorcycle permit and then license. However, it is also recommended that they enroll in a beginner’s safety course that teaches motorcycle safety. Doing so can prevent a crash and lower insurance rates. All applicants under age 21 must complete the course before obtaining a permit. 

Yet even with the proper training, some motorcycle riders may still be inexperienced or ill-equipped to handle the dangers of the road. Night riding or riding in poor weather conditions can make a crash more likely if the motorcycle rider is unprepared. 

New drivers and teen drivers can also be inexperienced when riding alongside motorcycle riders. A teen driver is more likely to speed, make unsafe lane changes, or text while driving, all which can spell disaster for motorcyclists.  


Comparative Negligence and Fault in California

Most motorcycle accidents are caused by driver error. What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents Are the Riders Fault

After a motorcycle crash, there will be a lot of questions about how the crash happened and who was at fault. It is not uncommon for the injured rider to blame the driver and vice versa. Several studies show that most motorcycle accidents are caused by another driver’s error. 

However, determining fault is a much more complicated process that often requires the skill of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney

California is one of 12 states that follows a “pure comparative negligence” law. This means that the plaintiff (the injured victim) can recover damages from a defendant even if he or she was partly responsible for the accident. 


Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim

If you can prove your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a motorcycle accident claim against the negligent driver to seek compensation. A claim can compensate you for the following damages, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage 
  • Emotional distress 

The amount of damages available will depend largely on the injuries sustained, the impact of the injury, the other party’s negligence, and the insurance company. 

If you were found partially at fault for the accident, your settlement will be reduced according to your percentage of fault. For example, if you were found 20% at fault, you will only be able to recover 80% in damages. 


Call a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Free Today

California motorcycle accidents and vehicle accidents

If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a California motorcycle crash, the dedicated and compassionate legal team at Mesa Accident Lawyers can help you feel whole again. Motorcycle accident injuries like head injuries and broken bones can lead to immense pain for the victim and their family.

Our Costa Mesa personal injury law firm has successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements for motorcycle accident victims from the at-fault party and their insurance company. We never back down from a challenge, and neither should you.

Our motorcycle accident lawyers are available to chat at your convenience. You are under no obligation to sign with us during a free consultation. Call us stress-free at (949) 329-2689 or fill out this quick online contact form

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