Can anti-motorcycle biases affect a personal injury claim?

Motorcycles have long been associated with freedom, thrill and a sense of adventure. However, for motorcyclists, the open road also comes with an element of increased danger. Motorcycles lack the crash protection of an enclosed vehicle, so it’s no wonder that even though motorcycles represent only 3% of the vehicles out there on the road and do only 0.6% of the traveling, motorcyclists make up 14% of the fatalities in accidents.

Aside from serious injuries and long recovery times, the survivors of motorcycle accidents often face another problem: Anti-biker biases can affect their ability to receive fair compensation when injury victims file personal injury claims.

Why is there anti-motorcycle bias? How does it manifest?

Anti-motorcycle bias is pretty ingrained in U.S. culture. A “biker” is even movie and television shorthand for “dangerous outlaw” or some kind of reckless rebel. Those biases, even when they’re subconscious, can negatively affect the way that police interpret an accident scene, which could lead to unfair assignment of blame for the wreck to the rider.

Juries and judges, too, can be susceptible to anti-biker biases. They may also lack any passing familiarity with the way that motorcycles operate, which can cause misinterpretations of the evidence. For example, motorcyclists need to accelerate a little in the middle of a turn to stabilize their vehicle, which is the opposite of what drivers in passenger cars usually do – but it’s not reckless behavior. However, the average person doesn’t know that.

Finally, insurers are in no hurry to pay out a hefty claim, and motorcycle injuries can be costly because of their severity. Insurers may capitalize on the popular perception that motorcyclists knew the danger and willingly “took on the risk” when they chose to ride – making them partially or fully responsible for their injuries, even when another party’s negligence caused the accident. Attempts to devalue a claim are common, when they’re not outright denied.

To combat these anti-motorcycle biases, it can help to seek experienced legal guidance if you are in a position to pursue compensation in the wake of an injurious crash.