While most truck accidents involve collisions with passenger cars, some of the most devastating accidents involve motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. People in these situations have no structural protections against the impact of a massive truck. Therefore, they face a greater risk of catastrophic injuries or death than occupants of passenger cars. A victim or the estate and family members of a decedent may have legal recourse against a truck driver or other parties that were at fault.
Many truck accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians occur when a truck driver fails to check the blind spots surrounding their vehicle. These blind spots are much larger than the blind spots around passenger cars. Small vehicles like motorcycles or bicycles are harder to notice than ordinary cars, especially when a truck is navigating a right turn. A collision also may occur when a truck goes in reverse in a crowded urban area or a suburban neighborhood. A driver may not spot a bicycle or pedestrian behind them, even with the mirrors and safety technology that have been added to many trucks.
Motorcycle riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians can reduce the risk of a serious accident by staying out of the blind spots of a truck to the extent possible. They should give trucks plenty of room to maneuver when they are turning or backing up.
Legal Claims for Motorcycle, Bicycle, and Pedestrian Victims
Compensation may be available to victims injured because a truck driver failed to check a blind spot, improperly executed a turn, failed to yield the right of way, or otherwise handled their vehicle carelessly. They also can pursue a claim against the trucking company under a theory of indirect or direct liability, or both. Indirect liability means that the trucking company is liable because its employee driver was on the job when they caused the crash. Direct liability means that the trucking company is liable because it failed to use reasonable care in managing its drivers and vehicles.
Sometimes a truck driver, trucking company, or insurer will argue that a victim was partly at fault. For example, perhaps a pedestrian was texting as they were walking, preventing them from paying full attention to their surroundings. Or perhaps a rider was speeding on a motorcycle as they tried to pass a truck on the right.
When a victim was partly at fault for an accident, they generally still can recover at least some damages. Some states apply a pure comparative negligence rule, which reduces the compensation of a victim in proportion to their fault. In other words, if they were 30 percent at fault for an accident, they could recover 70 percent of their damages. Many other states adjust this rule to bar damages for victims who were at least 50 percent (or sometimes at least 51 percent) at fault. Only a handful of states do not allow a victim to recover damages if they were only slightly at fault.
Examples of Personal Injury Damages
Pain and suffering
Future treatment costs
Lost earning capacity
Legal Claims After a Fatal Truck Accident
Unfortunately, some truck accidents involving motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians cut short a life too soon. Family members of victims often can receive compensation based on the role that the victim played in their lives. For example, they might recover damages for the loss of financial support and services provided by the victim, in addition to more subjective losses like the consortium and guidance of the victim. State law defines the family members who are eligible to receive these types of compensation.
Meanwhile, the estate of a victim often can pursue damages that the victim could have recovered had they survived. These forms of compensation may include the medical expenses of the victim, any lost income between their injury and their death, and any conscious pain and suffering before their death.