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What is a “No Contact” Motorcycle Accident?

August 25, 2023

A motorcycle is not only a gas-friendly option for daily drives to work and school it also provides an exhilarating experience in the open air. However, the same unenclosed format that makes a motorcycle ride so enjoyable also leaves motorcyclists particularly vulnerable to injuries in traffic accidents.

When a 4,000-pound motor vehicle collides with an unprotected motorcycle rider, the injuries to the rider are often severe or catastrophic. In most cases, the driver of the car is the liable party in a collision. But what if a driver causes a motorcycle accident without a direct collision?

What is a no-contact motorcycle accident and how do you prove liability under Washington’s fault-based comparative negligence laws?

What is a "No Contact" Motorcycle Accident?

Understanding No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents

In a no-contact motorcycle accident, the motorcyclist experiences a crash directly due to the actions of a driver even though the motor vehicle never made contact with the motorcycle. There are many ways this type of accident occurs. Some examples include:

  • A driver suddenly slams on their brakes and a motorcyclist behind them swerves to avoid a collision and then loses control and crashes
  • A driver makes an unsafe lane change, cutting off a motorcyclist who swerves off the road to avoid a side-swipe collision and then crashes into a guard rail
  • A driver doesn’t see an approaching motorcycle and fails to yield the right of way when merging, the motorcyclist slams on their brakes and is forced to lay down their bike in a skidding crash

In none of the above scenarios does the vehicle make contact with the motorcycle, but the driver still caused the crash. These no-contact accidents are sometimes called “phantom crashes.”

Proving Liability in a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident

While in most cases, the at-fault driver in a no-contact motorcycle crash does the right thing and stops to render aid and call for emergency services, in some instances they may flee the scene, believing that since they didn’t make contact with the motorcycle they cannot be identified or held liable. In some circumstances, a driver responsible for a no-contact crash may not even be aware that they caused an accident. If the driver flees or leaves the scene of the accident, the police and your Seattle motorcycle accident attorney may still be able to identify them and prove their liability through the following methods:

  • Reviewing traffic camera footage or nearby surveillance video that captures the crash
  • Interviewing eyewitnesses

Proving liability in this type of crash may also involve viewing traffic camera or dashcam footage, reviewing the police report, and interviewing eyewitnesses. In some cases, accident reconstruction experts can help prove liability by showing how the accident occurred. Proving liability requires demonstrating the following:

  • That the driver owed a duty of care to the motorcyclist to take reasonable measures to prevent injury such as double-checking blind spots and following traffic laws
  • That they breached this duty by driving negligently or recklessly
  • That the negligent breach directly caused the motorcyclist’s injury
  • That the motorcyclist suffered significant damages due to their injuries

A diligent accident attorney in Seattle can investigate the accident and gather evidence to prove the driver’s negligence and liability even when the driver didn’t make contact.

Damages in a No-Contact Motorcycle Accident

Once an attorney proves a driver liable for damages, the motorcycle accident victim can recover compensation for damages including:

  • Medical expenses and future medical costs related to the accident
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Other applicable non-economic damages like disfigurement in the case of road rash or PTSD

If you’ve suffered a no-contact motorcycle accident in Washington, speak to an experienced perosnal injury attorney about how to recover damages.

Fang Law Firm offers 100% remote and contactless meetings & representation.