Motorcycle Laws That Should Protect You

July 7, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
Motorcycle Laws That Should Protect You

Motorists should understand and respect the laws that explicitly protect motorcyclists on our roadways. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to severe motorcycle injuries, as they lack the protective barriers surrounding other types of vehicles.

States have enacted various laws to promote the safety and well-being of motorcyclists because of this increased vulnerability. An experienced local motorcycle accident attorney can explain some of the key motorcycle laws that every motorist should follow to prevent tragic accidents involving motorcyclists and to ensure everyone can share the road safely and responsibly.

Awareness of these laws plays a significant role in preventing motorcyclist injuries and saving lives.

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Negligence and Duty of Care

Negligence is a legal term that refers to one party's failure to exercise reasonable care in a specific situation, thereby causing harm or injury to another party. Negligence, in the context of motorcycle accidents, often arises when other motorists do not fulfill their duty of care toward motorcyclists on the road.

Duty of care is a legal obligation for motorists to exercise reasonable caution while operating their vehicles. This obligation includes being attentive, following traffic laws, and considering the safety of other road users, including motorcyclists. When a motorist fails to uphold this duty of care, they may be negligent and thus legally responsible for any resulting injuries or damages.

The following four elements need to be present to establish negligence in a motorcycle accident case:

  1. Duty: The other motorist owed a duty of care to the motorcyclist.
  2. Breach: The other motorist breached this duty of care by failing to act with reasonable caution or by violating traffic laws.
  3. Causation: The other motorist's breach of duty directly caused the motorcyclist's injuries.
  4. Damages: The motorcyclist suffered actual harm, such as physical injuries, property damage, or financial loss.

An experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can gather and analyze the proper evidence, including police reports, witness statements, and expert testimony, to build a strong case proving negligence on the other motorist's part. They can then help you go after the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other losses resulting from the accident.

Right-of-Way Violations

Accident Lawyer for Motorcycle Accident Cases near Las Vegas & Henderson, NV area

Right-of-way violations occur when a motorist fails to yield to another road user who has the legal right to proceed before them. In motorcycle accidents, motorists may not see motorcyclists or may misjudge their speed and distance, leading to dangerous collisions.

State-specific laws govern right-of-way regulations, including situations involving stop signs, traffic lights, and merging traffic. Some states, for example, require motorists to yield to oncoming traffic when turning left, while others mandate that drivers yield to pedestrians and cyclists at crosswalks.

When a motorist violates right-of-way laws and causes an accident involving a motorcyclist, they may be accountable for any resulting injuries or damages. The consequences of right-of-way violations vary by state and may include fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment in severe cases.

A skilled motorcycle accident attorney can assess the circumstances of your motorcycle accident to determine whether a right-of-way violation contributed to the collision. These skilled legal professionals can go after the financial recovery you need to recover from your injuries and move forward with your life by identifying this violation and proving the other motorist's negligence.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving refers to any activity that diverts a motorist's attention away from driving. These actions include texting or talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio, or conversing with passengers. Wavering focus significantly impairs a driver's ability to react quickly and safely to changes in traffic conditions, which can lead to serious accidents involving motorcyclists.

Each state has its specific laws governing distracted driving. Many states have enacted bans on texting while driving, while others have restricted the use of handheld devices altogether. Penalties for violating these laws range from fines to license suspension, depending on the severity of the offense.

A distracted driver may fail to notice a motorcyclist and react in time to avoid a crash, or they may swerve into the motorcyclist's path without warning. They will generally harm a motorcyclist far more than the occupants of another car.

If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident involving a distracted driver, a skilled lawyer for motorcycle accident can help you gather evidence to prove that the driver's negligence caused the collision, such as cell phone records, surveillance footage, or witness testimony. Your lawyer can assist you in going after the monetary damages you deserve for your injuries and other losses by establishing the driver's responsibility for the accident.


Speeding poses a significant risk to motorcyclists. When drivers travel at excessive speeds, they can lose control of their vehicles, fail to react to traffic conditions in time, and require more time and distance to come to a complete stop. Collisions involving speeding vehicles can result in devastating injuries or fatalities for motorcyclists.

State-specific speed limits and regulations are in place to reduce the likelihood of such accidents. Many states also have laws regarding driving at safe speeds for the current road, weather, and traffic conditions in addition to these posted limits. Motorists who violate these laws may face penalties ranging from fines to license suspension or imprisonment.

If you have been in a motorcycle accident in which speeding was a contributing factor, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can use various resources and evidence to prove the other motorist's negligence, such as police reports, traffic camera footage, skid mark analysis, and witness statements.

Failure to Maintain a Safe Distance

Maintaining a safe following distance is crucial for ensuring the safety of all road users, including motorcyclists. A safe distance allows drivers enough time and space to react and adjust to sudden changes in traffic conditions, such as the need to brake or change lanes quickly. Tailgating, or following too closely, is a dangerous driving behavior that violates state-specific laws.

Each state has its own regulations regarding the appropriate following distance, often depending on a specific number of car lengths or duration in seconds. Violators of these laws may face penalties, including fines or points on their driver's license, depending on the severity of the offense.

Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable when other motorists fail to maintain a safe distance. When a driver is tailgating a motorcyclist, they may not have enough time to react if the motorcyclist brakes suddenly or changes lanes, which can result in a catastrophic accident.

If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident due to another driver's failure to maintain a safe distance, a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer can help you gather evidence to support your claim, including traffic camera footage, accident reconstruction analysis, and witness testimony.

Improper Lane Changes

Unsafe lane changes are another common cause of motorcycle accidents. Drivers may fail to check their blind spots, signal their intentions, or give motorcyclists enough room when changing lanes. These behaviors can lead to collisions, often causing serious injuries to motorcyclists with less protection than occupants of enclosed vehicles.

State-specific laws govern proper lane changes, including signaling requirements and the obligation to ensure drivers can complete their maneuvers safely without endangering other road users.

The consequences of improper lane changes in motorcycle accidents can be severe. Accidents may knock motorcyclists off their bikes, cause them to suffer injuries from contact with the ground or other vehicles, or force them into dangerous evasive maneuvers to avoid collisions. Some of these accidents can even prove fatal.

Driving Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated

Driving under the influence (DUI)  or driving while intoxicated (DWI) refers to operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. These offenses pose a significant danger to all road users, including motorcyclists. Impaired drivers often exhibit poor judgment and delayed reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents.

Each state has its own laws and penalties for DUI/DWI offenses. These typically involve blood alcohol concentration limits, mandatory minimum fines, license suspensions, and jail time for repeat offenders or those in accidents causing injury or death.

Motorcyclists are particularly susceptible to the hazards of intoxicated drivers. They may be less visible to impaired drivers, who may not react quickly enough to avoid collisions or make unsafe maneuvers that endanger motorcyclists’ lives.

Road Hazards

Common road hazards that can cause motorcycle accidents include potholes, debris, uneven pavement, and slippery surfaces due to weather conditions or spills. These hazards present particular risks for motorcyclists, who have less stability and control than drivers in enclosed vehicles.

Responsibility for maintaining safe roadways typically falls on government entities or private parties contracted to manage specific stretches of road. These parties must keep streets in a reasonably safe condition and may be held liable for accidents caused by their failure to do so.

Each state has its own laws regarding road hazard liability and a process for filing claims against responsible parties. To pursue a claim, you may need to demonstrate that the entity responsible for maintaining the road was aware of the hazard and failed to address it promptly and that their negligence caused your accident and injuries.

An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you navigate the complex process of pursuing a claim against a responsible party. They can assist you in gathering evidence, such as photographs of the hazardous road condition, accident reports, and expert testimonies.

Vehicle Defects

Vehicle defects, including faulty brakes, tires, or other components, can contribute to motorcycle accidents. In some cases, these defects result from manufacturing errors, design flaws, or inadequate maintenance by the owner or third-party repair shops.

Liability for accidents that vehicle defects cause may fall on various parties, such as the manufacturer, distributor, or repair shop responsible for servicing the vehicle. Each state has its own laws regarding product liability and the processes for filing claims against parties responsible for causing harm due to defective products or services.

If you suspect a vehicle defect may have contributed to your motorcycle accident, an experienced attorney can investigate the issue and determine fault. They can also work with experts to analyze the defect, gather evidence, and establish the causal relationship between the defect and your accident.

Understanding and adhering to state-specific motorcycle laws ensures the safety of all road users, including motorcyclists. Motorists must share the road safely with motorcyclists.

After a motorcycle accident caused by another motorist's negligence or violation of traffic laws, contact a top-rated personal injury law firm in Las Vegas today for your free case evaluation. A skilled motorcycle attorney can protect your rights and go after the compensation you deserve.

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Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.