Motorcycle Accident Law

What is Motorcycle Accident Law?

Motorcycle Accident Laws are state and federal laws pertaining specifically to accidents involving motorcycles. Although motorcycles must follow all the same rule of the road as other vehicles, they are often subject to additional requirements, such as safety equipment, special licensing, additional driving procedures, etc. These are areas that motorcycle accident laws come into play.


Most states require a separate endorsement on one's driver's license in order to legally operate a motorcycle. Many motorcyclists are unaware of this requirement, however, and illegally drive motorcycles everyday. When they are in an accident, these riders are often cited as being at least partially at fault, even if the accident was entirely caused by another driver, because they are operating the motorcycle without a proper license.

Most states have mandatory motorcycle safety courses for those hoping to obtain their endorsement. These courses are designed to teach proper riding techniques, raise awareness about safety, and educate the riders on laws affecting the operation of a motorcycle.

Safety Equipment

Virtually every jurisdiction has a requirement for some form of unique safety equipment for motorcyclists. For example, many states mandate helmets, but even those that do not usually require some form of eye protection. Other states and local jurisdictions may require riders to wear reflective vests, certain types of footwear, or padded/armored clothing. Both state and federal laws require the use of certain lights on a motorcycle if it is to be used on the roads, including turn signals, brake lights, and a headlight that remains on at all times. Failing to comply with these safety equipment requirements may not only expose the rider to physical danger, but liability or an inability to recover from other drivers in the event of an accident.

Added Liability

Some motorcycle accident laws have recently been enacted to enhance the penalties against vehicles that have accidents with those on motorcycles. The concept behind these laws are to increase driver awareness of motorcyclists and prevent accidents caused by other drivers. However, these laws are few and their effectiveness has been questioned. Indeed, statistically, most motorcycle accidents have been shows to result from errors made by the motorcyclist, not the driver of another vehicle.

In other instances, a minority of states have adopted laws to limit the amount of recovery a motorcyclist can make as a result of a motorcycle accident. These laws have come about from a view that motorcyclists, in large part, accept the risk of operating a vehicle that is more dangerous than an enclosed passenger vehicle and, as such, should not be able to hold others liable for the more catastrophic injuries a rider may face after an accident.

If you would like more information about Motorcycle Accident Law, please visit the resources below. Additionally, should you have a specific question or need legal assistance, please visit our Law Firms page to find a lawyer in your area that focuses his or her practice on motorcycle accident cases.


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Motorcycle Accidents Law - US

  • Compliance Testing, Motorcycle Helmets FMVSS 218

    It’s clear ... Motorcycle helmets save lives. To help protect the lives of motorcycle riders, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all motorcycle helmets sold in the United States meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. This standard defines minimum levels of performance that helmets must meet to protect the head and brain in the event of a crash. Each year, DOT conducts compliance testing of a variety of motorcycle helmets to determine whether helmets being sold in the United States meet the Federal safety standard.

  • Motorcycle and Bicycle Helmet Laws

    Twenty states and the District of Columbia have motorcycle helmet laws that require all riders to wear a helmet. Twenty-seven states have a motorcycle helmet law that only require some riders to wear a helmet. Three states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire) do not have a motorcycle helmet law.

  • Motorcyclist Advisory Council

    The Motorcyclist Advisory Council to the Federal Highway Administration (MAC-FHWA), coordinates and advises the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, acting through the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, on infrastructure issues of concern to motorcyclists, including: (1) Barrier design; (2) Road design, construction, and maintenance practices; and (3) The architecture and implementation of Intelligent Transportation System technologies.

  • NHTSA - Motorcycle Safety

    NHTSA’s motorcycle safety program focuses on three areas: preventing crashes, preventing crash-related injuries, and limiting the seriousness of these injuries through appropriate emergency medical response.

  • Rules of the Road - Motorcycles

    There are over 4 million motorcycles registered in the United States. The popularity of this mode of trans- portation is attributed to the low initial cost of a motorcycle, its use as a pleasure vehicle and, for some models, the good fuel efficiency. Motorcycle fatalities represent approximately five percent of all highway fatalities each year, yet motorcycles represent just two percent of all registered vehicles in the United States.

  • Snell Memorial Foundation - Helmet Safety Testing

    Since its founding in 1957, the Snell Memorial Foundation has independently tested manufacturer's helmets. Its first safety standards for protective headgear were issued for auto racing in 1959. Subsequently, other specific helmet standards for motorcycling, equestrian sports, bicycling, rollerblading and skateboarding, snowboarding and skiing, and karting have been issued. These standards address performance, not specific materials or design. Periodically, utilizing specially designed test equipment, the Foundation upgrades its specifications on performance characteristics of helmets to keep pace with advances in materials, helmet technology and design.

Organizations Related to Motorcycle Accidents Law

  • Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF)

    The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), incorporated in 1987, is a membership-based national motorcyclists’ rights organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. The MRF monitors and when necessary, sways federal legislation and regulatory action that pertains to street riders. The MRF concerns itself with what is going on in the arena of motorcycling safety education, training, licensing, and public awareness.

  • Motorcycle Safety Foundation

    Since March 1973, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has set internationally recognized standards of excellence in motorcycle rider education and training. The MSF works with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), state governments, the military and other organizations to improve motorcyclist education, training and operator licensing.

  • Motorcycle Training

    Motorcycle training is so important in order to get your motorcycle license or Motorcycle endorsement. Learning to ride your motorcycle the right way the first time is invaluable. Considering how important motorcycle training is, finding the correct motorcycle course or riding school is imperative. Motorcycle training can be the difference in your having a safe and successful life time motorcycle experience and an epic fail.

  • National Coalition of Motorcyclists

    On January 27, 1986, an idea whose time was long overdue became reality. It was nearly a decade ago that leaders of various motorcycle groups from across America met in Las Vegas to discuss a "coming together" and the overwhelming need for a national voice to protect our life-style and right to ride. The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) was born.

  • Who Helmets

    Use helmets as a strategy for preventing head injuries caused by bicycle or motorcycle crash or fall.

Publications Related to Motorcycle Accidents Law

  • Drunk Riding Prevention

    This safety planner provides you with marketing materials and earned media tools designed to remind motorcyclists to always ride smart and sober. You can use these materials to support your motorcycle safety initiatives while at the same time partnering with other states, communities and organizations.

  • Improving Motorcycle Safety and Increasing Motorcycle Awareness

    Although motorcycle fatalities have declined over 50 percent since 1985, there remains room for improvement. Each year from 1990 through 1995, between two and three thousand motorcyclist died in crashes - 15,435 over the period. Motorcycles account for 5 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities, and the victims are frequently males between the ages of 18 and 27. Alcohol and/or speeding is often involved as is an inadequate level of awareness of motocycles by other drivers on the road.

  • National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety - State Motorcycle Safety Program Assessments

    The Motorcycle Safety Program Assessment is a technical assistance tool that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers to states to allow management to review the motorcycle safety program, note the program’s strengths and accomplishments, and note where improvements can be made. The assessment can be used as a management tool for planning purposes and for making decisions about how to best use available resources.

  • Share the Road with Motorcycles

    All motorists and other road users are reminded to safely "share the road" with motorcycles and to be extra alert to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists.

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