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Motorcycle accidents often include chain-reaction outcomes

The general rule in New Hampshire and elsewhere is that the tortfeasor, i.e., the wrongdoer, is monetarily liable for all damages that flow directly from his or her negligence. Motorcycle accidents often include bizarre or unforeseen events that may cloud the picture of which participants are in fact partly or fully at fault. That does not mean that the motorcyclist is always part of the cause of such accidents: sometimes the motorcycle operator is a totally innocent victim.

That kind of an accident occurred recently in Manchester at Granite and Elm Streets in the middle of the afternoon. A resident jumped on the hood of a car that was stopped at a traffic light. The driver intentionally or inadvertently hit the gas pedal and rammed into a stopped motorcycle in front of him.

The driver of the car then veered onto the sidewalk and into the front of a restaurant where it caused significant property damage. One thing that is certain in an accident with these facts is that the motorcycle operator, being stationary and stopped at a red light, was innocent of any fault in causing the accident. One rule of negligence is that a vehicle properly stopped at a traffic signal is not at fault by virtue of being rear-ended. There is an issue of whether the car operator was negligent because he apparently had nothing to do with someone jumping on his hood.

However, if the reported facts prove accurate, it can be strongly asserted that the driver should not have panicked and hit the gas pedal. There is an emergency doctrine in New Hampshire law that applies to accidents, including motorcycle accidents. The doctrine gives a driver the benefit of the doubt when facing an emergency. This is more likely, however, a situation where the driver was not faced with a true emergency. Knowing that a motorcycle was planted ahead, the act of stepping on the gas may be argued to be a grossly negligent act by creating an unreasonable danger to the motorist ahead.

Source:, "Chain-reaction crash that injures motorcyclist ends with car hitting restaurant", Paul Feely, June 11, 2017

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