If I rode a dirt bike on a country road and got hit head-on by a truck, am I at fault? The road had no dividing lines and the truck was travelling very far to the left, preventing safe passage. The rider of the bike was seriously injured. The accident report stated that the rider slid into the truck, but that is completely false, because the truck hit the dirt bike and the rider in an upright position.


You may be proven not at fault provided you were not negligent in driving the bike. Ordinarily, tort liability cannot be established unless plaintiffs can prove their injuries resulted from the tortious acts of a particular defendant or defendants. As a general rule, the burden of proof as to negligence (duty and breach) and causation rests upon plaintiff; and plaintiff does not meet this burden simply by demonstrating that one of several defendants could have been responsible. [See Sindell v. Abbott Laboratories (1980) 26 C3d 588, 597, 163 CR 132, 136]. However, an exception to this general rule is the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor, wherein a defendant is presumed to have been negligent and the burden shifts to defendant to produce evidence either that he or she was not negligent or that any negligence on his or her part was not a proximate cause of the occurrence. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitor requires three conditions: First, that the accident is of a kind which ordinarily does not occur in the absence of someone’s negligence; second ,that the accident was caused by an agency or instrumentality within the defendant’s (or defendants’) exclusive control; and third that the accident was not due to any voluntary action or contribution on plaintiff’s part. [2:1753]. In determining whether this condition is satisfied, the trier of fact may consider common knowledge, expert witness testimony, and the circumstances relating to the particular accident in issue. [Newing v. Cheatham, supra, 15 C3d at 359–360, 124 CR at 199; Zentz v. Coca Cola Bottling Co., supra, 39 C2d at 446, 247 P2d at 349; Blackwell v. Hurst, supra, 46 CA4th at 943–945, 54CR2d at 212–213]

It is also important that there exists the connection of cause and injury since “causation” is an essential element of a tort action. Defendants are not liable unless their conduct (i.e.,act or omission constituting a breach of duty to plaintiff) was a “legal cause” of plaintiff’s injury[2:2375]. Causation is a question of reasonable probability; “legalcause” need not be proved with certainty, but mere possibility is insufficient to establish a prima facie case. Thus, the issue is whether it is more likely than not that plaintiff’s injury was a result of defendant’s act or omission. [2:2405]. In the case of multiple defendants, they do not escape liability simply because the precise contribution of each concurring cause to the injury cannot be determined. However, defendants may limit damages assessed against each of them where they prove the harm was capable of apportionment—i.e., comparative negligence among joint defendant tortfeasors. [Lineaweaverv. Plant Insulation Co. (1995) 31 CA4th 1409, 1416, 37 CR2d 902, 907; see Rutherford v. Owens–Illinois, Inc. (1997) 16 C4th 953, 975–977, 982, 67 CR2d 16, 31–32, 36]. It would be best to personally seek assistance from a lawyer in order to guide you with personal injury cases.

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