OK riders, the time has come to remove, once and for all, from our vocabulary, the phrase, “I LAID THE BIKE DOWN”, when you are describing what happened in your bike crash.
It has to stop. I have heard for the last time, from an insurance adjuster for someone who almost killed you, that the biker was partly at fault causing his own injury, because he PURPOSEFULLY put his bike over on the street. You know that is NOT what you meant, you didn’t TRY to crash your bike, you were just trying to avoid further injury and harm. But the adjuster is looking for any reason to deny your claim, and when you use the phrase, “I laid the bike down”, they will use it against you, and here’s why.
First you need to understand that Virginia is a “fault” state. This means that in order to recover for harm that someone else causes you in a vehicle crash, you have to prove that the other person was at fault. Lawyers call this negligence and it is your burden of proof as the injured person. If you succeed in proving the other person at fault, then you can recover for harm that they caused you.
However, Virginia is one of the few remaining states with a doctrine called contributory negligence. Quite simply this means that if a court or jury finds that you are 1% at fault for your crash, even if the other person is 99% at fault, YOU LOSE. The Court is not allowed, in Virginia, to compare negligence and allow you a partial recovery. So, the insurance company for the other person will use every opportunity they can get to prove that you were partially at fault.
Back to “laying the bike down”. No biker will purposefully lay a bike down and slide on asphalt, risking serious injury or worse, just for fun and games. A biker will, however, in order to avoid a head on collision and the possibility of being launched over the handlebars, attempt to steer/lean away from the impact. When that isn’t possible, the lean sometimes results in the bike fishtailing and sometimes it goes down, on its side. Does that sound like, “LAYING THE BIKE DOWN” to you? Of Course Not.
When a bike is going down, the rider loses braking control and loses steering control. Every operator of a vehicle is required to maintain control over his or her vehicle. If you were to purposefully give up braking and steering control over your bike, then you would be contributorily negligent and YOU WOULD LOSE. So of course you, as a prudent, safe rider would NEVER give up control and therefore you would NEVER lay your bike down.