Motorcycle accidents, along with truck accidents, tend to be much more dangerous than other motor vehicle accidents. Motorcycle accidents are 26 times more likely to result in death than car accidents.
Wearing a helmet can help prevent certain head injuries. But they don't help prevent motorcycle crashes. You must know what to do if you get into a motorcycle accident.
In this article, we will give a brief overview of motorcycle accidents. We will also offer helpful links with more detailed information on this topic.
Motorcycle Rights Advocacy
Like it or not, motorcycle riders get a bad rap. People who drive cars and SUVs complain about motorcyclists all the time. Even when there's an accident, the at-fault driver typically claims that it was the motorcycle rider's fault. The attitude many drivers have about people who ride motorcycles is negative.
Some of the complaints motorists have about motorcycle riders include:
- They drive way too fast
- They weave in and out of traffic
- They like to drive on the shoulder to pass other motorists
- They tailgate
- They pass in no-passing zones
The truth is that most bikers are careful drivers. Sadly, it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the whole bunch. This is why it's essential that motorcycle organizations and law enforcement remind drivers of motorcycle safety.
Since the number one excuse given in motorcycle crashes is that the other driver didn't see the motorcyclist, people must try to look out for all motorists while on the road.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Although only 3% of all motorists drive a motorcycle, more than 14% of all traffic fatalities involve motorcycles. The main reason is that there is nothing to protect the biker from the crash's impact.
It's no surprise, therefore, that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in an accident and four times more likely to get seriously injured in a crash.
In 2020, more than 82,000 motorcycle riders were seriously hurt in a traffic accident. More than 5,500 bikers died as a result of their crash that same year. This shows that riding a motorcycle puts you at a greater risk of getting into a severe accident. You must know what to do if you get into a motor vehicle accident.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents are no more common than other motor vehicle accidents. They are more serious. You need to understand the common causes of motorcycle accidents so you can do your best to avoid them.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes include:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Driver fatigue
- Failure to yield
For more information on this topic, visit Findlaw's Motorcycle Accident Overview page.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
There are certain steps you need to take after your motorcycle crash. This is the only way to protect your safety and your legal rights. As long as you do these things, there's a good chance your motorcycle accident lawyer will be able to recover the damages you deserve.
The first thing you need to do is call 911. The police must come to the accident scene and do a thorough investigation. They'll put their findings into their police report. This report will be vital to your personal injury claim.
Once you've called the police, you should see a doctor. Even if you think you're not hurt. Motorcycle accident victims tend to suffer broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and other less obvious motorcycle injuries.
You may have suffered internal injuries. The only way to know is to see a doctor and undergo the necessary diagnostic tests.
Finally, once you've received the medical care you need, you should call a motorcycle accident attorney. They'll review your case and help you file your claim with the insurance company. If need be, they will file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf as well. You don't want to wait too long to do this since the statute of limitations in your state requires that you file your accident claim within a certain time.
For more information on what to do after a motorcycle accident, visit Findlaw's First Steps After an Injury page.
Understanding Motorcycle Insurance
Almost every state requires you to carry a motorcycle liability insurance policy. The minimum amount of insurance you must have varies from state to state. For example, North Carolina requires motorcycle riders to carry at least $30,000 coverage for bodily injury (per person) and $60,000 coverage for bodily injury (per accident.) Residents of North Carolina are also required to maintain at least $25,000 in property damage liability.
Depending on where you live, you will have to carry uninsured motorist coverage as well. The amount of coverage you choose will depend on your particular circumstances.
For more information on the insurance requirements in your state, visit Findlaw's Car Insurance Laws by State page.
What if You're Partially at Fault?
One person is rarely 100% responsible for a motor vehicle accident. Usually, both parties played a role in the crash. If the insurance company can prove that you were partly at fault, it will impact your claim. It all depends on whether you live in a state that follows the comparative negligence or contributory negligence rule.
In those states with a comparative negligence rule, you can still collect damages, even if you were partly at fault for your accident. But, the court may reduce your damages by your percentage of fault.
In states that follow the contributory negligence rule, the court may prohibit you from collecting damages if you were partially liable for the crash. The good news is that only four states follow this rule — Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. The District of Columbia also follows the contributory negligence rule.
Visit Findlaw's Comparative and Contributory Negligence Page for more details on how it may affect your claim.
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
If you suffer severe injuries in a motorcycle accident, it's a good idea to call an auto accident lawyer. Not only will they deal with the insurance adjusters on your behalf, but they will also work hard to settle your insurance claim.
Most importantly, your attorney will demand fair compensation for your injuries. As long as they can show that the other driver caused the crash, you may get some or all of the following:
- Medical bills and future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages and lost future income
- Pain and suffering
- Any other economic damages you may have suffered
If your loved one died in a motorcycle crash, you may have a claim for wrongful death. This is something you and your car accident lawyer should discuss as soon as possible after your family member passes away.
Want Legal Help with Your Motorcycle Accident? Talk to a Lawyer
If a motorcycle accident leaves you injured, it's wise to talk to a qualified motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney will review your accident claim and let you know if it's worth pursuing. They can also answer any questions you may have.
Most personal injury lawyers offer accident victims a free case evaluation. They also work on a contingency fee basis, so you won't have to pay anything upfront. Take advantage of this and find out if you have a valid motorcycle accident claim.
Research-backed safety statistics help industry leaders and policymakers develop better motorcycle safety standards and designs. Much of this work comes from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other groups. The following list of organizations and agencies will help you learn more about motorcycle safety and related matters:
- The American Motorcyclist Association — An organization promoting the interests of motorcycle enthusiasts, with an emphasis on racing and motorcyclist rights.
- The Hurt Report: Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures — A summary of findings from an influential 1981 study on the causes of motorcycle accidents.
- Insurance Institute For Highway Safety: Motorcycles — Overview of the inherent risks of motorcycle riding, with more information about helmet laws.
- Motorcycle Riders Foundation — A Washington, D.C.-based motorcyclist rights organization.
- The Motorcycle Safety Foundation — Provides information on motorcycle rider training, operator licensing, government relations, rider courses, riding gear, and motorcycle safety.
- Motorcycle Safety Program — From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with extensive safety resources for motorcyclists.
- National Agenda For Motorcycle Safety — Provides a look at motorcycle safety and offers a blueprint for the future of motorcycle safety.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — Provides crash statistics and articles about accidents, product safety, and passenger safety for all vehicles, including motorcycles.
- Motorcycle Foundation YouTube Channel — Videos on basic motorcycle safety and riding instruction, emphasizing fostering a more friendly riding environment.
- Motorcycle Safety (GHSA) — Motorcycle safety statistics, information about motorcycle laws, and research.
More general highway safety information is available on our car accident resources page.
See FindLaw's motorcycle accidents section for more articles and resources, including helmet laws, motorcycle accident cases, and motorcycle defects and recalls. The first steps after an injury section contain resources to help you gather information, get a police report, meet with a personal injury attorney, and seek the legal advice you need.