Motorcycle riders are in a unique position on the road. They enjoy the freedoms that come with their chosen form of transportation, but they are also exposed to dangers not met by automobile drivers and other motorists. For instance, the lack of any substantial protective barriers between a motorcycle and the road, as well as the difficulty that other motorists may have in anticipating and seeing a motorcycle, leave riders prone to serious injury in the event of an accident.
As a result, motorcycle riders must be aware of their legal rights and remedies if they are involved in a traffic accident. The insurance laws in your state may be very different with respect to motorcycles compared to automobiles; therefore it’s very important to consult with an attorney regarding the applicable laws in your state.
The Risks of the Road for Motorcycle Riders
The risks that motorcycle riders face, and the need to protect their rights of recovery after an accident, become readily apparent through a review of the following statistics:
- In two-thirds of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle rider's right of way and caused the accident.
- Motorcyclists are about 26 times more likely to die in a crash than someone riding in a passenger car, and are 5 times as likely to be injured.
- Although the number of fatalities for drivers and passengers of automobiles and light trucks has been steadily falling since 1999, the fatality rate for motorcycle accidents has more than doubled in that time.
Some of the unique problems faced by motorcycle riders on the road include:
- Visual Recognition: Motorcycles make smaller visual targets, which are more likely to be obscured by other vehicles, or by road and weather conditions. This is an issue especially at intersections, where approximately 70 percent of motorcycle-versus-vehicle collisions occur.
- Road Hazards: Hazards that are minor irritations for an automobile can be a major hazard for a motorcycle rider. These include potholes, oil slicks, puddles, debris, or other objects on the roadway, ruts, uneven pavement, and railroad tracks.
- Speed "Wobble" Accidents: Especially at higher speeds, the front end of a motorcycle may become unstable and begin to shake or "wobble." This problem may be due to a misalignment of the front and rear tires of the motorcycle. If an accident is caused by such a high-speed wobble, the manufacturer of the motorcycle might be held financially responsible for any resulting injuries, under a product liability theory.
- Riding Skills and Familiarity: A motorcycle requires much more skill and physical coordination to operate than a car. Many motorcycle accidents are caused in whole or in part by a rider's lack of basic riding skills, or failure to appreciate the inherent operating characteristics and limitations of the motorcycle.
Determining Legal Responsibility for a Motorcycle Accident
Like most motor vehicle accident cases, motorcycle accident claims are almost always governed by the legal concept of negligence. If the motorcycle operator was partially at fault for the accident, he or she may not be able to recover damages under contributory negligence principles. If comparative negligence applies, the damages may be calculated based on the amount of each party's fault.
Motorcycle Design or Manufacture Defects
Some motorcycle accidents can be attributed to a defect in the design or the manufacture of the motorcycle. If the motorcycle had a design defect, the company planned,or designed the vehicle in such a way that an injury could foreseeably result. A manufacturing defect, on the other hand, means that there was some deviation from the intended design while the motorcycle was being assembled, and this deviation rendered the motorcycle dangerous in some way.
Motorcycle Accidents - Find Legal Help
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should first seek immediate medical treatment. Then, you may want to discuss your situation with a local car accident attorney who can help you understand what your next steps should be. Getting legal help can put your mind at ease and let you focus on what matters most -- getting better.