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 faced by automobile drivers and other motorists. The lack of any 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 auto accident.
Motorcycle riders must be aware of their legal rights and remedies if they are involved in a traffic accident. The insurance claim laws in your state may be very different with respect to motorcycles compared to automobiles. Consult with an attorney about the applicable laws in your state.
Read on for a brief overview of motorcycle crashes.
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 clear through a review of the following statistics:
In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported more than 5,500 motorcyclists died in fatal traffic crashes.
Motorcyclists are about 26 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury in a crash than someone riding in a passenger car. Motorcycle accident victims are also five times as likely to be injured.
The number of fatalities for drivers and passengers of automobiles and light trucks has steadily fallen since 1999. But the fatality rate for motorcycle accidents has more than doubled in that time.
Some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents and the unique problems faced by motorcycle riders on the road include:
- Visual Recognition: Motorcycles make smaller visual targets. They are more likely to be obscured by other passenger vehicles, road conditions, and difficult weather. This is especially an issue at intersections, where approximately 70 percent of biker-versus-vehicle collisions occur.
- Road Hazards: Hazards that are minor irritations for an automobile can be major hazards for a motorcycle rider. These include potholes, oil slicks, puddles, debris, or other objects on the roadway.
- 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 a motorcycle accident injury is caused by a high-speed wobble, the manufacturer of the motorcycle might be held financially responsible for any resulting injuries under product liability laws.
- 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 and/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 negligence law. If the motorcycle operator was partially at fault for the accident, they may be unable to recover damages under contributory negligence principles. If comparative negligence applies, the damages in a personal injury lawsuit may be calculated based on the amount of each party's fault.
Motorcycle Design or Manufacturing 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 means that there was some deviation from the intended design while the motorcycle was being assembled. This deviation rendered the motorcycle dangerous in some way.
How To Handle Property Damage in a Motorcycle Accident
When you encounter property damage in a motorcycle accident, compile detailed documentation. Photograph the damage from various angles. Make sure to include other damaged items like motorcycle helmets or gear. Get a comprehensive repair quote from a trusted motorcycle mechanic.
This documentation aids in reinforcing your insurance claim or potential legal proceedings. It's about being compensated for your loss, not just replacing your property.
How Do Blind Spots Impact Motorcycle Safety?
Motorcycles are more susceptible to being hidden in other vehicles' blind spots. This can lead to risky situations. The drivers of larger vehicles fail to see a motorcyclist, resulting in a collision.
To mitigate these risks, motorcyclists need to understand blind spots. Avoid staying in them. Use headlights all the time. Wear high-visibility clothing. Practicing defensive riding can also contribute to increased safety.
Understanding Insurance in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle insurance offers coverage for your motorcycle's damage, your medical expenses, and liability for harm caused to others. The specifics depend on the policy and state regulations. Post-accident, it's vital to notify your insurance company promptly. They will then guide you through filing a claim. A lawyer's advice can be beneficial in these cases. They can protect your rights, especially in cases where the at-fault driver contests your claim.
Lane Splitting Legality
Lane splitting is not universally accepted. Its legality varies from state to state. Where permitted, it carries risks. Drivers may not anticipate a motorcyclist's movement, which can lead to accidents. Even where lane splitting is legal, motorcyclists should proceed with caution. Stay aware of the surrounding traffic and road conditions.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) in Motorcycle Accidents
TBIs are among the most serious injuries a motorcyclist can sustain. Despite helmet use, a crash's impact can cause the brain to shift within the skull, leading to injury.
- Temporary confusion
- Blurred vision
- Long-term cognitive problems
- Emotional function changes
These symptoms can surface immediately or gradually. These injuries can impact a person's life quality. They might require long-term medical care and rehabilitation.
Wrongful Death Cases Related to Motorcycle Accidents
Surviving family members may be able to recover from an at-fault party in a wrongful death case related to a motorcycle. This lawsuit aims to seek compensation for financial and emotional damages. It can be brought by appointed representatives of the deceased.
Recoverable damages include:
- Loss of companionship
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of future earnings
- The deceased's pain and suffering before death
Proving negligence is challenging. Help from a motorcycle accident lawyer is usually required.
The Role of Drunk Driving in Motorcycle Safety
Drunk driving amplifies risks for motorcyclists. Drunk drivers can cause serious car accidents. Motorcyclists involved in accidents with drunk drivers often sustain severe injuries. They can also lose their lives. Use more caution when driving in areas or times where drunk driving is more probable.
Spinal Cord Injuries From Motorcycle Accidents
Spinal cord injuries are life-altering and can lead to partial or complete paralysis. They happen when there's trauma to the spinal cord or nerves at the spinal canal's end. Long-term effects may include loss of sensation, movement, pain, or altered bodily functions. These injuries often need extensive medical treatment and long-term rehabilitation.
Get Legal Advice Find a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, seek immediate medical treatment. After that, you may want to discuss your injury case with a local personal injury attorney. They can help you understand what the next steps in your injury claim should be.
Getting legal help can put your mind at ease and let you focus on what matters most: getting better. Contact a personal injury lawyer for a free case evaluation today.