If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Unfortunately, pursuing your legal claim can be difficult. You may have to deal with several legal issues, such as personal injury, product liability, and local helmet laws.
Most motorcycle accident cases are no different than any other car accident case. However, some issues are particular to motorcycle accidents.
Here, you'll find helpful information about motorcycle accidents and tips on protecting your legal rights. This article will also discuss what you can expect after a motorcycle accident.
Types of Motorcycle Accident Injuries
One of the reasons motorcycle crashes are so dangerous is that there is nothing to protect the rider from serious injuries. The impact of any vehicle accident can be tremendous. However, motorcycle riders are especially vulnerable.
Even if you are wearing a helmet and other safety gear, you can still suffer severe injuries in a motorcycle crash. Some of the more common injuries motorcycle accident victims suffer include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury
- Head injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Internal injuries
- Organ damage
- Road rash
- Back and neck injuries
- Burn injuries
Given the nature and extent of your injuries, there is a good chance you will be entitled to damages for pain and suffering. It is a good idea to retain a personal injury lawyer to pursue your claim while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The causes of motorcycle crashes are similar to other auto accidents. The major difference is that the number one reason drivers give for causing a motorcycle accident is that they did not see the person on the motorcycle. Another common excuse for motorcycle accidents is that the biker was driving recklessly.
The most common causes of motorcycle crashes are:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Failure to yield
- Lane splitting
- Lane changes
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Aggressive driving by either party
Unfortunately, even if you were not liable for the accident, there is a strong likelihood that you will be blamed. Motorists and insurance companies argue that people who ride motorcycles drive too fast, weave in and out of lanes, and attempt to drive on the shoulder.
While there are some who do engage in the behavior described above, the truth is that most bikers are careful operators. However, every personal injury case is different. Your motorcycle accident lawyer will review the facts of your case and let you know if you have a valid personal injury claim.
Special Rules for Motorcycle Drivers
Motorcycle riders are required to abide by all traffic rules. There are also special rules and laws that bikers need to follow. These rules are designed to keep the rider safe. They are also meant to help prevent motorcycle crashes.
One of the most important rules for bikers is that they wear a helmet at all times. This will be discussed in more detail below.
Many states have additional laws that motorcycle riders must abide by. Some of these include:
- Only one passenger can ride on the bike at any given time
- Passengers must wear a helmet at all times
- Riders must also wear protective eye gear and appropriate footwear
- The rear passenger must have a separate seat from the driver
- All passengers must face forward at all times
- Motorcycle riders must keep their front and rear headlights on at all times
If you are in an accident and are not in compliance with your state laws, the police will likely issue a ticket. In addition, the other driver's insurance company may argue that your non-compliance constitutes negligence. They can use this in an effort to deny your insurance claim or settle for a much lesser amount.
All but three states have helmet laws requiring the driver to wear protective headgear at all times. The three states that have no such requirement include Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire.
Of the states that have helmet laws, 29 only require them for riders under the age of 18. The other 18 states, plus Washington D.C., require helmets to be worn by all drivers and passengers.
Not only do most states require you to wear a helmet, but the helmet must also be approved by your state's Department of Transportation. These rules can vary from state to state. If you are unsure if your helmet meets these standards, you can always check online or ask a motorcycle accident attorney.
For the most part, these laws are unpopular among motorcyclists. However, studies show that riders who do not wear helmets are three times more likely to suffer a brain injury than those who do. State interest in the safety of motorcyclists and in keeping insurance rates low in their state has justified the implementation of mandatory helmet laws.
Wearing a helmet will not always prevent serious injury if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident. However, failure to wear a helmet, particularly where there is a law requiring that a helmet be worn, can help your opponent claim that your own negligence caused or contributed to the accident. This can reduce or even bar your claim for damages.
Ways Motorcycle Riders Can Be Found Partially Liable
Not wearing a helmet or other protective gear is not the only way you can be found negligent. There are a number of things you can do that may make you partially responsible for your motorcycle crash.
Some of these things include:
- Not stopping at a traffic signal
- Not respecting the other driver's right-of-way
- Driving while distracted
- Weaving in and out of traffic lanes
- Ignoring local traffic laws
The other driver's insurance company will look for ways to hold you responsible. If they can prove that you were partially at fault, it will reduce the amount they are ordered to pay or may even be sufficient enough to defeat your legal claim. This is why it is a good idea to meet with a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after the crash.
Motorcycle Defects and Recalls
While most motorcycle accidents are caused by people driving passenger vehicles, some crashes are due to a motorcycle defect. Motor vehicles are frequently the subject of recalls. This is important because a defect has a higher chance of endangering the driver.
Safety recalls can be issued by motorcycle manufacturers. They can also be issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If they learn of a prevalent defect or safety issue with a certain make and model of motorcycles, they can issue their own recall.
When a safety recall is conducted, the manufacturer of the motorcycle must file a public report describing the defect, the involved product, the events leading to the recall, a description of the remedy, and a schedule for the recall.
Motorcycle manufacturers also have a duty to try to notify owners of recalled vehicles. They must also make an effort to remedy the defect without cost to the owner.
You should conduct a periodic check for recalls of your particular motorcycle. This will increase your safety and help prevent serious accidents.
Some common defects found with motorcycles include:
- Alignment defects
- Wheel cracks
- Brake defects
- Malfunctioning seats and footrests
- Airbag deployment issues
- Stuck or broken accelerators
If you learn that there is a safety recall issued for your brand of motorcycle, make sure you take it to get repaired. As long as a recall has been issued, you should not be responsible for the costs of repair.
What To Do if a Defect Causes Your Motorcycle Accident
If you believe that a manufacturing defect caused your motorcycle crash, you should reach out to a motorcycle accident attorney right away. This gives you a chance to focus on getting the medical care you need. It also allows your lawyer a chance to negotiate with the manufacturer of the bike and their insurance company.
If your personal injury attorney can prove that there was a defect present, you may have a claim against the manufacturer. Your motorcycle accident lawyer must be able to demonstrate that the defect caused your accident. They will also have to prove that you suffered serious injuries resulting from the defect.
What Kind of Damages Can You Recover After a Motorcycle Crash?
If your motorcycle accident attorney can prove that the other driver caused your accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. The same is true if they can prove that a manufacturer defect caused your motorcycle crash.
In most personal injury cases involving motorcycles, you can demand some or all of the following:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Future medical expenses
If your motorcycle accident attorney can prove your case, you should recover compensation. Ideally, the insurance company will pay your claim right away after successful negotiations. If you are unable to settle your claim, your attorney can file a personal injury claim against the other driver. The insurance carrier will be responsible for paying any damages as long as they do not exceed the limits of the insurance policy.
If they do exceed the policy limits you may use your own underinsured insurance for the difference, if this is covered under your personal policy. An experienced attorney will be able to help you with this process.
Steps To Take After Your Motorcycle Crash
There are certain steps you should take after your accident if you want to protect your legal rights. This is the case for any motor vehicle accident. As long as you follow these steps, you will have a better chance of the insurance adjuster approving your claim.
- Call the police: The police will come to the scene of the accident and do a thorough investigation. The officers will also get contact information for eyewitnesses. They will put their findings in their final police report. Your lawyer will need a copy of the police report to help prove your case.
- Seek medical treatment immediately: Never refuse medical attention after your motorcycle crash. You will need to prove that you suffered serious injuries. This is the only way you can recover compensation for your medical expenses. It will also help your lawyer prove pain and suffering.
- Seek legal advice: It is important that you contact an attorney after your accident. Many attorneys will offer a free case evaluation, so it will not cost you anything upfront.
Most motorcycle accident victims are in no position to deal with the insurance adjuster on their own. Consider retaining a motorcycle accident attorney to help pursue your claim.
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