Not much can compare to the freedom and exhilaration you feel when riding your motorcycle on scenic roadways. However, getting injured in a motorcycle accident is one of the most challenging and painful experiences you and your family may ever face.
How are Motorcycle Accidents Different from Car Accidents?
The injuries sustained by motorcyclists are typically more severe than those sustained in car accidents. What’s more, there tends to be a cultural bias against motorcyclists, which can unfairly sway jury opinion – particularly in cases where the jury is void of riders – and may present additional challenges for your attorney.
Because motorcycle accidents are much more complex than car accidents, hiring the right law firm is essential for success.
Our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers are passionate about helping injury victims recover the full compensation they are entitled to.
- Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
- Motorcycle Accident Statute of Limitations
- Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
- Liability in Motorcycle Accidents
- Motorcycle Safety Tips
- Helmet Laws
- Motorcycle Accident Damages
Common Motorcycle Crash Injuries
It comes as no surprise that motorcyclists are at greater risk on the roads. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 80 percent of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death for the rider and or passengers of the bike.
Some of the most common injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident include:
- Fractured and broken bones
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head and Brain injury
- Wrongful death
Many of these traumatic injuries can require extensive medical care, a considerable amount of rehabilitative therapy and substantial time away from work. Most families are not able to shoulder these financial burdens, and the ultimate ramifications can be dire.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Riding a motorcycle requires a deft combination of skill and judgment. If you want to optimize your chances for a safe ride, you need to be prepared and avoid risks. “Being prepared” means that you wear the right gear, including a helmet, protective clothing, and eye protection. “Avoiding risks” means that you should drive defensively, avoid bad weather and never ride a bike that’s more than you can handle.
Even when riding safely and obeying the rules of the road, however, motorcycle accidents can happen. Some of the most common causes are:
- Collisions with cars: Many times, car and truck drivers simply don’t – or can’t – see motorcyclists, either because of blind spots, dark conditions or poor weather.
- Sudden stops: Any rear-end collision can be dangerous, but for a motorcycle, it can be devastating. Sudden stops can easily eject a motorcyclist from a bike, head over heels into traffic.
- Open-door accidents: These particular kinds of accidents are common in densely urban areas. Even when car occupants check their mirrors before opening a door, they may not see an oncoming motorcycle, and put the rider’s life in jeopardy.
While there tends to be biased against motorcyclists, studies have found that a majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by the actions of other drivers. The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is being run off the road or struck by the drivers of larger vehicles – most often when those drivers are making a turn.
Protecting Yourself from Injury
The best way to protect yourself from injury while riding a motorcycle is to utilize protective gear. While helmet use is not required for riders over the age of 18 in some states, it is always a good idea to wear one. Brain injury is one of the most common motorcycle accident injuries. It is also one of the most fatal. Head injuries account for 34 percent of all traumatic deaths in the United States.
Proper gear includes:
- A DOT-approved helmet
- Leather jacket, gloves, and chaps
- Leather boots
- Googles or glasses (even if you have a windscreen)
When you are in a motorcycle accident, the only thing between you and the asphalt is the clothing you are wearing. If that’s shorts, flip-flops, and no shirt, it’s highly likely your injuries will be severe or fatal, even when traveling at low speeds.
The NHTSA recommends that, before you hit the road, you make sure your motorcycle is in proper working order. To do this, make sure to:
- Check tire pressure and tread depth
- Make sure hand and foot brakes are working
- Check headlights, brake lights, and signals
- Ensure all fluid levels are full and that there are no leaks
Once on the road, be sure to:
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Avoid all types of distraction
- Maintain a safe riding distance
- Obey the rules of the road
Motorcyclists have to drive defensively. Larger vehicles – even passenger cars – often fail to see motorcycles, which can result in serious or fatal injury. This places a heavy responsibility on motorcyclists to pay absolute attention to the road. Ride smart. Ride safe. Stay alive.
How Long do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
In many states across the U.S., you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. There is some wiggle room in certain cases, but by and large, the statute of limitations for motorcycle accident lawsuits is two years.
What if I was Partially at Fault for My Motorcycle Accident?
In some cases, you may be able to recover damages even if you played a role in your accident. The amount you are entitled to will be impacted by the portion of blame you share for the accident.
Without an investigation into your motorcycle accident, it may be impossible to know all causes. Things like defective or dangerous roadways, equipment failure, and, of course, the actions of all involved motorists will need to be evaluated to establish liability.
Do not admit fault for an accident. Wait until your attorney can finish his or her investigation.
Can I File a Lawsuit for a Motorcycle Accident if I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet?
You can file a claim against a negligent driver if you are injured while riding your motorcycle – even if you were not wearing a helmet. But know that decision may result in a significant reduction in the amount of compensation you are awarded.
In some U.S. states, you do not have to wear a helmet to ride a motorcycle if you are over 18. If you sustain a brain injury while not wearing a helmet, however, it may be difficult to sway jury sympathy to your cause.
Bear in mind, our actions typically play a role in our outcomes. Choosing to ride dangerously makes a very specific statement and one that may prove detrimental to seeking compensation after an injury.
What Kinds of Damages can I Seek with a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
Personal injury lawsuits seek compensation for damages related to an accident. This includes current expenses along with projected future expenses and losses. The best way to find out what your claim is worth is through a one-on-one consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer.
Damages that may be sought in a motorcycle accident claim include:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and therapy costs
- Wages lost during recovery
- Projected wages lost due to new physical limitations
- Home modifications and adaptive technologies made necessary by the injury
- Emotional duress and trauma
- Physical pain and suffering
Insurance companies do not provide compensation for all of these things. Insurance companies use a formula to determine what your suffering is worth. Only with the help of a personal injury lawyer can you seek damages that exceed the paltry offerings of insurance companies and work towards the settlement or verdict you will need to live the best life possible following a catastrophic injury.
How Long Will My Motorcycle Accident Claim Take?
The motorcycle accident claims process follows a fairly standard path. Though there may be some fluctuation, in most cases:
- You hire a lawyer
- Your lawyer investigates the accident
- Your lawyer files a claim
- The discovery process begins, allowing both sides to gather evidence and build their case
- Both sides meet for mediation to attempt settlement negotiations
When mediation fails, the claim will go to trial where a jury will determine the outcome. Very few motorcycle accident cases end up going to trial. Almost all are resolved before or during mediation.
Many motorcycle accident claims are resolved in a matter of months. Cases that go to trial may take two or more years to settle. The path you can expect for your case to take will be discussed by your attorney.