Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in serious injury or death. Motorcycle fatalities occurred 27 times more often than deaths from other vehicle accidents in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA also reported 5,286 deaths from motorcycle crashes in 2016, which was a 5.1 percent increase from 2015. Because of the severe nature of motorcycle accident injuries, it is important to hire legal experts to make sure you recover every penny you are owed.
Who Is at Fault for A Motorcycle Accident?
No matter how careful you are when riding a motorcycle, you cannot control the actions of other motorists. More than forty percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car occurs when the automobile driver is making a left-hand turn and strikes a motorcycle that is trying to pass the car or is driving straight through the intersection. While these types of accidents also commonly occur between two automobiles, the relatively small size of the motorcycle makes it less visible to the turning vehicle.
Motorcyclists are exposed to the elements around them, as motorcycles lack the occupant protection automobiles provide. Motorcyclists can reduce the chances of a collision by following the rules of the road and remaining cautious of other drivers, to ensure other drivers see them before switching lanes and making turns. Wearing proper eyewear, helmets, and clothing can also reduce the severity of injuries in the event of a collision.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
Research suggests that the majority of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the motorcyclist, but of other motorists. According to Nolo, 78% of these collisions occur when the car strikes the motorcycle from the front. The previously mentioned left-hand turn situations are attributed to a large portion of motorcycle collisions, but here are some other common causes:
- Motorcycle lane splitting – this is when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of stopped or slowly moving vehicles.
- Drivers misjudging speed of motorcycles – it takes less time for motorcyclists to change lanes, which means other drivers often misjudge their speed.
- Drivers following motorcycles too closely – Motorcycles can stop much quicker than other vehicles. Following too closely often leads to rear-end collisions.
- Drunk driving – The NHTSA reports that around 1,300 fatal motorcycle crashes in 2013 involved alcohol impairment.
- Distracted driving – This continues to be a growing factor in all motor vehicle collisions, including motorcycle crashes.
- Hazardous roads – The smaller size of motorcycles poses a larger risk for hazardous road conditions, such as potholes, slick pavement, and uneven lanes.
How Is Negligence Established?
Insurance companies often jump to blaming the motorcyclist, even before learning the facts. This is frustrating for motorcyclists who have done nothing wrong and is just another reason to hire an attorney. Biesterveld & Crook begins examining liability by conducting a thorough investigation of the accident. This involves collecting crucial information, such as video footage from the wreck, the accident report, and medical records. From there, we can better advise each individual client on how to proceed.
To prevail in a personal injury claim, negligence must be established against the other driver or responsible party. Other potentially liable parties include those in charge of the maintenance of the roadway, the motorcycle manufacturer, or the repair shop that worked on the motorcycle.
Establishing a valid claim involves proving the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care – The at-fault party’s legal obligation to drive or act safely. When you get behind the wheel, you have a level of duty of care to uphold. You are to obey laws, therefore making yourself and others safe.
- Breach of duty – This is the act of breaching said legal duty to act carefully. When a driver speeds, drives distracted or fails to follow any other traffic rules – the duty of care has been breached.
- Causation – You must prove the at-fault party’s actions led to the accident that caused your injury.
- Damages – You must prove that the damages you suffered were because of the accident. This is done by showing hard evidence, such as medical records/bills, and lost wages.
How Can Automobile Drivers Be More Aware of Motorcyclists?
The NHTSA states that one-third of all multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes are the direct result of one or more motorists turning into the path of a motorcycle. Here are some tips to help you avoid collisions with motorcycles:
- Increase the driving distance – When finding yourself behind a motorcycle, increasing the distance between their bike and your vehicle can provide a cushion of time for the motorcyclist to maneuver whichever way they need to, and it provides you with more time to react to unexpected situations.
- Be mindful of motorcycle turn signals – Many motorcycles are not equipped with self-canceling turn signals. Nearly all automobiles automatically shut off turn signals after a shift is made, but motorcyclists have to remember to shut this off on their own. If you are around a motorcycle with a lingering signal still on- it’s advised to proceed with caution, as they may actually be turning, or they may have just not shut it off.
- Check your blind spots – The small size of a motorcycle makes it much easier to slip into your blind spot. Checking your mirrors for motorcyclists is a great start, but it’s also encouraged that you turn your head to look around you before changing lanes as well.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help?
Hiring a personal injury attorney can help maximize your claim following a motorcycle accident. An experienced attorney will be able to contact witnesses, investigate the accident, collect the necessary records, and consult expert witnesses in order to build the strongest case. Our goal is to ensure that you receive fair compensation for property damage, the best medical treatment, and fair reparation for any medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, future medical expenses, future disability, and any other monetary loss resulting from the accident. Our personal injury attorneys will investigate all possible sources of insurance in order to maximize your recovery.
Collisions involving motorcycles often involve injuries of higher severity, which makes it even more important to hire an attorney. To learn more about the stages of personal injury claims, such as motorcycle collisions, click here.
There is no cost to hire one of our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers. Our fee is a percentage of what we recover for our clients. This means if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid.
If you have been injured in an accident, call Biesterveld & Crook, LLC or contact us online.