Motorcycle riding is a favorite American pastime. Many like feeling the freedom of the open road or the speed and agility their bikes give them that they can’t get from a passenger vehicle. Others simply like a more economical and environmentally friendly option for getting around.
However, despite several safety and technological advances, the safest, most careful motorcyclists with the best safety gear can still suffer severe or even fatal injuries due to negligent drivers.
If this happens to you or someone you love, hire a motorcycle accident lawyer to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve.
Why Are Motorcycles More Dangerous Than Passenger Vehicles?
Motorcycles are dangerous due to their unique characteristics and inherent risks.
Some of the significant factors contributing to the heightened danger of motorcycles include:
- Lack of protection – Unlike cars, motorcycles lack the protective features of an enclosed vehicle, such as a metal frame, airbags, or seatbelts. Motorcyclists are more exposed, making them vulnerable to severe injuries in the event of a collision or fall. In a crash, they will likely hit the road, another vehicle, a tree, or something else outside, as they aren’t confined in a vehicle.
- Size and visibility – Motorcycles are much smaller than other vehicles on the road, making them more challenging for other drivers to see. This can lead to drivers not noticing motorcycles, increasing the risk of accidents, especially in blind spots.
- Balance and handling – Motorcycles require more skill and coordination than cars. Maneuvering through traffic, taking corners, and maintaining balance at low speeds can be challenging, particularly if riders are trying to avoid accidents with other vehicles.
- Road hazards – Motorcycles are more vulnerable to road hazards like potholes, debris, oil spills, and uneven road surfaces. These hazards can lead to loss of control and accidents, especially at higher speeds.
- Weather – Adverse weather, such as rain, snow, or strong winds, can significantly impact motorcycle stability and traction, making them more susceptible to accidents. Others should drive cautiously around motorcyclists in inclement weather.
- Lack of crashworthiness – Motorcycles lack crumple zones to absorb impact during a crash, placing motorcyclists at a higher risk of direct impact during a collision.
How Other Drivers Create Risks for Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists face unique challenges on the road due to their smaller size and lack of protective barriers. Since motorists naturally anticipate seeing larger vehicles on the road, they don’t always notice and pay attention to motorcyclists.
In addition, motorcyclists don’t have seatbelts, airbags, crumple zones, and other safety features that come standard on passenger vehicles.
Unfortunately, some drivers unknowingly create risks for motorcyclists through their actions, contributing to the higher incidence of motorcycle accidents.
These potentially dangerous actions include:
- Failure to check blind spots – Motorcycles are much smaller than cars, making them more challenging to spot, especially in blind spots. Motorists who neglect to check their blind spots adequately before changing lanes or making turns pose a significant risk to motorcyclists who might already occupy those spaces.
- Tailgating – Tailgating is dangerous for any vehicle, but it’s particularly risky for motorcyclists who lack the protection of larger vehicles. Following motorcycles too closely deprive riders of the necessary space to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions, putting them at greater risk of collisions.
- Left-turning accidents – Left-turning accidents constitute a significant hazard for motorcyclists. Drivers often fail to notice an approaching motorcycle while making left turns at intersections, resulting in severe T-bone collisions.
- Distracted driving – Engaging in distractions like texting, surfing the internet, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio, or eating while driving diverts a driver’s attention from the road. This can lead to missing motorcyclists or reacting inadequately to their presence.
- Failure to yield – Many motorcycle accidents occur when drivers fail to yield the right of way. Not giving motorcyclists their legal right of way can lead to dangerous situations, whether at intersections or when merging.
- Sudden lane changes – Abrupt lane changes without signaling pose a considerable risk to motorcyclists in adjacent lanes. Motorcycles’ smaller size makes them more susceptible to drivers overlooking them during sudden maneuvers.
- Opening car doors – Carelessly opening car doors without checking for approaching motorcyclists can cause devastating accidents. This situation, known as dooring, can lead to severe injuries or even fatalities for motorcyclists.
- Speeding – Exceeding speed limits reduces a driver’s reaction time and ability to avoid potential collisions. Speeding drivers may not have sufficient time to respond to motorcycles sharing the road, leading to dangerous encounters.
- Misjudging motorcycle speed – Some drivers may underestimate the speed of motorcycles, misjudging when it is safe to turn or pull out onto the road, leading to collisions.
- Inadequate use of turn signals – Neglecting or using turn signals improperly can confuse motorcyclists about a driver’s intentions, potentially causing dangerous situations.
All motorists on the road must recognize and mitigate these risks, which will help create a safer and more accommodating environment for everyone.
To establish negligence in a motorcycle accident, the injured party or their motorcycle accident attorney must generally prove:
- Duty of care – The first step is to establish that the defendant (the potentially negligent party) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (the injured motorcyclist). In the context of a motorcycle accident, all drivers must exercise reasonable care and caution to avoid harming others, including motorcyclists. For example, they need to check their blind spots before changing lanes and look out for motorcyclists when turning.
- Breach of duty – The injured party or their attorney on their behalf must also demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care by failing to act reasonably under the circumstances. For instance, a speeding or distracted driver may breach their duty of care.
- Causation – With this element, the defendant’s breach of duty must directly cause the motorcycle accident and resulting injuries. You must establish a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the defendant’s actions (or inaction) and the harm suffered by the motorcyclist for a successful case.
- Damages – The injured motorcyclist must have suffered actual damages or injuries due to the accident. These damages may include medical expenses, property damage, lost income and income, pain and suffering, and other losses arising from the accident.
Remember that negligence can apply to various parties in a motorcycle accident, including other drivers, vehicle manufacturers (if a defect in the motorcycle caused the crash), or even entities responsible for road maintenance (if poor road conditions contributed to the accident).
You must collect evidence, reconstruct the accident, and analyze relevant laws to prove negligence and seek fair compensation in motorcycle accident cases. Leave these critical duties to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
If you are in a motorcycle accident and believe it was due to someone else’s negligence, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Your attorney can assess your case, protect your rights, and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.
Potential Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
In a motorcycle accident, victims may suffer various economic and non-economic damages due to the injuries and losses they experience.
Here are the potential damages that you can claim in a motorcycle accident case:
- Medical expenses – This includes all medical costs related to the accident, such as ambulance fees, emergency room bills, hospitalization, surgeries, doctor visits, prescription medications, necessary medical equipment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Property damage – Compensation for the repair or replacement of the damaged motorcycle and any other personal property (e.g., riding gear, helmet, wedding ring) that suffered damage in the accident.
- Lost income – If the injured motorcyclist cannot work or otherwise earn income like they usually will due to their injuries, they may seek compensation for the income lost during the recovery period.
- Loss of earning capacity – If the injuries are severe and permanent, resulting in a diminished ability to work or pursue one’s career, the victim may be eligible to claim damages for the future loss of earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering – Non-economic damages to compensate for physical pain, emotional distress, scarring and disfigurement, and mental anguish resulting from the accident and injuries.
- Emotional distress – Compensation for psychological suffering and emotional trauma from the accident and its aftermath.
- Disability and disfigurement – Damages for permanent disabilities or disfigurement resulting from the accident, affecting the victim’s quality of life and self-esteem.
- Loss of consortium – In some cases, the spouse of the injured motorcyclist may seek damages for the loss of companionship, support, and intimacy caused by the accident’s impact on their partner.
- Punitive damages – In cases involving particularly reckless or malicious behavior, a court might award punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct.
The specific damages a victim might seek and their amounts depend on each motorcycle accident case. Your lawyer will need to gather evidence, calculate the full extent of the injuries and losses, and determine liability to assess the damages in your case.
If you suffered injuries in a crash, always consult an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. They can evaluate your case, help you understand the damages you deserve, and protect your rights throughout the legal process.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations in personal injury cases, like those arising from motorcycle accidents, sets forth a deadline for filing a lawsuit. Each state has its personal injury statute of limitations. Some deadlines are as little as one year, and some are as many as three or four years.
A few factors can also impact the deadline for your motorcycle crash case. For example, suppose the at-fault party is a government entity. The deadline is likely shorter—usually six months to one year. If the crash involves injuries to a minor child, the statute of limitations for their claim may not begin running until they turn 18.
If you fail to file a personal injury lawsuit in accordance with the statute of limitations where your accident took place, you lose your right to seek compensation through the court system. This makes hiring a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney even more important. Your attorney will know your state’s filing deadline or if your case involves special circumstances that might change the deadline. They will file your claim within the applicable deadline whenever possible.
Were You in a Motorcycle Accident? Contact a Skilled Attorney Today to Protect Your Rights
The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner they can start working on your case to ensure maximum compensation. Most motorcycle accident attorneys offer free consultations to determine if you have a case and what you might recover. Additionally, most work on contingency fees, so you don’t owe them anything until you receive compensation.
If someone else causes your injuries, do not accept an insurance company’s narrative that motorcycles are dangerous and you deserve the blame. Instead, seek a case evaluation from a personal injury lawyer immediately.