Are motorcycles worth the risk? Motorcycle riders enjoy the freedom of the open road and the outdoors. Still, there’s no denying that they also face real risks when riding their bikes.
Whether or not motorcycles are worth the risk is a decision the individual makes. Getting into any vehicle and driving down the road is also risky, as is riding a bicycle or traveling on foot. The truth is that most risks of motorcycle riding arise due to other drivers and additional parties, not the motorcyclist themselves.
Motorcyclists must understand the laws that pertain to motorcycle riding in their state, but they cannot control the conduct of others. If a driver acts negligently and hits a motorcyclist, the injured individual has legal rights. The good news is that a skilled motorcycle accident attorney can help them pursue compensation for their damages if they suffer injuries in an accident.
What Makes Motorcycles Vulnerable to Accidents?
Motorcycles are quite different from other vehicles on the road, but that doesn’t give other drivers an excuse not to use caution when sharing the road. Motorcyclists have exposure to weather and other road conditions, such as flying rocks or other debris that can cause injury or lead to an accident. Riders rely on different mental and physical skills than someone driving a car.
Motorcycles are also inherently less stable than their four-wheeled counterparts and lack the stability that other vehicles have. Compared to cars, they also lack standard life-saving safety features such as airbags and seatbelts.
The Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of motorcyclist crash-related fatalities over the last decade has more than doubled. Many different factors lead to these motorcycle accidents.
Sometimes several causes contribute to a single accident. The most common causes of motorcycle accidents on U.S. roads are as follows:
Speeding increases the risk of an accident. Typically, the higher the speeds of the motorcycle and other vehicles involved, the more severe the accident and injuries are, especially for the motorcyclist. Obeying posted speed limit signs or even driving under the speed limit, especially when there is heavy traffic or poor road conditions, can help prevent accidents and decrease injury severity if an accident happens.
Drivers waiting to turn left are likely only expecting to need to yield to oncoming cars. They aren’t anticipating that they will need to yield to motorcyclists. As soon as the last car passes, they may already be making their turn, only to discover in the worst way possible that a motorcycle was following the previous car. In this scenario, the driver of the turning vehicle is likely responsible for the accident. These types of motorcycle crashes are more common in rural areas but can happen anywhere.
Motorcycles are frequently less visible to other motorists than passenger vehicles. For example, a driver operating their vehicle simply making a lane change may fail to see them in the lane they are moving into. This action can push a biker off the road, into another traffic lane, or cause them to crash.
Other vehicles often follow too close to motorcycles in traffic and can misjudge how close they are until it’s too late. Hitting a motorcycle from behind, especially if the accident involves multiple vehicles, puts the rider at high risk for ejection and, therefore, severe injuries.
Poor Weather and Road Conditions
Road surfaces can quickly become slippery when a motorcyclist encounters rain or other inclement weather. Motorcyclists should be more cautious during these times, as should the drivers around them.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Drivers under the influence of alcohol and other substances increase the risk of motorcycle accidents and injuries. They lack coordination and skill and are much more unlikely to see motorcyclists and avoid hitting them. If a drunk or otherwise impaired driver hits you on your motorcycle, be sure to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
If necessary, your motorcycle accident attorney can use an accident reconstructionist to help determine how your accident happened and who is liable for your injuries and other damages.
Who is Responsible for Motorcycle Accidents?
After a motorcycle accident, it’s essential to determine who and what caused the accident. It’s also important to note that more than one party can be responsible for the collision.
Potential at-fault parties include:
- The driver of another vehicle—who is at fault in about half of all car-motorcycle accidents. The most common reasons these accidents occur include not seeing the motorcycle, speeding, distracted driving, reckless driving, fatigued driving, or impaired driving.
- A municipality, such is the case with poor road design or poor road conditions.
- An auto manufacturer may have used a defective motorcycle part, such as a bad tire or brakes, and may already face lawsuits from other riders.
- A mechanic who worked on your bike in a negligent manner.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Injuries of all severities are common in motorcycle accidents. Riders and their passengers are more exposed to the open road. They don’t have the safety equipment and features afforded to those in passenger vehicles. Common motorcycle injuries include:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
A TBI can lead to permanent and even fatal injuries. Even motorcyclists who are wearing helmets can suffer these types of injuries. Recovery from a TBI can take several months or years.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis (paraplegia or quadriplegia.) This catastrophic injury typically results in permanent disability for the victim. The costs for this type of injury can be astronomical, which also takes a huge emotional toll on the injured party and their family.
Blunt-force trauma (an impact from something hard that doesn’t break the skin) or penetrative trauma (something sharp, such as broken glass or other debris, breaks through the skin) can cause damage to internal organs and life-threatening internal bleeding.
Motorcycle riders can get their leg caught under their bike when it falls in a crash, resulting in broken legs, ankles, or feet. Broken wrists and arms can happen when riders catch themselves to break their fall, and they can also break their hips and pelvis in an accident.
While the term may not sound severe, road rash can sometimes be quite serious. These skin abrasions can occur when a motorcyclist makes contact with the road surface in an accident. Sometimes the injury is much more severe than just an external abrasion. Road rash requires prompt medical attention and is highly susceptible to infection and permanent scarring.
Maximizing Motorcycle Accident Compensation
One common mistake that many accident victims make is providing simple yet damaging statements such as “I am okay.”
Only the victim’s treating medical professionals, facilities, or motorcycle accident attorney should communicate information about their medical condition, as this will protect the injured party’s interests.
To facilitate their communication, an adjuster might ask the injured individual to sign a legal release granting the insurance company the right to access their medical records related to the accident.
To maximize compensation, injured motorcyclists must understand that:
- Since injuries can linger, they will need to be aware of the full extent of their condition to seek fair compensation.
- They should seek compensation not just for their medical expenses but also for their lost wages, travel expenses to medical appointments, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- Settlements for injuries are final, and an injured motorcyclist cannot reopen the claim once they accept an amount.
Receiving a fair settlement requires that motorcycle riders fully understand insurance coverage and their damages. Hiring a seasoned motorcycle accident attorney to inform them of their legal rights and be their advocate in settlement negotiations or court is generally the best course of action to ensure fair compensation after suffering injuries from a motorcycle accident.
Will Motorcycle Helmets Save You from a Head Injury?
Helmets have saved countless lives over many decades. They aren’t perfect and can’t always protect someone from a head injury. Still, they are proven to reduce the incidence and severity of all head injuries.
Anyone facing a head injury should seek the help of a qualified attorney as soon as possible. You can certainly still be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Keep in mind that even if you weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, you can still be eligible to receive a financial recovery.
Whether getting on a motorcycle, riding your bike, or participating in another sport, wearing a helmet is always a wise decision. You can’t control accidents or other people’s decisions. Still, you can take every step to protect yourself if something unexpected happens.
Wearing a helmet doesn’t guarantee you won’t suffer a head injury, just like wearing a seat belt in a motor vehicle won’t keep you safe from any injuries. However, both sporting a helmet and using a seat belt substantially decrease the risk that you will suffer a severe or fatal injury.
How Helmets Help Reduce the Risk
The brain is protected from damage by the skull. The skull cushions the brain if there is severe force, such as the head hitting the ground after a fall or another object colliding with the head. The skull also helps protect the brain from penetrating injuries, but the skull can only do so much.
Helmets give the brain even more protection. They add another layer to help cushion it from impacts, absorb shock, and keep any objects from piercing the skull and entering the brain tissue.
While helmets aren’t guaranteed to prevent brain injuries, they decrease the risk of structural brain injuries by as much as 85 percent. Helmets also reduce the danger of severe physical injuries to the head, including a skull fracture and other structural damages often associated with brain injuries.
Head injuries can be severe and come with hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in damages. But, no matter if you were or weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of your accident, it’s crucial to have experienced motorcycle accident lawyers review your claim.
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Motorcyclists who suffered an injury in an accident should discuss the circumstances and their injuries with a qualified motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can determine if they have a claim worth pursuing under the civil laws of their state. In addition, the attorney will identify who might be liable for the rider’s injuries, calculate the damages owed, and negotiate with insurance companies or their attorneys on their client’s behalf.
Injured individuals should always speak to a motorcycle accident lawyer before agreeing to any settlements with insurance companies. Insurance companies often try to contact victims as soon as possible after an accident. With this strategy, they often get them to settle immediately for much less than their claim is really worth. Of course, motorcyclists should not fall for their antics. Instead, they should discuss their case with an attorney before negotiating with any insurance company.
Selecting the Right Attorney for You
Hiring the first attorney that comes across a computer screen or the one with a giant billboard by the highway is usually not beneficial. Consider the law firm or attorney’s reputation. Read reviews and speak to colleagues or clients. Find out how easy they are to get a hold of and how they handle client questions and requests. Ask about the attorney’s past results in similar cases, especially if there is a significant motorcycle injury.
Injured motorcyclists should be confident in the law firm or lawyer they choose to represent them. When they do their research, they can feel assured that they hired the right lawyer for their case.
Call a Skilled Motorcycle Accident Lawyer for Help Today
If you were recently in an accident while riding, now is the time to reach out to a motorcycle accident attorney to find out if you have a claim worth pursuing. You only have a time to act on your legal rights, so schedule a consultation as soon as possible after your accident. Reach to a personal injury lawyer.