What Are the Odds of Surviving a Motorcycle Accident?

June 8, 2022 | David Abels
What Are the Odds of Surviving a Motorcycle Accident? Average motorcycle accident damages exceed those in other motor vehicle crashes (except for truck accidents) because motorcyclists are likely to directly hit the road or the other car. The severe nature of motorcycle accidents also leads to a higher fatality rate. Nonetheless, most bikers will survive a motorcycle accident, albeit with potentially severe and life-altering injuries. Suppose you have suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident. In that case, you may be entitled to financial compensation if you can prove that someone else was to blame for your accident injuries. If a crash killed your loved one, your family can receive wrongful death damages if you can prove that another driver was negligent. There are compelling reasons why you need an attorney to fight for you. Most of all, the insurance company wants to pay you less than you deserve.

NHTSA Data Shows a Consistent Fatality Rate in Motorcycle Accidents

​What Are the Odds of Surviving a Motorcycle AccidentEvery year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes motorcycle crash data. As the government agency responsible for highway traffic, NHTSA compiles data about roadway fatalities and injuries for all vehicle crashes. The agency tracks all motorcycle crashes nationwide based on data that states report.For 2018, NHTSA estimated 111,000 crashes. More than half of these accidents were collisions with cars or other motor vehicles. Motorcyclists suffered injuries beyond just vehicle damage in over 75 percent of crashes. In 2018, there were just over 5,000 motorcycle accident fatalities. The national fatality rate was just under 5 percent, meaning that the odds of surviving a motorcycle crash are just over 95 percent. There are over 8 million registered motorcycles in the United States. Only one in every 1,600 motorcyclists will die in a crash. Although biking is perceived to be dangerous, most bikers take necessary safety steps to protect themselves and reduce their own risk of being an accident fatality. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for passenger vehicle drivers who do not do their part to exercise the necessary care to keep motorcyclists safe. There are other estimates of motorcycle accident fatalities. One survey found that the number of motorcycle accident fatalities increased by over 10 percent from 2019 to 2020, even though there was less traffic on the road because of the pandemic. Even though the number of injuries decreased, the rate of injuries increased. This study suggests that the fatality rate for motorcycle accidents is rising. The same survey found that fatalities per million miles are also growing, showing that motorcyclists face escalating dangers from other drivers on the road.

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Arizona Has a Higher Fatality Rate than the National Average

Arizona also compiles data about motorcycle accident injuries and fatalities. The state's statistics mirrored the national average. Like the NHTSA numbers, the rate of injury in motorcycle crashes was roughly three out of every four crashes. In total, there were just over 2,300 motorcycle accidents statewide. Motorcycle riders suffered fatalities in 161 of these accidents. Arizona's fatality rate is slightly higher than the national average because:
  • The state does not have mandatory helmet laws.
  • The long, straight desert highways allow cars to travel faster, endangering motorcyclists.
  • Motorcyclists are out on the roads year-round because of the weather, and there is less inclement weather to slow them down.
In fact, the number one cause of Arizona motorcycle crashes was speed. The state's roads are less busy than those in other states, allowing traffic to flow more freely. Considering the risks that other drivers pose, this is not a good thing for motorcyclists.

Arizona Is a Dangerous State for Motorcyclists Based on the Fatality Rate

One study ranks Arizona as the sixth most dangerous state for motorcyclists based on the fatality rate. For every 10,000 motorcyclists in the state, 10.9 will die each year. These numbers were based on 2019 statistics before the pandemic made general roadway conditions more dangerous for motorcyclists. The most dangerous state in the country is Louisiana, with a fatality rate of over 20 for every 10,000 motorcycles. Even though complete statistics are not available for 2021, anecdotal evidence is that the rate of severe motorcycle crashes has increased. The roads have become more dangerous since the start of the pandemic, as drivers have become riskier and more reckless. Motorcyclists end up paying the price because drivers often do not see them until it is too late. In addition, motorcycle accident fatalities are also rising because more bikes are on the road than ever. Since the beginning of the 21st century, registered motorcycles have nearly doubled as the hobby has gained popularity. In addition, the warmer temperatures associated with climate change mean that people are riding their bikes more often in warmer weather. Arizona has one of the highest proportions of motorcyclists in the country, given the ideal conditions in the state for motorcycles (except for the safety numbers).

Why Motorcyclists Have a Higher Fatality Rate

The rate of fatalities in motorcycle accidents is far higher than in other crashes because other motor vehicles enclose the driver and provide more protection. Motorcycles leave riders out in the open. Even if they wear a helmet and all necessary safety gear, they still run a high risk of critical injury. Motorcyclists are often thrown from their bikes and onto the hard pavement with practically nothing to cushion the blow. In some cases, they may end up under their bike.

How Motorcyclists Can Increase Their Rate of Survival

Motorcyclists can give themselves a greater chance of surviving a crash by:
  • Wearing all the necessary safety gear, including a helmet (even though Arizona law does not require it - helmets can reduce the chances of dying in a motorcycle accident by nearly 40 percent)
  • Ensuring that their motorcycle is in properly maintained and in working order
  • Wearing clothing that ensures that they are visible to other drivers
  • Remaining vigilant for road hazards
  • Traveling the speed limit and maintaining a safe distance between themselves and other vehicles
  • Driving defensively at all times and allowing extra time to reach the destination
Although you can never control what other drivers do on the road, you can do everything right yourself to decrease your overall chances of being in an accident.

Families Can Recover Wrongful Death Damages When Someone Else Is to Blame

If a motorcyclist has died in a crash, their family can file a wrongful death claim for the damages they suffered when their loved one died. Families who have lost a family member are accident victims as well because they have suffered their own losses. In a wrongful death case, a family has the legal right to full compensation for what they lost. Wrongful death damages will include:
  • Lost wages for what the deceased family member will have earned had they lived and could work
  • The grief and trauma that family members experience when they lose a loved one to a tragic accident
  • The loss of a loving and close relationship with the deceased
  • The guidance and support that they would have received from their family member
Wrongful death damages can be considerable because of what a family loses when their loved one dies. Through their attorney, a family needs to fight for every dollar to pay them for their losses. Through this, they will get justice and the money they need to compensate for their losses.

Insurance Companies Make Wrongful Death Claims Harder

Even if someone has died in a motorcycle accident, nothing changes for the insurance company. They feel nothing for the family, only caring about their balance sheet. An insurance company may try several tactics to reduce the amount that they have to pay or avoid compensating a family entirely:
  • Denying that their driver was responsible for the crash
  • Pointing the finger at the deceased motorcyclist and blaming them for their injuries
  • Claiming that the deceased motorcyclist shared the responsibility for the accident, thereby reducing the amount that they owe the family
  • Underestimating the damages to the family by doing things such as calculating lost wages as a lower number or downplaying the role of the deceased in the family’s life
You know better than any insurance adjuster about what you have lost when your loved one has passed away in a motorcycle crash. If the insurance company is trying to pay you less than you deserve, you can demand more money or file a lawsuit in court. A jury does not have the same financial interests as the insurance company, and they will be objective.

Focus on the Wrongful Death Claims Process, Even When it Is Difficult

While it is difficult for a family to focus on the legal process when they are dealing with their grief, they have little choice but to engage if they want financial compensation. An experienced attorney can handle the details of the case, so the family can focus on dealing with their grief and the changed circumstances caused by the motorcycle accident. Families will need to be involved with the case to make critical decisions, but they will do this with the involvement and help of their attorney.

Even Injured Accident Victims Have Lasting Consequences

Many people focus on motorcycle accidents in terms of fatalities. When personal injury lawyers rattle off motorcycle accident statistics, the first thing that they will focus on is the number of people who suffered a fatality in any given year and whether the number of deaths is increasing. Even though the odds are in your favor for surviving a motorcycle accident, it only tells part of the story. However, focusing on fatalities only tells part of the story. For every person who lost their lives in a motorcycle crash, many suffered severe injuries. These injuries can include:
  • Broken bones
  • Road rash
  • Crush injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal injuries (including organ damage and soft tissue injuries)
All of these injuries will leave you facing long-term impacts and steep financial costs.

Crashes Usually Injure Motorcyclists

An overwhelming majority of motorcyclists involved in a crash will not walk away unharmed. They will suffer injuries, and many of them will be severe. Motorcycle accident victims often have a long road in front of them, and their injuries can impact them for the rest of their lives. The amount of their claim can exceed a wrongful death because of the medical expenses involved. Every motorcycle accident is serious, including when the victim survives the crash. The key is to hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible after an accident. The financial compensation process after a motorcycle accident can take a while. First, you must prove liability for the crash. Then, you must agree on the amount of financial compensation. Given the large numbers at stake after severe injuries or death in a crash, a difference of opinion can grow between you and the insurance company. These things take time to resolve, as the insurance company is likely to slowly raise their offer as part of their negotiation strategy. Alternatively, they may try to rush you into a settlement. Trying to represent yourself in court or to the insurance company is never a good idea. They are both complex systems that require experience to navigate. Either way, you need a dedicated and hard-working motorcycle accident attorney to protect your legal rights.
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David Abels


David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.

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