According to statistics published by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, about 858,000 licensed motorcyclists and 400,000 registered motorcycles call this state home. Given the large number of motorcyclists in Pennsylvania, both drivers and cyclists must work to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents, which can result in serious and permanent injuries or even death.
Pennsylvania Does Not Require All Motorcyclists to Wear Helmets
Pennsylvania law does not require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. A motorcyclist or passenger “must wear protective headgear unless he or she is over 21 years of age or older and has either two years of riding experience or has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.” Motorcyclists who meet both requirements can zoom around Philadelphia without wearing protective headgear.
Wearing helmets is intuitively safer. Helmets are designed to meet specific safety standards and they protect users from serious head injuries in the event of accidents. Serious head injuries, which can include concussions, fractures, and traumatic brain injuries, can result in victims suffering permanent complications and impairments.
Statistics published by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation show that, in 2016, 94 persons who were not wearing helmets died in motorcycle accidents. The same report also shows that 1,245 motorcyclists who were not wearing helmets suffered accident-related injuries.
While helmets may keep riders safer, protecting them from permanent injuries or death, the law doesn’t require everyone to wear one. Therefore, the law may entitle motorcyclists to compensation for damages suffered in accidents—even when they didn’t wear helmets.
Motorcycle Injuries May Be Serious and Permanent
While not all motorcycle accidents result in death, many do cause serious, life-threatening, and even permanent injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries (concussions and permanent brain damage)
- Injuries to the spinal cord, perhaps resulting in paralysis
- Broken bones
The number of motorcycles on Philadelphia’s roadways does increase the likelihood of an accident. In 2016, nearly 3,500 accidents involved a motorcycle. As more motorcycles make it onto the streets, that number may continue increasing.
Motorcyclists Are More Likely to Suffer Injuries
Motorcycles are sometimes referred to, in jest, as “death traps.” In accidents, motorcyclists are more likely to suffer injuries than other motorists. Motorcyclists do not have any protective enclosures like drivers and passengers in the bodies of automobiles.
Accidents can cause motorcyclists to strike the road or other objects, and they may do so at high speeds. The impacts can, and often do, cause serious traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or broken bones.
A motorcyclist takes a risk to ride a motorcycle, but does not give up the right to recover compensation in the event of an accident. A skilled attorney can help motorcyclists navigate the legal process.
Motorcyclists Are Responsible Drivers
Society unfairly stigmatizes motorcyclists as wild and irresponsible. Instead, most motorcyclists drive quite responsibly, and other parties tend to cause many of the accidents involving motorcycles. Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
Cars making left turns in front of motorcycles. Often, drivers fail to look carefully before making left turns. Failure to observe carefully can cause a driver to miss an oncoming motorcycle or misjudge its speed. As a result, drivers may collide with a motorcycle or force the motorcyclist to evade the turning car, causing the motorcyclist to strike another car or fixed object.
A car changing lanes into the motorcycle. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, so they are harder to see—an especially serious problem when cars change lanes.
This does, however, not excuse a driver’s inattentiveness. Drivers should always take care to see any motorcycles before switching lanes.
Rear-end collisions. Inattentive drivers can overtake motorcycles stopped at intersections or stoplights.
Motorcycle Safety Courses Are Available
Pennsylvania does what it can to improve motorcycle safety. One of the state’s efforts includes providing free motorcycle safety programs, available to riders of all experience levels throughout Pennsylvania. The state believes that it can reduce the number of motorcycle accidents through safety education.
Motorcyclists Can Recover Compensation
Motorcyclists can recover compensation for the following expenses and other costs associated with motorcycle accidents:
- Damages for medical expenses help a victim recover the costs of current and future medical expenses for accident-related injuries. This can also include rehabilitation costs.
- Pain and suffering damages, designed to compensate a victim’s non-monetary losses. Specifically, these damages provide compensation for both the physical and emotional pain that a victim may suffer as a result of the accident.
- Lost wages—based on earning capacity—incurred during the period of recovery. Accident injuries may prevent a victim from returning to work, whether temporarily or permanently.
Contact a Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
As the victim of a motorcycle accident, you deserve to recover compensation for your injuries and accident-related expenses. After you recover from your injuries, seek experienced legal counsel to help recover compensation. The skilled motorcycle accident attorneys at The Levin Firm have experience handling these cases. We will review your case and create and implement a legal strategy designed to help you obtain the compensation to which Pennsylvania law entitles you. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our offices at (215) 825-5183 or contact us online.