What The Difference Between High Side & Low Side Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycle accidents divide into low-side and high-side motorcycle crashes. While many of these crashes result from rider error, they can also occur due to another person’s wrongful, negligent, or reckless actions, such as faulty bike parts or poor road conditions.
If you are in one of these accidents, it helps to understand how they develop and your legal options. This blog post explains the differences between a low side and high side motorcycle accident, the steps you should take after these collisions, and how an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help you pursue the damages and justice you deserve.
A Low Side Motorcycle Crash
A low-side motorcycle crash may be less dangerous than a high-side wreck, but it can still result in horrifying injuries and significant bike damage. Low-Side crashes result when a motorcyclist leans into a corner on their bike and crashes on the same side as the way they were cornering.
There are typically two types of low-side crashes, the rear-wheel low-side crash, and the front-wheel low-side crash. Although the same causes contribute to both, the main difference is which wheel loses traction.
For instance, in a front-wheel low-side crash, the front wheel generally loses traction in the middle of the corner, which causes the bike to slide. On the other hand, in a rear-wheel low-side crash, the rear wheel loses traction and causes the bike to slide out from under the motorcyclist.
What Are Common Causes of Low Side Motorcycle Crashes?
even though low-side motorcycle accidents occur for several reasons, some of the more common causes of this devastating accident include:
- Braking Too Much: When riders brake too much going into a corner, it can result in a low-side motorcycle collision. Don't brake when you go into the mid-corner because you may approach the corner too quickly.
- Bad Tires: Worn-out tires lead to dangerous collisions. These tires will usually not be able to grip the ground, which results in them sliding out from under the rider as they turn a corner.
- High Speeds: If riders accelerate too soon through a corner, the bike may not be out of the lean yet, causing a low-side motorcycle crash.
- Poor Road Conditions: Gravel, oil, or ice on the roads can mean bad news for riders. As these riders start leaning their bike while turning a corner, and there is gravel, sand, or oil on the ground, the bike can lose traction, causing their tires to slide out from under them.
- Hitting Corners with Too Much Speed: If a motorcyclist has to lean further than the bike can handle as they hit a mid-corner, they can wipe out in a low-side crash.
These issues arise when riders hit the middle of the corner rather than the beginning. The middle of the corner tends to be the sharpest part and requires the bike to lean more. As a result, if the corner is sharper than it appears and a rider does not lean enough, the motorcyclist will go off the road’s edge.
Additionally, these riders must keep in mind that if they straighten up too soon, the bike will probably not make it around the corner, and if they do not stay in the lean, it will likely cause a low-side accident.
As a motorcyclist, you must understand not only how your motorcycle works but also how to operate the bike without losing control and take corners properly.
A High Side Motorcycle Crash
High-Side motorcycle accidents happen when riders are going too fast, and the rear wheel loses its lateral grip then regains it violently. This action causes the bike to shimmy from side to side, throwing the rider off the bike, usually over the handlebars. These wrecks are generally more dangerous than a low-side crash and can result in catastrophic injuries.
What Are Common Causes of High Side Motorcycle Crashes?
Although wheel traction is a common cause of a high-side motorcycle collision, numerous other reasons can contribute to this wreck, including:
- Slippery Surfaces: If the roads are slippery because of oil, water, or ice, and you brake too hard, it can cause a high-side motorcycle accident. Once the rear tire loses traction, it could go into a sideways skid, and as soon as the tire grips the road again, you may become airborne.
- Accelerating Too Soon: When coming out of a turn and you still have a lot of lean, your back tire can lose traction as it picks up speed while on the edge of the tire.
- Downshifting Too Soon: When you downshift too fast before entering a turn, your rear wheel can lock, throwing you off the bike.
- Leaning Too Far into a Curve: If you lean too far into a curve and your bike hits the ground, the pressure of the muffler, footpeg, or even your toes can cause the rear tire to lose traction.
One way to mitigate the risk of a high side crash is to not counter-steer in the direction of the skid. You may still crash, but it will convert this collision into a low-side wreck, resulting in fewer injuries and less harm to your bike.
Avoiding a high-side crash typically occurs if you counter steer into the skid because the side slide will continue. You will lose speed, and the rear tire will regain traction. This regaining of the traction causes you to flip off the bike, and the bike flips into the air. Consequently, when the motorcycle regains traction, this momentum will force the rear suspension to compress as the bike slows, turning your bike into a springboard.
Typical Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycle accident injuries, in general, can be debilitating and injure any body part.
Yet, although the severity of these injuries will depend on the circumstances of the collision, some of the more common types of injuries that result from high-side and low-side motorcycle accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Road rash
- Cuts, bumps, and scrapes
- Facial trauma and eye injuries
- Internal organ damage and bleeding
- Limb loss
- Broken bones
- Back and neck injuries
- Wrongful death
The Steps You Should Take After a Low Side or High Side Motorcycle Accident
The last thing you want to worry about following a motorcycle collision is the actions you need to take next. However, what you do after an accident not only keeps you safe but protects your legal rights.
For these reasons, following a low-side or high-side motorcycle accident:
Contact the Authorities Immediately
Following a motorcycle accident, call 911 immediately. This is the quickest way to alert the police and emergency medical personnel of the crash and your injuries and the fastest way to get the accident on record.
After the police arrive, they can perform a preliminary investigation into the motorcycle accident and write down their findings in their police report. If you decide to pursue legal action following your crash, this police report can provide you and your lawyer with helpful evidence.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you do not go to the emergency room following your motorcycle collision, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible. Many serious injuries such as brain trauma or spinal cord injuries can take time to develop. The longer you wait to treat these conditions, the more debilitating and deadly they can become. For these reasons, get checked out by a doctor after a motorcycle collision right away.
Prompt medical treatment can also help your legal case. After your accident, when you see a doctor, they can document your accident and your injuries in their medical report, providing you with evidence of a direct connection between the harm you sustained and your motorcycle crash. This documentation helps if the at-fault party or the insurance company argues that your injuries are not severe or result from a subsequent event.
Collect Evidence After the Motorcycle Crash
Depending on your injuries and the crash scene, collect as much evidence from the accident as you can. This evidence should include photos and videos of the location of the accident, your visible injuries, the damage to your motorcycle, skid marks on the street, any dangerous conditions that contributed to the collision such as oil spills or potholes, traffic signs near the area, and any other evidence that can help show what happened.
In addition, if there were witnesses that saw the accident, try to get their names and contact details. These individuals can provide your lawyer with further information regarding the crash and testify to help substantiate your case.
However, if your injuries stop you from gathering this evidence and testimony, do not worry. Once you retain an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, they will obtain this evidence on your behalf.
Work With an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney and Fight for the Justice You Deserve
You likely want justice and compensation for your injuries and losses from a low or high-side motorcycle accident from another person’s wrongful actions. However, with everything that you are dealing with following these accidents, the last thing you want to worry about is gathering evidence and preparing legal arguments to prove your case.
Fortunately, with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer fighting for your rights, you will not have to take on this legal battle alone. Instead, these lawyers can help you fight for the financial recovery you deserve while you focus on what is most important, such as your healing and recovery.
Once you retain a legal professional, they can:
- Go over your motorcycle collision with you in detail, determine whether you have a valid legal claim, and figure out the legal options you can pursue.
- Investigate your motorcycle collision and secure the evidence needed to show fault and damages.
- Hire experts, including accident reconstructionists, doctors, and financial specialists, to validate your claim.
- Make sure that legal motions are correctly prepared and filed with the appropriate court before time expires.
- Take on the discussions and negotiations with the insurance company and fight for a fair settlement offer.
- Proceed to trial if the other side is unwilling to provide you with the money you need and go after maximum financial damages.
If you were involved in a motorcycle crash, and believe the accident was due to another person's reckless or negligent actions, do not wait to get the legal help you need. Instead, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney today for your free case consultation and find out how a lawyer can help you.