There is no easy way to determine how likely it is that any motorcyclist will crash. Typically, national agencies and government organizations only gather and release data on accidents that involve an injury or fatality. And, some individuals may never report a crash to law enforcement or their insurance company.
However, the available statistics still give us insight into motorcycle crashes.
Motorcycle crash statistics: Injuries and fatalities
Two organizations that compile and release motorcycle accident data are the Insurance Information Institute (III) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Motorcycle accident injury and fatality rates
According to the III, riders registered just over 8.5 million motorcycles in the U.S. in one recent year.
For every 100,000 of these registered motorcycles, there were:
- 975 motorcyclist injuries
- 58 motorcyclist fatalities
When looking at crashes per motor vehicle mile, motorcyclists are nearly 29 times more likely to die than passenger car occupants.
What months do most fatal motorcycle crashes happen?
The NHTSA releases its "Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes" report annually.
Recent data shows that fatal motorcycle accidents increase substantially during the summer months.
- The number of fatal crashes is highest in July and August.
- The months with the fewest fatal accidents are December, January, and February.
These numbers are not surprising, as fewer motorcycles are on the road during the cold winter months.
When do most fatal motorcycle accidents occur?
The III reports that annually, almost as many fatal crashes occur on Saturday and Sunday as the other five days of the week.
- Monday through Friday fatal motorcycle crashes: 2,612
- Saturday and Sunday fatal motorcycle crashes: 2,390
During the week, a large percentage of fatal accidents happen during the evening rush hour, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. On weekends, fatal crashes peak between 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Additional factors that may increase the odds of a motorcycle crash
Other factors increase the odds of an accident, some of which are out of a motorcyclist’s control.
Drivers who don’t know about lane splitting
In some jurisdictions, lane splitting—when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction—is legal. Unfortunately, not all car and truck drivers watch out for lane-splitting motorcyclists. A car or truck driver who makes a lane change without checking their blind spot could side-swipe a lane-splitting motorcyclist.
Inclement weather such as heavy rains, strong winds, fog, and icy roads endanger all vehicles. Motorcycle operators and riders are especially vulnerable because they are exposed to the elements.
If visibility is poor, an inattentive motorist may rear-end a stopped motorcycle or collide with a motorcyclist that has the right away. On slippery roads, car drivers can misjudge how much room they need to come to a complete stop.
If a car or truck driver does not give the road their full attention, they put everyone at risk. But unlike other passenger vehicles, motorcycle riders are not surrounded by a metal cage. What would have been a minor fender bender between two cars can result in catastrophic injuries if a motorcycle is involved.
If you were in a motorcycle crash and another party is responsible, you may qualify for a settlement. This money would cover your medical bills, lost income, motorcycle repair or replacement, and other damages.
Who can file a motorcycle crash injury claim?
You may be able to pursue a motorcycle accident settlement if these two statements are true:
- Another party’s negligence caused your crash. The other party could be an individual or an entity like a city’s highway department.
- And, you sustained damages because of the crash. If you were not hurt and your motorcycle is fine, you do not have cause to file an injury claim.
You do not need all of the facts about your case before contacting an attorney. If required, your lawyer can collect evidence and re-create the accident scene. You preserve your legal rights and strengthen your claim when you talk to an attorney right away.
What constitutes ‘negligence’ in a motorcycle crash?
Negligence in a motorcycle accident is often defined as:
- Careless or reckless behavior. Accidents occur when drivers fail to obey traffic laws, do not take weather and road conditions into account, and fail to watch for motorcyclists.
- A failure to take necessary action. A municipality must keep its roadways safe and in good repair.
Below are common situations that could constitute negligence in a motorcycle crash.
In most states, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08. However, a driver can show signs of impairment well below this BAC.
Intoxicated drivers pose a threat to themselves and anyone else on the road, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. A driver with slowed reaction time or impaired depth perception can cause a serious motorcycle crash.
Drivers under the influence of drugs
Illicit drugs are not the only substances that impact a person’s ability to drive. Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications have side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness. The burden is on the patient to know how these drugs may affect them and to not drive if they experience these side effects.
Operating a motor vehicle requires the driver's full attention. Today, people equate distracted driving with texting or cell phone use. However, any non-driving activity is a distraction that can prove to be dangerous for motorcyclists: eating, adjusting temperature controls, and using the car's infotainment system.
Driving over the posted speed limit
Posted speed limits are the absolute maximum that anyone should drive. These limits take into account traffic flow and terrain. During inclement weather, drivers have a responsibility to reduce their speeds accordingly.
Poor road maintenance
Some municipalities choose not to invest in their roadways or highway maintenance. Potholes, worn away centerline paint, and missing or damaged guardrails are dangerous for motorcyclists.
Debris in the road
Foreign objects and flying debris are serious hazards for motorcycle operators and riders. Grass clippings left on the road are particularly dangerous, as they create a slippery surface for motorcyclists.
Time limits to file a motorcycle accident injury claim
The deadline to file a motorcycle crash lawsuit is called a statute of limitations.
Important facts about the statute of limitations include:
- The time limits to file a motorcycle crash injury claim vary from state to state.
- Once the statute of limitations runs out, you will likely be unable to pursue a settlement.
- If the responsible party is a municipality, such as a city or a state, you may have less time to take action.
You protect your legal rights when you hire an attorney right away.
Motorcycle crashes that involve uninsured drivers
You request the other driver’s information only to learn that they do not have insurance. Can you sue an uninsured driver? Often, you can.
A lack of insurance does not protect a negligent driver from a motorcycle crash lawsuit. After an accident with an uninsured driver, a lawyer can let you know what all of your legal options are and if pursuing a settlement is appropriate.
Motorcycle accident attorney fees
After a motorcycle crash, the one thing you do not need is more expenses. You cannot work, and you have enormous medical costs. That is why most motorcycle crash lawyers enter into a contingent fee agreement with their clients.
Under this type of fee agreement, you may not pay anything upfront for attorney’s fees. Instead, the lawyer receives a percentage of your settlement. However, some motorcycle accident law firms may have other fee structures.
Consider asking a potential attorney these questions:
- How much will you charge for my case?
- Do you require any payment at the start of my case?
- In addition to your attorney fees, what other costs will I be responsible for? When is payment expected for these costs?
- How much do I owe if I lose my case and don't recover a settlement?
Before you hire an attorney, make sure you understand your financial obligation.
How much is a motorcycle crash settlement?
There is no standard payout amount for motorcycle accident injuries. Each case has unique elements, such as the cost of medical care and the injured person’s income.
Furthermore, there is also no way to calculate an “average” amount. Many motorcycle accident claims settle out of court, and these amounts are not public knowledge.
A settlement compensates you for any accident-related damages. When lawyers discuss these damages, they call them economic and non-economic damages.
Motorcycle accident economic damages
The cost of economic damages is relatively straightforward, as these expenses have a set price tag:
- Your accident-related medical bills
- Repair or replacement of your motorcycle
- Lost income, if you are unable to work due to your injuries
The settlement should reflect your current and future damages. For example, if your doctor says that you will need another knee replacement surgery in 15 years, your compensation should include that amount.
Motorcycle accident non-economic damages
While non-economic damages do not have a set cost, you should still recover compensation for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of self-esteem due to permanent scarring or disfigurement
Money can't make up for how the crash affected your life. But many people feel a sense of closure when they receive compensation for their non-economic damages.
4 Reasons you need a motorcycle accident attorney
It is not a good idea to forego legal representation. Here are four ways you can benefit from hiring a motorcycle accident attorney.
The insurance company may not offer you a settlement
The insurance company’s attorneys could falsely say that you are responsible for your accident, and therefore, they do not owe you any money. Without an attorney, the burden is on you to prove otherwise. Most individuals do not have the resources or legal know-how to go against an insurance company.
The insurance company could give you a lowball offer
What seems like a generous amount may not be adequate. A payout should compensate you for all current and future accident-related costs. Victims of motorcycle accidents can face decades of medical care, including surgeries and outpatient treatments.
Your case could require further investigation
You need time to recover from your injuries and attend doctor appointments. You do not have the energy, manpower, or knowledge to investigate your motorcycle accident.
A lawyer can obtain significant evidence such as:
- A store’s surveillance camera footage
- Sworn statements from witnesses
- The other driver’s BAC level or roadside sobriety test results
In some cases, a lawyer may need to take legal action to obtain this evidence.
You need to know your options and legal rights
As the claimant in a personal injury lawsuit, you have certain legal rights. Throughout your case, you will need to make decisions, such as whether to accept a settlement or take the case to trial. These decisions are yours alone to make, but your lawyer can advise you of the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
Important steps to take after a motorcycle crash
- See your doctor if you have not already. Many people refuse treatment at the scene. But you need an official diagnosis and treatment plan before you can file a motorcycle crash injury claim.
- Obtain a copy of the accident report. This is the official record of the accident and gives important details that you may not remember if you were seriously injured. Contact the police department where the accident occurred to obtain a copy.
- Notify your insurance company. You need to let your insurance company know about any crash, even if it is crystal clear that you are not at fault.
- Contact a motorcycle crash lawyer. The insurance company will look after their best interests, so you need someone to look after yours. Unlike injured people without an attorney, you will know your rights and the insurer will not easily push you around.
Get help from a motorcycle accident attorney today
It is never too early to talk with a lawyer. Do not risk missing the deadline to file your claim. Contact a motorcycle crash lawyer today.