Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Attorney

motorcycle

Representing Injured Victims Of Motorcycle Accidents

At The Levin Firm, we understand that representing motorcycle accident victims requires particular skills and knowledge, as well as the ability to understand the rights of motorcyclists, who are often taken for granted. Our Philadelphia motorcycle accident attorneys fight to recover the many types of damages and compensation to which our clients are entitled, including medical expenses, hospital bills, rehabilitation expenses, lost earnings, future wage losses, lost earnings capacity, physical disabilities, scars, losses of limbs, brain and head injuries, emotional distress, depression, anxiety, grief, and pain and suffering. We understand these issues and work with our clients, their friends and families, as well as their doctors, psychologists, long-term care planners, and others, to ensure that our clients receive not only the finest legal representation but also the finest support and medical care.

Motorcycle Accidents: Common Causes

Distracted Driving

Distracted drivers are less aware of their surroundings and often do not see motorcyclists until it is too late. While many of use tend to immediately think about smartphones when we think about distracted driving,1 distractions can take be much less high-tech. Some examples of the kinds of things that drivers can do and distract themselves include the following:

  • Grooming
  • Eating
  • Texting
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Using a GPS device
  • Reading
  • Talking
  • Looking at scenery
  • Looking for objects in the car
  • Tending to children
  • Drunk Driving

Despite public education campaigns aimed at educating people about the dangers of drunk driving and harsh penalties for even first-time offenders, people continue to drive drunk on a daily basis in the Philadelphia area. Drunk drivers pose a significant safety risk to motorcyclists as alcohol intoxication can affect a person’s spatial awareness, reaction time, and judgment. If you suspect that the driver who caused your accident was drunk, you should be sure to call the police.

Poor Road Maintenance

Poor road maintenance is a significant factor in many accidents, especially those involving just one vehicle. Issues like potholes, overgrown vegetation, inadequate signage, faded paint, broken stoplights, poor drainage, and excessive grade can very easily cause a serious motorcycle crash.

It is important for the victim to be aware of the fact that when accidents caused by poor road maintenance occur on public property, claims arising from them are subject to a special set of legal rules that govern legal actions against public entities. These kinds of claims are subject to significant time limits, so victims should be certain to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

Defective Road Conditions

Motorcycle operators must take care to appreciate the road conditions and operate their motorcycles accordingly. Common examples of dangerous road conditions that can lead to serious motorcycle accidents include potholes, sharp curves, and steep hills.

Defective Motorcycles

Defectively manufactured, designed, or marketed motorcycles can cause extremely serious accidents, often with little to no warning. Some examples of the kinds of defects that often lead to crashes include brake failures, steering mechanism problems, defective tires, and fuel system defects. Victims of these kinds of incidents can often recover compensation from the manufacturer of the motorcycle.

Traffic Violations

Traffic laws exist to keep us all safe, and motorists who violate them can cause extremely serious injury-causing accidents. Some examples of the kinds of traffic violations that often lead to accidents involving motorcycles include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to yield
  • Following too closely
  • Improper turns
  • Running stop signs or stop lights

Fortunately for victims, evidence that a driver violated a traffic law is often sufficient to establish liability. For this reason, it is important to contact law enforcement after an accident where a traffic violation may have occurred.

What To Do If You’re Injured In A Motorcycle Accident

In order to recover compensation, victims need to be able to establish that their accident was the result of someone else’s negligence.2 There are certain steps that you can take after involvement in an accident, the most important of which are detailed below.

Collect Information – After an accident, you should collect as much information as you can about your accident. Examples of the kinds of facts of which should make not include the names of the other motorists involved, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, the license plate numbers of the other vehicles involved, and the other driver’s insurance information. If you can, you should take pictures of the scene of the accident, especially if you believe that a hazardous road condition caused or contributed to your accident.

Seek Medical Attention – You should always undergo a thorough medical evaluation after involvement in an accident. Doing so will ensure that your injuries are identified, treated, and documented.

Talk to a Lawyer – You should talk to a lawyer as soon as you can after you are hurt in a motorcycle accident. A lawyer will analyze your accident, determine whether you have a claim, and protect your rights throughout the process of obtaining compensation for your losses.

Potential Defendants In Motorcycle Accident Cases

More than one defendant may face legal liabilities in a motorcycle accident that a roadway hazard or negligent driver caused. First and foremost, motorcycle passengers may sue the motorcycle operator for driving in a negligent manner, such as driving too fast through a construction site or on a roadway filled with potholes. Motorcycle passengers may also sue the driver of another motor vehicle who negligently caused an accident or collision.

In motorcycle accidents involving construction sites and defective road conditions, the injured motorcycle operator or passenger may sue the construction company or responsible government for negligent or defective road repair work or for creating (or failing to properly maintain or correct) a hazardous condition on the roadway. In lawsuits involving governmental entities, such as cities, counties, townships, or municipalities, however, special limitation periods and filing deadlines may apply.

A knowledgeable Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyer may make claims against all potential defendants and can meet all filing and notice requirements in a timely manner.

Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident FAQ:

The Information You Want to Get the Help That You Need

The freedom of riding on an open road makes many motorcyclists feel invincible. However, no matter how exhilarating riding a motorcycle can feel, Philadelphia-area motorcyclists nevertheless rely on other motorists to exercise caution and to keep them safe. Unfortunately, when those motorists ignore motorcyclist safety, devastating accidents can often result.

A motorcycle crash can leave a rider struggling with catastrophic injuries, emotional trauma, and financial ruin. Victims of these accidents often have questions about their legal rights to compensation. Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked of those questions. For answers to questions specific to your Philly motorcycle accident injuries, contact our experienced motorcycle crash attorneys today.

1. What should I do after a Philadelphia motorcycle accident?

Every motorcycle accident has its own unique circumstances, so we cannot give advice specific to your situation without talking to you directly.

However, in general, motorcyclists injured in a crash can protect their health and rights by doing the following:

  • Seek medical treatment. After any motorcycle crash, seek medical assistance as quickly as you can. Even if you think that you did not suffer any critical injuries, head to a medical professional to get looked over. Some life-threatening injuries may not develop symptoms right away, but a doctor can spot and treat them, and take steps to prevent further harm. In addition, seeking medical care can help you recover compensation for your injuries later-on, by generating important medical records that show the connection between an accident and your injuries.
  • Call an attorney as soon as possible. Contacting an attorney as soon as you can after a Philadelphia motorcycle accident gives you the best possible chance of recovering compensation for your injuries. The sooner an attorney with experience representing motorcycle accident victims gets to work, the more opportunity the attorney will have to gather potentially crucial evidence and to advise you about the steps to take, and not take, to protect your rights. Do not leave yourself vulnerable to losing important rights by going another minute without legal representation.
  • Beware of quick settlement offers. If someone else’s careless or reckless actions caused the motorcycle accident that injured you, then defense lawyers and insurance companies representing the at-fault party might try to trick you into settling your potential legal claims for pennies-on-the-dollar. Do not fall for that tactic. It is designed to get you to give up valuable legal rights on the cheap. Instead, refuse to negotiate any settlement directly and refer anyone who reaches out to your attorney.

2. Will an insurance company take care of me?

Most individuals who have experienced a motor vehicle or motorcycle accident often assume that their own or someone else’s insurance company will help them through the ordeal by paying benefits that cover medical costs and other expenses. After all, isn’t that what insurance is for?

Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is that insurance companies have every incentive not to pay the full value of motorcycle accident claims and the like. Instead, they look for any reason at all to nickel-and-dime claimants, or to deny claims altogether, so that they can keep a little extra money in their own pockets.

Hiring an experienced attorney who has handled insurance claims and has experience in insurance negotiations helps ensure that any insurance company that should pay you for your injuries and losses pays the highest possible value of your claim.

3. Who owes me damages for my motorcycle accident?

Every motorcycle crash case we handle has its own unique circumstances that determine who might have legal liability to you for the harm you suffered. Generally speaking, anyone who made a dangerous decision or took a careless or reckless action that led to your Philadelphia motorcycle accident could owe you money damages as compensation for your injuries.

In a typical motorcycle accident, those parties might include:

  • Another motorist. Most Philly motorcycle wrecks result from the careless or reckless actions of someone behind the wheel of a car or truck. Drivers make a variety of mistakes that can put motorcyclists at serious risk of an accident, from turning left into the path of an oncoming motorcycle, merging into a biker’s lane without checking blind spots, to opening a car or truck door in front of a motorcycle. Any of these dangerous, preventable actions could make the motorists legally-liable to the motorcyclist for damages.
  • A business that employed the motorist who caused the accident while working, or that operated a vehicle involved in the accident in a manner that contributed to it happening;
  • A car, truck, or motorcycle maker if the accident happened because of a defective vehicle or vehicle part that company made; and
  • A local government entity if the accident involved a city vehicle, or resulted from a preventable and unreasonably dangerous road condition the government should have fixed or warned about.

These are just a few examples, of course. Every Philadelphia motorcycle accident is different. The best way to determine who may have legal liability to you for injuries you suffered in a crash is to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident injury attorney right away.

4. What is my motorcycle accident worth?

One of the most popular questions many motorcycle accident victims have is: How much is my case worth? Unfortunately, we can never give a cut-and-dried answer to that question, because many factors affect the overall worth of a legal claim for damages, and (as we’ve said) every case is different.

As a general matter, the money damages a Philadelphia motorcycle accident victim may seek consist of two broad categories of compensation: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages, also referred to as special damages, consist of the real and tangible financial losses that a motorcycle accident victim suffers because of an injury, such as:

  • Medical expenses, including current medical bills, rehab services, hospital stay, nursing care services, at-home care, and any future medical costs;
  • Property damages, including repairs or the replacement costs to a motorcycle and any other personal property that was damaged as a result of the accident; and
  • Lost wages and income, including any current and future, lost wages, as well as a crash victim’s reduced earning capacity.

Non-economic damages, also called general damages, reflect the subjective harm done by an accident and its resulting injuries, which can vary widely from person-to-person depending on the victim’s injuries, age, and general state of health, among other factors. These include:

  • A victim’s physical pain and emotional suffering stemming from the injuries;
  • A victim’s diminished quality of life resulting from the injuries, such as an inability to engage in favorite activities; and
  • Harm done to a victim’s important personal relationships by the accident and injuries, such as how the injuries interfere with intimacy with a spouse.

In rare cases, victims of Philadelphia motorcycle crashes may also have the legal right to pursue so-called punitive damages, which a court may award when the conduct that led to a crash was particularly outrageous or reckless. Speak with an experienced Philly motorcycle accident injury lawyer to find out if you may seek punitive damages in your case.

5. How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?

Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations, which means that Philadelphia motorcycle accident victims generally have two years from the date of the accident to take legal action against the parties at fault. If this deadline passes without legal action, a victim generally loses the right to seek compensation for crash injuries.

In some cases, however, victims have more or less than two years to file a lawsuit, so consult our experienced Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyers as soon as possible after an accident to make sure you meet any applicable deadline. The sooner a lawyer starts working on behalf of an injured Philly motorcycle crash victim, the better that lawyer’s chances of securing important evidence and of building the strongest possible case against any parties who caused harm.

6. How long will it take to get paid?

To begin, you should always keep in mind that there is no guarantee of payment for your injuries. Hiring an experienced Philadelphia motorcycle crash lawyer gives you the best chance, however, of achieving a favorable result.

The timeline for resolving a legal claim and getting money for motorcycle accident injuries depends on lots of factors, only some of which lie within your or your lawyer’s ability to control. We have represented clients in Philadelphia motorcycle accident injury cases that concluded in just a few months, and in others that have taken more than a year.

Some of the factors that influence that timeline include:

  • How soon after an accident you seek legal advice;
  • The amount of money at stake;
  • The degree of dispute over legal and factual issues;
  • The number of parties with legal interests in your claim; and
  • The willingness of the parties to negotiate a settlement.

You can speed things along principally by hiring a lawyer with experience representing motorcycle crash victims like you as soon as possible, and taking care of yourself by seeking and following medical advice.

7. How can a motorcycle accident attorney help me?

Motorcycle accident victims come to our firm for legal help during an intensely stressful and challenging time in their lives. Oftentimes, they have sustained severe injuries that cause them significant physical, emotional, and financial pain. They may even feel confused and overwhelmed by the prospect of taking legal action.

Hiring an experienced motorcycle accident injury attorney helps these victims and their families make sense of the decisions they need to make, and often reduces the stress they feel about their predicament.

Every case is different, but often knowledgeable motorcycle crash injury lawyers serve their clients’ interests by:

  • Identifying parties with legal liability: A seasoned motorcycle accident lawyer has the resources and experience to investigate the facts and circumstances of a crash to determine who may have legal liability to a client for damages. Conducting this investigation may involve gathering a wide range of evidence from various sources, including photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, and opinions from forensic and medical experts. Experienced lawyers know that the more individuals and entities who may have legal liability for damages, the better a client’s chances of recovering maximum compensation.
  • Calculating damages: Philadelphia motorcycle accident injury lawyers also know the critical importance of assessing the full measure of damages a client deserves to recover from legally-liable parties. These may include medical costs, lost present and future wages, and an amount to compensate for the pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life a crash victim has suffered. By paying close attention to the details of a case, a seasoned lawyer can ensure that a client seeks enough money as damages to meet current and future financial needs.
  • Negotiating settlements: Attorneys for Philly motorcycle crash victims frequently engage in negotiations with insurance companies and defense lawyers, hoping to convince them to pay an injured client money as a settlement of a claim. Most any case can settle for some amount, but experienced motorcycle accident attorneys have the skill and know-how to push for the maximum possible settlement for an injured client.
  • Going to trial: If the settlement negotiations fail, a skilled Philadelphia motorcycle accident attorney has the resources and experience to take a case to trial in Pennsylvania courts, to present the strongest possible case for damages to a judge and jury.

Victims of Philadelphia motorcycle accidents often have important questions and understandable worries about the future, not only for themselves but for their families as well. These victims want to understand their rights and to feel confident that someone will fight for the compensation they deserve.

If a motorcycle accident left you or a family member injured, contact the experienced motorcycle accident injury attorneys at the Levin Firm today for a free evaluation of your rights to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. Do not delay. The sooner you have an attorney working for you, the better your chances of receiving the money you need to heal and rebuild from this difficult time.

Pennsylvania is home to some of the most scenic motorcycle routes in the country. Motorcyclists can follow the Lake Erie coastline, travel one of the federal or state-designated Scenic Byways, roll through the hills and valleys of the Pocono Mountains, visit one of the charming country towns in Amish country, or travel to the cradle of American independence in Philadelphia.

But no matter how enjoyable, traveling by motorcycle also comes with serious risks. Motorcycle riders have virtually no protection from the impact of a collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,985 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2018 on U.S. roads.

Although this number represents a welcome decrease of almost 5 percent from the previous year, motorcycle riders still account for 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Based on 2018 statistics, in Pennsylvania, there were 164 motorcycle fatalities. Of these, 153 (93.3 percent) were riders, and 11 (6.7 percent) were passengers.

Before you hit the open road, get to know the answers to the following important questions about motorcycle accidents.

If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident injury attorney as soon as possible.

Motorcycle Accident

Does Pennsylvania Require Motorcyclists to Use Helmets?

In Pennsylvania, only riders under the age of 21, with less than two years of experience, or who haven’t completed a motorcycle safety course are required to wear helmets. Helmets must be approved by the Department of Transportation, as indicated by a sticker on the outside of the helmet. According to 2017 figures, 57.6 percent of motorcyclists involved in accidents in Pennsylvania were wearing helmets at the time of the crash. More than 58 percent of them were not injured in the accident, compared to 32.5 percent of unhelmeted riders who were not injured in their accidents.

My Husband Died in a Motorcycle Accident That Was Caused by a Negligent Motorist. Is There Compensation Available for Me?

Yes. Pennsylvania law allows you to two separate lawsuits—wrongful death and survival claims—to compensate the loved ones of accident victims. Wrongful death suits are used to recover damages, such as the decedent’s final medical expenses, funeral services, burial, estate administration, loss of support, loss of companionship, and loss of guidance for the decedent’s children. Survival claims compensate the decedent’s estate for the decedent’s pain and suffering immediately before death, as well as his or her loss of earning power and the loss of maintenance received by survivors from the decedent from the time of his or her death to the span of his or her working years.

I Am 26 and Just Got My First Motorcycle. Do I Have to Wear a Helmet?

Maybe. Have you taken a motorcycle safety course? If so, then helmets are optional for you since you’re over 21. However, if you have not completed the safety course, you must wear a helmet if you’ve had less than two years of riding experience.

Can a Person Die of Road Rash?

One of the biggest risks of road rash is infection. An infection can spread throughout your body, causing organ failure and ultimately leading to death.

How Can I Prove That the Driver of the Car That Hit My Motorcycle Was at Fault for the Accident?

The ability to successfully prove liability for an accident hinges on the establishment of the at-fault party’s negligence. Negligence is established by showing that:

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. This duty of care, in terms of a motorcycle accident, would likely be something to the effect of operating his or her motor vehicle in a safe and lawful manner.
  • There was a breach in that duty of care. In other words, the motorist failed to safely or lawfully operate his or her vehicle by engaging in dangerous behavior, such as drunken or distracted driving or speeding.
  • The breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injuries.

How Can an Attorney Help Me to Seek Compensation for My Motorcycle Accident Injuries?

A personal injury attorney with experience in motorcycle accidents can help you to understand the legal process for pursuing monetary damages, as well as:

  • Establishing a “value” for your case based on the severity of your injuries, the medical expenses you face, and the impact that your injuries will have on your life now and in the future.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies to obtain a fair settlement to compensate you for your damages.
  • Preparing your case to go to trial if a fair settlement is not offered to you.
  • Representing your case in court at all pre-trial and trial proceedings.
  • Helping you to collect your award.
  • Representing you in the event of an appeal.

How is operating a motorcycle different than operating a car?

Many people love to ride a motorcycle because it is a full-sensory experience. That means, however, that riding requires different types of focus and concentration than those involved in driving a car. Motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles, so they risk toppling over when they stop moving. Someone new to motorcycles must develop a new set of skills, including steering, braking and changing gears. Motorcyclists must also have heightened awareness of their surrounding environment. They feel free and at one with the road, but they are also more physically vulnerable.

Stay focused and aware at all times.

  • Steering. It is fairly easy to steer a motorcycle at low speeds. However, if a motorcycle is going faster than about five miles an hour, the rider must use a different kind of steering, referred to as counter-steering, which means using the handlebars to initiate a turn, and then executing the turn by leaning rather than steering.
  • Shifting. Knowing how to shift gears on a motorcycle is an essential skill. You must know how to use the clutch lever, gear shift lever, and the throttle. Practice is the key to mastering shifting. Find a safe place away from traffic and other obstacles. Practicing builds muscle memory, and your shifting will become more smooth.
  • Braking. Balance is central to a motorcycle’s dynamics, and that’s why most bikes have individual front and rear brake controls. The driver’s right hand controls the front brake, and the driver’s right foot controls the rear brake. Although the driver should use both at the same time, the front brake typically provides 70 to 90 percent of the braking force. Proper braking may keep your motorcycle under control and possibly save your life, so practice is essential to safe braking.

What are Pennsylvania’s motorcycle license requirements?

You must have a motorcycle license to operate a motorcycle in Pennsylvania. To obtain a motorcycle license in Pennsylvania, you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Pass a motorcycle knowledge test and apply for a Class M (motorcycle) learner’s permit. An operator with a permit may ride during the daylight hours and only while under the instruction and supervision of an individual who holds a Class M license, except for a rider licensed to operate another class of vehicle
  • If you are under 18, you must have your permit for at least six months and have 65 hours of supervised riding before taking your skills test.
  • Enroll in a Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP) education course.
  • Pass the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s motorcycle road exam.

What do you need to know about Pennsylvania motorcycle law?

Pennsylvania law sets forth rules which limit the seating on and methods of riding a motorcycle. The motorcycle must have permanently-attached seats. If there is a passenger, the rider can only ride on the motorcycle if it has permanent regular seating for two people.

A rider must face forward with his or her legs on each side of the motorcycle unless riding in a sidecar. Passengers are not permitted to sit in front of the operator while the motorcycle is in motion.

In general, it is against the law to operate a motorcycle in any way that presents a risk to the safety of the operator or passenger. For example, the operator may not ride carrying an item that prevents him or her from using both hands to operate the motorcycle.

There are also laws governing the operation of motorcycles on roads divided into two or more lanes. On those roads the following rules apply:

  1. Right to use of lane – Other motor vehicles may not infringe on a motorcyclist’s right to full use of the lane.
  2. Overtaking and passing – A motorcyclist must not overtake and pass using the same lane that is occupied by the vehicle they are passing.
  3. Operation between lanes or vehicles – Lane splitting is illegal in Pennsylvania. It means driving between two cars on the road, essentially following the lines meant to divide the lanes.
  4. Limitations on operating abreast – Motorcyclists must not ride more than two abreast in a single lane.
  5. Police officers – Certain rules do not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.

Riding under the influence is illegal. It is against the law to operate a motorcycle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The rules regarding riding under the influence are the same for motorcyclists as for regular motorists. Driving a vehicle while impaired is a dangerous crime that carries harsh penalties.

Pennsylvania’s helmet law. Motorcyclists involved in crashes risk suffering serious head injuries, making helmet use critically important. Helmets are approximately 67 percent effective in preventing traumatic brain injuries and about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities.

The helmet law in some states says that anyone on a motorcycle must wear a helmet. Pennsylvania has a motorcycle helmet law, but it is less inclusive. According to Pennsylvania’s motorcycle helmet law, anyone operating or riding a motorcycle must wear a helmet “unless they are over 21 years of age and have either two years of riding experience or have completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.”

The operator or passenger of a three-wheeled motorcycle equipped with an enclosed cab is not required to wear a helmet. Motorcycle helmets must comply with the standards provided by the United States Department of Transportation. This is indicated by the “DOT” sticker on the helmet. It must also be labeled with the manufacturer’s name, model number, size, and month/year of the helmet’s manufacturing date.

In addition, all motorcycle riders and operators must wear safety glasses, goggles, or similar protective eyewear while riding on a motorcycle.

What commonly causes motorcycle crashes?

There are many potential causes of motorcycle accidents. Some of the most common include:

  • Driving under the influence. Alcohol and drugs affect brain function. They can slow down your reflexes and make it difficult to react quickly to changing conditions. Drugs and alcohol can impair your vision and your ability to judge depth and distance. All of these functions are critical for operating a motorcycle safely. In one recent year, alcohol-related accident deaths accounted for 314 fatalities, which were 27.6 percent of the total fatalities.
  • Speeding. Speeding is a significant factor in crashes. Speed increases the chance of loss of control, and a driver who is speeding is less able to see and react to other drivers. Approximately 33 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2016 were speeding, compared to 19 percent for passenger vehicles, and the injuries suffered in a high-speed accident are usually more severe.
  • Left-turn accidents. Statistics show that 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car happen when cars are making left-hand turns, such as when a motorcyclist travels through an intersection or passes a car at the moment a carless motorist turns across the motorcyclist’s path.
  • Unsafe lane changes. A motorcycle’s small size makes it less visible to other motorists than other vehicles. Accidents frequently happen when a motorist fails to check a blind spot and turns into a motorcyclist’s path.
  • Lane splitting. Lane splitting is especially risky for new or inexperienced motorcyclists. It is not permitted in Pennsylvania.
  • Abrupt stops. When other vehicles stop suddenly, it may lead to a rear-end collision. A motorcyclist trying to swerve may lose control of the bike.
  • Car doors. A driver seated in a parked car may fail to see a motorcycle approaching from the rear and open the car door directly into the motorcyclist’s path.
  • Unlicensed motorcyclists. In one recent year, 24 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal collisions did not have a valid motorcycle license.
  • Unsafe road conditions. Motorcycles are less stable than 4-wheeled vehicles, so uneven road surfaces, ruts, or other poor road conditions can cause accidents.
  • Motorcycle defects. The defective design or manufacturing of a motorcycle may lead to an accident.
  • Collisions between motorcycles and fixed objects. Even when wearing a helmet, motorcyclists are relatively unprotected. Crashing into a stationary object on a motorcycle throws the rider from the bike and causes serious injuries.

What if another driver is negligent?

Anyone operating a motor vehicle should always be attentive behind the wheel and give motorcyclists plenty of space to ride safely. However, when riding a motorcycle, sometimes it is not possible to evade negligent drivers. Negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”

If a negligent (or intentionally reckless) driver causes an accident, motorcyclists can recover damages if they can prove:

  • The at-fault driver had a duty to take reasonable care.
  • The driver failed to take reasonable care.
  • The driver’s actions caused the motorcyclist’s injuries.
  • The motorcyclist suffered injuries and other damages.

Some motorcycle accidents result from a defect in the design or manufacture of the motorcycle, or its components, in which case the company that designed or built the motorcycle or its parts may have legal liability for damages.

Motorcycles are much more sensitive to road conditions. Therefore, poorly maintained roads may contribute to an accident.

What are common motorcycle accident injuries?

Over 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. Accidents typically throw the motorcyclist from the seat of the motorcycle against objects in the vehicle’s path or to the ground. Major injuries resulting from a typical motorcycle accident frequently include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Injuries to the spinal cord, back or neck
  • Broken bones
  • Strained muscles
  • Injuries to the arms or legs
  • Cuts, burns or scrapes
  • Death

What compensation can a motorcycle accident victim recover?

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have the right to recover financial compensation for the harm the accident caused, including:

  • Medical bills,
  • Lost wages,
  • Lost earning capacity,
  • Loss of consortium for a spouse or domestic partner,
  • Disfigurement or loss of limb,
  • Scarring, and
  • Pain and suffering.

What safety tips can motorcyclists follow?

The nearly 850,000 licensed motorcyclists in Pennsylvania cannot control how other motorists drive, and thus cannot avoid all accidents. They can, however, improve their safety on the road by following some simple safety tips:

  • Always practice defensive driving and assume that no one can see you on the road.
  • Wear a U.S. DOT-approved helmet, face or eye protection, and protective clothing.
  • Know your motorcycle and conduct a pre-ride check.
  • Be seen. Wear bright-colored or reflective clothing.
  • Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • Always signal before changing lanes or merging.
  • Obey all rules of the road and never drive under the influence.
  • Learn techniques for safe riding in all kinds of weather.
  • Watch out for hazardous road surfaces.
  • Consider attending free training via PennDOT’s Motorcycle Safety Program.
  • If you notice gravel buildup or other road maintenance problems, you can report them to 1-800-FIX-ROAD.