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. We 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.
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 ,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:
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 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.
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.
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 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:
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.
In order to recover compensation, victims need to be able to establish that their accident was the result of someone else’s .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.
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.
In motorcycle accident cases, the injured plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant—individual, company, or municipality—did something that a reasonable person or entity would not have done, or failed to do something that a reasonable person would have done. The plaintiff must also show that this breach resulted in personal injuries and damages. Philadelphia’s defective and hazardous roadway conditions can result in serious, and sometimes catastrophic, motorcycle injuries.
In cases where a motorcycle accident results in a motorcycle operator or passenger’s death, the law may entitle an injured plaintiff’s surviving family members to wrongful death benefits. The purpose of wrongful death benefits is to compensate the injured plaintiff’s surviving family members for mental anguish, emotional distress, and psychological or psychiatric harm associated with the untimely death of their loved one.
In other cases, motorcycle accident victims may recover compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, and emotional distress, among other damages.
Intersections are inherently dangerous places for all motorists, particularly when those intersections are busy. At an intersection, vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists are traveling across one another’s paths, often perpendicularly. In addition, while a two-way intersection is dangerous enough, many urban areas have five-way or even six-way intersections, often resulting in extremely complex traffic patterns that are difficult to anticipate.
While intersections put everyone at risk, motorcyclists are at a particularly high risk of involvement in an accident at intersections because their smaller size makes them harder for motorists to spot. As a result, anyone riding a motorcycle should be extra careful when entering or approaching an intersection and make sure to follow the rules of the road.
Another situation in which motorcyclists are at an increased risk of involvement in a wreck is when they find themselves on a congested road. When vehicles are close to one another, motorcyclists tend to get boxed into areas where there is little room to maneuver. As a motorcyclist, it may be tempting to use your smaller size to zoom through traffic and between cars that are stopped or moving slowly because of heavy traffic. This practice, known as “lane splitting,” is not only but also extremely dangerous. Many drivers do not expect a motorcyclist to suddenly be beside them and may try and switch lanes without any warning. In addition, any error that you make could cause you to slam into the back of a slower moving or stopped vehicle, potentially throwing you off your bike and into traffic.
Being able to see what is ahead of you is essential to avoiding collisions with other vehicles, objects, or avoiding road hazards. While the idea of taking your motorcycle out on a curvy road and seeing what it can do may be appealing, it also significantly increases your risk of involvement in an accident.
There are many ways that accidents on roads with low sight distance can occur. For example, motorists may not see that you are coming around a turn or over a hill and veer into your lane, causing a serious head-on collision. Similarly, if you are traveling at a high rate of speed, you may not be able to see a stopped vehicle or road hazard around a sharp turn until it is too late to avoid it.
The fact that a particular situation is inherently riskier than others does not relieve other drivers of the duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner. For example, drivers should still stop at red lights at a confusing intersection, and the fact that a road has sharp curves does not mean that it is okay for a vehicle to weave out of its lane. For this reason, motorcyclists who are injured in accidents that occur in high-risk situations should always have their crash reviewed by an attorney in order to determine whether they can recover compensation.
The number of deaths and injuries from motorcycle accidents is frightening. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than 125,000 motorcycle riders died in traffic crashes between 1966 and 2006. A more recent NHTSA report indicated that in 2008, 5,290 motorcycle riders died in traffic accidents in the United States and an additional 96,000 were injured. Pennsylvania, with 227 deaths in 2008, is the fourth deadliest state (trailing only California, Florida, and Texas) for motorcycle riders in the country.
Motorcycle riders accounted for 5.3 percent of total traffic fatalities in 1995, with that number increasing to 9.4 percent in 2004. Per 100,000 registered vehicles, the fatality rate for motorcycle riders in 2004 was 4.6 times the death rate for passenger car occupants. Per vehicle mile traveled in 2004, motorcycle riders were about 34 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This is primarily because motorcyclists have little, if any, protection—with the possible exception of their helmets—while operating their motorcycles.
After a Pennsylvania or New Jersey motorcycle accident, a motorcycle passenger may sue the motorcycle operator for driving in a negligent manner, such as by speeding or erratically operating the motorcycle. Motorcycle passengers may also sue other motor vehicle drivers whose negligence caused or contributed to the collision.
If a defective road condition caused the accident, the injured motorcycle operator or passenger may sue the construction company, city, or county for failing to properly maintain or correct a hazardous roadway condition or defect. However, in cases where governmental entities, such as cities, counties, townships, or municipalities, are potential defendants, special notice periods may apply, and you must comply with them before filing any lawsuits.
All Pennsylvania and New Jersey drivers owe affirmative duties to other drivers to operate their vehicles in reasonably safe and prudent ways at all times. They must drive their vehicles in careful manners and must always take into account current weather and traffic conditions. Finally, they must obey all state traffic laws and rules of the road while operating their vehicles.
To prove that a motor vehicle driver caused a serious accident, the injured plaintiff motorcyclist must show that the at-fault driver operated a vehicle in a reckless, careless, or negligent manner—and that this negligence resulted in serious injuries and damages. These potential injuries and damages may take the form of concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, soft tissue injuries (including tears, sprains, and strains), fractures, broken bones, paralysis and spinal cord injuries, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
Non-economic injuries and damages, including emotional injuries and mental distress damages, can be speculative and difficult to prove in some motorcycle accident cases. However, for many motorcycle accident victims, the reality is that their lives are forever changed following their accident. Some accident victims even suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder—or PTSD—following their accident.
You may have a hard time proving the existence of mental injuries and damages following a motorcycle accident. Moreover, insurance companies and their adjusters oftentimes try to limit the injured accident victim’s right to monetary compensation for those types of injuries and damages. For example, the insurance company may allege that the accident victim previously suffered from mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, before the motorcycle accident. The insurance company may also look to instances of psychological or psychiatric treatments that predated the motorcycle accident.
To relate these non-economic damages to the motorcycle accident, the injured accident victim will need to seek mental health treatments or counseling. Afterward, a victim may submit the medical records and bills, which constitute medical evidence, to the at-fault party’s insurance company to verify the nature and extent of the treatments and link the treatments to the motorcycle accident.
In addition to introducing medical evidence, the injured accident victim will likely need to introduce the medical testimony of a qualified mental health provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, who can testify about the extent of the accident victim’s treatments—as well as the cost thereof. If the injured accident victim suffered from a preexisting medical condition or mental health disorder, the expert may allege that the accident victim’s condition worsened as a result of the motorcycle accident.
In cases where the injured motorcyclist suffered mental anguish, emotional distress, anxiety, or other mental health conditions following injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company then has a legal right to explore other potential causes of these conditions. This becomes especially problematic in cases where the injured plaintiff has a history of “pill popping” or illicit drug use, which could be evident in medical records.
The knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyers at The Levin Firm can retain the necessary medical experts and mental health providers to connect your non-economic injuries and damages to your motorcycle accident, helping to increase the potential compensation you may receive from your case.
If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident caused by someone else, you may be entitled to significant compensation under Pennsylvania law. Examples of the kinds of losses for which accident victims often recover include medical expenses, property damage, loss of quality of life, lost income, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. To schedule a free consultation with attorney Gabriel Levin, call our office today at 215-825-5184 or .
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