Bikers often get unfairly blamed for motorcycle accidents. The truth is, most wrecks result from negligent behavior by car and truck drivers and other parties whose careless actions endanger motorcyclists. Here is a look at the types of dangerous behaviors that commonly cause motorcycle accidents, and how an experienced lawyer can get compensation for injured bikers and their loved ones. Reach out to a Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyer.
Common Sources of Fault in Motorcycle Accidents
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), although motorcycles make up only 3 percent of the vehicles on the road in the United States, motorcyclists account for 14 percent of annual traffic accident fatalities. Motorcycle crashes result in more than 5,300 deaths and more than 82,000 injuries every year. By every measure, motorcyclists rank among the most vulnerable of road users.
Collisions between motorcycles and larger vehicles are common. More than half of all motorcycle crashes involve at least one other vehicle. In most of those crashes, the driver of the other vehicle bears at least some of the blame for having engaged in dangerous conduct that endangered the motorcyclist.
Parties other than bikers also frequently have full or partial responsibility for single- and multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents. Dangerous road conditions and other hazards caused by careless decisions or actions, for instance, commonly put motorcyclists at risk of losing control.
Here’s an overview of some common causes of motorcycle accidents attributable to parties other than riders.
Distracted driving is a major cause of all types of traffic accidents, and it’s especially dangerous when cars and trucks share the road with motorcycles.
All three common types of driver distractions can cause a motorcycle accident:
- Manual distractions involve drivers taking their hands off the steering wheel and can cause the vehicle to drift into another travel lane occupied by a motorcycle.
- Visual distractions involve drivers taking their eyes off the road to, for example, read a text, look at something on the roadside, or talk to a passenger, which can lead to a driver ignoring potential hazards and getting into an accident with a motorcycle.
- Cognitive distractions involve drivers concentrating on something other than driving, which can also lead to inattention to hazards and a crash with a motorcycle.
All drivers have a duty to avoid distractions behind the wheel. Just a few seconds of distraction behind the wheel of a car or truck can endanger the life of a nearby motorcyclist.
Car and truck drivers often swear they didn’t see a motorcycle before colliding with it, even though it was in their direct line of sight. While that’s no excuse for causing a crash, it might actually be true, in a way. Psychologists have found that drivers often experience a phenomenon known as inattentional blindness that can result in accidents with motorcycles. It occurs when their brains fail to register seeing smaller vehicles sharing the road with larger ones.
Inattentional blindness poses a particular danger to motorcyclists at intersections and on two-way roads where cars and trucks may turn left across a lane of oncoming traffic. Drivers ordinarily must yield to vehicles approaching from the opposite direction. But when inattentional blindness strikes, they may cut right in front of a motorcycle without “seeing” it (even if looking directly at it), causing a potentially catastrophic accident.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding has long been one of the leading causes of traffic-related accidents, accounting for nearly a third of annual U.S. traffic fatalities. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable when sharing the road with speeding drivers.
Speeding limits a driver’s ability to see, react to, and maneuver safely around a motorcycle. It also increases the force of impact in a collision with a motorcycle, heightening the risk of severe or fatal injuries to the biker. Speeding drivers also make it difficult for motorcyclists to judge when it’s safe to change lanes or turn onto a road.
Alcohol and Drug Impairment
Alcohol and drug impairment are major risk factors for motorcycle accidents. Alcohol alone is a factor in around half of all accidents involving motorcycles, according to the NSC. But that doesn’t mean that it’s always bikers who are impaired. Far from it. Car and truck drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs frequently pose dangers to motorcyclists.
Drugs and alcohol impair driving abilities in a variety of ways that endanger bikers. Impaired drivers experience slowed reaction times, limited motor control, visual disturbances, and poor judgment, among other difficulties. Any of those impairments can — and all-too-often do—result in an accident with a motorcycle.
Driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving drunk. Studies show that a driver who has not slept in 18 to 24 hours experiences impairments similar to someone who is legally intoxicated. A drowsy driver has slowed reaction times, difficulty judging speed and distance, poor motor coordination, and bad judgment. And that can put motorcyclists who share the road with that driver at risk for a deadly accident.
Grooved or Rough Road Surfaces
Grooved or rough road surfaces that make motorcycles difficult to control can create significant dangers if bikers do not receive adequate warning about them. Construction crews and road owners have a duty to warn motorcyclists about conditions that could lead to an accident. A motorcyclist should not bear the blame for a crash that occurs because of a sudden, unexpected deterioration in a road surface that someone could and should have warned about.
Motorcyclists also do not deserve to take the blame for accidents that happen because of defective automotive or motorcycle equipment. Manufacturers of motorcycles, cars, and trucks owe a duty to the public to ensure that their products are safe to use, and will face liability for any wreck resulting from the failure of a defective part or system to function as expected.
At-Fault Parties Owe Compensation to Motorcycle Accident Victims
Bikers who get hurt in motorcycle accidents and the loved ones of bikers who die in them generally have a legal right to receive compensation for their losses from the parties at-fault.
As discussed above, those at-fault parties can include (for example):
- Careless or reckless drivers
- Parties legally responsible for drivers’ dangerous conduct
- Parties responsible for unreasonably hazardous road conditions
- Manufacturers responsible for defective equipment
Motorcycle accident injury lawyers handle the process of obtaining compensation for crash victims. Often, at-fault parties will carry insurance to cover their liability to an injured biker or surviving family member, which may allow lawyers to obtain money for their clients through a third-party insurance claim. Lawyers also routinely pursue lawsuits in an injured bikers’ or grieving family’s name to obtain fair compensation.
Multiple parties can owe compensation to the victim of a single motorcycle accident. Lawyers working on behalf of accident victims can often pursue claims against all of them at once, which can increase the odds of getting a favorable outcome. The most reliable way to learn about who might be at fault for your motorcycle accident is to contact a skilled lawyer right away.
Compensation for Injured Bikers
The compensation a lawyer can often obtain for an injured motorcycle accident victim can include payment for:
- Medical expenses in treating injuries from the accident
- The cost of repairing or replacing a damaged motorcycle
- Other expenses related to living with or adapting to an injury
- Lost income and job benefits when a biker misses work while healing from an injury
- Lost future earnings and job benefits when a biker becomes disabled
- The injured biker’s physical pain and emotional distress
- The injured biker’s diminished quality of life
- Scarring or disfigurement caused by the accident
Compensation for Grieving Loved Ones
In the case of a fatal motorcycle crash, the deceased biker’s loved ones can often seek compensation for their loss through a wrongful death lawsuit.
A skilled lawyer can obtain payment for:
- Loss of the deceased biker’s income, services, inheritance, or financial support
- Loss of a deceased biker’s companionship, consortium, society, or parental guidance
- The deceased biker’s pain and suffering before death (in some states)
- A surviving spouse or family member’s emotional distress (in some states)
- Accident-related expenses incurred by the deceased biker before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
In circumstances where the at-fault party caused an accident through extreme or intentional misconduct, a skilled lawyer may also succeed in obtaining an award of punitive damages for injured bikers or grieving loved ones.
Factors Affecting Compensation
Every motorcycle accident case differs in the types and amounts of compensation potentially available. Factors affecting a potential financial recovery can include the strength of a motorcycle accident case, the skill and experience of the victim’s lawyer, and the financial resources the at-fault party has at hand to pay monetary damages.
To learn about how much compensation you might have the right to receive for harm you suffered because of a motorcycle accident, connect with a skilled lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner you have a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney on your side, the better your chances of obtaining the maximum payment available in your case.
What a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Do
A lawyer’s job is to handle every step in the process of securing monetary damages for motorcycle accident victims. Top-flight lawyers have extensive experience in motorcycle accident claims, a storied track record of favorable case results, the admiration and respect of former clients, and the personnel and resources to handle any challenge a case throws their way.
The right lawyer for the job can:
- Investigate a motorcycle accident to determine how it happened and who was at-fault
- Gather the evidence needed to prove liability and damages against the at-fault party
- Handle all dealings with insurance companies on a client’s behalf
- Answer a client’s questions and explain their options
- Prepare and file persuasive, winning insurance claims and lawsuits
- Negotiate top-dollar settlements and advise clients on whether to accept or reject settlement offers
- Take a case to trial to win a damages award from a judge or jury
- Make sure their client receives every last penny of compensation owed
Motorcycle accident lawyers virtually always take cases on contingency. That means they don’t charge for their work upfront or as a case goes along. Instead their fee consists only of a percentage of any money they obtain for their client. They only get paid, in other words, if they win their client’s motorcycle accident case.
Get a Copy of the Police Report
You have the right to obtain the official police accident report from your wreck. Contact the police department that responded to your crash or look it up online to find out how to get a copy. Police accidents reports generally contain lots of useful information to help figure out who was at-fault for your crash, including the name, contact, and insurance information for the driver that hit you, diagrams of the accident scene, and other helpful data.
Get the Name Any Insurance Company That Contacts You (But Don’t Agree to a Quick Settlement)
If an insurance company representing one of the other parties in the crash contacts you, be sure to get the name of the caller and company they work for. Liability insurance companies sometimes try to contact accident victims like you. It’s usually best not to speak with them without first consulting your lawyer, however, because they may try to take advantage of you. Just take their name and contact information and send it along to a skilled lawyer who can call them back on your behalf.
Do not, under any circumstances, agree to a quick settlement of your claim that an insurance company offers. Any offer of settlement made directly to you will almost certainly fall far short of the amount a lawyer can get for you by negotiating with an insurer on your behalf. If an insurer offers you a quick payment, refer them to your lawyer.
Don’t Fix Your Damaged Bike Just Yet
The damage to your motorcycle may offer clues to how your crash happened. So, don’t get your ride repaired just yet. Wait until an attorney can have it looked-over by an experienced mechanic or forensic investigator who knows the telltale signs to look for and how to interpret them.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Injury Lawyer Today
Want to find out who was at-fault for your motorcycle accident and how much money they owe you in compensation? Contact a skilled personal injury lawyer for your free consultation.