The number of serious motorcycle accidents is increasing nationwide. More bikers are out on the road, and drivers have become far more reckless. In one recent year, the number of motorcycle fatalities reached 6,000. Those who survive motorcycle crashes can have serious injuries in the short term and the long run. If your motorcycle accident injuries were someone else’s fault, you might be entitled to significant financial compensation.
First, contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to learn more about your legal options.
Motorcycle riders tend to suffer far more serious injuries in crashes. More than five percent of motorcyclists will not even survive the accident in the first place. Other accident victims will be left to deal with lasting injuries that may never heal completely.
Others may need lengthy rehabilitation and multiple surgeries to regain some of their function before the accident. Your compensation depends on your own specific injuries, but you will need to prove that someone else was at fault to receive any financial recovery.
Here are some of the causes of motorcycle accidents and who may be responsible for your accident injuries. It is possible for there to be more than one person or entity responsible for your injuries.
Other drivers on the road are often the cause of your motorcycle accident injuries. Although motorcyclists are encouraged to take safety classes to teach them how to drive safely, others drivers have no such obligations. As a result, they do not know how to share the road with motorcyclists. Drivers often think they are the only vehicles on the road, which dictates their behavior.
Motorcycles are much smaller than passenger cars and much lower to the ground than SUVs and large trucks. A driver must carefully check their mirrors and blindspots to see a motorcyclist. It does not matter that a driver did not see a motorcyclist – the accident will still be the driver’s fault because they have an obligation to act reasonably behind the wheel and be conscious of anyone who can be on the road and not just other drivers.
Drivers can cause accidents in several ways. Most revolve around mistakes or carelessness, but some other accidents can result from a conscious disregard for the safety of others on the road.
Drivers who are not paying attention are one of the biggest causes of motorcycle accidents. In the past decade, the problem of distracted driving has gotten far worse, as drivers now have something else in their hands to take their attention off the road. Now, drivers are increasingly on their cellphones, sending texts and checking the internet when driving.
When drivers take their eyes off the road, they will likely not see a motorcyclist in their vicinity. They may get too close to a bike and hit them from behind, or they may not see a motorcycle in their blind spot when changing lanes. Distracted driving accidents are more dangerous because the driver has usually not made an effort to slow down or avoid the crash.
When motorists are speeding, they cannot always rely on their own reflexes to avoid danger. They cannot react to many things around them because they do not have time to process what they are seeing. In addition, drivers have a much higher chance of losing control of their cars and crashing into vehicles around them on the road. For every 1 percent increase in speed, the driver has a two percent higher risk of an accident.
In addition, speeding also means that an accident will have a harder impact on the motorcycle the car hits. Since biker has little to protect them from the force of the crash, they will often suffer more severe injuries.
The driver may make an illegal turn or lane change for whatever reason. If a driver makes an illegal left-hand turn, they may cut across the motorcyclist’s lane. The biker has the legal right of way in their lane when they have established themselves in traffic. An illegal left-hand turn can lead a driver to either directly strike the motorcycle or cut them off, causing the biker to lose control.
A motorist does not have to contact the motorcycle directly to be legally responsible for the accident. All the driver has to do is something that contributes to the crash that causes the biker’s injuries. If the motorcycle has a one-car accident that clearly happened due to something the driver did, then the motorist should be responsible.
Aggressive and Reckless Driving
Many drivers adopted much more dangerous practices behind the wheel because they did not need to share the roads with as many drivers during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Now that motorcyclists and other cars are back on the road, drivers have still maintained those dangerous and reckless habits.
Aggressive driving may include frequent lane changes where drivers weave in and out of traffic at high speeds. When this happens, drivers may cause sideswipe accidents or cause motorcyclists to lose control.
In addition, reckless driving can include tailgating and following too close behind motorcycles. Drivers should leave at least a three-second following distance between themselves and a vehicle in front of them. Rear-end crashes may be even more dangerous for motorcycles because a car can directly hit them with nothing to shield them from the impact.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Alcohol is a factor in many motorcycle crashes. When a driver is under the influence, they can behave in a far riskier manner. They also might not properly process and respond to challenges on the road. Alcohol use can result in aggressive and reckless driving.
An injured motorcyclist can file a civil lawsuit against a motorist who causes a drunk driving accident. Whether the motorist is charged with and convicted of a criminal offense does not matter. A lower standard of proof in a civil case requires you to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. The police report for the accident will note whether the driver was suspected of and charged with driving under the influence.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Motorcycles cannot absorb shocks and adjust to changing road conditions as well as cars. Since bikes weigh much less than passenger cars, the rider will feel every bump in the road. If there is cracked pavement, it presents much more of a safety danger to the rider.
Unfortunately, roads across the United States are deteriorating. Although the government is spending to improve the overall quality of the nation’s roadway, there is a large backlog of work.
Governments are not immune from lawsuits in all circumstances. You can file a claim if the government has injured you with its carelessness. The government has a legal obligation to maintain the roadways in reasonable condition. In addition, there must be adequate signage to warn you of roadway changes.
Although the government is not responsible for every bump or crack in the road, you can sue when the road is unreasonably dangerous. For example, if you suffered an injury when your motorcycle went over a deep pothole that was there for a while, the government may be obligated to pay you damages.
Lawsuits against the government have different rules than many other court cases. For example, you may have less time to notify the government of a claim and file a lawsuit. An experienced motorcycle accident attorney knows these rules, but you will need to contact them shortly after the accident.
In some cases, both other drivers and the motorcyclist did absolutely nothing wrong, but it is the motorcycle itself that is to blame for the action. Given the fact that there is absolutely no margin for error, the bike must handle and function perfectly. Every single part of the motorcycle must be in proper working order with no defects.
There are major motorcycle product recalls all the time. For example, Harley Davidson recently recalled motorcycles due to defective handlebars that can separate while driving. In some cases, the motorcycle manufacturer does not learn of the defect until numerous bikers have suffered injuries or died because of it.
If you or a loved one have suffered a severe injury because of a defective motorcycle, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the company that manufactured or sold you the bike in a product liability lawsuit.
There are three types of product defects:
- Design defects – Here, there is an inherent flaw in the design of the product that makes it unreasonably dangerous for its intended use.
- Manufacturing defects – There was nothing wrong with the design, but something happened in the manufacturing process that made the motorcycle unreasonably dangerous.
- Marketing defects – The manufacturer knew or should have known of possible danger, but they did not correct it, nor did they warn the public.
If you have suffered an injury from a defective motorcycle, you can sue the manufacturer and the dealer that sold the bike to you.
An Attorney WIll Need to Investigate Your Accident and Gather Evidence
Before you can file a claim or lawsuit, you will need to know exactly what happened in the accident. Your claim will need to include specific evidence that shows that someone else was to blame to be legally entitled to financial compensation.
You need an attorney to investigate your accident in the days after it happened to begin to build your case for financial compensation. This task is not something that you can do on your own, especially when you have suffered your own injuries. It takes experience and skill to present a claim in a way that can entitle you to the highest amount of financial compensation.
In any motorcycle accident case, you will have the legal obligation to show that someone else caused your injuries, whether a negligent driver or a company that sold you a defective product. The burden of proof is on you to make your case. If you do not, you may not recover anything for your injuries. Thus, it is crucial to get the legal help that you need to make the best possible case.
The Insurance Company May Try to Scapegoat You to Save Itself
In addition, you will also need to overcome a presumption that the insurance company takes full advantage of motorcyclists seeming riskier than the average person. This is not a presumption that has any place in the law.
Instead, the insurance companies invented it to take money from you that you deserve and put it in their own pockets. The insurance company does not know you – they just know that you have a legitimate claim to their money that they are trying to minimize or avoid entirely.
Nonetheless, your attorney will need to explain your own actions when you are filing a claim, and the insurance company tries to point the finger at you. A jury may see things far differently, so the insurance company should not try to get away with too much in settlement negotiations.
In any motorcycle accident, you are better off with the help of an experienced lawyer who will work on your behalf as you seek financial compensation. When the insurance company tries to use the full might of its apparatus and bureaucracy against you, it is not a smart decision to face them alone.
The insurance company only has power because of an uneven playing field, in which they have resources that you do not. The way to level the playing field in a motorcycle accident case is to hire an aggressive and determined attorney to represent you. A lawyer will assert your legal rights every step of the way and push back when the insurance company goes too far.
Time is of the essence following a motorcycle accident, so you should always consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you determine the cause of your accident and who you can hold liable.