The vision of driving down a country road, atop a large motorcycle, with the wind blowing through your hair is attractive for many people, and the number of motorcycles on America’s highways is growing. Although motorcycles share the road with cars and trucks, and although they are subject to the same traffic laws as are other vehicles, the fact is that collisions involving motorcycles are different from, and often more serious than, automobile accidents.
In almost half of all collisions involving motorcycles, the fault for the collision lay with the driver of the other vehicle, who failed to yield the right of way to the motorcycle. The small size of motorcycles also makes them more vulnerable to road hazards that even a small car could pass over safely. Because motorcycles are more nimble than cars, motorcyclists sometimes attempt unsafe maneuvers that drivers of cars wouldn’t consider.
Not only has the number of motorcycle accidents risen as a proportion of all vehicular accidents, but motorcyclists are also much more likely to be injured or killed in a collision than is someone riding in a car or truck. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a motorcycle rider is 18 times more likely to die in a collision than is someone in a car, and far more likely to suffer serious injuries. Some 80% of motorcycle collisions result in serious injury or death, and the fact that the motorcyclist might not have been at fault is of little comfort.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A common kind of serious injury associated with motorcycle accidents is head injury. Traumatic brain injuries, such as the closed head injuries that result when an impact causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull, cause over one third of the injury deaths in the United States. Since motorcyclists are often thrown off of their bikes in a collision, such injuries are 10 times more common in motorcycle accidents than in other vehicle accidents.
Studies have shown that the number one way to prevent these serious injuries is the most obvious one—WEAR A HELMET! Motorcyclists should make sure that the helmet they choose has been approved by the Department of Transportation. If it has, it will have a sticker on it saying “DOT.” Heavy riding boots, gloves, vests, and long pants can also help protect riders if they do crash.
Motorcyclists need to take extra care when riding. They should drive safely (as should all drivers), and they should wear the appropriate protective gear. Motorcyclists also need to understand the special problems that their vehicles present for others on the road, and they should ride especially defensively.
However, motorcycle safety is a two way street. Drivers of other vehicles need to “drive aware” and keep a careful eye out for motorcycles. Motorcycle riders have the right to use the same roads that car drivers do, and this right should be respected. Other vehicles should give motorcycles a wide berth—a small tap from a car bumper could be fatal to a motorcyclist.
MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CHECKLIST
- Call the police and an ambulance, if necessary.
- Get the names, addresses, and insurance information of the parties involved and the contact information of any witnesses.
- Write down the make, model, year, and license number of the vehicles involved.
- Take pictures of the damage to your motorcycle before it is repaired.
- Do not make any statement about the accident to anyone but the police.
- Do not apologize or admit fault.
- Do not argue with the other driver.
- Call our office to discuss your case.
PERSONAL INJURY Q&A
Q: What is a personal injury (PI) claim?
A: Any kind of legal claim against someone for causing physical or mental injury to someone else is a PI claim. PI claims commonly result from automobile collisions, slip and falls, defective products, or medical malpractice.
Q: What compensation can I receive if I have a PI claim?
A: Although it depends on the facts, if you have been injured, you can usually recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, property damage, and any permanent injury you have suffered. In some cases, other people (such as your spouse or family) may also be entitled to compensation.
Q: When is another person liable for my injuries?
A: Again, the answer depends on the facts, but another person is most commonly liable if your injuries were the foreseeable result of that person’s negligence—which generally means that person’s carelessness toward you. Sometimes another person can be liable for your injuries even if he or she was not careless. These cases are called “strict liability cases.”
Q: How long does it take to make a PI claim?
A: Making a successful PI claim depends on a lot of factors, including the complexity of the case and the reasonableness of everyone involved. Some PI claims settle very quickly, while others have to go to trial or even to appeal, although this is relatively rare.
Q: Is my PI case a good one?
A: Only a PI lawyer can answer that question. If you believe that you have a PI claim, you should contact our office as soon as possible.
THANKS FOR THE REFERRALS
Despite this modern age of marketing and advertising, the best source of our new business is word of mouth. We are grateful that many of our clients and friends feel confident in recommending our firm. Unfortunately, when people need a good lawyer, they often do not know where to turn. If you or someone you know has been injured and needs legal help, call us.
The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz is striving to improve driving safety under more prominent education and attention to ensure the protection and safety of present and future drivers and their loved ones. Please help us by calling today if you have been the victim of an auto/motorcycle accident.
**Actual resolution of legal issues depends upon many factors, including variations of facts and state laws. This newsletter is not intended to provide legal advice on specific subjects, but rather to provide insight into legal developments and issues. The reader should always consult with legal counsel before taking action on matters covered by this newsletter.