Even minor motorcycle crashes can cause physical injuries requiring extensive treatment, including physical therapy, medications, and even surgery. Some victims cannot return to their jobs for an extended period, resulting in financial problems and dealing with the pain from the accident. Motorcycle accident victims have the right to seek legal representation to receive compensation to pay for medical bills and rehabilitation services. Here is everything you need to know about seeking the services of a motorcycle accident lawyer.
Motorcycle Collision Statistics
Head-on crashes are among the most dangerous types of collisions for riders because cars weigh much more than motorcycles, and bikes are often not equipped with many safety features. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2019 that motorcycles accounted for only 4% of registered vehicles, but riders made up almost 15% of all traffic accident fatalities. Nearly 85,000 riders suffered injuries in 2019 alone.
While riding a motorcycle is riskier than other forms of transportation, certain factors increase your risk of injury. Consistently driving over the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic, and riding without the proper protective gear all increase your likelihood of damage if you’re involved in a collision.
Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes
Unlike vehicle passengers, riders are not protected by a metal frame or shielded by airbags. Also, motorcycles weigh much less than vehicles, making riders susceptible to more severe injuries than car passengers.
According to NHTSA data, a few causes of motorcycle crashes are more common than others. Recognizing the most common factors that cause collisions is an excellent way to help prevent accidents.
1. Vehicles Making Left-Hand Turns
It is common for vehicles to collide with motorcycles when making left-hand turns. According to NHTSA data, these types of collisions cause more than 50% of all fatal accidents between motorcycles and passenger vehicles.
Left-hand turning vehicles are dangerous for motorcyclists because they can strike oncoming or passing riders at intersections. Riders may not see these cars if they come from the side, and it is hard for drivers to judge how fast motorcycles are traveling.
2. Crashes Between Motorcycles and Static Objects
Crashes between riders and fixed objects such as trees, fences, and sounds barriers often have catastrophic results. If a rider hits a metal fence at a high rate of velocity, there is a high likelihood of serious injury, even if they wear the proper protective gear. According to NHTSA data, 23% of the fatal motorcycle accidents in 2019 were crashes with fixed objects.
3. Road Hazards
Vehicle drivers may barely notice things such as loose gravel, uneven road surfaces, and slippery highways. However, motorcycles are light and are more susceptible to road hazards that may not affect other vehicles. Motorcyclists should exercise caution at all times and remain vigilant at all times to ensure they stay safe.
4. Bike Lane Splitting
Bike lane splitting is when motorcycles weave in and out of stopped or slow traffic by snaking between the cars. This dangerous behavior is line splitting. Lane splitting is a risky behavior as cars may suddenly start moving and may collide with a bike because they do not see the bikes in their blind spots. There is little room for motorcyclists to safely maneuver between cars and collisions are common in such instances. There are only a few states that allow this behavior. You can receive a citation in many states if you participate in lane splitting.
Riders cannot control how other vehicles drive, but they can control how safely they drive. Some riders buy motorcycles because of the adventure involved, but you should not violate any safety laws when you ride. Below are a few of the behaviors that often cause car collisions.
1. Alcohol Use
Unfortunately, alcohol is often a factor in fatal motorcycle crashes. In fact, almost 30% of fatal crashes in 2019 involved alcohol or substance use. Riders are too impaired to safely operate a bike if their blood alcohol level is above .08%.
Some motorcycle advertisements encourage risky behavior, like speeding. While it is tempting to drive light and powerful motorcycles faster than the speed limit, it is risky behavior that can cause serious traffic accidents. In fact, more than 33% of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2019 involved speeding.
3. Not Wearing Protective Gear
Helmets and leather jackets help protect your body in a collision. However, you can sustain significant injuries if you are not wearing protective gear when involved in an accident. The NHTSA estimates that 37 of every 100 motorcycle riders killed in collisions could have survived if they wore the proper protective gear.
Please keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of motorcycle accident causes. Riders should remain vigilant at all times to avoid potential dangers.
Step To Take If You’ve Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident
The first thing you need to do is seek medical attention if you’ve suffered an injury. You should call the police and medical personnel to report the accident so the proper authorities can draft an official incident report. It is best to seek medical attention even if you do not think you have any injuries. Some injuries are not immediately apparent after the crash, and some symptoms may take days to appear.
You will need to gather evidence if you wish to seek compensation for your injuries. An attorney can examine your case and help you gather evidence to make a demand to the insurance company or file a personal injury claim in court. The following evidence can help bolster your claim:
- Insurance information and personal details for others involved in the crash
- Names and contact information for all witnesses
- Photographs of the accident scene, including property damage and road conditions
- A copy of the police report
- Medical records and bills
Gathering evidence is an important step, and you will likely want to rely on the assistance of an attorney.
Proving Negligence After a Motorcycle Accident
Proving liability in a motorcycle accident is crucial to receive compensation, but it is often difficult to gather the proper evidence to convince an insurance company or court. As the plaintiff in a case, you must prove the following elements:
- States require all drivers to exercise caution when driving. If another motorcyclist or driver does not drive cautiously, they are responsible for any injuries that result from their dangerous behavior.
- The defendant must prove the other driver or rider did not act as a reasonable person when the accident occurred.
- You must prove the defendant’s actions directly caused your injuries.
- You must prove the accident resulted in an injury that requires medical care.
You are not eligible for compensation if you cannot prove you suffered an injury or other significant loss.
How To File a Motorcycle Accident Claim
The most U.S. states, the individual who is at-fault for the crash has to pay for medical bills and other accident-related losses. However, a handful of states act as no-fault states for motorcycle accidents and other vehicular crashes. In places such as New Jersey, responsibility is assigned in cases, but there are differences in how the payments for accident-related costs.
Drivers in no-fault states must have personal injury protection coverage and basic liability insurance. In case of a motorcycle crash, your insurance pays for your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, even if you did not cause the crash.
Navigating no-fault insurance is often complex. It is best for injury victims who reside in no-fault insurance states to consult with an attorney before filing a claim.
There are several people you can file a claim against if you’ve suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident:
- The other drivers in the collision
- Third-party individuals who contributed to the accident, such as pedestrians
- The owners of cars involved in the crash
- A local government agency responsible for maintaining roads, if poor road conditions contributed to the accident
Most motorcycle claims settle before a defendant files a claim with the local court system. However, it is necessary to file a claim if the insurance company is not offering an adequate settlement. Insurance adjusters often offer low-ball settlements immediately after the accident. If you do not understand the total cost of your future medical expenses, you may accept the offer out of desperation.
Make sure you consult with an attorney before accepting a settlement from any insurance company. An attorney can help you understand your future medical costs and how much your injury is worth. After you retain a legal team, they can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf so you can focus on recovering.
How Much Compensation Can I Receive?
No two motorcycle accidents are the same, and injuries vary widely. Thus, it is hard to predict how much money you can receive. However, the insurance company will likely consider the following factors when offering you a settlement:
- The extent and nature of your injuries
- The cost of your current and future medical bills
- If you can work
- How much money you made before the accident
- If your damages qualify for pain and suffering compensation
Motorcycle victims can receive economic and non-economic compensation. While most injuries qualify for monetary compensation to cover medical bills, surgical procedures, and medications, non-economic compensation for pain and suffering is reserved for devastating injuries.
Your chances of settling depend on how easy it is to prove that another party is responsible for your injuries. Your chances of settling may improve if you retain a lawyer to help you gather evidence. The availability of insurance coverage and your ability to prove the extent of your injuries also play a factor.
It is also essential to prove that you were acting responsibly at the time of the accident. Many insurance adjusters harbor thoughts that motorcyclists are individuals who seek adventure and display risky behaviors. An adjuster may suspect you were responsible for the accident, even if there is sufficient evidence to prove otherwise. A lawyer may help you overcome any biases with concrete proof of your responsible behavior and the other party’s negligence.
How Long Do I Have To File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
The deadlines vary depending on the type of case and where you live. Many states require motorcycle accident victims to file a lawsuit within a certain time. In most states, accident victims have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
You lose all rights to compensation if you file a case too late. Consult with a lawyer as soon as possible and make sure you file all paperwork by your state’s deadlines if you seek damages.
How To Seek Legal Help After a Motorcycle Accident
Finding a suitable attorney after a motorcycle accident is essential to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Make a few appointments with local personal injury attorneys. Bring all relevant case documents, including medical records, police reports, photographic evidence, and witness statements to your meetings. Be prepared to discuss the details of your case in detail.
Most lawyers will tell you if they are willing to take your case after the first consultation. It is up to you to decide who you want to work with. Don’t simply choose the most affordable law firm. Choose an attorney who has experience in motorcycle cases. You will spend a lot of time with your attorney, so ensure you choose someone you trust.
You should also consider the lawyer’s experience, fees, and the other legal professional who will assist with the claim. Many large firms rely on paralegals to gather evidence and draft correspondence. You may wish to meet with the other members of the team before making a decision.
CONTACT OUR NEW JERSEY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT LAWYERS
Are you ready to receive the compensation you deserve for your motorcycle accident injuries? When you work with Judd Shaw Injury Law™, you get a dedicated legal team to fight for your rights. Let us negotiate with the insurance companies so you can focus on recovering. Contact us or call 1-866-909-6894 today to set up a complimentary appointment with one of our personal injury attorneys.