What are the Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

April 12, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
What are the Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

Something about riding a motorcycle evokes a spirit of freedom. You feel like you’re flying without leaving the ground. However, riding a motorcycle also carries many dangers. Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling experience, but accidents can happen in an instant. If you’ve been injured, don’t hesitate to contact a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer who can fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Motorcycle Design

Unlike a car, which offers the stability of four wheels, doors, a roof, and a body of reinforced steel to create a protective cage around the driver and passengers, motorcycles employ just a few fundamentals.

A sturdy steel frame holds the engine and connects to a steering column and a belt, chain, or axle-driven rear-wheel drivetrain. Suspension can range from shocks and springs to a rigid frame system that reduces very little road impact.

A speedometer, odometer, tachometer, fuel light, and neutral safety indicator tell the rider everything they need to know to ride the bike. Cruisers and touring bikes might feature a stereo system, signal indicator lights, and other switches.

A motorcycle’s design allows for quick acceleration, shorter braking distances, and a smaller tire-to-asphalt footprint than most vehicles. Motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles and lack protective features other than driving lights, fenders, or windshields.

Without roll bars, airbags, doors, a roof, or seatbelts, safety features on motorcycles are fairly limited, and riders usually must rely on limited personal safety equipment such as helmets, glasses, leathers, gloves, and boots to protect them in the event of an accident.

What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?

Some of the same characteristics that distinguish a motorcycle from other vehicles require lots of skill and experience with riding to make them safe for the rider. Here are some ways that motorcyclists are especially vulnerable to accidents.


The size and weight of their vehicles can leave motorcycle riders disadvantaged in accidents involving:

  • Visibility: Since motorcycles are smaller, other drivers might not see them as easily as other vehicles, making motorcycles susceptible to drivers making sudden turns, lane changes, stops, or simply pulling out in front of bikers and not giving them the right of way.
  • Speeding: Since motorcycles can accelerate and decelerate quicker than most cars and trucks, speeding cars might not properly gauge distance and hit motorcycles at high speeds.
  • Reckless driving: Vehicle drivers might force motorcycles around on the road with sudden braking, lane changes, or even trying to play “chicken” with motorcycles.
  • Distracted driving: Mobile phones, electronics, and simply being distracted by handling food or drink in a car gives other drivers too much time to take their eyes off the road. When this happens, motorcycles are vulnerable to collisions. At a fraction of a car or truck’s weight, a motorcycle and its rider are more vulnerable to the impact of collisions..


Due to motorcycle design, weight, and relying on the forces of physics, highway conditions can make it hard to keep a bike upright. Motorcycles often find themselves at the mercy of road conditions. Here are some factors that contribute to creating a hazardous environment for motorcycles:


Many riders limit themselves to riding only on clear, sunny days, but things can get ugly quickly for those die-hard daily riders or anyone caught in sudden weather changes. Ice, snow, and rain reduce traction and mobility and limit visibility. Not only is it harder to see problems on the road up ahead, but the weather also makes it hard to be seen by other drivers.

Freezing, moisture on the brakes, and electrical shorts due to exposure to bad weather may cause your motorcycle to malfunction. Lack of traction will make it difficult to keep your bike upright, especially if you need to brake or accelerate suddenly to avoid an accident.

Another driver could force you to lock your brakes, resulting in fishtailing, laying your bike down, and skidding out.


Grooved pavement is often a motorcyclist’s nightmare. Due to the tires’ small surface area in contact with the road, grooved pavement can make it difficult to control your bike. The tires’ tread will sometimes try to follow the path of the grooves and take the front and rear wheels out of alignment, making braking and lane changes very difficult.

Dirt roads are similar in how much control is lost when riding down gravel or dirt with street tires. Sliding out, skids, and loss of braking control can all result in a motorcycle crash. The effect is the same on loose surface roads as it is with ice, snow, or standing water. Your brakes could lock and send your bike wheeling out of control.

Damage from potholes, loose gravel, and even slick spots in the road create an inconsistent surface that leaves little forgiveness for motorcycle riders. Potholes can swallow bike tires and send riders flying off their bikes. At the very least, these hazards can sweep the wheels from under a bike and force it to its side, skidding across the ground at high speed.


A motorcycle can take you across the country to a wide range of different terrains and climates. Sometimes the beautiful scenery brings a whole other set of hazards. Mountain driving presents hazards such as rocks or boulders in the road. Flash floods can cross roads, causing areas that might hydroplane a bike or hide objects in the road you must avoid.

Fallen sticks, debris that has dropped off trucks or other vehicles, and chunks of pavement can wreck your bike. On interstates and highways frequented by trucks, blowouts that suddenly appear on the road are serious obstacles that you either have to hit or avoid and put yourself in danger of crashing into other vehicles.


Sometimes the objects in the road get there all on their own. Those long stretches of open road are great for the mind and spirit, but animals as small as rabbits and as large as moose can wander across your path. Since motorcycles are smaller and quieter than other vehicles, the animals might not hear your approach. Hitting nearly any animal at speed can cause you to wreck your bike.

Faulty Tires and Equipment

Every component on a motorcycle must be up to specifications when it comes to safety and performance. Defective tires shredding out as you travel at high speeds can be deadly. Faulty shock absorbers and even poor wheel alignment can easily dump a motorcycle.

You can hold someone accountable for an equipment failure due to manufacturer defects. A personal injury attorney can help file a product liability lawsuit if faulty equipment caused your injury.


Whether using a borrowed or used bike or riding a bike you aren’t familiar with, you might find yourself at the mercy of someone’s attempt to modify the motorcycle. Some modifications can be deadly since they override safety features and render the bike exceedingly dangerous. Custom brakes, suspension, and other tweaks by mechanics can turn your favorite pastime deadly.


A combination of road conditions, acceleration, and bike design can all contribute to a phenomenon known as the high speed wobble. The wobble happens when the front wheel and steering column oscillate rapidly from side to side. This can cause the wheel to dig in sharply against the vector of the direction of travel or skid out.

You only have two points of contact with the road, and need both. Losing either one at any speed can injure or kill you. A wobble indicates a potential faulty motorcycle design. An attorney can help you pursue compensation for damages if a high speed wobble injures you.


Much like the death wobble, certain road conditions during braking can remove one of your only points of contact with the road. Most of your braking power comes from the front wheel, and excessive braking on the back wheel due to wet roads, faulty equipment, or inexperienced riders can lock your back brake. A locked back brake will cause a bike to fishtail, lose power, and even skid.

Types of Injuries

motorcycle accident can cause a wide range of serious injuries. Most of these injuries will result in hospitalization and extensive treatment. The expense can be substantial, and the pain and discomfort during your recovery can take months, if not years.

Motorcycle injuries include:

  • Road rash: The most common injury, road rash, can be minor or require skin grafts and surgery. Road rash is difficult to treat because it invites infection and causes pain over a wide body area.
  • Broken bones: The forces of inertia are not your friend when it comes to high speeds, pavement, objects in the road, and relatively fragile bones. From broken fingers and toes to snapped femurs and pelvises, bone breaks could require surgery, and lengthy recovery.
  • Skull/spine fractures: A serious and often deadly result of a motorcycle accident, cracking or smashing your skull can leave you with permanent injuries. Partial or total paralysis commonly results from a broken neck or back.
  • TBI: A jolt to the brain due to a sudden impact may cause traumatic brain injuries. The bruising, brain bleeding, and swelling can leave you with permanent cognitive damage or cause death.
  • Internal injuries: Ruptured organs, bleeding, and pooling blood can result in severe organ and tissue damage which may require surgical repair or removal of damaged organs.
  • Bleeding: Loss of blood can result in shock, bleeding out, and even oxygen deprivation to the brain or extremities.
  • Amputation: The impact of motorcycles against objects or vehicles on the road can amputate limbs and other extremities.
  • Death: Motorcycle accidents may result in death, either of the driver or passengers. Surviving loved ones may seek compensation to cover burial expenses and their pain and suffering.


The recovery process is a long and painful experience, often incurring expenses beyond the accident victim’s means.

Here are some damages that you can expect from a motorcycle accident.

  • Emergency services airlift or ambulance: Motorcycle accidents usually require extensive first responder treatment to save the patient.
  • Hospitalization: From surgery to stabilization to monitoring the patient as they recover, hospital bills are expensive and could cause a financial drain for years. These expenses require compensatory amounts from the person at fault for the accident. A personal injury attorney can help you recover these losses.
  • Rehabilitation: Broken bones, TBIs, loss of muscle, and even getting used to life with a prosthetic limb will require physical rehab. This process can be long, painful, and very expensive. Rehabilitation is necessary to address pain and continue motor function, but it comes with a high price.
  • Loss of income and future income: While recovering, you miss time at work and may lose income to support yourself and your family. With a significant drop in income—now and potentially in the future, as with a permanent disability—your ability to pay the increasing expenses of medical bills declines.
  • Permanent disability: Prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, continued therapy, and even occupational retraining might take years. These supports come with a high price tag, all because someone else made a mistake.
  • Pain and suffering: No one can put a price tag on the emotional and physical pain you experience following a motorcycle accident. An attorney can work with you to fight for compensation and help you restore the pieces of your life.
  • PTSD: Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a lifelong obstacle to overcome. One brief moment can define your life, challenging you with stress, emotional fatigue, anxiety, depression, and a whole other range of traumatic responses which continue to make your life difficult long after the physical wounds have healed.

Hire an Attorney

Ed Bernstein - Car Accident Attorney near Las Vegas, NV area
Ed Bernstein, Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in Las Vegas

Dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be a time-consuming process that seems like it will never end. Negotiating with insurance companies can be a bureaucratic nightmare, leaving you with little monetary compensation for your bills.

Hiring an attorney can help you on your road to recovery. A lawyer takes much of the stress and guesswork out of the process. An attorney knows the laws and can negotiate in your favor. While recovering from a motorcycle accident, your priority should be your health and quality of life. Hiring a Las Vegas personal injury attorneys can reduce stress and potentially gain you more compensation for damages.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.