A motorcycle accident is a harrowing experience that can result in severe or deadly injuries to a motorcyclist. The force of a vehicle crashing into a motorcycle can throw a rider into the car, oncoming traffic, or into the hard and unforgiving pavement of the road. Motorcycle accident injuries can potentially cause painful and traumatic injuries that change your life. As a motorcycle accident victim, you can face a long road to recovery; some injuries may never properly heal.
The severity of motorcycle injuries and the potential for lifelong disabilities can significantly affect the compensation a victim may be eligible for under the law. Understanding the type of injuries you sustain as part of a motorcycle accident and the consequences those types of motorcycle injuries can have on your future and daily life can help you build your case and seek the compensation you may be eligible for under the law. A motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine the damages associated with the motorcycle injuries in your specific case.
The Risk of Serious or Life-Threatening Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Across the U.S., the rate of deaths associated with motorcycle riding continues to rise. In one year, motorcyclist deaths reached over 5,500 riders and their passengers, making up about 14 percent of all fatalities relating to traffic accidents. In addition to deaths, the injury rates amongst motorcyclists remain problematic, reaching over 82,000 injured in one year.
The significant increases in motorcycle accident deaths and the high rate of injuries may not correlate only to increases in ridership and miles traveled on the road. Analysis of statistical data relating to motorcycle ownership and miles ridden shows that while there are trends of increases in the number of registered motorcycles within the U.S. each year, the distances traveled by motorcyclists continue to decline. Factors that may affect the increases in deaths and injuries in motorcycle accidents could be the number of cars on the roads and the frequency of negligent drivers causing accidents with motorcyclists.
How Do Most Injuries in a Motorcycle Accident Occur?
Motorcycle accidents can happen for several reasons, and although many may try to blame the motorcyclist, the reality is that frequently the cause of the accident is not the rider but a negligent driver. When investigating the cause of all motorcycle accidents, negligence is often to blame. Negligence can involve one or multiple parties, and many times it is a motor vehicle driver’s negligence that ultimately leads to a motorcyclist suffering injuries. Drivers of vehicles owe a duty of care to all those around them on the road, including motorcyclists. Motorcycles may not be as common as vehicles and trucks on the street, but a car driver must respect the motorcycle’s right of way and safety in the same manner they would another car.
The most common causes of motorcycle accidents and injuries from negligent drivers include:
- Driving a vehicle while distracted
- Drunk driving
- Aggressive driving or road rage
- Reckless driving
- Not following traffic lights or signals
The Most Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents
The dynamics of a motorcycle accident are difficult to predict, and how an accident develops can influence the injuries a victim sustains during the crash. A motorcycle’s design exposes riders to all external forces around them as they travel on the road. When an accident between a motorcycle and a vehicle occurs, the motorcyclist is at risk of a direct impact from the vehicle to their body. Whether a car strikes the motorcyclist from the side or causes a motorcyclist to fall into the vehicle, the risk of severe injury and death is high for the motorcycle rider. Motorcyclists are also at risk of more injuries in the moments following the initial impact from a car. For example, a motorcycle rider that falls onto the pavement or is at risk of impact from other vehicles traveling on the road can suffer secondary effects and additional injuries after the first crash.
Examples of types of motorcycle accidents that may occur due to a negligent driver include:
- Rear end crash
- Side impact collision
- Head on crash
What Injuries Are Most Common Following a Motorcycle Crash?
Many factors play a part in the severity and types of injuries a motorcyclist may face. While protective equipment such as helmets, jackets, boots, and motorcycle pants can prevent some level of injury, the potential for injury is nearly guaranteed when an accident occurs at higher speeds and with large vehicles. Severe and life-threatening injuries can occur even when a motorcycle rider wears the appropriate protective equipment. There is a wide range of injuries a motorcyclist can sustain in a crash, and it is more than likely that a rider suffers various injuries when they are in a crash where they lose control of their bike, fall to the pavement, or a vehicle impact throws them off of the motorcycle.
Common motorcycle accident injuries can include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Road rash
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Internal injuries to organs or bleeding
- Loss of a limb
- Torn ligaments, muscles, or tendons
- Nerve injuries
How Can Motorcycle Injuries Affect a Victim’s Life Following an Accident?
Minor injuries are rare from a motorcycle crash. It is almost unheard of for a motorcyclist involved in a severe collision to walk away without needing emergency treatment or evaluation. The speed of a car and motorcycle combined with the force behind an impact can cause devastating injuries that may result in catastrophic injuries or the death of a motorcyclist. Survivors of a motorcycle crash can face a difficult reality in the aftermath. While some victims may eventually recover from their injuries, those suffering catastrophic motorcycle injuries will likely cope with the effects of their accident injuries for the remainder of their lives.
Examples of the negative impacts motorcycle injuries can have on a victim:
- The injuries can cause you daily physical pain and discomfort.
- You may require ongoing medical treatment and procedures, which can cause more pain.
- The injuries and consequences of the injuries can diminish your quality of life.
- The severity of your injuries can leave you unable to work or restrict your abilities in the workplace, affecting your income.
- You may be unable to participate in pastimes, hobbies, or exercise as you enjoyed in the past.
- The pain of your injuries, combined with the limitations and effects of the injuries, can lessen your ability to enjoy your life.
- Your injuries and the care you require may strain relationships with friends and loved ones.
- Motorcycle injuries may cause emotional and mental trauma and distress.
What Are Your Rights Following a Motorcycle Accident?
As a motorcycle rider, you have rights under the law. When you sustain injuries and damage in a motorcycle accident because of the actions and negligence of another driver, the law entitles you to seek compensation for your losses. In many instances, as a motorcycle accident victim, you should be able to pursue your damages through a vehicle insurance claim under the policy of the at-fault driver liable for the collision. In instances where insurance coverage is unavailable due to an uninsured driver or the driver’s insurance is insufficient to cover your losses, you may be able to file a UM/UIM claim with your own insurer, if included in your policy, or pursue other legal options directly against the party or parties at fault.
How Much Compensation Can You Receive for Your Damages as a Motorcyclist?
Although you can seek compensation for your injuries and damages after a motorcycle crash, getting an insurance company to pay out all your losses will not be easy. Motorcycle riders often get the short end of the stick in insurance claims as insurers can deflect liability to the rider and seek to reduce their liability whenever possible. A motorcycle accident attorney, however, can fight on your behalf throughout the claims process. Proving who is at fault in a motorcycle accident may involve in-depth investigation, and collecting as much evidence as possible to support your claim can increase the likelihood of successfully proving the responsible party’s fault. The compensation you may receive as part of a motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit can ultimately depend on the determination of fault by an insurer and the level of your damages. As a negligence based motorcycle accident victim, you can claim damages for all of your losses relating to your injuries and the accident. Determining your losses is not always straightforward. A motorcycle accident attorney can help you identify and claim all your losses, including potential future losses you may incur.
Typical damages in a motorcycle accident case may include:
- Medical—Your ER, hospital, and doctor bills may be part of your claim for medical payments through an insurance claim. Any medical treatment, equipment, and rehabilitation you require as part of your care is recoverable in a motorcycle accident claim.
- Income—When you suffer serious injuries, you often cannot work until healed. In a motorcycle accident claim, you may seek compensation for loss of income and future loss of income if your injuries do not allow you to return to work or you must work a reduced workload.
- Pain and Suffering—The pain you experience physically, emotionally, and mentally after a motorcycle accident can be overwhelming. Pain and suffering are not something easily measured or valued. However, the law allows you to seek monetary compensation for the harm done to you in a crash due to negligence.
- Property Damage—The damages to your motorcycle or the value of your motorcycle, if deemed a total loss, are recoverable as part of a claim for your damages.
- Wrongful Death – Sadly, the death rate amongst motorcyclists involved in motor vehicle accidents is significant. If a loved one dies in a motorcycle accident or after some time due to motorcycle accident injuries, their family may have a right to file a claim or lawsuit for wrongful death. Wrongful death compensation may include money to help pay for funeral and burial costs, medical bills, and other damages.
How Much Time Do You Have to Seek Money After a Motorcycle Collision?
The victim of a motorcycle accident has a limited time in which they may file a lawsuit in their case if it is necessary to do so. It takes time to file insurance claims and negotiate a possible settlement. If, for any reason, a settlement is not possible, a victim may need to file suit in court. However, to file a lawsuit stemming from a motorcycle accident, a victim must ensure they are within the statute of limitations. Personal injury statutes of limitations are different in each state. The victim must follow the statute of limitation of the state where the accident occurs. It is best to speak with a motorcycle accident injury attorney in your area to understand how much time you have left to take legal action and protect your right to fight for compensation.
Should You Hire a Lawyer if You Suffer a Motorcycle Accident Injury?
A motorcycle accident and the injuries that stem from it are often serious. All matters that pertain to your injuries and losses following a crash can significantly affect your life in the future. You may need money to pay your medical bills and help you meet your daily life needs. There is too much on the line for you not to hire a personal injury attorney to assist you. A motorcycle accident attorney can guide you through this challenging, confusing, and often overwhelming process of seeking the compensation you need after the enormous losses following a motorcycle crash. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer for a consultation to discuss your rights after a motorcycle accident.