Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

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Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

Motorcyclists are exposed to an entirely different set of rules and dangers than automobile or commercial truck drivers. The extra degree of freedom granted to motorcycles is met with a much higher degree of danger. Last year alone, there were more than 88,000 motorcycle injuries and almost 5,000 deaths on U.S. roadways. With these high accident statistics, it is important that motorcyclists understand their legal rights while operating their motorcycle. In the case of an accident, motorcyclists should also be familiar with the process of a motorcycle accident lawsuit so that they can take to be compensated for another driver’s negligence.

 

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Early estimates from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) show that motorcycle fatalities have decreased in recent years. But, that is still one too many accidents. Any accident can seriously injure or result in the wrongful death of its driver or passenger.

  • In 2016, 5,286 people died in motorcycle crashes. That is up 5.1 percent from 5,029 in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • In 2016, a motorcyclist was 28 times more likely to die in an accident than drivers of traditional auto accidents.
  • Of the motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2017, 29% were riding without valid motorcycle licenses.
  • Motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic-related fatalities while representing only 3% of the entire registered motor vehicle fleet.

 

Do I Have to Wear a Helmet to Drive a Motorcycle?

Federally, there is no mandatory helmet law, although federal intervention was prevalent for a number of years. In 1967, the federal government required each state to enact motorcycle helmet laws in order to qualify for certain federal safety and highway construction funds. But, in 1976, Congress revoked the ability to “asses penalties for noncompliance.” Many states took the initiative to either completely reverse a required helmet law or lessen the requirements.

It is proven that helmet laws drastically reduce the number of serious injuries or death. It is also each state’s responsibility to determine the use of a helmet while driving, or riding, a motorcycle.

  • Three states have no helmet law at all – Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire. There is no law requiring a helmet to be worn in these states. But, we still highly recommend you wear one for your own safety.
  • 28 states have laws mandating helmets for riders younger than specific age, usually 18.
  • 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws. Regardless of age or experience, every driver and rider is required to wear a helmet.

Regardless of your state’s law, it is important to wear a helmet at all times – it could prevent a serious head injury or save your life. The NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,870 motorcyclists in 2017. 750 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

 

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

  • Riding Skills: Operating a motorcycle takes much more skill than any other type of vehicle. Just like any other vehicle, operating skills are developed over time with practice. Unlike other motor vehicles, the consequences of making a mistake are much more drastic for a new rider. Many motorcycle accidents occur at least in part due to a new rider’s lack of skills.
  • Visual Recognition: Motorcycles are much smaller than other motor vehicles. They also move with more agility and ease, giving motorcyclists the ability to shift in and out of lanes quickly. Often times another vehicle may not recognize a motorcycle, because it is too small and moves too quickly, and the other motorist runs into the motorcycle. This is especially true in intersections, which is where nearly 70% of all motorcycle automobile accidents occur.
  • Road Hazards: Any hazard on the roadway, such a pothole, blown tire, debris, etc., is a minimal threat to a normal automobile. For motorcycles, however, these hazards are often the cause of accidents. Common accidents from hazards are either due to a motorcyclist running into the object, trying to avoid the object only to hit another vehicle, or sliding off the road.
  • High-Speed Risks: Along with the risk of lack of visual recognition by other drivers, high speeds can cause an array of dangers to motorcyclists. More commonly, motorcycles operating at higher speeds can experience “speed wobbles”, the consequence of a misalignment of the front tire causing it to wobble unsteadily. Speed wobbles can actually be an issue with the manufacturing of the motorcycle itself. In certain situations, the manufacturer can be held accountable for product liability.

 

What is my Motorcycle Accident Injury Claim Worth?

You, a friend or family member has been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and are deciding whether to file a lawsuit to recover damages. But, you may be wondering how much you could really receive. Frankly, it is a difficult question to answer because each case is dependent on its individual circumstances. But, here is what to consider:

Liability

Like other vehicle accidents, the negligent party is held responsible in a motorcycle accident lawsuit. Consider negligence liability when deciding who should be responsible for accident damages. If both parties are somewhat at fault, there may be comparative negligence. Your attorney will need to decide to what degree each is liable for damages.

Unlike other motor vehicle accidents, product liability is more common among motorcycle accidents. An issue with design or performance in a vehicle likely just means that it needs to go to a shop, but for motorcycles, there are serious consequences. If your motorcycle wreck was due to a malfunction in your bike, you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer.

As mentioned above, if you were partially at fault for the accident, your ability to recover compensation may be reduced. For example, when determining liability, it is decided that you were 10% at fault for the accident because of your failure to reduce speed on a curve. However, the other vehicle crossed the dividing line and hit your motorcycle, meaning they were 90% at fault. When compensation is awarded, it is likely your gross amount will be reduced by 10% per the comparative negligence rule. So, if you were awarded $100,000, you will only receive $90,000 because of your partial involvement in the accident.

Damages

Physical, financial, and emotional damages all qualify for compensation. In a motorcycle accident lawsuit, damages are generally categorized into two categories:

  1. Compensatory damages – These can all be calculated exactly. For example, the injuries you suffered and subsequently, the medical treatment and medical expenses you accumulated to recover, can be determined down to the cent. The same applies to lost wages during your recovery because of your inability to work. If there was property damage to your motorcycle, this can also be determined monetarily.
  2. Punitive damages – On the other hand, damages that cannot be measured exactly are called punitive damages. Pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress are all examples.

Both liability and damage calculation plays a vital role in your motorcycle accident lawsuit. The legal industry can be confusing. It is important to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer to navigate the intricacies of your case.

 

Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit — Seeking Legal Aid

Motorcycle road laws and insurance laws differ in every state. Even within your state’s automobile laws, motorcycle laws are likely a separate entity from other motor vehicle laws. It is helpful to seek consultation with motorcycle accident attorneys who are familiar with the road laws regulations that apply to you. Additionally, their experience will make them skilled in negotiating motorcycle accident cases with an insurance company and other defendants.

The steps necessary to compile a product liability case are extremely complex. Do you believe that you were an accident victim due to a malfunction in your motorcycle? Contact an attorney to help make a motorcycle accident claim against the manufacturer.

At TorHoerman Law, our dedicated team of personal injury attorneys is here to help you with your motorcycle accident lawsuit.


References

"Facts + Statistics: Motorcycle Crashes." III, Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-motorcycle-crashes.

"MOTORCYCLE HELMETS." Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, saferoads.org/issues/motorcycle-helmets/.

"Motorcycle Safety." NHTSA, United States Department of Transportation, 15 May 2019, www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycle-safety.

"Motorcycles." IIHS, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, www.iihs.org/topics/motorcycles#helmet-laws.

Last Modified: November 6th, 2019 @ 04:25 pm