Staggering Motorcycle Accident Statistics in Missouri
The statistics don’t lie – motorcycles can be very dangerous for both drivers and passengers. In 2016, 118 motorcycle deaths were recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Missouri. According to the most recent data provided by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 1,979 individuals were injured in motorcycle accidents in 2014.
Many of those accidents are caused by other motor vehicles because of their failure to take extra precautions and watch out for motorcyclists on the road. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation attributes most motorcycle accidents to another vehicle violating the motorcyclist’s right of way. Those accidents, regardless of the cause, often have disastrous consequences involving painful injuries requiring long-term attention and extensive medical bills, or even death.
If you or a loved one were involved in a motorcycle accident, you want to make sure the individual responsible is held accountable for your damages; a lawyer can help you through every step of the legal process. TorHoerman Law is experienced in personal injury and motorcycle accident cases.
Motorcycle Laws and Safety in St. Louis, Missouri
Missouri law regarding motorcycles were established to not only keep motorcyclists and their passengers safe, but to keep other vehicles on the roads safe, too. Disobeying state-mandated laws can result in penalties from law enforcement.
- A Class M license or permit is required to operate a motorcycle. Motorcycle training classes are recommended before going to the DMV to apply for the motorcycle license as they can prepare you for the skills portion of the test. Various businesses around the St. Louis area offer classes at a small price to prepare you for riding a motorcycle on everything from country back roads to highways.
- At the age of 15 and ½, you can apply for a temporary motorcycle instruction permit.
- It is recommended that both the driver and passenger wear protective gear while operating a motorcycle, at all times. While this is not a law but a recommendation by the State of Missouri, protective gear, such as thick clothing, gloves, face or eye protection, and a helmet, can prevent a serious injury if an accident were to occur.
- Motorcycles must carry the same insurance as other motor vehicles – up to $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $10,000 per accident for the property.
- Lane splitting commonly referred to as lane sharing, is illegal in the State of Missouri.
- Helmets are required for both the driver and passenger of a motorcycle. There are no exceptions to this law.
- Handlebar height cannot extend more than 15 inches in height above normal riding position.
- Safety inspections conducted at authorized Missouri inspection stations are required by law.
Missouri Helmet Law
States often focus on raising awareness of distracted driving – getting a driver to put down the phone and pay attention to the road to avoid potential accidents. But, there is another concern for motorcycle drivers and passengers – helmets. Missouri is one of 19 states that has a universal helmet law. The law, introduced in 1967, requires all persons operating or riding a motorcycle to wear a helmet regardless of their age. The law was established to protect anyone operating or riding on a motorcycle. The Center for Disease and Control Prevention notes that the risk of death is reduced by ⅓ when a helmet is worn.
According to the Missouri Department of Revenue Motorcycle Operator Manual, most motorcycle accidents occur when the driver is going 30 mph or less. At those speeds, “helmets can cut both the number and severity of head injuries by half.”
There are two types of helmets motorcyclists can choose from – three quarters or full-face. Before purchasing a helmet, ensure the helmet meets U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and state safety standards. But, regardless of which type of helmet the driver or rider prefers, both are legal and can provide protection if an accident were to occur.
For years, the universal helmet law has been strongly contested. Should the choice to wear a helmet fall into the hands of the driver and/or passenger or should it be mandated by law to save lives in the event of an accident? In the summer of 2018, Sen. Dan Brown introduced a bill that would repeal the universal helmet law in the State of Missouri. If passed, SB 556 would allow motorcyclists over the age of 18 to operate a motorcycle without a helmet if the driver has at least $1 million in insurance coverage. Motorcyclists under the age of 18 would still be required by law to wear a helmet.
The Senate has not yet reached a decision regarding the bill.
What Causes a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents are most common in warmer months – warmer temperatures and sunshine make for a more enjoyable ride for the motorcyclist and their passenger. During this time, motorcycle accidents are more likely to occur due to the increase in motorcycles on the road. Accidents can often be caused by many different factors.
- Sudden lane changes – Changing lanes quickly and without proper signals is dangerous to every vehicle, but if you don’t see a motorcyclist because of a blind spot, changing lanes without notice can potentially cause a deadly accident because the motorcyclist has little time to react.
- Lane splitting – If motorcycle attempts to bypass traffic on roadways by driving through the stopped cars, it is considered lane splitting. There are many names for the act, lane sharing, whitelining, filtering, or stripe-riding, but all are illegal in Missouri, including St. Louis.
- Inexperienced drivers – Motorcycles are not for the inexperienced driver. A specific license is required by the State of Missouri. In order to obtain a motorcycle license, the driver must complete a written and skills test exhibiting knowledge of the motorcycle.
- Speeding – Following the speed limit set by City and State laws promotes safety for all drivers on the roads.
- Car doors – On busy streets, drivers and passengers of car or trucks will open their doors without looking for oncoming traffic. Their negligence could cause an accident if an on-coming motorcycle is hit by the opened door.
- Impaired driving – Diving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, for motorcyclists and all other motorists, is strictly prohibited by federal, state, and local laws.
- Sudden stops – Motorcyclists are left without many protective barriers causing particularly deadly injuries to the rider if involved in an accident. If you make a sudden stop, you are providing little time for the motorcyclist to stop safely in time to avoid hitting your vehicle.
- Left turn accidents – Misjudgements or right of way errors are common causes of injuries and death of motorcycle riders.
- Dangerous road conditions – While most motorcyclists ride in warm, sunny weather, there is the possibility of being caught in dangerous weather, such as a rainstorm, which can cause the motorcyclist to lose control easily.
- Motorcycle defects – While not the driver’s fault, defects caused by a poorly designed or improperly built motorcycle can hold the manufacturer liable for any injuries caused by the defects.
Missouri is an at-fault state which means you must be careful discussing your accident with the other individual(s) involved, responding law enforcement officers, and insurance companies. Admitting fault for an accident could jeopardize your ability to file a potential personal injury lawsuit. It is crucial you consult with a lawyer before issuing any statements about the accident.
While you cannot control the actions of other drivers on the road, you can take preventive steps to protect yourself. Be visible. Communicate your intentions by displaying the hand signals of the direction you intend to go, use your turn signals, and make sure your brake lights are working properly. Analyze your travel path. Maintain an adequate amount of space between you and other vehicles on the road. Identify hazards ahead of time and take all measure to avoid such hazards like debris or accidents. Remain alert and be prepared to act should something go awry.
Common Types of Motorcycle Injuries
Nearly half of all motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. Of the motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, nearly 40 percent occur when the other vehicle makes a sudden left-hand turn in front of the motorcycle. While many of these accidents could be prevented if the other vehicle was more alert of motorcyclists, injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents are often extensive and require medical treatment, often for the long-term. Injuries to motorcyclists can include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Brain injuries
- Broken bones
- Road rash
- Biker’s arm
If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Your well-being is most important.
How Can a Motorcycle Injury Lawyer Help Me?
A motorcycle injury lawyer’s expertise and knowledge of the legal system will help you hold the liable person(s) accountable and receive compensation for the damages you suffered. Damages can mean a lot of things in a lawsuit – injuries suffered, wages lost because of an inability to work, medical bills incurred, damages to your vehicle, the cost to repair damages, and the emotional toll the accident took on you. If you suffered from damages after a motorcycle accident, a lawyer can help by:
- Navigating the legal process for you
- Determining who is liable for the accident
- Reviewing all documents – accident report, medical records, expert testimony, if needed
- File a lawsuit on your behalf
- Coordinating and communicating with the insurance company(s)
- Going to trial, if settlement negotiations fail
How Long Do I have to File a Lawsuit?
In Missouri, the statute of limitations, commonly referred to as a SoL, is two years from the date of injury. In layman’s terms, this means that if you were in an accident, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to receive compensation for your injuries. If you fail to file a claim before the two-year deadline, you will not be allowed to proceed, unless in very specific, extenuating circumstances.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations for each state is different, and consulting an attorney about your case is important for this reason alone.
How do you Determine Who is Liable for a Motorcycle Accident?
There are many factors that determine who is liable for a motorcycle accident, and it is all based on the individual accident and factors.
Other drivers on the roads have a responsibility to watch out for motorcyclists. If they do not follow the rules of the road, are under the influence, or are distracted, they could be held liable for an accident. The same can be said for owners of vehicles, including motorcycles, who allow someone to drive their vehicle but are not properly licensed or are underage.
Manufacturers have a duty to produce vehicle parts that allow the vehicle to run efficiently and safely. If the vehicle or specific part has a design flaw, the manufacturer of that part can be at fault for the accident.
Liability can also be given to employers of company vehicles. If an accident is caused by a courier for a larger company, that company could be held responsible.
A lawyer will review your case to determine who is liable for the accident and any damages incurred.
How Much is my Accident Worth?
After an accident, you may wonder what you are entitled to. The question is common, but the answer depends on the specific accident. You must take into account both liability and damages. If another individual was to blame for your accident, they are held liable for any damages that you incur. Damages can pertain to both physical and emotional damages such as the loss of an income if you were not able to work as a result of the injury or the emotional turmoil you experienced as a result of the accident. There are many types of physical and emotional damages, but the job of a lawyer is to outline those damages to then either take your case to trial or win a settlement.
To get a better idea of what your motorcycle accident is worth, it’s important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner your case can be resolved.
Your St. Louis Motorcycle Accident Injury Lawyer is Here for You
We’re here to help. You may have a St. Louis motorcycle accident injury lawsuit if:
- You were injured in a motorcycle accident.
- Another driver was at fault for the accident.
- You suffered an injury or monetary loss due to the accident.
An experienced St. Louis motorcycle accident injury lawyer can help by navigating the legal process for you, communicate with the insurance companies involved, determine who is liable for the accident and subsequently your injuries, and file a lawsuit on your behalf.
At TorHoerman Law, one of our lawyers is always available to answer any questions you may have with a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your accident. Contact our firm today.
For additional information, see the following pages:
For additional practice areas in St. Louis, MO, see the following pages:
- St. Louis Injury Lawyer
- St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
- St. Louis MO Trucking Accident Attorney
- St. Louis Motorcycle Accident Injury Lawyer
- St. Louis Wrongful Death Attorney
- St. Louis Slip and Fall Lawyer
- Bicycle Accident Attorney St. Louis
- St. Louis Premises Liability
- St. Louis Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
- St. Louis Medical Malpractice Lawyer
- St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyer
- St. Louis Bus Accident Lawyer
- St. Louis Assault Lawyer
- St. Louis Chemical Exposure Lawyer
- St. Louis Daycare Injury Lawyer
- St. Louis Uber Accident Attorneys
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- St. Louis Construction Accident Lawyer
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