Over 5,000 motorcyclists are killed each year in accidents. Statistics show that bikers are much less likely to survive accidents, with a fatality rate 27 times that of motorists. During the last 20 years, the number of motorcyclists killed in accidents has risen by nearly 50 percent.
Even when motorcyclists survive, the accident can leave them with permanent injuries that could include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Severe bone fractures
- Road rash and burns
Many of the motorcycle accidents that happen are through no fault of the biker. In these cases, they are safely operating their motorcycle when a driver negligently causes the accident.
Working with a motorcycle accident attorney, injured bikers of their loved ones could recover financial compensation from the driver responsible for the accident. Below are some of the common grounds that you will be in a motorcycle accident lawsuit. They are ways that drivers can cause motorcycle crashes.
Distracted Driving Is a Unique Danger
One of the most common causes of crashes between cars and motorcycles is the scourge of distracted driving. Since the invention of the cell phone, the road has become a much more dangerous place for everyone, especially motorcyclists. In some ways, cell phone usage has made an age-old problem exponentially worse.
Some of the statistics about distracted driving are downright scary. In 2018, crashes involving distracted drivers killed over 2,800 people, in addition to the 400,000 people left injured from these accidents. One in every five people who died as a result of an accident was not inside a car. These fatalities include pedestrians, bikers, and motorcyclists.
Common Types of Distracted Driving That Can Cause Motorcycle Accidents
Even if stricter state laws have cut down on distracted driving, the danger to everyone else on the road has still not subsided. Cell phone use is just one thing that can take away from driver focus.
Other distractions include:
- Eating or drinking
- Having a conversation
- Doing their makeup
- Using GPS or some other navigation device
The truth is that the danger remains high because drivers have even more ways to become distracted, the more complex our lives become.
For motorcyclists, distracted drivers present a critical danger. Drivers must focus so they can see everyone on the road. To spot motorcyclists, they need to scan their surrounding lanes properly. They cannot properly observe their immediate surroundings when their eyes and their mind are not on the road.
Drivers are not always looking for motorcyclists on the road, even under the best of circumstances. When they take their focus off the road, the first thing they may do is cut back on their peripheral vision that they may use to spot bikers.
Drivers Often Do Not See in Their Blind Spots
Distracted driving is not the only reason why a driver may fail to spot a motorcyclist. However, when the motorist fails to see the bike, it is still the driver’s fault. They have an obligation to everyone using the road, including motorcyclists, to exercise the proper duty of care. Acting reasonably means that they scan everywhere in their field of vision to see other motorists on the road. Even though a motorcyclist is not in a car or truck, they would still qualify as a motorist.
Some operators of motor vehicles fail to look for smaller objects on the road. They often train their eyes directly in front of them, trying to spot other cars and trucks in their field of vision. Motorcycles are obviously smaller and often lower down in the driver’s field of vision. Thus, drivers might not see motorcyclists in the same way that they would see other motorists.
All it takes is one moment of unawareness for a driver to seriously injure a motorcyclist. Accidents could happen even if a driver is paying full attention. The situation becomes much worse when there are so many other possible distractions in their car. When a driver does not apply the brakes or even react, they can crash into a motorcyclist at high speed or come into the biker’s lane.
Not Seeing the Motorcyclist Is Not a Valid Legal Excuse
Drivers have other problems with spotting motorcyclists. In general, blind spots tend to be a problem for many drivers. Additionally, a motorcycle’s size makes it easy for a careless driver to miss it in a blind spot. Moreover, motorcycle drivers respond differently to changes in conditions and adverse weather. All of these factors add up to situations in which motorists have difficulty spotting motorcyclists. By the time that the driver sees the motorcycle, it is often too late.
Regardless, none of these factors would remove the driver’s liability if they are in an accident with a motorcycle. Not seeing a motorcycle is not an excuse if there is a crash. The driver would still be legally responsible for the accident, assuming that it was the driver who acted unreasonably.
Motorists May Not Yield the Right of Way
Another common cause of car-motorcycle accidents is that automobile drivers fail to yield the right-of-way when required. Intersections are the most dangerous place on the road for motorcyclists.
Just like drivers do not see motorcyclists in their blind spots, the problem is even worse in intersections. Drivers are often focused on making the turn and do not look around them to see who else is in the intersection. Even worse, drivers may refuse to yield to a motorcyclist, even when the biker has the right of way. Drivers and motorcyclists must share the road, but motorists often do not heed that obligation.
Federal guidance dictates that drivers should wait until they have made sure that there are no oncoming motorcyclists before pulling into an intersection. If drivers do not take this precaution, they may cause motorcyclists to jam on their brakes, which could then force them from their bike or over the handlebars. Even though drivers must share the road with motorcyclists, they are not always responsible.
Too Many Drivers Speed on the Roadways
Not only may drivers not be properly looking where they should be for motorcyclists, but they may also be driving too fast to pay the right amount of attention. Speeding will cause a driver to lose their focus on the road. They also do not have the best reaction times when traveling at an excessive rate of speed.
Roughly 25 percent of the traffic fatalities each year in the U.S. happen when a driver is speeding. For motorcyclists, speeding presents a unique danger since the driver needs to have all of their wits about them to see the bikers on the road. They lose many of them when they are going well over the speed limit. Even if drivers are not exceeding the speed limit, they may still be going too fast for the particular road conditions at the time of an accident.
When a motorist is speeding, they have less control of their car in general. They cannot respond as well to what happens on the road. If they happen to get too close to a motorcyclist for whatever reason, they cannot apply their brakes in time to avoid the collision. They might also run the biker off the road if they come into the motorcycle’s space. Yet many drivers think that the best way to get from point A to point B is driving as quickly as possible without considering others’ safety on the road.
Motorists’ Alcohol Use Kills Motorcyclists
Another factor that reduces driver awareness is the use of alcohol before and during driving.
- Slows reaction times and reflexes, meaning that drivers cannot react in time even if they see the motorcyclist.
- Reduces a driver’s concentration on operating their vehicle and their surroundings.
- Affects their ability to spot a motorcyclist if the motorcyclist is not already fully in the driver’s field of vision. A motorist’s eyes muscles do not function as well when the driver is drunk.
- Hinders a driver’s ability to make sound decisions when they are behind the wheel.
Motorists are a danger to everyone when they drive drunk. They are even more hazardous to motorcyclists, who stand much less of a chance of surviving a crash with a large car driving erratically and out of control. Since the biker cannot anticipate a drunk driver, they are more likely to be thrown from their bike when trying to take evasive maneuvers.
Drowsy Driving Slows Motorists’ Reaction Times
Automobile drivers may also place motorcyclists at risk when they get behind the wheel without the proper amount of rest. Many are surprised to learn that drowsy driving can be every bit as dangerous as drunk driving. In fact, when you drive after not having slept for 20 hours, there is the same effect as operating a car with a 0.08 blood alcohol level (the level at which the law considers an individual too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle).
An inadequate amount of sleep can dramatically slow drivers’ reaction time. The most dangerous time for motorcyclists is between midnight and 6 a.m. This is when many drowsy drivers should rest at home. These drivers rarely pay enough attention and look where they need to to see motorcyclists.
More Trucks Are on the Roadway
Large trucks present a special category of danger for the motorcyclist. The presence of these hulking vehicles makes life more difficult for everyone on the roadway. Even an experienced truck driver will struggle to see in their blind spot. It is often virtually impossible for them to see a biker from their 18-wheeler since they have much surface area to scan. Truckers even have issues seeing automobile drivers on the road.
The presence of trucks further complicates things for motorcyclists by making life more complicated for drivers. The actions of a truck driver can cause a chain reaction when a driver must take evasive action to get away from a truck. A driver’s evasive action could cause a car to swerve into a motorcyclist’s space and crash into the biker or run them off the road.
Seeking Help from the Best Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near You
All of this is to say that a negligent driver can cause a crash with a motorcycle in many ways.
The victim must prove the following four elements to make another party liable for the victim’s injuries:
- The driver owed a duty of care to the injured party.
- The driver breached the duty of care by acting unreasonably and recklessly.
- Someone else was injured.
- The person’s injury would not have happened if not for the driver’s unreasonable or reckless actions.
Here, motorcycle accident attorneys would help you establish the facts and prove that the driver’s actions were unreasonable and a breach of duty. Assuming that you can show that the driver did any of the actions described above, you could already be a long way towards showing that you deserve financial compensation.
Potential disputes over the nature of an accident and who is liable are exactly why you need to contact a motorcycle accident lawyer. Often, the driver of the car tells another story, and you need someone on your side to help show why your side of the story is the right one. The right attorney near you would help you tell your story and could also help document what happened during the accident.
If you file a motorcycle accident lawsuit on behalf of yourself or a loved one, it may involve serious injuries—80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injuries or death. Thus, you will need the financial compensation that you could receive from your claim. However, it is difficult to impossible for seriously injured people to handle their own claims. Legal representation is a must as you fight for compensation for your injuries or those of your family member.