Many people have a misperception that motorcycle accidents are single-vehicle accidents and the fault of a biker who did something wrong.
That is not the case. In fact, only one-quarter of all motorcycle accidents involve only the biker. The rest involve cars, and very often, it is the automobile driver who is at fault for the crash. Even in the single vehicle accidents, there is often someone else at fault in a significant percentage of the crashes.
Motorcyclists Are at a High Risk of Injury
Motorcyclists are at a higher risk than all other drivers on the road. Statistically, they are much more likely to be seriously hurt or killed in a crash. Numerically, they have 27 times the chance of dying in crashes than do occupants of passenger cars. In one recent year, more than 5,000 people died in motorcycle accidents. Numerous indicators have shown that the situation on the roads for motorcyclists is growing worse with escalating fatalities.
Motorcyclists can suffer severe injuries in a crash, including:
- Serious internal injuries and bleeding
- Severe fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Burns from road rash
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
Because of the relative lack of protection that motorcycles provide, bikers are at the most risk of suffering a head or neck injury. Motorcyclists are at serious risk even if they are wearing their helmets and taking all possible precautions.
When vehicles crash with motorcycles, statistics show that drivers are usually to blame. In most crashes, drivers have done something to violate the motorcyclist’s right to proceed in traffic. Accordingly, most of the reasons that motorcyclists are in accidents have to do with other drivers and their mistakes. Below are some common reasons why motorcyclists suffer injuries in accidents.
Motorcyclists Crash in Bad Weather Conditions
Poor weather conditions are difficult for any driver. They are even more so for the motorcyclist. Rain and ice present challenges because they will make the roads more slippery and reduce the amount of braking time that a driver has. Even if the motorcyclist knows how to safely operate a bike in bad weather, other drivers can still put them at risk. Inclement weather does raise the odds of a crash. Ironically, the injury rate for bikers is lower when the weather is bad, partly because other drivers slow down to adjust to the weather.
Accident Risks Increase on Roads in Poor Condition
Let’s face it, America’s roads are in bad shape and getting worse. Spending on the nation’s highways is not keeping up with the general decay of our infrastructure. As a result, our highways and streets have potholes and concrete that is degrading. The crumbling infrastructure challenges all drivers on the road. It is even worse for motorcyclists. Not only do motorcyclists have to contend with roads in poor shape, they must also deal with motorists driving erratically because they are struggling with adverse road conditions.
More work zones usually accompany decaying roads when state governments try to spend the money necessary to fix the highways. However, work zones present unique dangers for motorcyclists. They may be more likely to crash because other cars need to jam on the brakes in reaction to changing road conditions, taking their focus away from potential motorcyclists in their path.
One in Ten Motorcycle Fatalities Occur in Work Zones
Work zones are another common area where motorcyclists may crash because there is construction debris on the road. This debris could be gravel, poorly-placed equipment, or left-behind materials. Moreover, the pavement in a work zone is degraded, and presents more dangers to a motorcyclist. Since they are lighter weight and closer to the road, debris on the road can impact motorcyclists more than other drivers. They do not have the type of suspension that cars have to withstand contact and contact with debris could cause the motorcyclist to lose control of their bike.
Motorcyclists comprise roughly 10 percent of fatalities in work zones. While speed calming zones help reduce the dangers for bikers, some roads have no mitigation measures at all. These present more dangers for drivers.
In some cases, injured motorcyclists and their families can seek compensation from the government or the construction company responsible for the work zone if their crash happened due to poor road conditions or the hazards of highway construction. When you sue a government, the rules are slightly different, so consult one of our motorcycle accident lawyers if poor road conditions caused the accident.
Drunk, Distracted, and Fatigued Drivers Cause Motorcyclists to Crash
Motorists have challenges seeing motorcyclists in their blind spots even under the best of conditions. However, many drivers handicap themselves by the choices that they make before driving and behind the wheel.
Drivers can do any number of things wrong that endanger motorcycles.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving takes place when the motorist is doing something else behind the wheel besides driving. Usually, distractions involve checking their phone or sending a text. However, distracted driving is a broad category and can include things such as eating and applying makeup. Drivers operate their cars with many diversions, and each one of them takes away from their ability to recognize that a motorcyclist is close to them. It increases the risk that they will drift or drive into the motorcyclist’s right of way.
- Drowsy driving – A motorist not getting enough sleep or rest before they get behind the wheel results in drowsy driving. Fatigued driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Drowsy driving is dangerous for motorcyclists, especially those who drive between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Drunk driving – Drunk driving is a common cause of motorcycle crashes when motorists are operating under the influence of alcohol or any other substance. Driving after using cannabis can be every bit as dangerous because drivers’ reaction times are slow to nonexistent. Motorcyclists have little to protect them when they are in a crash with a drunk driver.
Drivers Who Do Not Yield Cause Motorcycle Accidents
The most common scenario for a motorcycle crash is when the driver makes a left-hand turn, causing the motor vehicle to cut across the motorcyclist’s lane. The resulting collision often is the car impacting the front of the bike. The impact in a low-speed turn is enough to eject the biker or send them over the handlebars. The real risk is when the motorcyclist flies off their bike and hits the ground, since that is when traumatic brain injuries and severe fractures happen.
In fact, two-thirds of motorcycle vehicle accidents happen when the driver cuts into the motorcyclists’ right-of-way. As an injured motorcyclist, you would likely receive financial compensation under these facts. It would be the motorist who would be considered negligent, and they would need to pay for the harm that you or a loved one suffered.
The Motorcycle May Malfunction and Cause an Accident
In some cases, the motorcycle driver may operate their bike perfectly normally and reasonably. However, they may end up in a single vehicle crash because something with their motorcycle caused them to lose control. They could have a tire blow out or a problem with the brakes that cause a crash at high speed. While the biker has done nothing wrong, they still end up with serious injuries.
While it is hard to get the exact statistics about how many accidents are caused by defects in motorcycles or their parts, recalls of bikes are very common. For example, Harley-Davidson recalled over 200,000 motorcycles in consecutive years last decade. Motorcycles are a complicated piece of machinery, but that does not excuse a product defect that causes injury.
Motorcyclists may still file a lawsuit, even when no other driver is responsible for their injuries. If there was something wrong with the motorcycle or its parts, injured bikers may file a product liability lawsuit. Such a circumstance can result in a court case that would allow you to receive the same types of damages that you would in a lawsuit against the other driver. Our motorcycle accident lawyers can tell you how to file a product liability lawsuit.
Motorcycles Can Wreck Because Drivers Misjudge Them
Motorists cannot often tell how close or far a motorcyclist is from them. The smaller size of the bikes is difficult for drivers to see. As a result, motorists often cannot tell how far away the motorcycle is, increasing the chances that they will collide with it. In addition, drivers also cannot always judge the speed of a motorcycle outside their normal vision line. Both of these make it more likely that the driver will end up in the same lane as the motorcyclist, resulting in a collision.
Head-On Collisions Are Too Common
In addition to running into the motorcyclist’s space, drivers also have head-on collisions with motorcyclists (when the front ends of both vehicles collide). Here, drivers may drift into the wrong lane or may collide with the motorcyclist when trying to make a pass on the road.
Head on collisions are among the worst for motorcyclists since the car is directly hitting them. Motorcycles do not have anything to absorb the force of the impact. The impact alone is enough to cause serious and permanent injuries. Even in a best-case scenario, the motorcyclist faces a long hospital stay and a grueling rehabilitation process in which they will miss months of work, if they can even return to their job at all.
Too Many Trucks on the Road Makes Motorcycle Accidents More Likely
Motorcyclists will crash more often at times when there is truck traffic on the road that is heavier than normal. One reason why motorcycle crashes and fatalities are up in 2020 is because the number of trucks on the road has risen dramatically. The increase of trucks makes the roads a much more dangerous place for bikers who already have to contend with distracted and aggressive drivers.
Large trucks increase the road hazards for motorcyclists because their presence blocks sightlines for every driver on the highways and streets. They take up so much space on the roads that they prevent other motorists from operating their vehicles in a normal fashion. When trucks cut into drivers’ blind spots, they force the drivers to swerve. When that happens, they increase the dangers for motorcyclists in their vicinity.
Trucks also pose a direct danger to motorcyclists. Truck drivers have enough trouble seeing drivers. They have even more problems spotting motorcyclists when they are changing lanes. An oblivious lane change will force motorcyclists to cut into someone else’s lane if the truck has entered their space.
When a truck causes a motorcycle accident, you can sue the trucking company which, in turn, can lead to an even larger motorcycle accident recovery. Trucking companies often carry larger insurance policies with higher coverage limits.
You or Your Loved One Can Receive Financial Compensation for Motorcycle Injuries
When any of the above scenarios have happened, you or your loved one can receive financial compensation for the injuries suffered in the crash.
Specifically, you could receive the following damages from a motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit:
- Payment for past and future medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages or a reduction in your earning capacity
- Damage to your property (such as your motorcycle)
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The financial compensation for your accident can be considerable but you need to know how much your claim is worth before you settle it, something at which our motorcycle accident attorneys have considerable experience. Filing a motorcycle accident claim or lawsuit is often the only chance that you will have to financially recover for your injuries. Get it right with help from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.