Motorcyclists face numerous dangers as they travel on roads and highways. When involved in accidents with other types of vehicles, motorcyclists are much likelier to suffer fatalities or catastrophic injuries. Unlike the occupants of cars, vans, trucks, or SUVs, motorcyclists do not have protective vehicular frames surrounding them to absorb some of the physical forces released in collisions. This means that they have little to protect them if they are struck by another vehicle. The federal government estimates that per mile traveled in 2014, the number of deaths on motorcycles was over 27 times the number in cars (source). By understanding the top causes of motorcycle accidents, both motorcyclists and other motorists can help to reduce the likelihood of these crashes.
Understanding the Top Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Even relatively minor mistakes on the road can cause collisions involving motorcycles. The following situations are some of the top causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Changing lanes unsafely without noticing motorcyclists in blind spots
- Opening car doors in the path of oncoming motorcycles
- Speeding, which reduces reaction time and increases braking distance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Lane splitting by inexperienced riders
- Abruptly stopping or following too close
- Inexperienced drivers
- Left-turn errors and distance misjudgments when motorcyclists are oncoming
- Motorcycle defects
- Dangerous road conditions
Most of the top causes of motorcycle accidents are preventable, and many occur due to driver negligence. When motorcyclists suffer serious injuries or are killed in accidents that were the fault of other drivers, parts manufacturers, or road maintenance entities, the victims or their families may be able to recover damages by filing personal injury lawsuits against the negligent parties.
Personal Injury Claims Involving Motorcycle Accidents
Personal injury claims involving motorcycle accidents may be made under several different theories of tort law. In accidents that were caused by the negligence of motorists, the victims may file personal injury lawsuits alleging negligence. The families of motorcyclists who are killed may file wrongful death lawsuits. In personal injury and wrongful death claims, the plaintiffs must be able to prove that the drivers were negligent. In order to do this, they must prove that the drivers owed a duty of care that they breached. They must then show that the driver’s breach of the duty was a direct or proximate cause of the resulting accident and the motorcyclists’ resulting injuries or deaths. Finally, they must show that they suffered financial losses or damages as a result.
In claims involving negligent road maintenance, plaintiffs must be able to prove that the entities owed a duty of care to maintain the roads in reasonably safe conditions and that they either knew or should have known about the poor conditions that existed on the roads. For example, if there is a large pothole that people have repeatedly complained about but which is not repaired, the entities responsible may be liable if a motorcyclist then hits the pothole and suffers injuries in an accident.
Motorcycle and parts manufacturers may be liable to motorcyclists who have accidents in cases in which the motorcycle or one of its parts is found defective through a products liability claim. Proving this type of claim may necessitate the help of experts who can establish the defect and help to identify all of the parties along the supply chain who might hold liability for bringing the motorcycle to the market.
In some motorcycle accidents, the passengers are seriously injured or killed. Sometimes these accidents happen because of the negligent actions of other motorists. In other cases, they may be caused by the negligence of the motorcycles’ operators. Injured passengers may file claims against the motorcyclist with whom they were riding and/or the other motorists who were involved in the accident. If both the motorcyclist and the motorist shared the blame, the claims may be filed against both of them. When multiple parties share the blame, each may be allocated a portion of the fault and be required to pay their individual proportion of the resulting damages.
Factors That Determine Compensation
There are a variety of different types of damages that may be available following a motorcycle accident. The types and amounts will depend on the specific facts of the individual case. Typical categories of damages include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income losses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- For spouses, loss of consortium
- In wrongful death cases, reasonable funeral and burial expenses
Motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic, leaving the victims suffering from permanently disabling conditions. They may also result in the unexpected deaths of motorcyclists, leaving families struggling with mounting expenses, substantial financial losses, and grief. If you or someone you love has been injured in a collision, you don’t have to face the fight for fair compensation alone. Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave, and schedule a free initial consultation to explore your options. We can help you determine the best course of action so that you can obtain the maximum compensation you deserve and the best outcome for your claim.