Whether it is the adventure and exhilaration of the open road, the scenery, or the convenience of using a motorcycle for your daily commute, people all over the country love their motorcycles.
Texas offers fantastic road trips, with everything from fields of Texas bluebonnets to a landscape right out of the old west. Crossing into Louisiana, motorcycle riders travel roads filled with enchanting cultural and historical sites. Motorcycles are becoming popular among older riders. In 1980, a typical motorcycle owner was age 27, but more than a third of fatally injured motorcyclists were age 50 or older in recent years. However, a pleasant drive can turn deadly in an instant. Bikers have less than two seconds to avoid a collision in most cases.
Motorcyclists are nearly 29 times more likely than those riding in passenger cars to die in a road accident based on vehicle miles traveled. Also, their risk of injury is five times greater. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, 5,014 motorcyclists died in motorcycle accidents in just one year.
Many motorcycle accidents occur on the weekends or outside of regular business hours. In 2019, the Insurance Information Institute statistics indicated that 48 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents occurred on the weekend. Nearly a quarter of those wrecks occurring on a weekday occurred outside of business hours. Considering the increased possibility of motorcycle wrecks during non-business hours, you need a 24-hour lawyer to ensure that you receive financial restitution after a wreck.
Reasons why motorcyclists get into more accidents
The size of a motorcycle, relative to other vehicles on the road, plays a role in accident risk. Since motorcycles are smaller, they are less visible than other vehicles. Because they have only two wheels, they are also less stable than four-wheeled vehicles. When stationary, they require a stand to hold them up, and when in motion, they must have a balance of dynamic forces to keep them upright and pointed properly.
With only two wheels, swerving and emergency braking tend to be more likely. It is a wobble if the front wheel wiggles and does not stop. A full-wheel lock wobble is very dangerous and usually results in a crash. You cannot steer the motorcycle since the motorcycle will continue in the same direction as when the wobble started. Generally, having only two wheels makes emergency braking and swerving more likely in motorcycles.
Operating a motorcycle takes special skills, but they may still be at risk even if the operator drives safely. Operating a motorcycle takes a unique skill set, and it takes vigilance and consistent balance. Even a brief lapse in attention or a spell of drowsiness can cause an accident. However, motorcyclists tend to get into accidents far more frequently, even for careful drivers.
Even if the operator never makes reckless or unsafe decisions, visibility is a problem. Most drivers are not actively watching for motorcyclists. Because they are small, many drivers do not notice a motorcycle until it is too late.
Motorcyclists are also at risk due to weather and road conditions. Harsh wind, rain, ice, fog, and other weather conditions contribute to accidents.
Common causes of motorcycle crashes
As with all traffic accidents, there are many potential causes. They happen everywhere and on all types of roads. However, about 61 percent of motorcycle fatalities occur in urban areas.
Causes of motorcycle accidents include:
Speeding. Speeding accounts for about 34 percent of motorbike accidents, more than any other vehicle. Many motorcyclists enjoy the thrill of driving fast, but it is hazardous. Driving over the speed limit has more consequences than breaking the law. A speeder is more likely to lose control of a vehicle. A speeding driver is less able to see others, react and stop in time. A person involved in a high-speed accident is usually more severely injured.
Driving under the influence. Most people know that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is hazardous, and these substances affect essential driving skills such as judgment and coordination. Driving under the result is a severe offense and can lead to civil and criminal penalties. In 2018, 28 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involved alcohol.
Unsafe lane changes. Motorcycles are relatively small vehicles, so someone in a car may not see a motorcycle in time to avoid an accident. Those driving passenger vehicles may also fail to carefully check their blind spots or fail to signal before merging into a motorcyclist’s lane.
Sudden stops. Abrupt stops often lead to rear-end collisions, especially when the car behind is tailgating.
Car doors. A distracted or inattentive person sitting in a parked car may not see an oncoming motorcyclist and may open the car door unexpectedly, hitting a motorcyclist.
Hazardous road conditions. Motorcycles are especially vulnerable to dangerous road conditions. Because of their instability, motorcyclists need a well-maintained road surface with good friction for the operator to maintain control. Motorcycles are smaller and less stable. Therefore, uneven road surfaces, sand, gravel, debris, potholes, or unexpected objects on the road can cause accidents.
Motorcycle defects. Defects in designing or manufacturing a motorcycle or its components can lead to a dangerous accident.
It can be difficult to prove these causes of motorcycle accidents. After the fact, speed, driving under the influence, and hazardous road conditions are challenging to prove. If someone crashed into your motorcycle and these factors played a role in the wreck, you need an experienced attorney who can begin gathering evidence and building your case as soon as possible.
Twenty-four-hour lawyers are available to attend to your case right away, rather than waiting until morning or until the beginning of the week; evidence may have disappeared by this point. A 24-hour lawyer can obtain eyewitness testimony, document weather, and road conditions at the time of your accident, and begin to build a case determining fault.
Common motorcycle accidents
Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions with passenger vehicles account for 56 percent of fatal accidents. In more than three-quarters of those, a car hits a motorcycle from the front. Tragically, most head-on collisions between a motorcycle and another vehicle are fatal for the motorcyclist.
Rear-end collision. People think rear-end car collisions are less dangerous than head-on collisions. However, even a low-speed rear-end collision can kill a motorcyclist. The big difference in a rear-end collision is that the motorcyclist is far more exposed than a car's occupants.
If a vehicle hits a motorcyclist from behind in a rear-end collision, the motorcyclist could be violently ejected from the cycle and seriously harmed by impact. Some of the danger depends on where and how hard the rider will land and where the bike lands. If the motorcycle falls on top of the rider, chances of a severe injury increase.
Left-turn accidents. Approximately 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and a car happen when cars make left-hand turns. Left-turn accidents are common among all vehicles but are a greater risk for motorcyclists because they are smaller and less visible. These accidents often happen during passing or attempting to overtake a vehicle or when the motorcyclist travels straight through an intersection.
Collisions between motorcycles and fixed objects. Approximately 25 percent of motorcycle fatalities involve a collision with stationary objects. When this happens, there are two separate impacts. First, the motorcyclist hits a fixed object and then hits the road. These accidents typically involve trees, utility pools, concrete barriers, and signs.
The frame of a car protects the occupants and safeguards them from debris. In addition, most cars contain various safety features, such as airbags and seatbelts. However, the motorcyclist lacks these protections. Upon crashing into a fixed object, they may be thrown from the motorcycle or suffer various other injuries, especially if they are not wearing a helmet and protective clothing.
Common motorcycle accident injuries
Motorcycle accident victims are more likely to suffer a severe or fatal injury. The main reason is that they lack the protections that people in cars have, such as sturdy chassis, seatbelts, airbags, and more.
An Insurance Information Institute report reveals that 1,872 motorcycle riders could have survived wearing helmets. Helmets significantly reduce the chance of a head or brain injury, but these injuries can happen even with protective gear. Traumatic brain injuries can cause speech or memory loss, cognitive damage, emotional problems, physical disability, coma, and death. When a motorcycle crash occurs, victims can sustain head and brain injuries, including concussions, epidural hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural hemorrhage, and penetrating brain injuries.
A motorcyclist can suffer a wide range of spinal injuries:
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Pulled or torn back muscles
- Thoracic spinal cord trauma
- Lumbar spinal cord trauma
- Cervical spinal cord trauma
Multiple level injuries are common. For example, injuries to the spine or spinal cord may result in permanent disability or partial or complete paralysis.
Facial lacerations and injuries can be incredibly distressing and sometimes disfiguring. The skin on the face is very delicate and is prone to scarring. Facial lacerations and skin abrasions are common in motorcycle crashes and may require treatment by a plastic surgeon.
Muscle, joint, and bone injuries
A motorcyclist can suffer muscle, joint, and bone injuries in an accident. The legs and feet usually hit the ground first when somebody falls off a motorcycle. After an accident, medical personnel treated 47 percent of the motorcyclists for injuries on the lower extremities. These included bone fractures and joint damage in the legs, knees, ankles, and feet.
Many people also suffered injuries to their hips, pelvises, thighs, and upper extremities. The arms, wrists, and hands are often injured when the rider reaches out to brace for impact. The human body contains more than 600 muscles, so muscle and cartilage damage are common. Older riders may suffer more of these injuries and have a slower recovery.
Road rash occurs when pavement scrapes or rubs the skin off. Often debris becomes embedded in a motorcycle accident wound. Extensive or severe road rash may require intense medical care such as skin grafts.
Negligence and motorcycle accidents
Like most motor vehicle accident cases, recovering compensation for your injuries and damages after a motorcycle accident typically relies on proving that another person or party acted negligently.
To recover compensation in negligence actions, you must prove that:
- Another person/party owed you a duty of care
- That person/party breached their duty of care
- As a result, that person/party caused an accident that left you injured
- As a result of your injuries, you suffered damages
The law sets strict time limits for filing a lawsuit. Therefore, if a motorcycle accident injured you or someone you love, consult a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible for additional information or a free case evaluation.
To ensure that you meet the deadlines for filing a lawsuit and that you have the appropriate evidence to prove your claim, you must contact a 24-hour lawyer as soon as possible, following the accident. A 24-hour lawyer is available for consultation and legal support round the clock and your best bet for a successful legal claim.
Your Questions, Our Answers
If you or a loved one ride a motorcycle, you are likely to have questions about what would happen in the event of a motorcycle accident. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about motorcycle accidents.
Do you need a special license to drive a motorcycle?
Yes. All 50 states and Washington, D.C. have laws that require motorcyclists to pass a written knowledge test to obtain a license to operate a motorcycle on public roads. The specific requirements vary from state to state. For example, in Texas, Those without a regular driver’s license can still apply for a Motorcycle ‘Class M’ License. However, the applicant needs to meet the requirements of a standard Texas driver’s license and pass a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) approved Safety Course.
Do I need a helmet to operate or ride on a motorcycle?
One essential safety measure for motorcyclists is to wear a helmet. A well-constructed, properly fitted helmet can help protect your head from possible brain injuries, and some helmets also protect your eyes and face from debris or road rash. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a helmet can protect brain injuries by 67 percent and fatalities by 37 percent.
In Texas, any rider under 21 must wear a helmet. Those over the age of 21 who choose not to wear a helmet must obtain the proper certification or insurance coverage. In addition, they must either complete a Department of Motor Vehicles-approved Motorcycle Operating Training Course or get at least $10,000 in medical insurance.
Under Louisiana Revised Statues 32:190, it is against the law to ride on or operate a motorcycle without wearing a safety helmet secured by a chinstrap. The safety helmet must be specifically manufactured for motorcyclists and needs a lining, visor, and padding.
Who may be liable for a motorcycle accident?
As with all motor vehicle accidents, there may be multiple liable parties. All drivers must follow the rules of the road. They must stay alert, attentive, and unimpaired while behind the wheel. Other potentially liable parties include those responsible for road safety, governmental entities, motor carriers, cargo loaders, and vehicle manufacturers.
Potentially liable parties include:
Driver error causes most accidents. For example, drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol, tired, or distracted are responsible for any accidents. Drivers must use due care when behind the wheel, so they are responsible for reckless or aggressive driving.
Those responsible for the roads must design and maintain roads suitable for all kinds of street-legal vehicles, including motorcycles. Usually, state and local government agencies are in charge of roads. Conditions such as debris on the road, inadequate guardrails, pavement defects, or poorly designed intersections can cause accidents.
When a huge commercial vehicle hits a motorcyclist, the result is usually catastrophic. Generally, employers are liable for any damages their employees cause while carrying out their job duties.
A cargo loading company
Improperly or overly loaded cargo is exceptionally hazardous. It may cause a truck to jackknife, rollover, or its load may fall off the truck and injure a vulnerable motorcyclist.
A vehicle manufacturer
Defectively designed or manufactured vehicles can cause devastating accidents. Problems with brakes, tires, or steering are common, and defects in equipment may provide grounds for a product liability claim.
What damages can I receive for my injuries?
Those injured in a motorcycle accident might cover compensation for many kinds of damages, including:
- Present and future medical expenses. Medical treatment for injuries may be costly and include emergency room treatment, medical tests, surgery, rehabilitative therapy, prescription medication, assistive devices, and remodeling a home to make it accessible.
- Lost income and loss of future earning capacity. Injured persons often lose income because of time spent on treatment and recovery. In cases of long-term disability, they may be unable to return to their job or even continue in their chosen career.
- Property damage, such as motorcycle repairs.
- Pain and suffering damages. These are more difficult to quantify than economic damages. They may include compensation for mental distress, diminished capacity to enjoy life, loss of companionship, or scarring and disfigurement.
- Punitive damages. In rare cases, a court may order a defendant to pay punitive damages. The court awards compensatory damages to make the victim whole again, to the extent possible. However, the court orders punitive damages to punish or deter a defendant for grossly negligent or intentional behavior, such as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What if someone died in a motorcycle accident?
Unfortunately, approximately 5 percent of motorcycle accidents are fatal. The surviving family may pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim. The family may seek compensation for funeral and burial expenses, the deceased’s projected earnings, medical care following the accident that caused the death, the companionship and guidance of the deceased, and more.
Should I accept a quick settlement offer?
You may have suffered an injury in a recent motorcycle accident, and the other driver’s insurance company offered to pay a quick settlement. Remember that the insurance company’s goal is to pay as little as possible on your claim. Therefore, a fast initial offer is typically is a low offer. You may not even know the full extent of your injuries and losses yet. Furthermore, if you accept the check, the settlement probably means you are releasing the at-fault driver from liability for the accident. Therefore, you should not accept a settlement offer without having it reviewed by your attorney.
What is the legal process in a motorcycle accident?
Seeking compensation for accident injuries is usually complicated and involves many procedural steps. After your lawyer files your lawsuit and serves it on the other party, there is an opportunity for both sides to gather evidence.
Both sides submit written questions during discovery and conduct depositions recorded under oath. Pretrial motions and ongoing negotiations take place. Many cases settle out of court at some point. If the case goes to trial, both sides have the opportunity to present evidence and argue their case before a judge or jury.
How long will my case take?
Each case is unique. Some cases involve multiple parties, perhaps with different claims. These typically take longer to resolve than a fairly straightforward case, involving only one plaintiff and one defendant. An uncomplicated case could be resolved in less than a year but may take longer to conclude.
What should I do after a motorcycle accident?
Crashes are chaotic but try to take these steps.
- The most important concern is your safety and that of others involved in the accident. Try to remain calm and check on others. If possible, move your motorcycle to a safe area. Call for help. Do not leave the accident scene.
- Seek medical attention. You may not even know you are injured. Some severe injuries do not become apparent for hours or days after the accident. Therefore, you should report every symptom and possible injury site.
- Always know where to find your information. Keep insurance cards and emergency contact information where someone is likely to find them in a motorcycle crash. Keep copies of everything on your person and attached to your bike.
- When the police arrive, answer their questions simply and honestly. If you do not know the answer, say you do not know. Be sure to exchange information with other parties, such as full name, contact information, and insurance provider. Also, get contact information for any witnesses to the accident. Sometimes witnesses are challenging to locate afterward. If possible, take photos and videos of the vehicles, your injuries, and the accident scene. Include pictures of skid marks, debris in the road, and traffic signs or signals. Report the accident to your insurance agent as soon as you get home and follow their instructions going forward.
- Avoid discussing the accident with the other party or their representatives. Do not argue with the other parties about who was at fault, assign blame, or admit fault. Even a simple “I’m sorry” may be construed as an admission of guilt. Also, there is a temptation to share pictures of your accident and discuss the circumstances on social media. The other side may use these as evidence in a subsequent lawsuit.
- Contact a 24-hour lawyer to assist you in gathering data and evidence to build your legal case as soon as possible.
What is a statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations determines the amount of time an injured party has to file a lawsuit for damages. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations, a court can dismiss your claim. These deadlines vary from state to state. For example, in Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two years from the date of the injury. However, according to Louisiana civil code, the personal injury statute of limitations is one year.
If your claim involves a governmental entity, special requirements, such as a Notice of Claim, may apply. In these cases, the deadlines for filing may be different from those of other lawsuits.
How can your attorney help?
If a motorcycle accident injured you, consult an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Your attorney can review your case, explain your legal options and relieve a great deal of stress throughout the legal process. Their work may involve tasks such as:
Investigate claims. You need to know who caused your accident. There may be more than one person or entity at fault in some cases, so the issue becomes very complicated. The police report will make preliminary findings of what happened and who was responsible. After that, insurance claims representatives may investigate. Your legal team may also investigate and use experts to reconstruct the events of the accident.
Gather evidence. Evidence is the foundation of any personal injury case. A motorcycle accident attorney knows what evidence is necessary, where to find it, and how to collect and preserve it. For example, building surveillance cameras may have recorded the accident. However, the footage on these cameras is routinely deleted or copied over, so you need a lawyer who can obtain it as soon as possible.
In addition, some accidents, such as those involving trucks, may have event data recorders that record information immediately before, during, and after a crash. Evidence may establish liability for who caused the car accident but is also used to establish the plaintiff’s damages. These include medical expenses, medical treatment, medical reports, medical records, employment documents, employment reports, and property damage reports.
Negotiate with insurance companies. Effective negotiation requires skill and experience. Insurance companies usually write their policies in very complex legal jargon. Your lawyer can review the policy details, apply them to the circumstances of the case and protect your right to total compensation. They may also handle all communications with insurance companies and the other party, which relieves a great deal of anxiety and prevents the injured person from giving statements that may damage their claim.
Send letters to preserve evidence. In some cases, your attorney may send letters demanding that others preserve specific evidence. For example, if a truck caused an accident, some regulations allow trucking companies to destroy documents such as driving logs after some time. Your attorney may send letters demanding that evidence before they destroy it.
Prepare pleadings. To start a lawsuit, the lawyer must prepare a complaint explaining why the defendant caused the accident and requesting damages.
Conduct discovery. The discovery process usually includes sending and responding to interrogatories, which are written questions about the accident. Discovery also includes deposing parties and witnesses.
Represent clients in court. If the case proceeds to trial, a personal injury lawyer represents clients at pretrial motions and trial. The attorney knows the court rules and procedures that apply in various jurisdictions.
If a motorcycle accident injured you or a loved one, you need answers to your questions. You need a lawyer to begin gathering evidence and building a case as soon as possible to ensure the best legal outcome. A 24-hour lawyer is ready to start work on your case as quickly as possible, not in four or five business days. Call a 24-hour personal injury attorney today for more information or a free case evaluation.