Although motor vehicle accidents can cause great damage to every party involved, the risk of injury magnifies when a motorcycle is involved. Anyone who has ridden a motorcycle—or passed one on the road—should understand how vulnerable motorcyclists are. While there is nothing like the feeling of freedom that a motorcycle ride provides, the unfortunate downside is that even riders who maintain the best safety practices are still at a higher accident risk than people who drive trucks or cars.
In addition to increased accident risks, motorcyclists are also more likely to incur injuries in the event of accidents. The statistics are worth noting—in 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published data that reported motorcyclists are far more likely to sustain an injury in the event of an accident than drivers of passenger vehicles (like cars or trucks).
If you were in an accident while riding your motorcycle, reach out to an attorney who has firsthand experience with this type of claim. Attorney Stewart Guss has spent many hours on his motorcycle, riding the roads through his own state, so he has a true understanding and appreciation of the inherent risks motorcyclists confront every time they go on their rides.
Common Injuries Sustained in Motorcycle Accidents
On a motorcycle, nothing separates the rider from the road. That can be part of the appeal of riding a motorcycle, but it definitely adds to the risk of injury in the event of an accident. Exposure to the road and the elements, plus the lack of protection that a car or truck provides, sets a motorcycle accident apart from other passenger vehicle accidents. It makes riders the most vulnerable group of people on the road. Even a seemingly minor accident could result in serious injuries. For example, a low-speed rear-end collision might seem like a small bump in a passenger vehicle, but this same impact could catapult a motorcyclist over the front of the motorcycle, causing serious injuries.
Common accident injuries that motorcyclists might suffer include:
Spinal cord injuries – The spinal cord, a group of nerves that sends signals back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body, is one of the body’s most fragile and essential systems—making spinal cord injuries among the most dangerous a person can sustain. They have the potential to dramatically derail the lives of those who suffer them. A spinal cord injury may result in pain, numbness, weakness, loss of range of motion, and other serious issues. In extreme cases, when an accident totally disables communication from the brain to the rest of the body, permanent paralysis below the injury may follow.
Traumatic brain injuries – When motorcycle riders hit their heads, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can result. Head injuries most frequently occur when accidents eject motorcyclists from their bikes and they take the initial impacts with their heads. Even when riders wear helmets, crash forces can result in TBIs. Even seemingly minor TBIs can cause serious, lasting injuries.
Serious soft tissue injuries – Another common form of injury in a motorcycle accident is a soft tissue injury. These injuries can include but are not limited to contusions, lacerations, muscle strains, and sprains. As with all injuries, the seriousness of a soft tissue injury can vary. Extreme cases might require surgeries and result in long-term chronic pain, scars, and lost range of motion.
While some obvious injuries present themselves at accident scenes, not every injury does. An accident might draw attention away from a minor injury, which if left untreated may worsen. Some injuries, like muscle strains or whiplash, might appear hours or even days after the actual accident. Therefore, seek medical attention as soon as possible after an accident. A medical professional can perform a complete exam and identify issues that you might not immediately recognize. Establishing a medical record directly after the accident will also help establish damages during a settlement or in the event that your case goes to court.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Motorcycle Accident Case
A motorcycle accident may result in serious economic and non-economic losses. This can include lost income, impacts on quality of life, physical ability, emotional pain and suffering, and significant property damage. State law entitles motorcyclists whom someone else’s negligence impaired and injured to compensation—and depending on the circumstances of the accident, several parties could face liability for those damages. An experienced attorney can identify who is liable and accountable for these damages after closely reviewing the details of your case.
Many motorcycle accident victims can hold another driver accountable for the damages they incurred. Examples of driver negligence include:
- Driving more than the speed limit
- Driving aggressively
- Driving while distracted or drugged
- Failure to yield
- Failure to signal lane changes
Although we primarily think of holding another driver responsible for a motorcycle accident, that isn’t always the source. One example of this is roadwork. Negligence of a government or private agency responsible for road maintenance and design in the area where you are traveling can cause dangerous road conditions. Failing to attend to inadequate roads, potholes, missing lane markers, large cracks, and insufficient methods of draining runoff can all lead to dangerous motorcycle accidents.
In some cases, motorcycle accidents can result from issues with the actual motorcycle itself, or with the manufactured equipment that you purchase. You might not know you bought defective products from a motorcycle retailer or direct seller until the defects cause injuries. Therefore, if a defective product resulted in injuries, contact an attorney who can review the details of your case.
Seeking Damages After a Motorcycle Accident
When another driver’s negligence caused your accident, the first step in recovering compensation is to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The situation is a bit different if the person who caused your injury was acting as an employee of a company at the time of the accident. In that case, you might hold the company liable. Most of the time, when you initiate a personal injury claim, the resolution and settlement will go through the at-fault person or company’s insurance provider. Insurance companies will work to reach the most financially beneficial settlements for their sides. That’s why you need to retain legal representation. A lawyer will review the details of your case and work to help you collect a fair settlement.
When the opposing party cannot agree to a reasonable settlement offer, or will not accept liability for the accident, the case might need to go to trial. If the case does go to trial, both parties will need to present evidence to support their claims. A lawyer should help present your case and fully explain the range of the damages that you incurred.
Defending Your Rights After a Serious Motorcycle Accident
After a motorcycle accident, take steps to increase the chances of receiving compensation for economic and non-economic damages—even if you are clearly not at fault.
Take notes and gather information – Although the accident might have shaken you, collect information on the scene—if possible and if the conditions are safe enough. Take notes about how the accident occurred, who was involved, and the weather and road conditions. Try to collect testimony from any witnesses as well.
Maintain detailed records about how your injuries damage your life – An accident can result in short and long-term damages, and the details of how they have hurt your life can determine the extent of your claim. For this reason, keep an ongoing, detailed record about how you feel. What types of pain do you experience? Is this in line with the initial medical examination results, or are new symptoms presenting themselves? Do you suffer any emotional stress or anxiety? Take note of your personal and professional life as well. Are you able to attend social functions and perform your normal exercise routine? Have you missed a significant amount of work due to injuries? The answers can influence the outcome of your claim.
Be careful about posting on social media – In this day and age, anything that you post online can be used as evidence against you. The insurance companies will look for ways to discredit your claim, so don’t give them any help. Posting pictures of yourself engaging in social and active endeavors might make your injuries seem less serious, and make your claim seem less credible. Keep this in mind when posting—or better yet, simply stay away from social media until you resolve your case.
Retain an attorney – To achieve the best possible results, and receive fair compensation for your personal injuries in a motorcycle accident, hire a lawyer to represent you immediately. In motorcycle accident cases, retaining an attorney is the most effective way to protect your rights.
Contact Our Office to Speak With a National Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
As a long-time motorcyclist, Stewart Guss has a unique and personal understanding of the risks involved when riding a motorcycle. He is especially committed to holding negligent motor vehicle drivers responsible for motorcycle accidents. He is familiar with the process of obtaining favorable settlements, and will not hesitate to bring a case to trial, if necessary.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you need an experienced legal team on your side. Stewart Guss and his team of experienced motorcycle accident attorneys are committed to helping injured motorcyclists recover compensation from careless motorists and other parties that cause serious wrecks. We work to protect the rights of motorcycle accident victims, and you don’t need to pay us anything unless we win. To schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys, call 800-898-4877 today or send an email through our online contact form.