While motorcycle popularity has increased dramatically with new riders from all walks of life, the rise in motorcycle sales has not resulted in much progress in protecting motorcyclists from injuries. Motorcycles lack the protective metal frame of a car, truck, or SUV and lack other protective features like safety restraints and airbags. This lack of safety equipment means that motorcyclists are left in an extremely vulnerable position when confronted by intoxicated, inattentive, or careless drivers. Because motorcycle accidents disproportionately cause catastrophic injury or wrongful death, we have provided answers to frequent questions regarding motorcycle accident injury claims.
Are motorcycle accident outcomes that much worse than those of auto accidents?
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, the risk of fatality from a motorcycle accident exceeds the risk of fatality when a car accident occurs by 27 times. Even when a collision does not cause a fatality, the risk of severe injury in a motorcycle crash exceeds that of a car accident by 10 times. Motorcycle accidents claimed the lives of over 5,000 lives during the most recent year for which government data is available. Riders accounted for 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities despite the fact motorcycles account for a small number of the total vehicles on U.S. roadways.
What types of negligent conduct by passenger vehicle drivers constitute the basis of motorcycle accident injury claims?
A broad spectrum of unsafe conduct by drivers of passenger vehicles causes motorcycle accidents resulting in serious injuries and fatalities including:
- Driving when impaired by drugs or alcohol
- Road rage by inconsiderate drivers
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Distracted driving
- Failing to adjust driving in poor weather or road conditions
- Disobeying traffic signals and stop or yield signs
- Failing to check blind spots
- Not allowing a safe following distance
- Unsafe lane changes or passing
While these are only a few examples of unsafe driving behaviors that often contribute to motorcycle crashes in New York, most people probably can think of times that they have witnessed drivers engaging in one or more of these types of dangerous driving practices. Each time a driver of a passenger vehicle engages in this type of unsafe conduct, they put unprotected motorcycle enthusiasts at risk.
Does it matter whether I retain an attorney that has experience handling motorcycle accident claims?
While motorcycle accidents constitute a subset of motor vehicle collisions, issues arise that differ from a car accident claim. For example, experienced motorcycle accident lawyers recognize that some people harbor mistaken stereotypes about motorcyclists as people that engage in high-risk behavior such as speeding. These stereotypes can cause a witness perception to be skewed or a juror to be predisposed to blame the rider for his or her own injuries. An experienced attorney anticipates such biases and knows how to effectively deal with such inaccurate assumptions.
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