Get Full Compensation for Your Injuries With an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
While any motor vehicle collision poses a potential for injury, motorcycles can be especially dangerous because of a motorbike’s unique design characteristics. The instability of motorcycles increases the probability that a motorcycle will be in a collision. Motorcycles are also relatively small, so they can maneuver into areas where drivers of passenger cars do not expect them. Since motorcycles also lack the safety equipment of passenger cars, like airbags, a reinforced passenger compartment, and seat belts, riding enthusiasts also tend to suffer serious or even catastrophic injuries when they are the victims of crashes caused by unsafe drivers of cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles. When a rider suffers permanent disability or disfigurement, the physical, financial, and emotional impact of a crash can take a devastating toll on the victim and their family. When this happens, a skilled motorcycle accident injury lawyer like the ones at Parker Waichman LLP can help by handling your legal claim and fighting to get you the fair compensation you deserve, so you can focus on your rehabilitation and recovery.
Negligent Drivers Are Especially Dangerous to Motorcyclists
Drivers who are speeding, intoxicated or distracted endanger everyone on roadways, but a wealth of evidence shows the special threat they pose to motorcycle enthusiasts. Motorcycle crashes claim the lives of more than 4,000 people every year, and motorcycle riders are 27 times more likely to be killed in a collision than passenger car drivers on a per-mile-driven basis, according to data from the federal government. Although traffic-related fatalities have declined in recent years because of motor vehicle safety innovations, twice as many people died in motorcycle crashes during a recent 12-month period than during the same time period 18 years earlier.
Motorcycles lack the protective benefits of cars, but helmets can make a significant difference in the outcome of a crash. Because impact to the head is the most frequent cause of fatal injuries for motorcyclists, helmet use often saves riders’ lives. Motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatalities and 67 percent effective in the prevention of brain injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Types of Motorcycle Accidents Caused by the Negligence of Passenger Car Drivers
When motorcycles are involved in multi-vehicle accidents, the other driver typically causes the collision by violating the rider’s right-of-way, according to the Hurt Report, a famous study that analyzed motorcycle accident risks and causation factors. A motorcycle rider typically has less than two seconds to compensate for an error or the inattention of a passenger car driver. The rider also cannot engage in the same exaggerated countermeasures, such as slamming on the brakes or oversteering, to avoid a collision. Some of the practices of other drivers that cause motorcycle accidents include:
- Left Turns: Motorists often make left turns across traffic directly in front of a motorcycle traveling straight in the opposite direction.
- Opening Car Doors: Although opening a car door might seem innocuous, failure of the vehicle occupant to look first can be extremely dangerous for a rider.
- Sudden Stops: Tailgating is an unsafe driving practice under any circumstances, but there’s no such thing as a “minor rear-ender” when the vehicle struck from behind is a motorcycle.
- DUI/DWI: Alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers often fail to slow down or perform any evasive action prior to a crash, which is extremely dangerous to an unprotected rider.
- Improper Lane Changes: When the driver of a passenger car fails to look before executing a lane change, a motorcyclist can be left with virtually no opportunity to avoid the crash, especially if the driver also fails to use their turn signal.
- Speeding: Drivers who violate the speed limit or fail to compensate for weather, road, visibility or traffic conditions can cause crashes.
- Distracted Driving: Drivers who text-message behind the wheel can spell disaster for exposed motorcyclists; a car traveling at 55 mph can cover the length of a football field in the amount of time it takes to read a text message.
- Driver Indifference: Many passenger car motorists do not understand motorcycle handling limitations or drive with indifference to the safety of motorcyclists. Execution of a lane change that cuts off another vehicle is always dangerous, but a motorcycle rider can’t brake as aggressively as the driver of a car, pickup or SUV.
Parties Financially Responsible for Motorcycle Accidents
While the negligent driver of another vehicle often will be the financially responsible party, there are situations where the best motorcycle accident attorney might need to consider the liability of third parties. Potential defendants besides the other driver might include:
- Public Entities: When a public entity knows or should know that a roadway is unreasonably dangerous because of its design or maintenance, a municipality or other government entity might be liable. Shoddy roadside maintenance is an especially serious threat to riders because potholes and other defects in the road surface can impact a motorcycle even though they would not be noticeable to someone in a passenger car.
- Vehicle Manufacturers: If a defective part, system or vehicle plays a significant role in causing a crash, any entity in the manufacturing or distribution chain might be a viable defendant.
- Motorist’s Employer: If the negligent driver was engaged in the course of employment when running into a motorcyclist, their employer might also be liable.
- Another Driver: The driver who hit you might have been forced to do so by the unsafe driving of another motorist, which could make the third driver liable.
Third-party liability can be especially important when you suffer severe injuries, as the insurance coverage of the other driver might not be adequate to fully compensate you for your loss. The other driver might even be uninsured. That’s why it’s important to work with the best motorcycle accident lawyer, one who will conduct a thorough investigation and determine all potential defendants who may owe you compensation.
Anti-Rider Bias in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Despite the widespread popularity of motorcycles with people from all walks of life, antiquated notions of motorcyclists as “bad boys” and “risk-takers” must be understood and overcome in litigation. These biases often lead witnesses to overestimate the speed of a bike or to assume a rider was engaging in high-risk activity. The best motorcycle accident attorney near you will take this into account.
These inherent biases and misconceptions can even impact law enforcement crash reports. Riders frequently experience severe injuries that require that they be immediately taken to the hospital by ambulance. Since the investigating officer often relies heavily on witness statements when drafting an accident report, the conclusions frequently favor the driver and passengers in the other vehicle, who are more likely to be available to provide their version of events. While the police report may not be admissible evidence in a personal injury or wrongful death trial, the officer’s testimony will generally conform to the findings and conclusions in the report. A good motorcycle accident injury attorney anticipates these issues and will use effective cross-examination of witnesses, discovery tools, and expert testimony to prevail in the face of these preconceived notions.
Understanding the Impact of Motorcycle Helmets
Motorcycle helmet use affects both rider safety and litigation strategies. Riders who do not survive a motorcycle crash most typically suffer a fatal brain injury. A study published in Injury Epidemiology found that motorcycle injury health care costs and the rates of head, brain, and facial injuries were substantially lower in states that had universal helmet laws. The study also found that riders were more than twice as likely to be wearing a helmet during a crash in states that require all riders to use an approved helmet when compared to states with partial helmet laws. States that have eased universal helmet requirements in recent years have seen increases in motorcycle accident fatalities and hospitalizations, which reinforces the safety benefits of strapping on a helmet.
Evidence regarding helmet use would not be relevant if a plaintiff’s injuries did not include an injury to the head or neck. However, the insurance company and/or defendant will argue for a reduction in a motorcycle accident victim’s recovery based on comparative fault if the plaintiff suffered an injury that could have been prevented by use of an approved helmet.
Types of Compensation From Motorcycle Accident Claims
The harm experienced by a motorcyclist involved in a collision because of a negligent driver will include both tangible and intangible damages. Proving tangible damages like lost wages, diminished earning capacity, medical bills, and vehicle repairs requires obtaining documents like payroll records, medical bills, and repair/replacement estimates. Sometimes, forensic accountants, vocational counselors or other experts are needed to quantify future lost income to a sufficient degree of certainty.
Negligence law also permits motorcycle injury victims to be compensated for intangible losses that are more difficult to quantify. This type of damages includes compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, and even punitive damages in cases of egregious conduct. These damages are more subjective in their calculation. Persuasive advocacy from a motorcycle crash attorney who can help a judge or jury understand the level of physical and emotional suffering the victim was forced to endure and the fundamental ways the plaintiff’s life has been negatively impacted can dramatically affect the damage award.
Common Injuries Suffered in Motorcycle Accidents
- Road Rash: Although this is often a milder form of injury suffered in a motorcycle crash, these injuries can be more than scrapes, cuts or abrasions. Severe cases can involve surface nerve damage and infection.
- Severe Burns: Because motorcycles frequently leak fuel when they are involved in a crash, riders face a disproportionate risk of experiencing extensive burn injuries. Burns can be excruciatingly painful and permanently disfiguring.
- Fractures/Broken Bones: Although broken bones often can completely heal, these injuries might be accompanied by permanent disfigurement, disability or nerve damage.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs): TBIs constitute the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Even when riders survive a TBI suffered during a collision, this type of injury can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life by affecting cognitive skills, communication ability, mobility, judgment, and mood.
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs): When motorcyclists are fortunate enough to survive SCIs, these injuries can result in lifelong disability. Damage to your spinal cord could cause paralysis below the site of the injury, loss of movement, and the need for long-term assisted care.
- Wrongful Death: The loss of a loved one can have a devastating toll on surviving family members. Financial hardships associated with the death of a household breadwinner complicate the process of grieving and recovery.
Why the Motorcycle Accident Lawyer You Choose Makes a Difference
Our motorcycle crash and injury attorneys recognize that clients have options when retaining legal representation. While the victim in a negligent rider case can technically retain any attorney to handle the matter, this does not mean that each motorcycle injury attorney is equally qualified to effectively litigate your personal injury claim. There are several ways that choosing the best motorcycle attorney might affect the outcome of your insurance claim or lawsuit.
- Analyzing Potential Issues: Skilled and experienced motorcycle accident lawyers will be able to review the unique facts and evidence surrounding your accident and anticipate the key issues that will impact the outcome. Based on this analysis, our law firm can construct a persuasive presentation on such issues with expert witnesses, medical records, and other relevant information.
- Experience Handling Motorcycle Cases: While experience is important no matter what your situation is, the value of that experience to you should be based on its relevance. Our law firm has handled thousands of motor vehicle accident cases, and we have recovered more than $2 billion for clients throughout the nation. We understand the unique handling features of motorcycles and the biases of witnesses that often find their way into law enforcement accident reports. Our motorcycle accident law firm works to establish that our client was operating their vehicle in a prudent, lawful, and reasonable fashion. We will guide you through the pitfalls and traps for the unwary that can derail your motorcycle accident claim.
- Litigation War Chest and Network of Experts: Our national personal injury law firm has the financial resources and established relationships with renowned experts to provide exemplary legal representation. Because of our long tenure and track record of success in the courtroom, insurance defense lawyers know we will not hesitate to take a case to trial to obtain the best outcome for our client.
- Contingency-Fee Representation: We handle cases on a contingency-fee basis, so we do not get any attorney fees unless we prevail in obtaining a financial recovery. You must win for us to get paid.
- Skill With Catastrophic Injury Cases: Our law firm understands the unique challenges involved in litigating catastrophic injury cases. A compelling and persuasive presentation that enables the judge or jury to feel the injury victim’s loss is needed to obtain the fullest recovery.
- Demystifying the Civil Litigation Process: Many of our clients have never been involved in civil litigation or even worked with an attorney prior to their accident. Our attorneys understand that the process is complex, and we explain the process in plain English and guide our clients throughout the litigation process. We believe that the best motorcycle accident lawyer is one who works hand-in-hand with clients.
- Avoiding Insurance Company Traps: While the insurance company adjuster for the other driver might seem cooperative and amicable, this individual is acting in the insurance carrier’s best interest, not yours. When injury victims communicate directly with an insurance company, they risk inadvertent disclosure that can damage their case. Insurers might ask you to sign a release of information or to give a recorded statement. The best practice is to let your knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney handle communications with the other party’s insurance company and to refuse to sign anything without legal advice from your lawyer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Take?
Since each lawsuit has its own unique set of circumstances, there is no standard amount of time that it will take to reach a settlement. Some claims may be resolved within 30 days, whereas others could take months or even a year or more. In order to gain a more accurate estimate of how long your claim may take, be sure to speak to an experienced motorcycle injury lawyer at Parker Waichman.
What Is the Number One Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?
As with most motor vehicle accidents, the major causes of motorcycle accidents are speeding, reckless driving, and driving while under the influence of alcohol. Any one of these three factors significantly increases the chances of an accident.
What Is the Most Common Motorcycle Injury?
Survivors of a motorcycle wreck are most likely to experience injuries to their head and/or neck, such as concussions or skull fractures. If left unchecked, injuries like these can lead to chronic suffering, so it is important that you are checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Due to the shock of being involved in an accident, some internal injuries may not present symptoms for days or weeks after the crash.
Which Vehicle Maneuver Is Most Dangerous for Motorcycles?
The most dangerous maneuver that other vehicles can make for motorcycle riders is undoubtedly a left turn. Cars turning left and colliding with a motorcycle that is driving straight through an intersection make up 42% of all accidents that involve both a car and a motorcycle.
What Should I Check After a Motorcycle Accident?
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you should take the same steps that you would if you were involved in a car crash. This means collecting the information of all parties involved, notifying the authorities, getting checked out by a doctor as soon as possible, and filing a claim with your insurance company. Then, call a motorcycle wreck attorney for a free case evaluation.
Can You Get PTSD From a Motorcycle Accident?
Yes, it is possible to develop PTSD after being involved in a motorcycle accident. In fact, you don’t even have to be involved in the accident to suffer PTSD from it. Those who witness someone being seriously injured or killed in an accident can also suffer from PTSD symptoms later on.
How Much Is a Good Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident?
The value of any motorcycle accident personal injury claim can vary widely, so there’s no one right answer to this question. How much your claim is worth will depend on the severity of your injuries, the financial impact of these injuries, and other factors.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Motorcycle Accident?
The average motorcycle accident settlement payout is around $200,000.
Why Clients Place Their Trust in Parker Waichman
Our clients recognize the advantages of being represented by attorneys who have more than 350 years of collective experience. But at Parker Waichman, our attorneys know that clients want more than masterful legal skills and centuries of experience: They want results, and we’ve delivered to the tune of more than $2 billion and counting. Each of our clients also gets the attention they need: You won’t be passively shuffled from attorney to attorney or from attorney to support staff when you work with us. We’ll focus on keeping you informed and demystify the litigation process at all stages of your case.
When you choose Parker Waichman, you’ll be choosing a top law firm with a stellar reputation with clients, judges, and our fellow attorneys. We’ve earned numerous honors for our work, from a listing in Best Lawyers to an “AV Preeminent” rating from Martindale-Hubbell to a near-perfect 9.8 out of 10 from AVVO. But while these accolades are nice, our real reward is seeing that justice is done for our clients.
Speak With Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t leave your case to just anyone. Trust a motorcycle accident lawyer near you who can get results. Our national motorcycle accident law firm represents clients throughout New York and across the U.S., and we provide free consultations with absolutely no obligation, so you have nothing to lose by giving us a call. Contact us at 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out our case inquiry form today to get started.
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