Who Is At Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycle riders are often assumed to be risk-takers and reckless, however, most people that take on the responsibility of riding a motorcycle understand the risks involved and the level of care to ride safely and protect themselves. No one wants to get into a motorcycle accident, and riders don’t willingly endanger their lives.
When a motorcycle accident happens, preconceived notions often deem the motorcycle rider to blame. In reality, the cause of the accident and potentially life-threatening injuries are, more often than not, due to the other parties involved.
Unfortunately, even when another party is to blame for a motorcycle accident and injuries, the insurance companies will not make it easier for you to collect compensation. Insurers are notorious for the obstacles and challenges they present for victims of motorcycle collisions to collect damages for their losses.
Getting assistance from a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand liability in motorcycle accidents and damages you may be eligible for under the law.
Motorists are Often to Blame for Motorcycle Collisions
Reports indicate over 8.3 million active motorcycle registrations across the U.S. This number is only a fraction compared to the remaining 249 million registered motor vehicles that share the roadways in the country. For every motorcycle rider, there are another 30 motorists behind the wheel of a car. This stark difference affects not only the risk to motorcyclists but also the level of awareness a driver might have regarding motorcycles.
While a driver might encounter hundreds of vehicles on their commute daily, they may only come across a handful of motorcyclists, if any. The infrequent motorcyclist is nothing more than a passing thought to most drivers, and many do not consider the dangers they may pose to a rider near them. The results can be catastrophic when a driver acts without considering those dangers or the harm they may cause a motorcyclist.
How Do Motor Vehicle Drivers Cause so Many Motorcycle Accidents?
A motorcycle has very little in common with a vehicle aside from its being a mode of transport. Motorcycles are much smaller than the most common passenger vehicles, SUVs, and trucks on the roadways. How a motorcycle moves through traffic is much more agile and quick than the maneuverability of a car or truck. When a driver is unaware that a motorcycle rider is nearby and proceeds to engage in negligent behavior, they are much more likely to cause an accident and injury to the motorcyclist.
Lack of awareness is one of the most prevalent reasons drivers end up in accidents with motorcycle riders. A driver of a motor vehicle not only has a duty of care to fellow motorists but also to motorcyclists. Just because a driver is in a bigger or more imposing vehicle than a motorcycle does not give them the right of way or the right to interfere with the motorcyclist’s travel along the roadway. A motor vehicle driver must consider all those around them, whether occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, or a motorcycle rider in the vicinity.
Negligent Actions of Drivers That Endanger Motorcyclists
Negligent drivers are a likely cause of many motorcycle accidents. A driver’s actions can lead to a chain of events impacting a motorcyclist in dangerous ways. For example, motorcycle accidents are not just the result of a vehicle directly striking the motorcycle but can occur when a driver impedes a rider in a way that causes a rider to lose control of their motorcycle, leading to an accident or injuries.
An array of scenarios and circumstances can involve driver negligence. Reckless and careless driving is rampant amongst motor vehicle drivers, and it does not usually come to light until an accident occurs.
Most dangerous causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Distracted driving – Motorists who are not always alert and aware while operating the risk of their vehicles seriously harming motorcycle riders. A driver that cannot spot a rider because of distractions is likely to strike them or trigger an accident.
- Impaired driving – Drugs and alcohol are a dangerous combination when driving. Motorists under the influence have trouble with coordination, focus, and identifying a motorcyclist on the roadway ahead.
- Reckless driving – Drivers that speed, make aggressive maneuvers, change lanes or stop abruptly can create dangerous situations for a rider near them. Motorcyclists must entrust drivers around them and try to predict what they will do to keep themselves safe. Reckless drivers’ behavior is unpredictable and can cause significant damage to those surrounding them on the road, including motorcycle riders.
- Violation of traffic laws – Breaking a traffic law can have consequences such as a fine or court appearance; however, the biggest danger associated with traffic violations is the chaos it can cause on the road. For example, when a motorist fails to stop at a red light, follow the speed limit, or follow other road signals, they can cause harm to motorcyclists that are abiding by the law.
- Blind spots – Motorcycles can end up in quite a few blind spots while traveling along with vehicles. The compact nature of a motorcycle makes it harder for drivers to identify its presence if the rider is in their blind spot. Changing lanes is particularly dangerous when a rider is in a blind spot. Drivers who do not take the time to confirm a safe maneuver can cause injuries or death to a motorcyclist caught in the crosshairs.
- Parked cars – It may be a surprise that parked vehicle occupants can endanger a motorcycle rider’s life. Commuting in cities where parallel parking is the norm can result in a high incidence of door accidents. These accidents happen when motorcyclists travel down the road, and without warning, a vehicle occupant will throw open their door into their path.
- Road conditions – Wet weather and debris on the road can turn a motorcycle’s everyday encounter with a vehicle into a disastrous accident. When road conditions deteriorate, there is a higher chance of an accident leading to injuries. Any misstep by a driver in tough road conditions can detrimentally impact a motorcyclist sharing the road.
- Defects of the motorcycle – While a defective motorcycle is not usually the sole cause of an accident, something defective or dangerous on a bike can lead to more severe injuries when an accident does happen. In certain situations, a motorcycle or motorcycle equipment manufacturer might be liable for all or a portion of your injuries and damages.
Are Motorcycle Riders at Higher Risk of Dying Than Other Drivers?
Over 5,000 motorcycle riders will lose their lives yearly due to motorcycle accidents. Estimates indicate that every time a motorcycle rider hits the road, their risk of death is nearly 30 times higher than that of motorists or other vehicle occupants.
That is an enormous risk in comparison to traveling in a vehicle. Although motorcycles are a fraction of the vehicles traveling the road in this country, they account for some of the highest fatality and injury rates in accidents.
Motorcycles are fundamentally different than motor vehicles. These designs and capabilities create unique hazards to a rider, exacerbated when another motorist acts in a way that intrudes on the rider’s ability to operate their motorbike safely. For example, motorcyclists do not have the exterior protections common to riding in an enclosed vehicle. Instead, the constant exposure, lack of physical barrier, and other safety features put a rider at risk for life-threatening injuries, even at low speeds.
Can a Motorcycle Rider Prevent a Collision by a Motorist?
There is often a significant amount of focus on a rider’s actions leading up to the accident, including any preventative measures they could have taken. The reality is that when a motorist intrudes on a motorcyclist’s right of way negligently, there is likely little a rider can do to avoid the accident and potential injuries. While safety gear is a good idea and worth the added layer of protection, no helmet or safety equipment can prevent an accident caused by another driver.
Although there is no surefire way to prevent a motorcycle accident from happening, there are some things that a community can do to lessen the danger to motorcyclists. Raising awareness of motorcycles on the road and their right to be there is a challenge but reminds drivers that riders’ lives are important and their actions can affect motorcyclists’ safety.
In addition, many government agencies and transportation departments are using resources to increase awareness of motorcyclists to the general driving population and reduce the risk of death and injury often associated with motorcycling.
What Can You Do if You a Motorcyclist Injured in a Traffic Accident?
If you are a motorcyclist that finds yourself a victim of an accident, you have rights. Insurance companies and the party at fault may blame you for your injuries to avoid paying for your damages.
When an accident happens because of another driver’s negligence, you may recover compensation. Your choice to ride a motorcycle is not a reason for the liable party to avoid paying compensation. You can take a few measures after a motorcycle accident to protect yourself and your chance to recover your losses.
Hire a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
A lawyer might not sit at the top of your priorities following a motorcycle accident, but should. The next days and weeks following a crash and your injuries will challenge you as you fight for compensation, and you need someone to represent you. Hiring a motorcycle accident attorney can allow you to rest easy, knowing that your case will not get lost in the shuffle or your interests overlooked.
Work With Your Lawyer to Seek Compensation from an Insurance Company
You will work closely with your attorney following a motorcycle collision to grasp your injuries and overall losses better. A motorcycle accident lawyer will meticulously calculate your damages so that they can fight for the maximum compensation possible in your case.
The insurance company will do whatever it can to eliminate its liability or lessen the damages available to you. Your lawyer, however, will hold them accountable and continue to fight for compensation to reach the most beneficial solution for you.
Follow the Guidance of Your Attorney to Decide When to Sue the Parties Responsible for Your Damages
Your lawyer will tell you what you can expect after a motorcycle accident. First, they will estimate the damages you may be eligible to receive based on the severity of your motorcycle injuries and the overall impact on your life. Then, an attorney will negotiate with the insurance company from the outset of the case to try to settle outside of court.
If your lawyer recognizes that a settlement is out of reach or the offers presented are far too low, they may advise you on the next steps to file suit in court against the parties liable to pursue the most compensation.
If you are a motorcycle accident victim, contact a motorcycle accident attorney near you to schedule a free case evaluation to discuss your case and the compensation you may recover.
I represent individuals in Missouri and Illinois in all types of personal injury cases. In my short time here I have obtained a judgment for $2.5 million and settled a large class action lawsuit for a confidential amount.
I love the city of St. Louis and support it and give back whenever I can. Recently I was appointed by Mayor Francis Slay to serve on the Advisory Board for the Gateway Mall.
I am married to my lovely wife Lauren and we have two beautiful daughters, Mia and Bridget.