By far, the most common reason for motorcycle accidents is that someone makes a left turn in front of the motorcyclist, or runs directly into the motorcyclist. Most of the cases I handle involve unsafe left turns. These dangerous accidents result in the rider flying forward, often over the vehicle. When the rider flies off the motorcycle, there is a risk of sustaining a head injury, which is unfortunately common, or a lower limb injury, because the rider’s legs are exposed and no equipment in the world that could prevent the motorcyclist from breaking a leg in an accident on a motorcycle.
As an attorney who has handled motorcycle cases for 40 years, I have learned the many nuances of these accidents that aren’t contained in any books.
What Happens After the Accident?
Because of the serious injuries that typically result, the rider is taken out of circulation after the accident. Because of this, it is common for a wife, girlfriend, friend or parent to contact the attorney on behalf someone in a hospital. We will start by getting everything together, including the police report. We will look at the motorcycle, take photographs, and begin to analyze what happened from the physical evidence and so forth.
Right from the start, these accidents require specialized knowledge. Careful examination of the motorcycle will reveal the secrets of what took place. It may be possible to determine the speed of the motorcycle, how the motorcycle went down, and even whether the lights were working at the time of the accident. The motorcycle must be photographed properly, so that the experts have what they need when it is time to present the case. This is not the same as simply taking a lot of high resolution photographs. The photographer must know what he or she is looking at.
After that, it’s a matter of documenting things. There is a big difference between documenting a case correctly and thoroughly or just collecting what the client has, and missing things. At the accident scene, there will usually be bits of plastic and marks on the pavement which may not be around for long. The helmet may have marks on it that could be critical in proving a head injury, so we’ll want to keep it. Since it is standard protocol for clothing to be cut off by first responders, it’s possible to recover clothing with scuffs or scrapes that can help with the accident reconstruction. Skid marks are nothing but small bits of rubber, and these will disappear quickly.
Every case consist of many small details, each one of which has to be addressed and will add up. Particularly in the biggest cases in which the injuries are obvious, and even when the whole accident was caught on video, the defense will argue over every detail. The amount of litigation that goes on and the effort the insurance companies will make to fight every one of these little details means no case is ever easy.
Are Motorcycle Accidents Common?
Motorcycles do not necessarily have more accidents than car and truck accidents, but they feature more and worse injuries because the riders are not protected by the bodywork of a car. Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to be killed in an accident, and they are far more likely to sustain head injuries. Another reason it seems like there are more motorcycle accidents is because these injuries are lasting, whereas most injuries in automobiles heal far more quickly.
For some reason, drivers don’t seem to pay much attention to motorcycles or watch out for them.
Misconceptions about Motorcycle Accidents
Invariably, witnesses and police investigators assume and believe that the motorcyclist caused the accident by speeding. In fact, most accidents occur because the non-motorcyclist driver failed to pay attention.
The biggest misconception about motorcycle accidents comes from those who don’t ride them. Many people seem to believe that because motorcycles are narrower than cars, they can do magical things to avoid accidents. This leads to constant litigation regarding whether or not the motorcyclist could have stopped or swerved and avoided the accident.
A motorcycle turns by leaning, which is not a fast way to turn; certainly not as fast as turning a car. Also, most motorcycles do not have ABS brakes, which would enable the rider to hit the brakes and turn at the same time, so for now they have to make a decision whether to do one or the other. The fact that the motorcyclist is exposed leads to situations where typically even motorcyclists who have had the best training available will be faced with mortal danger and 4000 years of evolution will take over, causing the adrenalin will kick in, which means they will just grab the brake and lock it up.
Most motorcycle accidents need to be analyzed by determining who could see what, and where they were when they saw it. Even if a motorcycle was going a little over the speed limit, there is usually no excuse for cutting it off at an intersection.
Does the Trauma Cause Riders to Stop Riding Motorcycles?
This is extremely common, because there is often a lot more than just a little bit of trauma. It is very common for post-traumatic stress disorders to set in, causing the rider to not only be concerned about the accident, but to also experience flashbacks while driving along during the day. Such people need to be treated by a psychologist and they will need to have the post-traumatic stress disorder portion of their case properly documented, prepared and presented so they could get compensated for that.
For the motorcycle rider, this can be a major life change. Many have been riding for many years, and riding a motorcycle is an important part of who they are. Finding that they are no longer able to ride or comfortable on a motorcycle can be quite upsetting.
For more information on Motorcycle Accidents, please call (800) 928-1511 today to schedule a free initial consultation. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.