Motorcycles are prized for the speed, maneuverability, and freedom they offer riders. However, the same traits which make motorcycles so iconic can also make them extremely dangerous in the event of an accident, such as a collision with a car, van, or truck. Motorcycles can be difficult to see due to their compact size, and riders are protected by little more than a helmet and thick padding. Unfortunately, these combined factors often mean that riders and passengers suffer catastrophic or even fatal injuries when accidents occur.
If you were seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, or if one of your loved ones was a victim of wrongful death, the personal injury lawyers of Whitney, LLP may be able to help. We have extensive experience handling a wide variety of injury and wrongful death claims, and will tenaciously pursue favorable compensation while guiding you through each and every step of the legal process. If your accident was caused by poor road maintenance or another driver’s reckless disregard for the rules of the road, you deserve to have the circumstances of your accident investigated.
Even if you aren’t quite sure whether you have a claim, we invite you to call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 to discuss your accident in a free and completely confidential legal consultation. We are proud to serve clients throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area.
Negligence and Liability: What Factors Cause Crashes and Collisions?
Motorcycle crashes can be caused by any number of factors, including but not limited to:
- Defective Automotive Parts
- Distracted Driving
- Driver Fatigue (e.g. “Trucker Fatigue”)
- Intoxicated Driving (DUI)
- Negligent Road Maintenance
- Reckless Driving
In some cases, accidents are the product of poor environmental conditions or other factors which cannot be controlled – but in many instances, another party is at fault for causing or contributing to an otherwise avoidable accident through reckless or negligent actions.
Negligence is a key component of many motorcycle accident claims, as well as many other types of car accident and personal injury matters. In plain terms, negligence means that an individual or business entity failed to exercise the reasonable standard of care necessary to avoid causing harm, such as failing to repair a road with known safety hazards like potholes or fallen trees.
All motorists must follow their “duty of care” to other drivers sharing the road, which means refraining from reckless or careless behaviors that could result in death or injury to others. For example, all drivers must obey traffic signals, adhere to posted speed limits, and avoid drugged or drunk driving. If a driver disregards and fails to obey safety laws, he or she could potentially be held liable for any injury or death which results.
A significant portion of accidents are caused by other drivers making reckless or unsafe decisions. For example, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), approximately 42% of car-motorcycle crashes involve cars making unsafe left hand turns. Motorcycles are typically struck as they attempt to navigate through an intersection or pass the car making the turn.
Motorcyclist Death and Injury Statistics
As the number of vehicles on America’s roads continue to increase, so does the frequency of motorcycle crashes. One June 2010 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that “motorcyclist crash-related fatalities ha[ve] more than doubled during the past 10 years.” In a 2012 traffic safety report, the NHTSA found the following:
- “Per vehicle mile traveled in 2012, motorcyclists were more than 26 times likely than passenger car occupants to die in motor vehicle traffic crashes and 5 times more likely to be injured.”
- There were nearly 5,000 motorcycle fatalities and 93,000 motorcycle injuries in 2012 alone.
- 72 riders were killed in Maryland in 2012.
Compared to passenger vehicle occupants, motorcyclists have a much higher risk of being seriously injured or killed in the event of an accident. According to a September 2007 NHTSA study titled “Fatal Two-Vehicle Motorcycle Crashes,” “Among the fatalities in two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles and passenger vehicles, 98% of the fatalities were motorcycle riders and only 2% of the fatalities were passenger vehicle occupants.”
Common Injuries Caused by Motorcycle Accidents
Compared to other types of vehicles, motorcycle crashes disproportionately result in catastrophic injuries and/or fatalities to riders and passengers. There are several factors which contribute to this issue:
- Unlike the occupants of cars, trucks, and vans, motorcycle riders and passengers are not protected by a sturdy frame with walls, doors, and a roof. Because motorcyclists are not enclosed, accidents frequently result in ejection onto other vehicles or the surface of the road.
- Motorcycles are much smaller than other types of vehicles. As a result, motorcycles can easily become lost in other drivers’ blind spots. In other cases, drivers simply fail to perceive oncoming or turning motorcycles because they are anticipating larger vehicles.
- Motorcycles lack the key safety features found in other types of vehicles, such as seat belts and air bags. When a crash occurs, the rider’s only protection is his or her helmet and outerwear. If a rider is not wearing a helmet, the risk of death, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or other serious head injuries becomes even greater.
- Motorcycles are exceptionally susceptible to road hazards which would not present a problem for larger, heavier vehicles. Road hazards like potholes, fallen trees, uneven surfaces, or uneven heights between lanes can all lead to deadly accidents.
Common injuries suffered by motorcyclists include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Bone Fractures and Broken Bones
- Dismemberment and Limb Amputation
- Head Injuries
- Neck Injuries (“Whiplash”)
- SCI (Spinal Cord Injury)
- Severe Burns
- Skin Abrasion (“Road Rash”)
- TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
If you were seriously hurt in a crash or collision with another vehicle, or if one of your loved ones was wrongfully killed, the motorcycle accident lawyers of Whitney, LLP may be able to help you recover compensation. Compensation can help cover your medical bills, property damage, lost income resulting from missed work, and other expenses arising from your injuries. To set up a free and private case evaluation with one of our attorneys, call our law offices today at (410) 583-8000.