While a motorcycle accident can have some similarities to any other vehicle accident, there are some clear differences. These differences can result in motorcycle accidents and subsequent injuries being quite different to those involving other vehicles. Liability issues that surround the accidents also tend to be quite different from the liability that comes about as a result of a car accident.
The Risks of Riding a Motorcycle
Regardless of how large and powerful a motorcycle is, they are a lot lighter than cars. What’s more is they are less stable than cars as they only have two wheels, and of course, the ride of the motorcycle is not surrounded by a protective metal frame. This makes riding a motorcycle so much more hazardous than driving a car, and most accidents tend to result in either serious injury or death. In fact, statistics show that those riding a motorcycle, regardless of how safe they are riding, are 35 times more likely to be killed in an accident than car drivers.
The Risks Associated with Riding a Motorcycle
A few of the risks associated with riding a motorcycle include:
They are not always visible to cars – This is because they are smaller than cars and tend to be hidden by trees, corners, road signs, and more.
- Hazards in the Road – Wet roads, uneven surfaces, and debris can all make a motorcycle more likely to crash.
- They are not very stable – Because motorcycles have just two wheels they are less stable than cars, particularly when they are swerving and braking.
- Risky behavior – Powerful motorcycles can encourage risky behavior such as speeding and weaving in and out of traffic.
- There is not very much protection – A person riding a motorcycle will not have as much protection as an individual who drives a car. There are no airbags or seat belts, and there is no cage to protect them should the motorcycle roll. While wearing a helmet can be a sensible option, a lot of people tend not to wear one, making them more likely to be fatally injured in an accident.
While there are many risks associated with riding a motorcycle, every single biker can reduce the likelihood of an accident if they stay aware of road hazards, they don’t share a lane with a car, and they correctly maintain their motorcycle. Wearing a helmet and the right protective clothing can also reduce the risk of death and serious injury.
Motorcycle Accidents and Liability
The law of negligence governs motorcycle accident. An individual may be found negligent if they are found to have behaved in a careless or thoughtless way, resulting in injury to someone else.
A motorcycle rider should take care to avoid causing injury to other motorcyclists, pedestrians, and passengers. If it is found that the rider of the motorcycle was not careful and someone was subsequently injured then they could be found liable for the injuries.
Truck or car drivers are often found to be negligent in most motorcycle accident cases. Negligence may be found when the driver of the vehicle undertook an action that they should not have taken, such as crossing a double yellow line or failing to check their mirrors.
However, in some cases, the rider of the motorcycle may be found negligence. A biker who has had too much to drink may cause an accident and thereby be liable for any subsequent injuries.
When it comes to making a negligence claim you should be aware that there are four elements to a claim. The individual who is making the claim (Also known as the ‘Plaintiff’) will have to show that:
- The defendant was not careful and did not act reasonably, as they should have done by law.
- The defendant did not act carefully. In this case, the court will compare the defendant’s behavior to the same behavior a reasonable person would have undertaken.
- The plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s behavior.
- The plaintiff was injured or they suffered losses.
Common Defenses Used in Motorcycle Accident Cases
While many people expect a car driver to be negligent and therefore cause a motorcyclist’s injuries, there are times when a motorcyclist may have contributed to a crash. In cases such as these, the driver of the car may want to claim that the motorcyclist’s behavior was negligent. In a few parts of the United States, if it is proven that the motorcyclist was negligent they may not receive as much money in the form of a settlement as they otherwise would. In other parts of the United States, their negligence may prevent them from receiving any settlement.
If you are involved in an accident while you’re riding your motorcycle, you are more likely to be killed or seriously injured than you are if you were driving a car instead. In fact, you are 35 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured. This is why it makes sense for you to learn about how the most common motorcycle accidents are caused and also how you can reduce the likelihood of being involved in one.
Cars Turning Left
If you are on a motorcycle and a car in front of you turns left, you could find yourself in one of the most dangerous situations around. In fact, more than 40% of motorcycle accidents that involve a car take place during a left-hand turn. A car will typically hit a motorcycle when the motorcycle is traveling through an intersection, trying to overtake a car, or passing a car.
These accidents tend to occur because the driver of the car has not seen the motorcycle. However, if you happen to be traveling in the same lane as a car you are even more likely to be hit. This is because a car driver does not expect you to be there.
If you have been hit by a car that was turning left, it is likely that the driver will be found liable. However, if you were traveling in the wrong lane or you were speeding you could be found at fault too.
In most parts of the United States, your contribution to the accident means you are likely to get a lot less compensation for your injuries and damage to your property. In some parts of the United States, you will receive no compensation at all. Please read our article about contributory and comparative negligence for more information.
Head on Collisions
Nearly 80% of motorcycle deaths result in a car hitting a motorcycle in the front. A car is likely to hit a motorcycle from the side in just 5% of all motorcycle accidents.
When you drive between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic, you are technically ‘Lane splitting’. Moving in such a way can cause accidents due to:
- How close you were to the cars
- How little space you have to maneuver
- The drivers of vehicles not expecting to see you
- If you are involved in an accident while you are lane splitting, the individual who is deemed to be at fault for the accident will depend on whether the state you;’re in permits it. It also depends on the driver’s actions before the accident took place, and yours too. Finally, a judge and the police officer who attended the scene will have their own views on the accident and these views could dictate who is found to be at fault.
Speeding and the Consumption of Alcohol
Approximately 50% of all motorcycle accidents are either caused by going too fast, or by drinking alcohol. While there may be many other factors that come into play and subsequently cause an accident the rider of the motorcycle is not as well protected as the driver of a car. This means that drinking alcohol or speeding is more likely to cause serious injury or death.
Hazards in the Road
Motorcycle riders are more susceptible to the dangers of road hazards than the driver of any other vehicle. This is because a motorcycle is less stable and much smaller than the other vehicles on the road. This potentially means that wet road conditions, potholes, and objects in the road can prove to be very dangerous.
25% of deaths on the road involving a motorcycle take place because the bike has hit a fixed object. When a motorcycle has hit a fixed object the rider is thrown from the vehicle, and it’s likely that they will be killed.
High Performance Motorcycles
Although there are not many high performance motorcycles on the road, they do account for a large number of accidents. Some motorcycles can travel more than 150 miles per hour, and if they are ridden at a high speed the result can be fatal. Many of those who like to ride a high performance motorcycle are less than 30 years of age. People under 30 are more likely to take risks on the road.
As you can see, motorcyclists are much more at risk of being involved in a serious accident. However, if each time you are on the road you are aware of the dangers of lane splitting, drinking alcohol and then driving etc., speeding and taking risks, you can potentially decrease the likelihood of being involved in an accident.
If you are currently suffering from a personal injury and are unable to read ‘An Overview of Motorcycle Accidents’ please watch our Injury Pedia video so you can gain the Personal Injury Information and Answers you are seeking.