Motorcycle Accidents Can Be Deadly
Motorcyclists have every right to the road that drivers of passenger vehicles have. However, some drivers don’t recognize those rights. Careless or aggressive drivers – not to mention dangerous road hazards – can cause serious wrecks that severely injure or even kill motorcyclists.
For more than 60 years, we have protected the rights of motorcycle accident victims throughout Northwest Ohio. These accidents can be deadly and you need an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who understands the issues in proving your case to gain justice and compensation. For a free, no-obligation consultation about your case, contact us at 419-843-6663 or just fill out our contact form.
Michael Bell discusses all the ramifications of motorcycle accidents.
How Drivers Cause Motorcycle Wrecks: How a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help Prove Your Case
There are a lot of things that can cause motorcycle accidents. Left-turn accidents are among the common causes. These occur when a driver turns left as a motorcyclist is heading straight through an intersection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 42 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle in the U.S., the other vehicle was turning left as the motorcycle was “going straight, passing, or over taking other vehicles.”
Through our experience as motorcycle accident lawyers representing riders injured in accidents, we have come across many other causes of motorcycle crashes, including defective bikes and parts. Other causes include cases in which the car driver:
- Tries to share a lane with the motorcycle
- Fails to check mirrors and blind spots and fails to see the motorcycle
- Doesn’t signal a turn or lane change while driving ahead of the motorcycle
- Tries to pass the motorcycle without leaving enough room
- Pulls out from a driveway in front of a motorcyclist
- Follows the motorcycle too closely
- Three Big Motorcycle Dangers Riders Face Every Day
In order to be successful in your lawsuit against the negligent driver, you’ll have to present evidence of that driver’s fault. This might include police reports, eyewitness statements, accident reconstruction, photographs, and more. These are issues our experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can assist you with to gain the compensation and justice you deserve.
Driver Inattention: a Leading Cause of Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Fatalities
Inattentive drivers are not just a threat to motorcyclists — they endanger everyone on or near the road; from pedestrians to emergency personnel.
All across the U.S. alarming numbers of motorcycle fatalities occur when negligent drivers cause motorcycle accidents by failing to yield to bikers with the right-of-way, turning into or cutting off the rider. When a two-ton-plus vehicle collides with a motorcycle, the riders (and their passengers) always get the worst of it if they lack protection.
Recent research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reveals that almost half (49 percent) of all fatal motorcycle crashes in 2011 and 2012 involved an automobile, pickup truck or SUV. And according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, 3,870 motorcycles were involved in wrecks in our state in 2014: 141 were fatal, and 2,910 resulted in rider/passenger injury. In 125 of the recorded fatalities, the motorcycle operator was killed, and in the remaining fatal motorcycle accidents, the passenger died. Some contributing causes were speed, rider inexperience, dangerous surfaces and road obstacles.
But a noticeable number of motorcycle wrecks are caused by another kind of negligent motorist. The NHTSA also calls distracted and inattentive drivers significant contributors to all motor vehicle crashes, including motorcycles.
According to NHTSA, driver inattention is a primary cause of vehicle crashes and near-crashes. In a companion study with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), NHTSA disclosed that four in five crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes were the result of driver inattention immediately before the wreck. It especially cited cell phone use (both conversations and texting), but other distractive behaviors were also mentioned.
New Distracted Driving Legislation Benefits All, Including Motorcyclists
Virtually every state has enacted new legislation to combat distracted or inattentive driving over the past several years. However, virtually all of these new laws focus almost exclusively on cell phone conversations and text messaging, even though other “low-tech” distracted driver behaviors remain relatively unaddressed, such as:
- Eating behind the wheel
- Applying makeup
- Other in-vehicle activities that take the driver’s attention from the road
Any driving distraction, coupled with a general inability to see smaller motorcycles and their riders, is a recipe for trouble; because all driver inattention is negligence.
A few of these more aggressive new laws call for distracted or inattentive drivers who cause a crash to suffer enhanced (or greater) penalties that are similar to punishments for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This approach holds violators directly – and seriously – accountable for their negligence, and the more serious criminal conviction works against them if they must answer for their negligent actions in civil court.
Road Hazards May Endanger Motorcyclists
Riding a motorcycle presents dangers that other vehicle drivers do not encounter. A minor road defect or an object that causes the biker to swerve can cause serious accidents. Their lack of protection places bikers and their passengers at greater risk of serious or fatal injuries. A few threats to motorcyclists include the following road hazards, commonly known to cause motorcycle accidents:
Gravel on pavement: Many times, gravel factors into bike “lay-downs.” Riders can lose traction on gravel when cornering, on winding roads and when are traveling too fast. Inexperience may play a factor in gravel-related motorcycle accidents.
Pavement edge breaks: An edge break is when two traffic lanes are different heights. This is rarely a problem when driving a car, but it can be risky for unsuspecting motorcyclists, especially when riding at high speeds.
Road expansion and open bridge joints: Joints connect two sections of a road together or a section of a road to a bridge. They allow the road to expand or contract without cracking. Some can be very wide, making it difficult for inexperienced motorcycle riders to navigate them.
Slick surfaces: There are many objects and road surfaces that can become slippery. This makes them much more dangerous for motorcycles than for cars due to the unstable nature of a two-wheeled bike, coupled with its smaller size and lighter weight. Slick surfaces can become truly perilous and cause motorcycle accidents when the biker encounters these road hazards. These are just some of the road surfaces that can be very slippery, especially when wet:
- Leaf-covered roadways
- Painted road striping and crosswalks
- Light-rail train or trolley tracks
- Oil, antifreeze, hydraulic fluids and other similar substances that accumulate on road surfaces
- Standing water: Motorcycle tires can hydroplane when driving through a puddle of water, especially at high speeds and if the pool is large.
- Snow and ice are more hazardous for motorcycles than for cars.
Railway tracks and crossings: Motorcycle tires can get caught on a railway track and cause an accident. Many railway crossings have metal or wood between the tracks to even out the surface but can become very slick when wet.
Debris or objects in the road: Anything that can fall off a vehicle or fall onto it, such as parts of tire treads, things falling from trucks (furniture, tools, lawnmowers, boxes, industrial goods that fall from the back of a flatbed commercial truck, etc.) becomes dangerous obstacles. Branches, rocks and small animal carcasses are more hazardous to motorcycles than cars.
The Toledo injury attorneys at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault, know all too well that motorcycle accidents produce disproportionally higher percentages of deaths and injuries compared to auto and truck wrecks. Add to that the random, unexpected road hazard-related motorcycle wreck, and bikers will agree that it’s a dangerous world for two-wheeled riders. If there is a negligent party responsible for your accident, we will work to hold the party liable for your losses, including injuries (such as fractures, amputations, brain or spinal cord trauma). Our experienced lawyers seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and damages associated with wrongful death.
The Issue Of Helmet Use – Does It Affect a Motorcyclist’s Liability?
In Ohio, you have to wear a motorcycle helmet if you’re 17 or younger. Otherwise, you don’t. But be advised – your failure to wear a helmet might affect your lawsuit.
Ohio follows a modified comparative negligence law. If you’re more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you cannot collect damages from the other party. But even if you’re less than 51 percent at fault for the wreck, the damages you recover are reduced by your percentage of fault.
An insurance company or the defendant might argue that your failure to wear a helmet is indicative of your comparative negligence, particularly if you suffered a head or neck injury. So if you find yourself facing a case like this, review the circumstances with a motorcycle accident lawyer. Your motorcycle accident lawyer may present medical records or other evidence that proves that your helmet use did not affect your injury.
Safety Measures Motorcyclists Can Take
Being a safe and educated motorcyclist is important. Many times it is the experience and reaction of the motorcyclist that can prevent an accident that would not have been there fault.
- Safety gear is important
- Choosing the Correct Helmet
- Three Big Motorcycle Dangers Riders Face Every Day
Damages for Your Motorcycle Accident
Because a motorcycle rider has only minimal protection, injuries can be severe, including broken bones, back and spinal cord injuries, paralysis and serious head and brain injuries – some of which may be fatal. So victims and their families often suffer extensive losses and expenses. That’s why it’s so important to fully account for all of your short- as well as long-term damages when you file your lawsuit.
If you or a loved one is seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. Some of the expenses that can be recovered in a motorcycle accident claim include:
- Medical expenses
- Disability and disfigurement
- Lost current and future income
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Medical records, evidence of income, and other evidence can help you establish that you suffered these damages so you can collect a fair settlement or judgment.
The Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault Can Help You After a Motorcycle Accident
Although nothing can take away your pain and suffering after a motorcycle accident, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer from Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault will work relentlessly to secure the compensation that you and your family need and deserve. For more than 60 years, we’ve helped victims in Toledo and the surrounding area in Northwest Ohio. If you need legal assistance with your motorcycle accident case, contact us today at 419-843-6663 or use our online contact form.