Apart from cars, motorcycles provide a great way to travel. They’re highly flexible on the road, especially since they’re undeniably fast, convenient, and of course, maneuverable. More importantly, people choose them because they’re incredibly affordable. For this reason, more and more are turning into the world of motorcycles as their primary method of travel, and it’s estimated that two-thirds of the entire population of the United States own motorcycles.
Convenient though these bikes may be, they are commonly involved in road accidents. Every motorcycle owner is encouraged to drive as responsibly as possible, but as with anything in life, even careful riding can still lead to the inevitable – injuries and death. Unlike cars, motorcyclists are entirely exposed, leading to more severe consequences.
As a result, specific measures are taken by federal and state governments, particularly Florida. If you know anyone who has been a victim of a motorcycle accident, or if you wish to learn more about the hows, whys, and damages covered, here is a comprehensive guide from our team of experts:
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What causes motorcycle accidents?
Reason #1: Head-on collisions with other vehicles
Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents mostly happen due to crashes with other drivers. Cars end up striking the motorcycle from the front, leading to fatal injuries to the motorcycle rider. Keep in mind that motorcycles leave riders entirely exposed, so most end up leaping away from their rides onto the road, often causing extensive injuries.
Reason #2: Left-hand turns by other vehicles
Another common motorcycle accident cause is cars making left-hand turns, as this leads to unavoidable collisions. A tar usually strikes the motorcycle by going straight to an intersection, passing, or even trying to overtake. While this type of accident is common among cars, the motorcycle’s relatively smaller size makes it less visible for any turning rides. Car drivers usually don’t expect motorcycles in their lanes, so any motorcycle maneuvers come as a surprise and lead to accidents.
Reason #3: Lane splitting
Motorcycle lane splitting is a common cause of motorcycle accidents. It happens when a motorcycle drives in between two lanes of cars, typically when the vehicles are stopped or moving slowly due to a traffic jam. Lane splitting can be quite dangerous due to the motorcycle’s reduced maneuvering space, the proximity between the cars and the bike, and the unpredictability of lane splitting.
Traffic laws regarding lane splitting can vary from state to state. Suppose an accident occurs due to lane splitting. In that case, the local traffic laws will apply, and determining who’s at fault will rely on the traffic laws, the actions of the drivers involved before the accident, and the views of the police officers and judge.
Reason #4: Speeding and alcohol use
Motorcycle speeding and driving under the influence cause around half of the accidents involving a single motorcycle. These two conditions make it more difficult for motorcycle drivers to maneuver and think efficiently on the road. It comes as no surprise that these inherently make the driver more prone to meeting an accident.
Although all types of vehicles are susceptible to the dangers of speeding and driving under the influence, motorcycles offer little protection to the driver. Thus, motorcycle drivers are more vulnerable and are more prone to being involved in an accident that can cause severe injury and even death.
Reason #5: Collisions with fixed objects
Around a quarter of motorcyclist deaths involve the driver colliding with a fixed object such as a concrete barrier, a post, or a building. In contrast, this situation only makes up about 18% of car crash deaths. Colliding with fixed objects is more dangerous for motorcycle drivers because they don’t have as much protection as drivers in cars. They’re more likely to hit the fixed objects harder or get thrown farther than car drivers who have the security of seatbelts and airbags.
What should I do after a motorcycle accident?
Although these steps depend on your current condition following an accident, a little knowledge goes a long way. Should you find yourself conscious immediately after the accident, brush yourself off and stand to your feet. Keep in mind that you are in a shocking emotional state, which can quickly lead to panic.
Make sure to take some time to gather your thoughts and remain calm, even if you have not made sense of what has happened just yet. The steps you take following what has transpired will be crucial—any mistake can lead to repercussions, especially when it comes to legal matters. To ensure that you have the best chance at claiming damages and shedding good light on what has happened on your end, make sure to follow the measured steps below:
- Step 1: Check yourself – and others – for any injuries. This is the most crucial step following an accident. Call 911 immediately even when no one has been injured, as more often than not, damages can run deep. Passengers and other drivers may be suffering from internal bleeding, so make sure to prioritize immediate medical attention.
- Step 2: Take photographs of the accident site. As soon as you deem the area safe enough to take pictures, make sure to do so. You only need to make sure that you’re safely out of harm’s way, as well as the people involved. You can ideally begin taking photographs as soon as 911 arrives. Use your phone or any other technology to take photos from various angles. Document the motorcycle involved, along with the other vehicles. This will come in handy for insurance claims, as well as potential court cases.
- Step 3: Move your bike off the site. If you are a motorcycle rider, make sure to move your bike off the road as soon as it’s safe. Leaving it as it is can cause more accidents, especially since oncoming traffic will soon be present. Keep in mind that these drivers do not know that there has been an accident, especially during the night. Any accidents involved as a result of your bike can leave you accountable, so make sure to take care of your motorcycle.
- Step 4: Gather as much information as you can. Following your 911 call should be your local police department. An officer will arrive at the accident scene for a police report, which should act as an official document to prove your case’s details. However, make sure to protect your legal rights during this process. You will want to speak with other passengers, witnesses, and the drivers, leaving you to gather the following details:
- Contact information of all witnesses, including names and phone numbers
- Information about the vehicles involved, which should include the model, plate number, and model types
- Name and badge number of the police officer
- The number of the police report
- VIN, or the vehicle identification numbers
- Insurance information on the involved parties
Understanding Personal Injury Cases In Motorcycle Accidents
Now that you have a clearer picture of what involved a motorcycle accident, it’s time to discuss the most crucial aspect—damages, compensation, and even the possibility of escalating into a personal injury case. Every successful claim relies on your ability to prove negligence, which is legally described as the failure of exercising a duty of care, which is heavily dependent on the standards of a reasonable individual. In the context of motorcycle accidents, negligence involves the following actions:
- Failing to signal during turns
- Drunk driving
- Running on a stop sign or a red light
- Distracted driving
If you wish to win your case as the plaintiff, you must first establish the following crucial evidence pieces:
- You have expressed duty of care: You have acted responsibly, in a way that reduces the risk of injury to yourself and others.
- There has been a breach of duty: The other party involved has failed to live to the expectations of safe road behavior, leading to the accident that has caused injuries.
- There are damages involved: As the plaintiff, you can provide evidence of specific injuries, as well as detailed records of your expenses and losses.
- The causation: The damages you have suffered result from the other party’s actions and not some other cause.
What kind of damages can I receive following a motorcycle accident?
Should you win a motorcycle accident personal injury case, you will be entitled to receive the following compensation:
- All your medical expenses, including emergency room care, diagnostic tests, and physical therapy
- Your future medical needs, especially if you have become permanently disabled
- Any lost wages during your recovery period
- The loss of your earning potential after becoming permanently disabled
- Your pain and suffering, which pertains to your emotional trauma and physical pain
How do I prove fault?
Although the compensation you are entitled to can be promising, understand that proving fault can be challenging. You will want to conduct a thorough examination of every detail involved, especially the factors surrounding the other party’s action. You will need the help of a personal injury lawyer to ensure success, as you need to examine the following elements:
- The motorcycle/vehicle driver: Right after the crash, the motorcycle or vehicle driver must undergo tests. There should be tests to conduct intoxication, as well as drugs and other substances. This is a common cause of the accident, but other reasons need to be studied once tests come clear.
- The motorcycle or vehicle: Motorcycles must be checked for any defects, including engine failure, brake damages, snapped components, and other damages. This will help parties involved prove negligence or if the entire ordeal has happened due to mere circumstances.
- Other involved conditions: The road conditions can cause accidents, especially when the weather is terrible. Knowing such situations can help you win your case. Speeding on rocky terrain or icy road conditions, for instance, can be a good foundation for negligence.
How do I prove injury and damages?
If you find yourself injured following a motorcycle accident, understand that you are entitled to monetary claims. Apart from helping you win the personal injury case, these factors will help you receive the right compensation you deserve. Here are the elements of proving injury and damage:
- All medical documents from the accident, including medical test results, diagnostic test orders, treatment receipts and invoices, prescriptions, medical certificates, and any other medical documentation. These documents will serve as nd any other medical documentation. Tangible proof of your injuries, making you entitled to the money you’ve spent on everything medical-related.
- All documents on the repairs are done, including receipts, damage records, and other evidence. These files will show that damage has been done to your property as a result of the accident.
How are damages in a motorcycle accident case calculated?
Damages in a personal injury case are usually divided into special damages or the damages capable of exact calculation and damages not capable of accurate measurements, such as pain and suffering.
Special damages pertain to your lost earnings, including those you can lose in the future. Your incapacity to earn due to the accident will also be taken into account, including medical bills, employment benefits, and other losses. In other words, special damages can be calculated precisely, down to the last dollar.
Pain and suffering, on the other hand, cannot be calculated. No guidelines exist to determine the value of human emotion, which is why the court usually relies on the jury to use their background, good sense, and experiences when it comes to the value of pain and suffering.
Protecting Your Rights With The Best West Palm Beach Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
From everything said and gathered, exact motorcycle cases can be rather challenging, especially since most people in such accidents come out with fatal injuries. There are so many factors involved, and a little knowledge always goes a long way. Keep this comprehensive guide in mind as you navigate through your experience, especially since you are entitled to compensation for the injuries you have sustained. Should things prove to be difficult, however, never hesitate to call on a lawyer for help.
For the best West Palm Beach motorcycle accident lawyer, Shiner Law Group has you covered. We are a law firm based in Florida, also serving clients in the surrounding areas of Palm Beach county, Martin county and St. Lucie County. As a group of experienced and successful attorneys, we’ll help you seek the justice you deserve, book a free consultation with a lawyer today.