Many people are attracted to motorcycles by their power, their image in our culture which historically associates them with freedom and rebellion, the relative ease of maneuverability, and the experience of traveling at speed without a metal compartment separating you from the outdoors. Many of those same factors, unfortunately, also make motorcycles much more susceptible to accidents than passenger cars and trucks.
The openness of the rider to the outdoors also means that crashes, when they do occur, tend to produce severe injuries. That lack of a reinforced passenger compartment and of common safety devices like seat belts and airbags exposes riders to tremendous physical forces when an accident occurs. Helmets and protective clothing can only help so much when a motorcyclist hits macadam at 50 miles an hour, or when a car traveling 50 miles an hour smashes into the motorcycle.
Do I Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
You may not realize you need a motorcycle accident lawyer on your side until it’s too late. Since most collisions involving motorcycle riders result in serious injuries, there could be year of therapy and numerous surgeries to repair the damages. Insurance companies will fight to pay as little as possible to the injured bike rider. When you hire a lawyer, you can rest assured that your interests are protected throughout the legal claim process.
Don’t accept any offers or sign anything from the insurance companies until you speak with a lawyer and documents are reviewed. Insurance coverage for motorcycles is much different than the policy that covers automobile operators. Our lawyers will walk you through the insurance coverage.
At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our motorcycle crash lawyers will work to get your:
- Medical bills and expenses paid;
- Recover money to reimburse your physical therapy;
- Reimburse the costs of surgery or imaging (x-rays, MRI);
- Lost wages paid back;
- Fair and reasonable compensation for pain and suffering.
In the event of a death, our law firm will pursue a wrongful death and survival action on behalf of the family for the rider that died as a result of the accident.
What Type of Motorcycle Crash Cases Does Your Law Firm Handle?
We represent individuals injured on any type of motorcycle, including:
- Adventure & touring bikes
- Antique bikes
- Cruisers & power cruisers
- Dirt bikes
- Enduro bikes
- Motorcross bikes
- Naked bikes
- Scooters & power scooters
- Sport bikes
- Supermoto bikes
- Touring bikes
- Trial bikes
No matter what type of bike, we fight for our clients to ensure their medical bills are paid, lost wages reimbursed and they are compensated for their pain and suffering.
Motorcycle Accident Background and Statistics
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for 2013 paints a grim picture of motorcyclist accidents and injuries:
- About 88,000 motorcyclists suffered injuries.
- 4,668 motorcyclists died in collisions.
- Judged on the basis of deaths per mile traveled, motorcyclists were more than 20 times more likely to die in an accident compared to occupants of passenger cars.
- Of the motorcyclists who died in a crash, 25 percent didn’t have a valid motorcycle license, 27 percent were impaired by alcohol (40 percent for those who died in a single vehicle accident)
In Maryland in 2013, 56 motorcyclists died in crashes; of those, 27 percent had blood alcohol levels of .08 or more; 37 percent had levels of at least .01. Metropolitan areas tend to have the highest concentration of motorcycle crashes; in Maryland from 2008 to 2012, half of all crashes occurring in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
Single Vehicle Motorcycle Accidents
Many motorcycle accidents involve no other vehicle—the motorcycle simply skids and crashes, runs into a guardrail, or the like. That doesn’t mean that the motorcyclist is necessarily responsible for the crash, though. Many of these accidents occur because of conditions that other people caused, for example:
- Defects in the motorcycle itself, either because it was inadequately made or because it was defectively repaired.
- Hazards such as potholes, ridges, and grooves in the road surface
- Substances on the road (oil, sand, etc.)
- Obstructions in the road, such as loose pets, boxes, logs, etc.
- Other motorists whose actions endanger the motorcyclist, causing evasive actions that result in a crash, even though the other vehicle never actually touched the motorcycle
Unfortunately, many police officers investigating the crash are tempted to put single vehicle accidents down to the motorcyclist’s speeding, inexperience, or general inattention. Potential defendants suffer the same temptation for obvious reasons. These can be tricky cases, with the outcome depending on how deftly the motorcyclist’s lawyer handles the evidence.
Injuries in Motorcycle Collisions
Virtually any injury may result from a motorcycle accident, many of them potentially fatal and life-altering. Among them are:
- Spinal cord injury at any level and of any severity
- Brain injuries
- Severe penetrating injuries that may, depending on where they occur, damage internal organs as well as other structures
- Amputation of limbs, fingers, toes
- Broken bones anywhere in the body (along with the related damage to muscles, nerves, etc. that the jagged bones produce)
- Injuries to the structures of the face, including the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Loss of skin layers from scraping along the road surface
Claims that Motorcyclist was at Fault
Motorcycle accidents frequently involve claims that the motorcyclist was at fault, as a result of such behavior as:
- Speeding, either outright, as in exceeding the posted limit, or in relative terms as in going faster than was safe given the road conditions
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Passing when it was unsafe to pass
- Driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs
Maryland has a very harsh contributory negligence rule, so it is crucial for injured motorcyclists to refute all claims that the accident was their fault. That’s best done by an attorney with long experience in handling motorcycle crash cases, who can quickly gather all the potentially useful evidence, spot the potentially troublesome aspects, and carefully build a wall of evidence to block the defendant’s attempt to avoid responsibility.
Frequently Asked Questions During Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month
May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. As the weather improves, more and more riders are getting out on the roads. Inevitably more serious and fatal crashes will occur.
Every year an average of 70 motorcyclists lose their lives in Maryland in traffic crashes, according to the Motor Vehicle Administration. A further 1,400 riders and passengers are injured each year on motorcycles on Maryland’s roads.
Motorcyclists are more likely to suffer serious injuries or deaths in accidents than other road users. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclist deaths occur 27 times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles. The statistics are based on 2014 data. The following are some frequently asked questions about motorcycle accidents.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes?
Vehicles Making a Left Turn
About half of all fatal motorcycle crashes occurred in collisions with other vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Often drivers fail to see riders when making a left turn and either hit the motorcyclist or are hit by the rider.
Vehicle Lane Changes
Sudden lane changes by vehicles are another major cause of motorcycle wrecks in Maryland. A driver may not see a rider in his or her blind spot and hit the motorcyclist.
Motorcycles are often powerful machines that can reach high speeds. When riders go fast, they have less time to react and may not see obstacles ahead on curves. Riders of sports bikes are four times more likely to be killed than riders of cruisers.
Lane splitting occurs when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes of stopped or slowly moving cars, usually in traffic congestion. This practice can be unnerving for drivers of larger vehicles and they may fail to see a rider.
Badly Maintained Roads
Features of badly maintained roads that can be an annoyance for car drivers pose a deadly hazard to motorcyclists. Gravel on a road is a major danger for riders as well as potholes. Wet weather that causes slippery roads is also a significant cause of rider deaths and injuries.
Can a Rider Crash a Motorcycle Safely?
The notion of a safe motorcycle crash seems like a contradiction of terms. However, the question of whether a rider can crash a motorcycle safely is often asked in the motorcycling community. While there is no such thing as a safe crash, certain actions may help shield riders from injuries, namely:
Select your crash point
If you can control where you are going to crash, avoid hard objects like walls and trees or oncoming traffic. If you are going to hit a vehicle or a building, aim to collide sideways if possible.
Stay on your bike
Riders who stay on their bikes during crashes are more likely to survive. You should also avoid laying the bike down. Riders who are thrown off their bikes may slide for a long distance sustaining serious injuries and often end up in the path of oncoming vehicles.
Use your Brakes
If you are heading for an obstacle, apply your brakes quickly. Lenhelad with the front brake which is the most powerful brake. Use the bike’s rear brake to even out the distribution of your weight. Avoid slamming on the front brake only.
Use the Tuck and Roll Method
- If a crash appears to be inevitable, consider the tuck and roll method. Pull your knees into your chest, cross your arms over your chest, and tuck your head towards your chest. If you are going to be ejected from your bike, aim to put your body into a controlled roll. Raise your arms above your head and retain straight legs. Allow your body to roll until it stops on its own.
- These techniques are a last resort if a crash is unavoidable. Make sure to minimize injuries by wearing a helmet and protective clothing. Although it’s impossible to guarantee you can crash a motorcycle safely, these tips may help you avoid serious injury.
What First Aid Should Be Given After a Motorcycle Accident?
A motorcycle accident is often a chaotic and harrowing scene. If you are the first person on the scene, you should call 911 immediately. If you have basic first aid training, you may be able to help an injured rider. First aid steps that can be taken at a motorcycle crash scene include:
- Remove a full-face helmet if an injured rider is not breathing effectively and the helmet prevents access to the airway. In other cases, merely undo the chin strap to help breathing.
- Monitor the injured motorcyclist’s breathing closely and be ready to remove the helmet if the biker’s airway or breathing are compromised.
- In the case of bleeding, hold the wound together. Apply pressure to the bleeding area via dressings or the rider’s clothing to minimize blood loss.
- Avoid giving food or water to an injured rider as he or she may be taken to the hospital for an operation.
- Provide reassurance to a rider in the case of shock. Remain calm.
- If you suspect a rider has suffered a fracture, keep the victim still and pack clothing around a suspected broken bone to prevent movement.
- Secure an accident scene with flares or a warning triangle if possible to avoid a rider being hit on the road.
What is the Recovery Time after a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents are often traumatic and devastating. A bike offers less protection than a car and truck with a steel frame. As Baltimore motorcycle injury lawyers, we are often asked what’s an average motorcycle collision recovery time. The question depends on the circumstances.
There are two types of recovery in these cases, namely:
- How long an accident victim takes to recover from his or her injuries;
- How long a personal injury lawsuit takes to lead to a financial recovery for the victim.
These two questions may be interrelated but while some motorcycle accident victims will tragically never make a full recovery from their injuries, their cases will be resolved, although compensation is never guaranteed.
Injuries sustained by motorcyclists in Maryland and elsewhere are routinely more serious. They include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Road rash
- Spinal injuries
- Internal injuries
- Nerve damage
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Certain injuries such as damage to the spine or brain injuries may be irreversible. Motorcyclists who suffer these injuries often never make a recovery. In these tragic cases, it’s vital to recover enough money to cover ongoing medical needs to the rest of a rider’s life.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a motorcycle crash is a very real issue. A study by the British Columbia Medical Journal found as many as 10 percent of car, truck and motorcycle accident victims experienced PTSD. Victims of PTSD may experience a range of symptoms like anxiety and flashbacks that can ruin their quality of life.
The length of a motorcycle accident claim in Maryland is often linked to medical factors. When a rider has fully recovered or recovered as much as he or she is going to, a more accurate assessment of medical bills and pain and suffering can be made.
If future surgery is likely to be necessary or medical procedures are yet to be performed, a personal injury lawyer will get an estimate from doctors of the cost of future work. Although this can be a painstaking procedure, it typically yields a better result for an injured motorcyclist than dealing directly with the insurance company.
What is the Average Payout for a Motorcycle Accident?
There are no figures for an average payout in a motorcycle accident or an exact personal injury calculator. However, formulas are used by the insurance companies, lawyers and courts.
The size of a payout will depend on factors including the extent of the injuries the rider sustained in the accident and the limits of the insurance policies of the at-fault driver. For instance, motorcyclists injured due to the negligence of a truck driver are likely to recover more money under the trucking company’s policy than under the policy of a private car owner.
Research in this area is scarce. A paper published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2005 suggested the average award to car accident victims in jury trials was just $15,000. However, many of these cases involved soft tissue injuries which victims typically make a quick and full recovery from. Often injuries to motorcyclists are more severe and long-lasting. Make sure to take steps to help maximize recovery after a motorcycle accident by seeing a doctor as soon as possible, documenting damage to your bike and taking pictures of a crash scene. Do not admit fault after a crash.
What You Should Expect After a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcyclists who are injured in crashes will often deal with considerable pain and trauma. Injuries involving limbs may lead to amputation or other complications. When another driver is to blame, you can expect a tough battle with an insurance company. The insurance company may paint you as reckless or try to claim you were speeding or weaving in and out of traffic. Motorcyclists are often depicted negatively by insurers.
If you hire an experienced Baltimore motorcycle injury lawyer, we will want to know all of the facts of the case and will deal directly with the other side’s insurance company. During an initial first consultation, the attorney will ask you to first tell your story. We are likely to ask you numerous questions. The more information the attorney has available, the better we will be equipped to fight your case. The lawyer will want to know about the full effects of your injuries and their impact on your life. You will also be asked questions about your insurance coverage. We hope you stay safe on the roads of Maryland during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. If you are injured due to the fault of another driver, please contact us for a free consultation.
Quality Legal Help From A Competent Baltimore, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Except in the most clear cut cases, the people responsible for your injuries in a motorcycle accident aren’t likely to step up and accept the blame without a fight. The companies that insure those people will likely try to put the blame on you, or at least try to get you to sign a settlement agreement for a much smaller amount of money than could ever compensate you for your injuries.
It’s in your best interest to get experienced legal help as soon as possible after the accident. An attorney who has successfully handled many motorcycle accident cases knows what problems are likely to arise and how to head them off before they become real obstacles to your recovery.
Call the Baltimore personal injury lawyer team at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice and schedule an appointment to discuss your case. You’ll get a free evaluation of your case and advice as to your legal options, and we’ll tell you what information we need to take the next step. There is no fee until we obtain the recovery you deserve. Time to file is limited by law, so call now! (410) 694-7291.