Motorcycle Accident Causes | Motorcycle Legal Foundation
Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Motorcycle Accident Causes

When it comes to road freedom, nothing can beat the motorcycle. When you’re on a bike, it’s just you and the wind rushing past your helmet.

Unfortunately, this open nature that makes bikes alluring to ride is also its greatest weakness. The small size, low visibility, and relative lack of safety features compared to other vehicles make motorcycles more prone to serious injury and damage in case of an accident.

Motorcycle Accident Fatalities by the Numbers

Motorcycle riders have a much higher risk of dying in a road accident compared to all other types of motorized vehicles.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Motorcycles are more likely to be involved in crashes than passenger cars.
  • Motorcycle rider deaths account for 14% of all road accident fatalities, the highest among all vehicle types.
  • Motorcycle fatalities are 28x higher than any other vehicle.

What Makes Motorcycle Accidents Worse?

Whether it’s a fixed object or two-vehicle collision, motorcycle riders tend to suffer worse injuries and greater damage compared to four-wheel vehicles, due to the following factors:

Smaller size – The average bike is 4x lighter than the typical passenger car, resulting in disproportionate damage in the event of a collision.

Lower visibility – Bikes are harder to see than four-wheel vehicles, even with headlight and reflective safety gear. In addition, today’s vehicles tend to have more blind spots, particularly SUVs and cars with thicker A pillars.

Less safety features – Unlike enclosed vehicles, motorcycles lack a passenger compartment, crumple zones, airbags and seatbelts. Riders only rely on their helmet and safety gear to absorb impact forces in the event of an accident.

The Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents

Rear End Collision

This occurs when a trailing vehicle hits the rear end of a motorcycle, due to excessive speed, negligence, or impaired driving. While rear end collisions among enclosed vehicles typically result in a fender bender, a rear-ended motorcycle tends to have worse consequences for the rider and the bike.

Lane Change Accidents

Lane change incidents account for a large part of motorcycle accidents, especially in cases where the bike is lane sharing or lane splitting.

Left Turn Accidents

This happens when an oncoming or passing motorcycle gets hit by a vehicle turning left. According to the NHTSA, 42% of motorcycle crashes are caused by a left turn collision.

Head on Collision

One of the worst accidents that a motorcycle rider can face. 76% of two-vehicle motorcycle accidents involve a head-on collision, compared to just 7% for rear impacts.

Side Swipes

This is when a vehicle swerves into a lane occupied by a motorcycle, resulting in a side collision. Common reasons include lack of visibility, distracted or impaired drivers, and neglecting to check before making an abrupt lane change.

Impact with an Open Car Door

This is more likely to happen in an urban environment, tight parking spaces, and areas where people are commonly dropped off. Open door accidents are dangerous not only because of the initial impact with the door, but because it can result in a secondary incident such as being run over by a trailing vehicle.

Sudden Stop Crashes

A sudden stop on a busy highway can result in a rear-end collision, multi-vehicle pileup, or even being sandwiched in between two cars. Motorcycles require a longer stopping distance compared to four-wheelers, while other drivers are less likely to spot a bike braking in front of them.

Accidents due to Faulty Equipment

Equipment failure accounts for about 3% of motorcycle accidents. Faulty equipment accidents is can result from a fault with the bike itself, accessories, or safety gear such as helmet failure.

Hit and Run Incidents

About 12% of all road accidents and 6% of all traffic injuries involve a hit and run. A motorcycle accident is bad enough, but suffering a hit and run adds insult to injury. It can increase the severity of injuries or damages due to delay in aid, and creates a burden for the victim and for law enforcement to track the driver at fault.

Intoxicated Drivers

DUI is responsible for a disproportionate number of motorcycle accidents. 29% of all road fatalities and 33% of motorcycle deaths are caused by a drunk driver or rider.

Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers

An uninsured or underinsured motorist is one who doesn’t have any insurance, lacks sufficient coverage to pay for damages, or had their claim denied by their insurance provider. Insurance is critical since it accounts for 66% of the medical expenses of motorcycle crash victims, while only 22% comes from public funds and 12% comes from self-payment.

Uber or Lyft Accidents

The popularity of ridesharing has also made them hazardous to motorcycle riders. This is because some Uber or Lyft drivers tend to overspeed or drive long hours while tired to meet their ride quota. Others may also be distracted, inexperienced, or unfamiliar with the destination area, increasing the likelihood of an accident.

Liability in a Motorcycle Accident

  • If the accident involves a two-vehicle collision, the negligent party and their insurance provider are responsible for damages.
  • However, some states follow a comparative fault rule. A court can determine if both parties showed negligence during the accident, and adjust compensation accordingly. In such cases, motorists found with more than 50% of the fault may recover nothing, while the other party loses damages in proportion to their share of negligence.
  • Even if you weren’t at fault for the accident, other factors may be considered that could lower your level of compensation. This includes not wearing a helmet (for states that require helmet use), or aggravating circumstances such as intoxicated or unsafe riding.
  • In cases where the other party is uninsured or cannot be identified (such as a hit and run), the injured motorcyclist can claim damages from the uninsured motorist coverage of their insurance policy.

The Role of a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Because motorcycle crashes are different and can be more complex than car crashes, there are lawyers that are dedicated to motorcycle accidents. An attorney that specializes in motorcycle accidents and injuries can help victims claim compensation, deal with insurance, and mitigate liabilities in case the rider was at fault.

Even in single-vehicle crashes, a motorcycle accident lawyer can help determine liability from unexpected causes, such as road defects or hazards that may have contributed to the crash.

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, we can connect you with a motorcycle accident attorney for a free case evaluation.

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