Nothing beats the thrill of riding a motorcycle. It’s a way of life, but unfortunately, a dangerous one. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 88,000 of 8,600,936 registered motorcyclists suffered accident-related injuries in 2015. At 57.85 per 100,000 vehicles, the motorcycle injury rate greatly exceeded that of passenger cars (which sustained an injury rate of 9.48).
Accidents aren’t just physically and emotionally devastating; they also cause a huge financial burden. The Government Accounting Office points to $16 billion in direct annual costs. These include hospital bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and property damage. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can assist victims in recovering these and other damages.
How Driver Negligence Causes Motorcycle Accidents
Poor motorcycle habits can contribute to accidents, but often, car drivers are to blame. A motorcycle’s small size means limited visibility for other drivers. This amplifies the effects of negligence. Distracted drivers who spot large vehicles may miss motorcycles completely, especially if they fail to check their blind spots. The following forms of driver negligence are especially lethal for motorcyclists:
Types of Damages Available to Motorcyclists
Motorcyclists involved in negligence-based accidents often recover extensive damages. Compensatory damages are most common, but some victims also secure punitive damages. Depending on the case, compensation could cover:
Bills add up quickly following a motorcycle accident. Even a short trip to urgent care can prove costly. Some victims spend days in the hospital. In addition to covering these bills, damages may account for medical equipment, such as wheelchairs or prosthetics. Medical damages also take prescription drugs into account.
Recovery can prove a lengthy ordeal, but damages may account for long-term rehabilitative care. Depending on the accident, this could include physical or occupational therapy.
Motorcycle accidents don’t just inflict physical wounds; they cause years of emotional distress. Victims are prone to anxiety and depression. Some avoid their motorcycles for years, as they fear future accidents. Emotional duress takes its toll not only on the victim, but also on close friends and family members. Motorcycle-based personal injury cases often take this invisible form of suffering into account.
Loss of Wages
Motorcycle accident victims may spend months, even years away from the workforce. Some are sidelined from their chosen profession for good. Damages may cover already lost wages and future earnings.
Sometimes, motorcycle accidents go beyond negligence. Some drivers exhibit extreme recklessness, or even malicious intent. These factors increase the likelihood of punitive damages, which are specifically designed to punish the responsible party. The ultimate goal of punitive damages? To send a message and prevent future accidents.
Motorcycle accidents aren’t always caused by distracted car or truck drivers. Sometimes, faulty motorcycle parts or poor repairs are to blame.
A prime example: Suzuki’s multi-million dollar defective brakes case. The case involved faulty brakes on Adrian Johns’ 2006 GSX-R1000. The result? A shattered spine and a lifetime of suffering.
Lingering mobility issues have prevented Johns from returning to his career in postal work. Johns’ lawyer argued that Suzuki was aware of the defect at the time of the crash, but did not issue a recall until several months later.
How a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you were recently involved in a motorcycle accident, it’s critical that you seek legal counsel. Your lawyer can help you determine whether you have a viable case. If you choose to proceed, your attorney will offer the insight you need, patiently answering questions so you feel confident through all aspects of the legal process.
Motorcycle accident lawyers understand that bike accidents aren’t quite like other vehicle incidents. While these cases rest on a preponderance of evidence (a lesser burden for the plaintiff than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’), this evidence can be difficult to obtain. To demonstrate liability, your lawyer must prove:
Your lawyer may use police reports, witness testimony, and other forms of evidence to prove that the responsible driver failed to follow the rules of the road. This evidence is gathered during a critical portion of the personal injury process known as ‘discovery.’
Depending on your case, you and the opposition may pursue settlement. This is the favored outcome in the majority of personal injury cases. It’s important, however, to work with a trial-ready attorney. Whether or not you wind up in court, trial-readiness will prompt a more assertive approach, leading to a better outcome. Settlement involves extensive negotiation, but can lead to hundreds of thousands, even millions in damages.
If your case proceeds to court, your lawyer will present compelling evidence before a judge or jury. Awarded damages may be impacted by comparative negligence, in which the plaintiff’s award is reduced based on degree of fault. For example, if evidence indicates that you were speeding at the time of the accident, your total damages may be reduced. Your lawyer will make every effort to highlight your responsible conduct as motorcyclist.
Lawyer selection can spell the difference between extensive damages and a small settlement or loss in court. Work with an attorney you trust to hold drivers accountable for their negligence.