Motorcycle riding is a favorite mode of travel for millions of people in the United States. The thrill and freedom of the open road lures countless Americans into buying motorcycles each year. The United States Census Bureau estimates over 125,000,000 currently registered motorcycles are on the road across the country. Unfortunately, there is a high risk of catastrophic injuries when motorcycle accidents occur.
Without the protection of heavy metal car frames, seat belts, airbags, and reinforced glass, motorcyclists are vulnerable to extreme trauma when they collide with another vehicle on the road. All motor vehicles have the potential for getting into serious accidents, but the likelihood of a motorcyclist dying as a result of an accident is 27 times greater than for those traveling in passenger cars and trucks. Motorcyclists commonly suffer head trauma, organ damage, broken bones, severe skin abrasions, lacerations, and burns as a result of an accident.
Victims of motorcycle accidents typically require emergency care, hospitalizations, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and long recovery periods. The high cost of medical care combined with lost wages can quickly devastate the financial health of the victim and their family. Compensation for injuries and damages can often be recovered through a personal injury lawsuit, but the legal process can be overwhelming for the average motorcyclists to navigate.
What are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
A motorcycle accident can occur at any time, even to the most careful and safety conscious riders. There is a wide variety of reasons that motorcycle accidents occur, but the most common causes for this type of accident include:
- Distracted Driving: Cell phone usage, texting, and other forms of distracted driving are the leading cause of motorcycle and car accidents in the United States. In fact, distracted driving has surpassed drunk and drugged driving as the top cause of fatal motor vehicle and motorcycle fatalities. Car drivers that engage in distracted driving behaviors often collide with motorcyclists while their attention is diverted.
- Drunk and Drugged Driving: When a motorcyclist chooses to get on their bike and ride after drinking alcoholic beverages, engaging in recreational drug use, or taking over the counter or prescription medications, they are breaking the law and putting everyone on the road in danger. Impaired coordination and decision-making skills associated with drunk or drugged driving puts a motorcyclist at risk for crashing. Drunk or drugged motorcycle operators can face criminal and civil charges.
- Speeding: Driving a motorcycle over the designated speed limit or driving too fast for weather or road conditions leads to tragic motorcycle accidents. Speeding is the most preventable cause of a motorcycle accident, yet this type of accident happens all too often.
- Careless Lane Changes: Drivers of passenger cars and trucks always need to be aware of motorcyclists on the road. Failing to check rear view and side mirrors or using signals before changing lanes on a highway or byway can result in a fatal motorcycle accident. The force of a vehicle plowing into a motorcycle from the side is enough to send the bike, driver, and passengers into a deadly spin, often crashing into other vehicles on the road.
- Car Doors: Passenger vehicles can become deadly obstacles when drivers fail to look for motorcycles before opening their door. When a driver exits the vehicle without looking, the car door becomes a deadly instrument for a motorcyclist that may slam into the door when they do not have time or room to avoid it.
- Lane Splitting: One of the advantages of riding a motorcycle through heavy traffic is the opportunity for lane splitting. This occurs when a motorcycle drives between two lanes of traffic, often taking them past a long line of stopped or slow-moving vehicles. This is a dangerous practice for all motorcyclists and results in a high number of serious injuries and death when they collide with the vehicles they are passing.
- Left Turn Accidents: Motorcycles are not always easy to see, especially when they are making a left-hand turn. Cars and trucks that are traveling through an intersection are not always aware that a motorcycle is waiting to make a left-hand turn. This type of accident typically results in severe injury to the cyclist and any passengers they may have onboard.
- Sudden Stops and Tailgating: It is never safe to follow another vehicle too close from behind, but it is especially dangerous to tailgate a motorcycle. Getting hit from behind can cause a motorcycle to thrust forward with so much force that the driver can be thrown from the cycle. Many are killed when they are ejected from the bike and are ultimately hit by other vehicles on the road.
- Inclement Weather and Dangerous Road Conditions: A motorcyclist does not often have time to correct the path of their motorcycle when they spin on ice, lose traction on wet leaves, or lose control of their bike in heavy rain, snow, or icy conditions. Serious and fatal motorcycle accidents often happen when cyclists encounter uneven road surfaces and potholes. Poor visibility during adverse weather conditions make it hard for the cyclist to see these obstacles in the road.
What Types of Injuries Do Motorcyclists Suffer in a Crash?
Motorcycle helmets have made a significant difference in protecting motorcycle riders from serious head injuries, but they cannot prevent all head trauma. There are many types of injuries that can occur when a motorcycle gets into an accident.
- Head and Brain Trauma: When a motorcycle accident occurs, drivers and passengers alike often suffer head and brain trauma. When a person is thrown from a motorcycle, they often suffer head injuries when their body is thrust onto the roadway, onto another vehicle, or when they are hit by another vehicle as they lay on the road. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), fractured skull, concussion, and contusions can cause permanent brain damage.
- Neck and Spinal Injury: The lack of protective equipment, such as seat belts, airbags, and reinforced glass leave motorcyclists in danger of suffering neck and spinal injuries when a crash occurs. Paralysis, cognitive and physical impairment, and mobility issues can occur from this type of accident. When bones are severed in these areas, they typically cut the nerves associated with helping us function independently. Permanent disability can significantly restrict a victim’s ability to financially or independently support themselves.
- Road Rash: When bare skin scrapes along asphalt, cement, and other road surfaces during a motorcycle accident, road rash can occur. Protective clothing, such as leather pants and long sleeve shirts can protect motorcyclists from getting road rash, but cyclists that wear thin material or ride with bare arms or legs can suffer significant damage to their skin, nerves, and bones if they make contact with the road surface. Severe skin lacerations and contusions, tissue damage, and nerve damage often occur in these situations.
- Bone Fractures: The impact of a motorcycle accident can be so great that drivers and passengers on the motorcycle suffer serious bone fractures in multiple areas of the body. Arms, legs, hands, feet, ribs, and the spine are very vulnerable areas on the body. Fractured bones in these areas can also seriously damage internal organs and require surgery with very long recovery periods.
- Burns: Fuel, combustible liquids, and road rash can cause serious burn injuries. The recovery from a burn injury is one of the most painful experiences a person can endure. The risk of infection and the need for multiple surgeries further complicates this type of injury.
- Amputation: Losing a limb as a result of a motorcycle accident is not uncommon. The trauma caused by the accident can cause limbs to be amputated at the scene of the accident or later due to complications during recovery.
- Infection: Open wounds and burn injuries are prone to infection. Infection is also a risk during and after any surgical procedure. Serious and sometimes life-threatening infections can occur as a result of injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
What Should I Do If I am Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?
Knowing what to do if a motorcycle accident occurs can help you to remain calm in this type of situation.
- Assess injuries and call for emergency care personnel immediately, even if the injury appears to be minor. Quite often, the emotional impact of a motorcycle accident delays physical symptoms from appearing until hours or even days following the accident.
- Secure the accident scene and remove all cars and debris from the road.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and the surrounding weather and road conditions in case you need them moving forward in a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim.
- Gather witness testimony and record it on your phone, if possible.
- Get the official police report accident number from the law enforcement person on duty.
- Keep all medical records and results from diagnostic medical tests in a readily available file.
- Contact your employer, especially if injuries will prevent you from returning to work right away.
- Consult with an experienced and reputable motorcycle accident lawyer.
- Call your insurance agent. This is best to do before you have filed a petition for a lawsuit. Some victims supply incriminating evidence to the other driver’s accident investigator and wind up liable for costs.
- Keep up with all regimens and instructions from physicians to support your injury and disability claims.
An experienced and knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer can help injured victims navigate the legal process involved with insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. Legal counsel and representation can ensure that the victim’s legal rights are protected, and that they claim the maximum amount of compensation available.
Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP Represent Injured in Motorcycle Accident Victims
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, call the Los Angeles motorcycle accident lawyers at Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP. Call us at 833-ACTS-LAW or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. We will hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries and obtain the compensation you deserve. Located in San Diego and Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout southern California.