Most of the time, riding a motorcycle is a hugely enjoyable experience. The unfortunate truth, though, is that it can be dangerous. Even riders who do everything right can suffer accidents. Whatever the circumstances, motorcycle accident victims can often use injury claims to gain compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault parties. Whereas you could file a motorcycle accident claim on your own, motorcycle riders see better results when they have injury lawyers handling their case.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Often, motorcycle accident victims are injured by drivers of other vehicles, although an accident can also be due to the motorcyclist making a poor decision or even be someone else’s fault entirely. Some causes of motorcycle accidents are:
- Distracted drivers. One of the most common causes of a crash is distracted driving. Drivers can be distracted because they’re using a phone or navigation system, eating, or talking to a passenger. Any of these can result in a motorcycle accident if the driver then switches lanes without checking first, misses a stop sign, or fails to yield.
- Aggressive driving. Another particularly common cause of injuries to motorcyclists is a driver being aggressive on the road. Types of aggressive driving include tailgating and cutting the motorcyclist off.
- Driving under the influence. Drunk drivers have impaired judgment and reaction times. They may take risks, fail to stop in time, or lose control of their vehicles.
- Speeding. A car going more than the speed limit may struggle to stop in time at an unexpected red light, stop sign, or motorcycle directly ahead.
- Lane splitting. It’s a common practice for motorcyclists to lane split with others on the road, especially during times of congestion. However, this does increase the risk that you’ll be injured, particularly if you are an inexperienced rider.
- Dooring. Motorcyclists are always at risk of dooring: this is when someone in a parked vehicle opens the door without checking if there is traffic approaching from behind. Dooring can cause a rider to be thrown from a motorcycle, potentially into oncoming traffic.
- Defective vehicle. A problem with your motorcycle could still mean someone else is negligent for your crash. If failed brakes, a blown-out tire, or another issue led to a wreck, the manufacturer or distributor of the part could be liable. You’ll need to show that there was a defect and that the issue was not due to improper maintenance or operating.
Injuries Sustained in Motorcycle Accidents
A motorcycle accident can cause a large variety of injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries, sometimes causing paralysis
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and shoulder injuries
- Loss of limbs, such as due to a crush injury that means a limb requires amputation
- Road rash from skin coming into contact with the pavement, leading to abrasions that can become infected and scar
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
These injuries can be life threatening or even fatal. If you have lost a loved one, you should file a motorcycle accident claim on your family member’s behalf.
Why Are Motorcycle Accidents More Likely to Cause Trauma?
Being on the road in any type of vehicle incurs a risk, but accidents are fatal for motorcyclists 30 times as often as they are for people riding in cars. There are several reasons why motorcyclists face added danger:
- Less protection. You are much more exposed if you suffer a crash on a motorcycle than if you are in a car. If you’re thrown from your motorcycle, your body could make contact with the hard surface of the road or slam into another vehicle. For this reason, it’s crucial to always wear a helmet to protect your head and prevent brain injuries.
- Fewer safety features. A motorcycle lacks the protection you have with other vehicles, like seatbelts, airbags, and the metal frame.
- Less visible. It’s more likely that a driver fails to see a motorcycle, due to its smaller size compared to other vehicles on the road.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Receive?
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation to cover the damages you incurred. This could include:
- Medical bills
- The cost of future treatment you will need, such as physical therapy, occupational rehabilitation, and prescription medication
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity due to your injuries
- Damage to your motorcycle
- Pain and suffering
- Disability expenses, such as modifications to your home and vehicle
- Mental anguish
- Decreased quality of life
The types of damage you’ll receive will be different if you lost a loved one. Louisville motorcycle accident attorneys can also support you in making a wrongful death claim to recover economic and non-economic damages. These damages could consist of lost wages, medical expenses (including for palliative care), funeral costs, and loss of consortium for the lost companionship and guidance.
Who Is at Fault for a Motorcycle Accident?
The amount you’ll receive in damages depends on several factors, including who was at fault for your motorcycle accident injury. It’s possible that more than one person involved in the accident could be at fault. Since Kentucky is a pure comparative fault state, you’ll receive damages according to the percentage you were negligent. For instance, if the driver of the other vehicle is found to be 65 percent at fault and you 35 percent, you will receive 65 percent of the damages.
Motorcycle Laws in Louisville, KY
Motorcycle riders may share some fault if they broke any Kentucky laws that meant they contributed to the cause of the accident or exacerbated their injuries. Helmet laws are one to be aware of. These used to apply to everyone, but helmets are now only required for riders and passengers aged 21 and under, motorcyclists who only have an instruction permit, and those who have held an operator’s license for less than a year. You should bear in mind, though, that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicts that the risk of death in accidents drops by more than a third when a motorcyclist is using a helmet. Furthermore, a helmet lowers your risk of a brain injury by two-thirds.
Another key law is the statute of limitations to file an injury claim. In Kentucky, this is one year. Make sure you start the process as soon as possible to avoid missing out on the damages you deserve.
Types of Accidents
Although every motorcycle accident is unique, most fall into a few main categories.
- Collisions. The most damaging type of motorcycle accident is a head-on collision. This happens when a car is driving in the opposite direction and collides directly with the motorcyclist. Broken bones, dislocated limbs, and crushing injuries can occur due to the motorcycle accident victim’s body making contact with the other vehicle. Motorcyclists can also be thrown into the windshield of the car.
- Left-hand turns. Drivers may make a left-hand turn without noticing a motorcycle or they may fail to acknowledge that the rider has right of way. Since cars tend to be driving at slower speeds at intersections, injuries are often less severe than with a collision, but they can still be serious. In this type of accident, the driver who turned will almost definitely be found fully at fault.
- Lane switching. Another situation where drivers may fail to check for motorcyclists is in a lane switching accident. This tends to be due to the motorcycle being in a blind spot, which can be catastrophic if the car is moving at a high speed.
- Dangerous road conditions. Motorcycles are more sensitive to poor road conditions than larger vehicles. Anything from a slippery surface or pothole to debris on the road or a poorly designed intersection could cause a wreck. The city of Louisville may be liable if someone in a government agency was aware of the problem and failed to take action in time to prevent your accident.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
Immediately after an accident, there are a few steps you need to take to optimize the outcomes for yourself or your loved one.
Step 1: Receive Treatment for Your Injuries
You need to receive immediate medical attention, even if your injuries don’t seem severe. While you’re in shock, it’s common not to feel pain. You also may have injuries that are not yet apparent to you but that a doctor will be able to detect. Furthermore, seeking treatment immediately will enable you to clearly link your injuries to the accident, which will help you in recovering damages.
Step 2: Gather Evidence
Support your case with as much evidence as possible to show that you were not at fault and that the symptoms you’re experiencing are a result of the accident. Take photos of your motorcycle and injuries. Request a copy of the police report and make sure you keep all your medical records.
Although it may be traumatic to relive the accident, it’s important that you write down everything you remember while the events are still fresh in your mind. State all the key facts, such as the location, vehicles involved, and how exactly you were knocked from your motorcycle. Keep adding to a journal over the weeks following the accident to record how your symptoms progress, when you had doctor’s visits, what treatment you’ve received, and when you had to miss a day of work.
Step 3: Keep a Journal Detailing Your Injuries
In Kentucky, you can receive a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Always do this before making any decisions about accepting compensation. The insurance company of the at-fault party may reach out to you and offer a settlement. This will almost certainly be a low-ball offer and you should avoid even replying — instead directing all communication to your accident attorney.
Why Motorcycle Accident Victims Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
You may have done nothing wrong and have even taken precautions, such as wearing pads in addition to a helmet, chosen a safe model of motorcycle, and adhered to all the traffic laws. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean the insurance company of the at-fault party will agree to pay you the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies often assume that the motorcyclist is liable and will require you to prove otherwise before you have any chance of receiving a fair payout.
Louisville motorcycle accident attorneys are already familiar with the types of arguments the insurance company will try to use. They know what kind of evidence to present to prove that you were injured due to the accident, that someone else’s negligence was the cause of your injuries, and that you experienced economic or non-economic damages as a result.
Your lawyers will also ensure you receive the maximum amount from your motorcycle claim. For instance, your legal team may be able to prove you were wearing a helmet, show a lack of brake marks upon impact, and use the driver’s cellphone records to demonstrate distracted driving. Your lawyers will also gather documentation to support your case, such as eyewitness statements, photos of the scene, video surveillance, and dash cam recordings.
It’s important to be confident that you are receiving a fair amount in the settlement, since once you’ve accepted an offer, you’ll be unable able to seek further damages later. The insurance provider may try to make it seem as if you have fewer rights or confuse you with legal and insurance jargon. Your motorcycle accident lawyers, however, will ensure you fully understand your case and will be able to answer any questions you have to give you peace of mind. If the insurance company refuses to make a reasonable offer, you can file a lawsuit and your lawyers will represent you in court.
When you’re recovering from injuries and dealing with the emotional toll that comes from the aftermath of an accident, the last thing you want to do is fight for insurance to pay your medical bills and other expenses. Injury lawyers can handle everything for you, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Louisville Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
You’ll receive a higher amount in compensation if you have the support of an experienced Louisville motorcycle accident lawyer. The Fleck Firm has a team of personal injury attorneys who have negotiated numerous claims to ensure motorcycle riders receive the full amount they are entitled to. We will also go to trial for you if the insurance company refuses to settle for a fair amount. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact us for a free consultation and to start your injury claim.