Any motor vehicle accident can cause property damage and bodily injury to those involved. However, motorcycle accidents often produce more serious injuries and long-term consequences. Unfortunately, even with these intensified negative outcomes, motorcyclists typically face a tougher battle when pursuing compensation for the damages sustained.
Partnering with a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer from Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC (GKBM) is the best way forward for motorcycle accident victims. Our team understands the struggles specific to motorcycle accident victims and will deal with them efficiently to deliver the best outcome possible.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Data collected by the National Safety Council (NSC) shows that while motorcycles only account for 3% of all registered vehicles nationwide and .06% of vehicle miles traveled, motorcycle accidents comprise “14% of all traffic fatalities, 17% of occupant fatalities, and 3% of all occupant injuries.” Motorcycle accident death rates have increased over the past decade, totaling 5,932. For that same year, the NSC reports 83,000 motorcycle-accident injuries.
In its “Traffic Safety Facts,” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes the fatality rate of motorcyclists per registered vehicle is six times the rate for occupants of passenger vehicles and 10 times the rate for light-truck occupants. Injury rates are also higher for motorcyclists.
Even more sobering, per vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the fatality rate for motorcyclists is 28 times higher than that of passenger car occupants and 43 times higher than for light truck occupants. For injuries, per VMT, rates are four and eight times higher for motorcyclists than for passenger car and light truck occupants, respectively.
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Injuries Are Often More Severe in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle riders usually experience more severe injuries and are more likely to die in an accident than passenger car occupants because they are far less protected upon impact. Cars are outfitted with safety features, such as front and side airbags, seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control to keep the car on its path and avoid skidding or sliding, and collision warning systems. Occupants are also protected by the car’s body, which is constructed with materials designed to keep those inside safe.
Motorcyclists have little to no protection. While helmets are effective in reducing damage to the head and brain, they are still outmatched by the size and weight of a vehicle or even the force of impact against a stationary object or the road itself. Riding jackets or suits can protect against road rash and minor burns, but they cannot prevent broken bones, internal damage, or spinal cord injuries.
The structure of motorcycles themselves, having two wheels to balance on rather than four to “sit” on, makes riders more vulnerable to skid outs, tip-overs, and general loss of control. They are also smaller than other vehicles on the road, making them less visible and more susceptible to being hit by other drivers.
Injuries Commonly Sustained in Motorcycle Accidents
A seemingly minor motorcycle accident can still produce serious road burns or “road rash” that can become infected or even require skin grafts and reconstructive surgery and cause permanent deformity or nerve damage. Other injuries commonly sustained include:
- Broken or crushed bones
- Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Muscle, nerve, and tissue damage
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Insurance Company Responses to Motorcycle vs. Car Accidents
While an insurance company’s goal is to keep their payouts low in any motor vehicle accident, adjusters harbor special biases against motorcyclists. By their design, motorcycles are more dangerous to riders than other vehicles, as the statistics show, and their disproportionate percentage of fatality and injury rates prompt insurance companies to see riders as reckless or danger-seeking.
A natural consequence of this perception is that adjusters may automatically assign a high degree of fault to the motorcyclist, which the rider then has to disprove. A motorcycle accident lawyer’s involvement is critical to this process as an attorney will know what evidence to gather and how to get it to ensure the motorcyclist is not treated unfairly.
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Compensation for Motorcycle Accidents vs. Car Accidents
Just like car accident victims, those injured in motorcycle accidents can hold the at-fault party accountable for paying them compensation by filing a personal injury claim. While every case is different, you can expect an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to fight to recover:
- Medical care costs, including those experienced going forward
- Income loss, including future earnings lost if the victim cannot return to work
- Lost or damaged property
- A financial acknowledgment of pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life
- End-of-life costs, related medical costs, lost income, and loss of consortium if a loved one was killed in the accident
How much victims recover depends on the severity of the injuries and their effects on the victim’s life, the state’s fault laws, and the effectiveness of the victim’s legal representation.
The states of Arkansas and Mississippi follow a comparative fault model, meaning victims can only pursue compensation if they prove they are not more than 49% responsible for their injuries. Mississippi follows a pure comparative system, meaning victims can sue even if they hold 99% of the fault for their injuries. However, in all three states, if the victim is eligible to file a claim, the total compensation they receive is reduced according to their assigned percentage of fault.
These systems make having superior representation from a knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney essential for protecting you from false blame and protecting your settlement from an unjust reduction.
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Motorcycle Safety Laws and Accident Outcomes
Some states have specific laws in place for motorcycle riders. For example, helmet laws in Tennessee and Mississippi require helmets for riders of all ages. Arkansas law requires helmets for riders under the age of 21 years.
The NHTSA’s “Traffic Safety Facts” states helmets are 37% effective in preventing accident fatalities. When victims are not wearing helmets at the time of the accident, insurance companies can use this lack of protection to assign the victim fault for their injuries. While the at-fault driver may still be liable for the accident, the victim’s compensation will probably be reduced. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer will work to keep that reduction to a minimum.
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Trust an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Motorcycle accidents come with unique circumstances that can affect the outcome of your case. To get the best result and the settlement you need to recover, trust your case with a motorcycle accident lawyer from GKBM. We have decades of experience and a successful history representing motorcycle accident victims.
We will handle your case with compassion, skill, and efficiency from start to finish. We look forward to hearing from you.