Accidents on the road occur every day and are always an unfortunate event, but when an accident involves a motorcycle, the outcome is almost always significantly worse than an accident involving two cars. Motorcyclists do not have the same protection a car drivers have with a physical barrier between themselves and the road or the other vehicle. Victims of motorcycle accidents are often severely injured and face steep medical bills, disability, loss of wages, and severe pain and suffering. Injuries may be catastrophic and include:
What is more, many motorcycle riders are not at fault in an accident. If you or someone you care about has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is critical that you reach out to an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer to protect your rights and fight for your future. You may be eligible to receive damages to compensate you for physical injuries, emotional turmoil, medical bills, loss of wages, and suffering sustained as a result of the accident.
Drivers of motorcycles are thirty-five percent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than drivers of passenger vehicles. Because motorcyclists are far more vulnerable on the road than other drivers, all drivers have a duty and an obligation to take extra precaution around them. Motorcycles are legal vehicles, and those who drive them have legal rights, which protect them from negligent and reckless drivers, as well as unsafe roadway conditions. Although many people hold a common misconception that most motorcycle accidents occur because of reckless driving on the part of the motorcyclists, the reality is that the majority of motorcycle accidents occur because a car driver fails to take the necessary precautions when sharing the road with motorcyclists.
PROVING FAULT IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CLAIM
When a motorcycle accident involves multiple vehicles, the ensuing injuries can be devastating. If a motorcyclist or other driver caused your accident, you will need to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party to secure compensation for your damages. Proving fault in a motorcycle accident case requires establishing the elements of negligence in court, which include:
- The plaintiff must show the court that the defendant owed a duty of care in the given situation. On the road, every driver and motorcyclist has a duty of care to the other drivers on the road to operate their vehicles safely and abide by the traffic laws.
- Next the plaintiff must show how the defendant breached his or her duty of care. This could be through a specific action, such as speeding, running through a stop sign, or aggressive driving. Inaction may also constitute a breach of duty, such as a driver failing to signal before a lane change.
- The plaintiff may only file a lawsuit if he or she suffered actual harm, or some kind of measurable injury or economic loss. If there is no harm, there is no claim.
- Finally, the plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence to show the court that his or her damages were the direct results of the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
Your attorney will help you gather the necessary evidence for building a strong case. This could include statements from eyewitnesses, collecting traffic camera data, or even subpoenaing an at-fault driver’s cell phone records to prove he or she was texting behind the wheel.
CALCULATING DAMAGES IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CASE
The plaintiff in a motorcycle accident case can claim several types of compensation depending on the nature of his or her damages. Typically, the damages a plaintiff could expect from a successful motorcycle accident claim include:
- Medical expenses. Plaintiffs can claim the costs of all past and future medical expenses related to the crash, including hospital bills, surgery fees, rehabilitation costs, medical device costs (such as crutches or wheelchairs), and prescription costs.
- Property damage. The plaintiff can claim compensation for the costs of repairing or replacing a damaged or destroyed motorcycle or other personal belongings. The plaintiff can also claim compensation for out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident, such as cab fare, towing costs, or rental car expenses.
- Lost income. If the plaintiff had to miss work due to his or her injuries, he or she can sue for the income lost in that time. If the plaintiff suffers permanent injuries that limit his or her future earning potential, the plaintiff could receive compensation for this as well.
- Pain and suffering. The plaintiff can claim compensation for the physical pain, mental anguish, and emotional suffering experienced after a motorcycle accident.
- Punitive damages. If the jury decides that a defendant’s behavior was grossly negligent, intentionally harmful, or manifested from malice, the jury may award punitive damages to the plaintiff as a means of further punishing the defendant.
HANDLING INSURANCE COMPANIES
After any motorcycle accident, you will more than likely have to deal with insurance companies in some capacity, whether it is to file a claim against an at-fault driver’s policy or against your own. It is essential to hire an attorney before talking to any insurance agents. An insurance agent will try to find any reason possible to reduce or deny your claim, and an attorney can help prevent this. If you have an attorney handle all your correspondence with insurers, they will be less likely to engage in high-pressure tactics to try and convince you to settle for less than coverage dictates.
How Do Motorcycle Accidents Happen?
These are some common causes of motorcycle crashes:
- Reckless and negligent driving
- Hazards on the road such as debris, uneven lanes, puddles, potholes, etc.
- Car drivers failing to see the motorcyclists when changing lanes, turning, or speeding up.
The most frequent cause of a passenger vehicle-motorcycle collision accident is the passenger vehicle’s driver being unable to clearly see the motorcyclist when changing lanes or turning. This may happen because the motorcycle falls into a driver’s blind spot or because the car driver fails to watch for other vehicles when maneuvering. Crashes are especially common when a car making a left turn fails to observe a motorcycle approaching with the right of way and drives into the cyclist’s path.
Some Motorcycle Accident Statistics
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s highway loss data report in 2009 reported that:
- More than fifty percent of motorcycle accidents deaths involved an accident with at least one other vehicle
- Forty-two percent of all fatal accidents involving two automobiles occurred because of a car making a left turn while the motorcycle was going straight or passing the other vehicle
- Overall, less than half of all fatal motorcycle accidents did not involve another vehicle
The Right Legal Representation in Alabama
Although many people automatically assume that if a motorcycle is involved in an accident it is because the driver was engaging in reckless behavior and is at fault, this is clearly not always the case. At the Drake law firm in Birmingham, Alabama, our attorneys know that motorcyclists are frequently injured by other drivers’ negligence. If you become our client, we will handle all aspects of your case from initial investigation to filing your claim, and fighting your case at court when necessary to ensure the best possible financial outcome for you and your family. When necessary, we will call upon accident reconstructionists and traffic safety engineers to assist in demonstrating the other driver’s liability for the accident.
A Long Record of Success
Our firm has successfully recovered over $100 million in settlements and verdicts and has a 99 percent success rate in the cases which we accept. Because we are a small law firm, we can offer personalized attention and dedicate ourselves to one case at a time, while building a close personal and professional relationship with our clients. We understand the challenges you face in the aftermath of an accident, and will work tirelessly to make sure these difficult times run their course as smoothly as possible.
Our consultation is free, and we do not charge any fees unless we recover an award for you. We have the experience, knowledge, and legal expertise to effectively fight for the justice that you deserve. We aggressively pursue all cases we take on, and attribute our unparalleled success rate to our dedication to each client’s needs. Call today to set up your complimentary case analysis.
“I engaged Whit Drake to represent me after I was injured in a motorcycle accident. I hope I never need to use a personal injury attorney again, but if I do, it will be Whit Drake. Essentially, what he and his firm offer is peace of mind.” – J.T.