In many ways, motorcycle and car accidents are significantly different. Not only do motorcycle accidents typically result in more severe injuries, more fatalities, and more vehicle damage, but it’s also harder to win fair compensation in a motorcycle injury claim. Insurance companies and juries often view motorcyclists as less likely to be clear of liability.
This can be a challenge for motorcycle accident victims, who often face significant medical bills and other losses as a result of a serious injury. Let’s look at how the two types of vehicle accidents differ with regards to injury, cause, and proving a claim, and the value of having an experienced motorcycle accident attorney fighting your corner.
Motorcycle Accidents Are Far More Deadly for Motorcycle Riders
Motorcycle accident statistics paint a sorry picture of the risks that motorcycle riders face on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, while motorcycles only account for 3% of registered vehicles, motorcycle accidents account for 14% of all road accident fatalities.
Motorcycle accident fatalities are six times higher than when victims are protected by the metal frame, seat belt, airbags, and other safety features of passenger vehicles. And when we look at total vehicle miles traveled, passenger vehicle occupants are 27 times less likely to suffer a fatal crash.
Serious Injury Is Also More Likely
Even when it’s not a fatal accident and the rider survives, motorcycle accidents tend to cause far more serious injuries than auto accidents. Spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, severe road rash burns, broken bones, and other long-lasting or permanent injuries are sadly not uncommon among motorcycle accident victims.
The consequences of motorcycle crashes are often devastating. And the comparatively high rate of severe or fatal injuries leads to a greater number of subsequent catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims.
More Vehicle Damage Occurs in Motorcycle Crashes
With a lighter, weaker frame, a bike is also more likely to be seriously damaged or completely totaled in a motorcycle crash. Even when injured bikers escape an accident unscathed or without severe injuries, their bikes will often be too damaged to ride.
Following a car accident, on the other hand, the car is often only superficially damaged and still functional. Costly property damage is another way road accidents impact motorcyclists more significantly than car drivers.
Seek Compensation With Property Damages
Most of us need our motor vehicles to go about our daily lives. The high cost and inconvenience of having your vehicle destroyed can be hugely disruptive. As such, property damages often comprise a sizable portion of the total compensation sought in motorcycle accident claims.
The Difference in Accident Causes
With both motorcycle and car accidents, common causes include drunk driving (which contributes to about 30% of all road accident fatalities according to car accident statistics), speeding, and fatigue.
Poor weather is also among the common causes of car accidents and motorcycle vehicle accidents, as is reckless driving, running red lights, and simply failing to follow driving rules and regulations.
But the causes of motorcycle accidents and the causes of car accidents also frequently differ.
The Risks Motorcyclists Face on the Road
One danger motorcyclists face to a greater degree than car drivers is that of collisions with fixed objects, such as trees and guardrails. Road hazards like gravel or railway tracks can also pose a greater threat. A small hazard like loose gravel on the road surface might be completely harmless to an auto driver but may cause fatal motorcycle accidents.
Lane splitting – riding a motorcycle between two rows of slow-moving vehicles – is another risk that only motorcyclists face. Splitting lanes puts the rider at risk of being struck by a suddenly opened door or crushed when other vehicles attempt a lane change. Many motorcycle accidents, especially those that result in traffic fatalities, are caused this way.
Other Drivers Frequently cause Motorcycle Accidents
Small vehicles like motorcycles and bicycles are simply harder to notice. Riding a motorcycle means that you’re frequently moving into the blind spots of other drivers.
Minor driver error causes car accidents more frequently than we’d like to think. Motorcycle riders need to be especially wary. When you’re riding a motorcycle, even a small mistake caused by a split-second of someone else’s negligence could prove fatal.
The Danger of Distractions and Left Turns
Distracted driving contributes to 40% of both motorcycle accidents and car accidents. When a motorcyclist is involved, it’s often the other driver using their phone that prevents them from seeing the motorcycle in time.
Straightforward left turns are also a major culprit. Left turns are involved in 42% of motorcycle accidents and far more rarely in car accidents. Even though the driver of other motor vehicles should always check their blind spots before turning, sometimes they forget. And it’s the motorcyclist who can end up with a fatal injury in the resulting traffic crash.
Proving Fault is Harder in Motorcycle Injury Claims
If you’ve experienced a motorcycle accident that was caused by the driver of another motor vehicle, you can often seek compensation with a personal injury claim. The medical expense of recovering from your injuries can be extremely high, especially with catastrophic injuries such as a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury. And the family members of motorcyclists killed in a crash can also file a wrongful death claim.
But it’s important to understand that insurance companies view motorcycle accidents very differently from car accidents. They’re often unwilling to assign liability to the other driver or pay the higher damages required to recompense the severe losses in many motorcycle accidents. It usually takes an experienced motorcycle injury attorney to handle the challenges of these cases.
Overcoming Bias Against Motorcyclists
The average driver typically views motorcyclists as somewhat unsafe and even reckless. Unfortunately, this preconceived bias is often shared by many insurance adjusters, judges, jury members, and police officers.
As a result, the specific causes of motorcycle accidents are more often disputed than with accidents involving only passenger vehicles. Injured motorcyclists are often assumed to be at least partially, if not entirely, responsible for their own injuries. Proving otherwise can be an uphill battle.
Proving the Negligence of Other Drivers
To win compensation from the defendant’s insurance company, you’ll need to prove that the defendant behaved with negligence. With motorcycle incidents, this often requires more evidence than in cases with only passenger vehicles involved.
To prove negligence, your lawyer will collect police reports, eyewitness statements, eyewitness observations and videos, CCTV camera footage, and any other evidence that can help. They might also retain expert witnesses, such as an accident reconstruction specialist, to prove the value of your claim.
Eyewitness Accounts Are Less Reliable
It’s usually easier to clarify and prove negligence in a car accident claim than in a motorcycle accident claim. One reason for this is that the causes of motorcycle vehicle accidents are often less clear to onlookers.
Accidents occur very quickly, and motorcyclists often respond in unusual ways as an accident unfolds. Eyewitnesses and police officers alike find it easier to identify the exact causes of car accidents involving only passenger cars. It’s also usually easier to identify the at-fault party from video footage.
Demonstrating Compliance With State Safety Laws
A great deal of the battle with motorcycle accidents is proving that you, the accident victim, share no blame or negligence. You must prove that you were in complete compliance with state laws relating to motorcycles.
In Texas, lane splitting is illegal, for example. Motorcyclists under the age of 21 must wear a motorcycle helmet, and older motorcyclists can only ride without a helmet under certain conditions. The extent of the at-fault party’s liability for your injuries might even be disputed if you weren’t wearing proper protective motorcycle boots and clothing.
Motorcycle Maintenance and Protective Equipment
You must also prove that your motorcycle was in good condition and not in any way defective, which might have contributed to the accident. Your headlight and taillight should be in good working order. Your tires, motor oil, and chain must also be well cared for. The condition of your motorcycle is especially important given a motorbike’s lack of safety features compared to a larger motor vehicle.
Any motorcycle rider, even severely injured riders, will find it harder to win damages for motorcycle accident injuries sustained in a crash that they helped cause. When riding motorcycles, it’s always wise to follow the state’s specific safety laws and vehicle maintenance standards and also adhere to the road safety guidelines of the national safety council.
The Importance of Hiring a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
You can see that motorcycle accidents are very different from car accidents. Because motorcycle accidents tend to involve serious burns, spinal injuries, and head injuries, medical bills are usually larger than with motor vehicle accidents.
This means your final settlement should be larger, too. But to win, you’ll need an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and even try your case in court if it comes to that.
If you’re seeking compensation for your motorcycle accident injuries or for the fatal injury of a loved one in a motorcycle crash, contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC at 936-251-5246 for a free consultation. Our experienced motorcycle injury attorneys will do their utmost to win you the fair compensation you deserve.