The use of motorcycles has been increasing as drivers seek lower-cost alternatives to passenger cars. Unfortunately, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury, because even the most careful and experienced riders are exposed to the carelessness of drivers of passenger cars, and if an accident does occur, riders are essentially unprotected, and have no way to avoid being thrown from their bikes onto other vehicles and objects, roads and oncoming traffic.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that a motorcyclist involved in an accident is three times more likely to be injured, and fourteen times more likely to be killed, than a person in an accident involving two cars. Only 45% of motorcycle accident injuries were considered “minor.” Brain, spinal cord and internal injuries, along with broken bones, severed limbs, and severe burns (road rash) are among the types of injuries all too frequently suffered by riders injured by the negligence of another driver.
In fact, over 75% of all motorcycle accidents are caused by the negligence of another driver. Most frequently, the car driver’s failure to see motorcycles in traffic is the cause of an accident. About 65% of motorcycle accidents are caused when the driver of a car fails to yield the right-of-way to a motorcyclist, and makes a left turn in front of the rider. These types of accidents clearly indicate car driver inattention and negligence, in failing to: a) use reasonable care by keeping a “proper lookout;” b) see what a prudent person exercising ordinary care should have seen; and c) keep his or her car under proper control.
Motorcyclists injured in an accident are entitled to compensation from a negligent driver for their past and future medical bills, lost income, and pain, suffering and inconvenience, including any permanent injuries. “No fault” medical payments benefits or personal injury protection benefits may also be obtained, depending on the type of insurance coverage available.
The negligent driver’s insurance company may try to quickly contact a motorcyclist injured as a result of their insured’s carelessness, in an effort to obtain a recorded description of the accident and injuries sustained, and to attempt to settle any claims for far below fair value, before the injured biker(s) have consulted a lawyer. It is always a bad idea for motorcyclists injured in an accident to talk to the negligent driver’s insurance company before they consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia are among the minority of jurisdictions in the U.S. where the law bars a recovery of compensation for injuries or property damage if the person making the claim can be shown to have been even slightly at fault in causing the accident. This is called the contributory negligence rule, and makes it essential that where there is any potential dispute about how an accident occurred, a person who intends to assert a claim for injuries and/or property damage obtain contact information for any witnesses to the accident, and accurately explain how the accident occurred to any investigating police officer.
Once an injury claim is settled or resolved in court, it may never be re-opened, even if the injured person sustains additional medical bills or lost income. Therefore, Ackerman & Falcon advises his clients that it is unwise to try to resolve their claim until after they have been discharged from all medical treatment, and all of their monetary and other damages can be well-documented for the insurance company, if settlement negotiations are anticipated, or a judge or jury, if litigation is necessary.
If you or are a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident through another person’s negligence, please call or email Ackerman & Falcon for a free, no-obligation consultation.