Motorcycle accidents are and should be held to different standards of safety than closed vehicle accidents. This is because motorcyclists are more often unseen on the road. Additionally, the lack of a seatbelt means no restraint against inertia propelling you forward in the event of an accident.
Because of this increased propensity for risk and the dangers of motorcycle accidents, the laws regarding motorcycle damage claims are uniquely different.
In this post, we will discuss the different injuries you may sustain as a motorcyclist and the kinds of recoveries for which you can fight.
Common Injuries Associated with Motorcycle Accidents
The motor and mental skills needed to operate a motorcycle are inherently different from those needed to operate a closed vehicle. Motorcycles are less stable, less visible, and more vulnerable to weather and road conditions than their closed vehicle counterparts.
This led to a scary statistic in 2019. 5,014 motorcyclists died in motorcycle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Per distance traveled, motorcyclists are 29 times more likely to die in a crash than in passenger cars.
80% of all motorcycle accidents result in some type of injury. Over half of them happen because the driver of a passenger car does not notice that he is sharing the road with a motorcycle. Accidents happen more often at intersections, turns, and corners than any other location.
While being a defensive rider and wearing a helmet – reducing the risk of death by 37% – can save your life in an accident, mild to severe injuries may still be incurred.
Head and Neck
Wear a helmet. Your head holds the most important, powerful, and heaviest organ in your body: your brain. The risks for brain injuries, concussions, fractures, and death are all significantly lowered when you wear a helmet.
It is estimated that upwards of 800 lives can be saved every year just by wearing helmets.
Injuries to your knees, calves, ankles and feet are common in motorcycle accidents. Most of these injuries are not fatal, but they could evolve into injuries that are disabling long-term.
Road rash is the name for deep scrapes and lacerations brought on when ejected from your motorcycle, sending you sliding across the rough pavement. Without seatbelts, you are held within the grasp of inertia, and you can thus easily be flung over your handlebars onto the road.
To prevent these injuries, it is highly advisable to wear protective gear like a leather riding jacket, riding pants, boots, and gloves. Riding gear helps protect your skin from being scraped and peeled away, possibly exposing the muscle underneath.
Muscle damage is particularly dangerous, because, if it becomes permanent, it can lead to an irreversible condition of paralysis. Wear a riding leather jacket and layers all around your body.
Human instinct provides us with an automatic response to brace ourselves for impact. We naturally throw up our arms as the first line of defense against a hard landing.
In the forceful fall from a motorcycle, your arms may face damage to the bones and nerves of the hands and arms. Permanent nerve damage to the arms is a worst-case scenario.
Your body will be in full adrenaline mode immediately following an accident. Don’t listen to your body right away. Instead, get yourself to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a proper checkup.
Recovering Damages in the Event of an Accident
Motorcycle accidents can fall under the jurisdiction of many areas of law, including product liability, personal injury, and property rights.
Like most other motor vehicle cases, motorcycle accident claims are primarily governed by the concept of negligence. If you as the motorcyclist are at least partially at fault, you may not be able to recover damages. If both parties are comparatively negligent, you may be looking at a calculation of damages based on the amount of each party’s fault.
If the accident can be attributed to a defect in the design of the motorcycle, product liability law can help you recover damages. A manufacturing or design defect may result in a vehicle that is unable to operate entirely safely.
Not only does wearing a helmet potentially save your life in an accident — not wearing one may support your opponent’s claim that your own negligence played a role in the accident. This can be especially hurtful against your case in places that have helmet laws, leading to a reduced or even barred claim for damages.
About the Author
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2020 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2017, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019.