Because they are far more exciting than ordinary cars or pickup trucks, motorcycles are a popular transport choice throughout Boston. They’re also more challenging. While you’re biking through Boston, you’re often surrounded by drivers who don’t always respect your right to share the road. They trespass into your travel lane, inappropriately judge your speed, and cut you off when you’re making a turn. They sometimes crash into you because they didn’t “see” you.
When a driver crashes into a motorcycle, the outcome is often predictable. Even in low-speed accidents, bikers lose their balance on impact and their bike usually goes down. The biker may hit the pavement or go airborne, and may even strike a stationary object. Boston motorcyclists often sustain serious or catastrophic injuries, while motorists usually drive away unharmed.
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident in Boston, speaking with an attorney is one of the best things you can do to safeguard your future. At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, our experienced, compassionate Boston motorcycle accident attorneys, led by Larry Nussbaum, can give your case the personal attention zealous representation it deserves.
Aggressive & Compassionate Legal Representation for Boston Motorcycle Accident Victims
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we have always worked aggressively to recover damages for our injured clients. Our focus on compassionate representation has motivated us to give our clients personal, small-firm attention. Our skilled lawyers have empowered us to produce big firm results. Our legal resources have supported our efforts to pursue justice for accident victims. We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts by relying on these standards.
Our Firm’s Results
Our Boston motorcycle accident lawyers have resolved each case following a strategy that best benefited our injured clients. We have negotiated settlements with insurance companies, defense attorneys, and self-insured corporations. We have participated in mediations with neutral facilitators, and we have negotiated our clients’ cases at pre-trial hearings.
Defendants haven’t always responded fairly to our settlement efforts. We have, therefore, realized that litigation was sometimes our only reasonable option. We have prepared our cases from day one anticipating this possibility. Our attorneys understand that every accident and injury has unique issues.
While it’s not possible to guarantee an outcome in any case, we nonetheless believe that our case results demonstrate our commitment to producing the best possible resolutions for our Boston neighbors.
Common Boston Motorcycle Accident Injuries
While rare, motorcyclists sometimes survive accidents with only minor road burns and a few bruises. Even in a low-speed crash, the smallest vehicle has the weight and mass to seriously injure a biker. A minor impact forces a biker to lose balance and fall to the pavement. A large truck or a vehicle traveling at a higher speed easily produces enough momentum to eject the rider and cause further injury.
The exciting open-air riding experience that attracts motorcycle riders is also one of the primary factors that contribute to their injuries. Unlike cars and trucks, motorcycles have no steel-reinforced compartments or passive protection systems such as seatbelts or airbags. This leaves a biker vulnerable to serious harm, even during a minor collision.
Motorcyclists and NHTSA Fatality Statistics
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration statistics reveal that motorcyclists are “overrepresented in traffic fatalities.” Based on vehicle miles traveled, a motorcycle rider is 27 times more likely to die in an accident than a car or truck driver. The NHTSA determined that most motorcycle injuries occurred when the other vehicle struck the motorcycle’s front end. Front-end collisions were a factor in 67 percent of the crashes where the motorcyclist sustained fatal injuries and in 42 percent of the crashes where the cyclist sustained disabling injuries.
These areas of the body sustained injuries most frequently:
- Lower extremity: multiple fractures/crush injuries
- Upper extremity
- Head injuries/Traumatic brain injuries
- Chest injuries
- Spine injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Fatal injuries
Motorcyclists Sustain Lower-Extremity Injuries the Most Frequently
To understand motorcycle injuries and their financial impact, the NHTSA studied 10 years of motorcycle accident injury data. They published their findings in a one-time study, “Lower-Extremity Injuries in Motorcycle Crashes.”
The NHTSA study examined trauma data for approximately 47,000 injured motorcyclists. They found that 87 percent of those injured sustained two or more lower-extremity injuries. 20 percent had a lower extremity injury combined with injuries in another part of their body. Researchers determined that the most common motorcycle accident injuries involved a cyclist’s feet, ankles, legs, knees, thighs, hips, and pelvis.
- Fractures: occur more frequently than soft tissue injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Crush injuries
- Partial or complete traumatic limb or digit amputations
- Multiple and/or a combination of severe injuries
- Degloving injuries: occurs when trauma separates the skin from underlying tissue and muscles.
Lower-Extremity Injury Recovery
Documented outcomes were mostly favorable for motorcyclists who sustained only lower-extremity injuries. One percent of the accident victims died from their injuries. Hospitals discharged most (81 percent) to go home, even those with multiple or combination injuries. Only ten percent of patients with lower extremity injuries entered a nursing home, skilled care facility, rehabilitation facility, or other inpatient facilities. Eight percent required home health visits.
Bikers often require ongoing followup and rehabilitation for lower-extremity injuries. In most instances, they begin rehabilitation before leaving an inpatient facility, and the followup on an outpatient basis. As each person’s recovery is personal, physical therapists usually tailor a program based on the individual’s injury and physical limitations. Despite rigorous PT and medical follow up, fractures sometimes cause temporary or permanent impairments. Disabilities due to serious lower-extremity injuries often force injured victims to find less physically strenuous jobs.
Upper-Extremity and Head Injuries: Less Frequent but More Severe
Upper-extremity injuries are the second most common motorcyclist injury. Head injuries ranked number three. When assessing injury severity, researchers found that motorcycle accident-related upper-extremity, head/face, chest, spine, and abdominal injuries were usually more severe. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries caused by these traumas presented some of the most challenging recoveries.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Although head injuries occur less frequently than lower-extremity injuries, the consequences often last a lifetime. External scarring is sometimes a concern, but the most significant damage usually occurs internally. During an accident, a biker’s brain often endures multiple traumas. Head and brain injuries sometimes occur due to a direct blow during the initial impact. Brain trauma occurs when an impact shakes and severely jolts a biker’s body. Accident victims also sustain head injuries when a crash forces them to the pavement or into another solid structure.
TBI Diagnostic Challenges
When a biker sustains a traumatic brain injury, diagnosing the condition is often one of the biggest challenges. Pinpointing and addressing fractures, lacerations, and other visible injuries is a simpler process. The most severe brain traumas are often obvious as well. When an injured victim sustains a severe brain trauma, they sometimes lose consciousness and manifest physical symptoms such as balance issues, coma, or even vegetative states.
Mild to moderate brain injuries are often more difficult to assess. When an injured cyclist sustains a moderate or mild TBI (commonly called a concussion), the symptoms aren’t usually as obvious. The internal trauma doesn’t always show up on a diagnostic scan. These less serious brain injuries still can cause dramatic shifts in cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns.
TBI Recovery and Rehabilitation
Brain injury patients often develop issues with thinking, memory, language, strength, hearing, vision emotions, and other problems. To address these and other issues, they usually begin targeted therapy before leaving a hospital setting.
Each TBI patient’s recovery and rehabilitation progress is unique. Inpatient rehabilitation therapists assess their needs and initiate physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help them adjust to TBI-related Impairments and unique problems.
- Physical issues: Some TBI patients must deal with physical challenges that affect everyday living. Inpatient rehabilitation helps them cope with their physical issues by teaching them new ways to handle daily tasks.
- Alcohol use: If a TBI patient resumes alcohol consumption, it sometimes causes seizures, depression, and it slows their healing progress in other ways. Patients begin learning how to deal with this issue while still under inpatient care.
- Driving issues: Based on research from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, 40 to 60 percent of TBI patients drive again. Before they can qualify to take a license test, they must sometimes overcome vision, concentration, memory, hand-eye coordination, and reaction issues.
- Relationship concerns: TBI patients who undergo personality changes must learn new ways of communicating, interacting, and handling traditional roles.
Lifelong TBI Difficulties
Moderate to severe TBIs leave injured victims with disabling physical conditions. They often endure lengthy inpatient treatment followed by ongoing therapy.
In the publication Moderate to Severe Brain Injury is a Lifelong Condition, the National Institute for Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research discusses TBI outcomes.
- Five-year outcomes: 26 percent improved, 30 percent condition worsened, 22 percent died
- Reduced life expectancy for older adults, males, unemployed, singles, those with lower education levels, and also those with severe TBIs and TBIs sustained due to falls
- Chronic health problems five years post-injury and beyond: Issues include moderate disabilities, unemployment, re-hospitalization, required daily assistance and care, drug and alcohol abuse, nursing home residency, or institutionalization
- More prone to seizures, accidental drug poisoning, infections, and pneumonia
Helmets Reduce the Chance of Head Injury
Massachusetts General Laws mandate protective headgear for motorcyclists and their passengers. As the CDC’s Motorcycle Injury Prevention page explains, helmet use reduces motorcycle deaths by 37 percent. Helmets also reduce head injuries by 69 percent. Unfortunately, even when a biker chooses the right helmet, fatal, serious, and catastrophic injuries still occur.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The NHTSA’s injury research found that an estimated 20 percent of all motorcycle injury patients sustained spinal cord injuries. SCIs and other upper-body injuries don’t occur as often as lower-extremity, but they often cause disabling injuries. The National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center has tracked SCI patients since the early 1970s. They’ve maintained a patient database since 2015. Their patient research has determined that vehicles (including motorcycles) were involved in over 38.6 percent of the 34,130 SCI injuries in their database.
SCI Injuries, Disabilities, and Recoveries Vary
Two primary factors determine a spinal cord injury patient’s recovery chances.
Damage extent. Spinal cord injury disabilities vary depending on the damage severity. When an accident damages the spine, the biker suffers what’s known as an “incomplete” trauma. When it severs the spine, the injury is considered a “complete” trauma. In both instances, the damage affects the injured person’s nerve bundles. Complete spine trauma causes the most extensive damage.
Damage location. The damage location on the spinal cord determines the extent of a person’s disabilities. Paralysis and loss of function occur in the body at and below the level where the damage occurs on the spine.
The most common SCI diagnoses include:
- Incomplete tetraplegia: This is an injury to the upper spine. 47.2 percent of the patients in the NSCISC database sustained incomplete tetraplegia injuries. 12.3 percent sustained complete tetraplegia injuries.
- Paraplegia: This is lower spine damage that causes paralysis and loss of function of the legs and lower body. 19.6 percent of NSCISC-tracked patients sustained incomplete paraplegia injuries. 20.2 percent sustained complete paraplegia injuries.
An SCI changes nearly every aspect of an injured biker’s life. The Model Systems Translation Center describes the recovery process as adjustment. SCI patients must often adjust to everything.
They must learn new ways to manage symptoms, life circumstances, relationships, and events.
- Rehabilitation: As with other catastrophic injuries, patients usually begin adjustment during inpatient rehabilitation. They learn to manage mobility, strength, stamina, and independence issues. They often continue their recovery through outpatient rehabilitation.
- Pain: Some SCI patients endure severe pain from the accident through rehabilitation, and even after they reach maximum recovery. Nerve issues cause neuropathic pain. Musculoskeletal pain often occurs because of muscle overuse, arthritis, and wear and tear due to wheelchair use and body transfers. Kidney stones, constipation, and other problems cause visceral pain in the abdominal area.
- Skincare: When a patient’s lack of mobility leaves them sedentary or wheelchair-bound, they often develop pressure sores. These can be simple lesions that require attention and care. They can also develop into serious conditions that require hospitalization and surgical correction.
- Depression: SCI patients undergo difficulties that they might not recognize as depression. These often include sleep disruption, hopelessness, appetite changes, and suicidal thoughts.
- Other Issues: SCI patients sometimes develop respiratory, bowel, sexuality, urinary tract, and other issues that require ongoing medical attention.
Lifelong SCI Difficulties
Spinal cord injury patients must deal with lifelong consequences. They often endure an immediate reduction in their quality of life. Unfortunately, that’s often just the beginning. SCI patients sometimes develop premature signs of aging. These include changes in their endocrine, cardiovascular, and other organ systems. SCI patients often experience arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions at earlier stages in life. They also endure reduced life expectancies due to endocrine diseases, metabolic diseases, accidents, mental disorders, and other medical conditions.
Fortunately, medical facilities that provide initial treatment and rehabilitation services often offer programs to help injured victims deal with these consequences.
Questions About Boston Motorcycle Accidents
When you ride your motorcycle, sometimes you’re the only biker on the road. As you travel alone, cars and trucks cut you off and pull into your lane. You encounter hazards at every turn because, sometimes, other motorists don’t see you at all. When another vehicle crashes into your bike, you have no way to prevent what happens next. Because you ride a motorcycle, a single accident sometimes causes disabling impairments that change your life forever.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Boston, contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for our injured clients. Let us determine if we can help you. Contact our Boston office at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH). You can also leave a message on our contact page or connect with us through a live chat.
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman, we help bikers recover damages when they’re injured in a crash. We’ve created a Motorcycle Accident FAQ because we believe you need the facts and should understand your legal rights.
How often do motorcycle accidents occur in Boston?
The Statewide Crashes and Fatal Information Data Dashboards furnish information about accidents throughout Massachusetts. In the most recent year in Boston:
- 43 motorcycle accidents occurred
- 7 bikers sustained serious injuries
- 23 sustained minor injuries
- 31 people had possible injuries
- 3 people sustained fatal injuries.
How do Boston’s motorcycle accident statistics compare to other states?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s Safety Facts Report Tables and USA Crash Map Data document nationwide accident statistics. Their most recent data documented 5,115 motorcycle accident-related fatalities across the country. In 2018, 59 motorcyclists died in Massachusetts crashes. Other states had varying results.
Motorcycle-accident statistics vary widely from state-to-state. There’s no consistency even in states with similar populations and seasonal weather changes. It’s also difficult to make a full comparison without knowing the number of motorcycles registered in each state.
Are Boston motorcycle fatalities related to state helmet laws?
So many factors contribute to motorcycle accident rates, including traffic laws and enforcement. Helmet use is also a critical factor. The CDC has determined that properly-fitted, DOT-compliant helmets reduce motorcycle accident fatalities by 37 percent. Helmets reduce head injuries by 67 percent. Tennessee, Washington, and other states have mandatory helmet laws similar to Massachusetts, yet in 2018, these states documented nearly three times the motorcycle fatalities.
What is a DOT-compliant helmet?
When the US Department of Transportation certifies a helmet, it meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218. These guidelines specify a 3-pound helmet weight, durable chinstraps, and interior cushioning. The NHTSA’s “Choose the Right Helmet“ reference explains how to choose a proper-fitting helmet.
What is the most common type of motorcycle accident?
In motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, front-end crashes occurred more frequently (70.5 percent) than any other type of crash. Front end crashes were also the most common factor in fatal crashes, injury crashes, and property damage only crashes.
What are the most common Boston motorcycle accident injuries?
When the NHTSA conducted a motorcycle accident injury study, they determined that motorcyclists and their passengers sustained lower-extremity injuries more frequently than other injuries.
They also documented these injury-related facts:
- Legs, feet, pelvis, ankles, and toes are bikers’ most injured body parts.
- Fractures were the most common type of injury.
- Bikers often sustained more than one fracture in an accident.
- Upper-extremity, chest, abdomen, and head injuries were usually more serious than lower-body injuries.
What does it mean that a motorist can’t “see” a motorcycle?
Studies have shown that cars and trucks often just don’t see motorcycles on the road. The NHTSA calls this phenomenon conspicuity, as motorcycles aren’t always as conspicuous as other vehicles in traffic. The Science Direct article, “Why drivers may fail to see motorcycles in plain sight,” describes it as “inattentional blindness.” Researchers determined that the brain simply has limited cognitive resources. It decides what’s important and filters out the rest. Motorcycles are low on a driver’s brain’s priority list.
Who is involved more frequently in Boston motorcycle accidents?
The NHTSA’s most recent “Motorcycle Traffic Safety Facts“ shows that 42 is the average age of a fatal motorcycle accident victim. 53 percent of the motorcyclists killed in 2017 were over age 40. Boston’s 2019 and 2020 motorcycle accident fatalities are different from the national norm. Six of the victims were under age 35. Two were aged 35 to 45. All the Boston motorcycle accident fatalities were male.
Who determines if the other driver is liable for my Boston motorcycle accident injuries?
The other person’s insurance carrier makes the initial determination about liability. They investigate the accident to determine if their insured was negligent and caused your accident. When they complete their investigation, they decide whether to pay you or deny your claim.
Insurance companies assess liability based on a traditional negligence formula.
- Duty owed: Did their insured have a duty to act in a certain way? (stop a red light, yield to your right of way, etc)
- Duty breached: Did he breach that duty?
- Proximate cause: Did the other driver’s breach of duty cause the accident?
- Damages: Were your injuries a direct result of the other driver’s breach of duty?
Insurance companies are supposed to base their liability decisions on the same standards that a court would use if the case were to go to trial. Unfortunately, insurers sometimes look at the facts with bias, and reach inconsistent conclusions about negligence and liability. If an insurance company denies your claim, you can still mediate your case or file a lawsuit.
If a police officer gives the other driver a traffic ticket, is the driver automatically at fault?
Unless a police officer witnesses an accident, the police report is an opinion about what happened. Insurance companies recognize this, so they use police reports to establish verifiable facts, document road conditions, and confirm the names of involved parties and witnesses. Insurance companies investigate claims and make their own decisions about the evidence. Judges and juries do the same.
Who pays for the damage to my motorcycle?
If the liability insurer decides that their insured is at fault, they usually pay for your injuries and your motorcycle damage. If they deny liability, they pay nothing. Still, you may have the right to take legal action against them.
How much time do I have to file a Boston motorcycle accident claim?
When you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, you must file a claim before your statute of limitations expires. Massachusetts General Laws provide a three-year statute of limitations for filing a tort claim for personal injury and property damages.
Do I have to file a lawsuit to get a settlement for my Boston motorcycle accident injuries?
When a negligent person is honest with their insurer about their role in causing an accident, the insurer usually agrees to pay the claims. Unfortunately, you have no guarantees. If the insurer decides not to pay your damages, a lawsuit becomes one of your few remaining options.
How can your Boston motorcycle accident lawyers help?
When you’re injured in an accident, a Boston motorcycle accident lawyer works on your behalf while you rest and recover. Lawyers take immediate steps to protect your legal interests. When you have no legal representative looking out for you, insurance investigators, auto appraisers, and other people try to connect with you. They ask questions and record your answers, even if you’re in pain or on medication. If you provide an inappropriate or inaccurate response, they use your words against you during settlement negotiations or litigation.
Motorcycle accident attorneys intervene on your behalf. Once you establish a working relationship, they provide a long list of services.
Arrange a complimentary consultation. It’s up to you to connect with the right attorney as soon as possible. Before you agree to a formal representation agreement, the attorney arranges a consultation to discuss your case.
Attorneys offer several meeting options:
- In-person consultation
- Phone consultation
- Scheduled callback
- Live Chat
Listen to your story. Every accident is different. When you explain your version, you provide insight that helps the attorney plan a strategy for handling your case. Seasoned lawyers listen to every word. They pick up on details and phrases that have legal significance you might not recognize. They use your information to determine which liability issues require immediate investigation. They document the information you share about your injuries, medical bills, and disabilities.
Answer your questions. When you’re injured in an accident, you have a lot of questions. Because of experience with prior cases, motorcycle accident attorneys can answer general and specific questions about claim handling and litigation processes. Before your consultation, it’s a good idea to prepare a list of preliminary questions.
Work on your case without sending a monthly bill for services. Very few professionals provide services without sending a monthly bill. Motorcycle accident attorneys offer their clients a more agreeable arrangement. They believe that everyone should have legal representation when they need it. They make it possible by providing professional legal services on a contingency basis. This means that they won’t bill you for any fees until they resolve your case. Then they charge you a percentage of the money they recover on your behalf.
Investigate your accident. Attorneys understand that your version of an accident is only the beginning. If your case ends up in court someday, they want to have the evidence to support your position.
As soon as possible after an accident, they use their firm’s resources to conduct a full accident investigation.
- Search the accident scene for physical and geographical evidence
- Photograph the location
- Examine the damaged vehicles
- Document the other party’s version of the accident
- Talk to witnesses
- Review police reports and any photos
- Evaluate medical information
- Determine all the potentially negligent parties
Assess liability. Attorneys evaluate their investigative evidence to assess liability. Before they present a claim or file a suit, they review the evidence and develop a legally viable theory. Evidence must meet specific standards as the attorney may present it in court someday.
Liability insurance carriers pay damages based on their assessment of their insured’s negligence. If their evidence suggests that their insured isn’t liable for your injuries, your attorney must find the evidence to prove otherwise.
Evaluate your damages. Attorneys review your medical bills, physician reports, and other information to help evaluate your damages. They rely on their past claim handling experience, but they also research to determine a fair settlement value. Attorneys review past settlements, court cases, and judgments for accidents and injuries similar to yours.
Negotiate your settlement. Plaintiffs’ lawyers sometimes negotiate cases directly with the other driver’s insurance company or their defense attorneys. If an accident involves a large, self-insured corporation, attorneys may negotiate with the responsible company or their paid claim representative
File a lawsuit on your behalf. When negligent parties won’t negotiate fairly, attorneys sometimes file a complaint/lawsuit on their injured client’s behalf. A suit places a formal demand in the court system. You become the named plaintiff. The other driver becomes the defendant. Your complaint summarizes why you are legally entitled to recover damages from the defendant. The lawsuit process must comply with the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.
Lawsuits move through the court system very slowly. The process often involves multiple hearings and extensive pre-trial discovery. Eventually, attorneys settle most lawsuits outside the courtroom
Participate in an alternative dispute resolution process. As most civil cases in Massachusetts never go to trial, mediation, arbitration, and other ADR processes provide out-of-court settlement options. Massachusetts’ Dispute Resolution Rules make ADR mandatory in some situations.
Mediation is a popular ADR alternative. It’s an informal process, and the mediator has no decision-making power. Plaintiffs, defendants, their insurers, and their attorneys meet in a neutral setting. The mediator encourages the parties to share evidence, negotiate their issues, and resolve their differences.
Try your case. If ADR doesn’t motivate the adverse parties to resolve their differences, your attorney tries your case. A trial requires comprehensive preparation. Courts often require live or video testimony from liability specialists, medical professionals, and financial experts. Attorneys sometimes settle cases during a trial. If the parties don’t settle before the trial ends, the judge hands down a verdict for a bench trial. A jury decides the verdict for a jury trial.
Execute settlement documents. When your personal injury attorney resolves your case, they first prepare a formal settlement release for you to sign. If your attorney filed a lawsuit, they also file a dismissal entry to terminate the court’s involvement. Your attorney receives your settlement funds from the negligent party’s insurer, deducts the legal fee, and releases the funds to you
Do You Need a Boston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer to Handle Your Injury Claim?
The short answer is Yes. Motorcycle injuries are often serious or catastrophic, and the liability issues are sometimes complex. When an insurance company works directly with an injured person, they pay as little as possible. Unless a legal professional handles your claim, you may never know if you received a fair settlement. Contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA and Sibley Dolman to schedule a free consultation. You can reach our Boston location at (833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH). You may also leave a message on our contact page.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
76 Canal Street, Suite 302
Boston, MA 02114