Car and Motorcycle Collision Causes
When cars and motorcycles travel along the same road, there’s no doubt that drivers must look out for one another. The very feature that makes riding a motorcycle so enticing is the same feature that places riders at risk for serious injuries—the motorcycle’s openness and exposure. As long as everyone shares the road and drives in a responsible manner, motorcyclists can experience safe travels. But when other drivers fail to acknowledge motorcycles or engage in reckless behavior behind the wheel, the results are often catastrophic. If you have experienced serious injuries while riding your motorcycle because of another driver’s negligence, consider contacting a Florida motorcycle accident attorney to discuss your case. Speak with the Dolman Law Group today for more information.
The Most Common Cause of Crashes Between a Car and a Motorcycle
Driver negligence is the most common cause of accidents involving motorcycles. When the driver of a passenger vehicle fails to exercise care and caution while driving, they place everyone around them at risk of serious harm, especially motorcyclists.
Research shows that other motorists are at fault in more than half of all multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles. Per passenger vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in an accident and 5 times more likely to be injured than passenger car occupants.
A Florida driver’s license is a privilege—not a right. Just because a passenger vehicle is larger than a motorcycle doesn’t mean the driver has the right to bully, ignore, or engage in reckless actions on the road. Here are just a few examples of how driver negligence can result in a crash between a car and a motorcycle:
Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way
One of the most dangerous places for a motorcycle rider is an intersection. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites intersections as the most common locations for accidents involving cars and motorcycles.
Cars turning left at an intersection often fail to yield the right-of-way due to simply not seeing a motorcycle. Researchers claim that this is a cognitive issue because cars are simply not thinking about, or expecting, a motorcycle to cross their path. Because motorcycles are not top-of-mind for other drivers, the results are often catastrophic when the two meet in an intersection.
Despite side and rearview mirrors, there are plenty of blind spots surrounding a car. In fact, at least 40 percent of a car perimeter involves blind spots. This makes lane changes especially dangerous for motorcycles.
Drivers who make sudden lane changes without signaling leave motorcyclists little time to react. No one should experience life changing injuries at the hands of a driver who simply didn’t take the time to signal or properly adjust their mirrors.
Lack of Perception
Many drivers fail to properly judge the distance of an approaching motorcycle. Drivers often pull out in front of a rider, not understanding the speed at which the motorcyclist is driving. The NHTSA recommends that drivers wait for motorcycles to pass before entering any roadway or city street.
Failure to wait before pulling into an intersection places the rider at risk of needing to engage in emergency braking, which can throw the rider over the handlebars. The rider can also lose control, causing the motorcycle to slide out from under them. In either case, the rider will most likely strike the hard surface of the road or another vehicle, resulting in catastrophic injuries or death.
With advances in smartphone technology, there are growing concerns about distracted driving. Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that while 96 percent of those surveyed viewed texting and emailing from behind the wheel as a serious threat, approximately half as many admitted to engaging in the behavior.
Approximately nine people die every day in the United States at the hands of a distracted driver. Distracted driving goes beyond smartphone use and includes the following types of behaviors described by the Centers for Disease Control:
- Cognitive -Anything that takes your mind off driving.
- Visual – Anything that takes your eyes off the road.
- Manual – Anything that takes your hands off the wheel.
A driver who reaches into their purse for an item, eats a sandwich while driving, or drives while upset is a distracted driver. By the time a distracted driver sees a motorcycle, it may be too late for either driver to react and prevent the collision.
Driving Under the Influence
Despite numerous public safety campaigns, people continue to drink and drive. While the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is .08 in Florida, the negative effects can start with a driver’s first drink.
Alcohol affects a person’s ability to drive in the following ways:
- Impairing reaction time;
- Affecting vision, resulting in blurred or double vision; and
- Impairing color distinction, making it difficult to distinguish traffic light colors.
Driving under the influence of drugs can have similar effects and results. When drivers drive under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, the risk of harm to a motorcyclist or others on the road only increases.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy can have the same effects as driving under the influence. Impaired judgment and reduced reaction time can result in a drowsy driver drifting into your path. Drowsy driving is often attributed to a lack of sleep or undiagnosed medical conditions.
When you ride your motorcycle, you have no way of knowing what another driver is doing while traveling beside you. Keeping your eyes on the road, you remain focused while someone next to recently left a bar or worked a long shift with no sleep. Or the driver next to you may not have done any of these things but may still fail to simply watch out for motorcycles. Their failure to take a second look or to remain alert can change your life in an instant. Negligent drivers surround us all every day and no matter how defensively you drive, encountering one is a real possibility.
Common Types of Motorcycle Injuries
A motorcycle doesn’t have a sturdy frame, airbag support, or other collision protections like those in a car. With no seatbelt, ejection from your bike during a collision is almost a given. Protective gear, such as a helmet, gloves, and special clothing, can only do so much in preventing serious injuries.
When the human body strikes a hard surface, several catastrophic injuries can result, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – The Centers for Disease Control defines a TBI as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. While a helmet provides a certain level of protection, the force of a collision can still result in a TBI. Never remove your helmet until medical help arrives.
- Spinal cord injury – This type of injury results in some form of paralysis and it is one of the most catastrophic injuries a person can experience. Many patients with a spinal cord injury must rely on a power chair for mobility and require home modifications and assistance with personal care. The costs associated with such an injury can reach into the millions of dollars per year of the patient’s life.
- Broken bones – One or more of a rider’s bones may break during a motorcycle crash. Broken bones can occur in your arms, legs, neck, and back. Depending upon the severity of the breaks, you may face multiple surgeries and extensive physical and occupational therapy. Daily tasks such as bathing and dressing can become difficult, and your favorite leisure activities, like golf or dancing, are either placed on hold or must stop forever.
Experiencing one or more of these types of serious injuries due to another driver’s negligence isn’t fair. Florida law allows accident victims to bring civil actions in cases involving liability. The laws, however, are quite complex and require the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney. Medical costs continue to rise and ensuring you receive the medical treatment you deserve often means pursuing litigation.
Why You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
A motorcycle accident caused by another driver is a serious matter that demands legal representation. Public safety campaigns to share the road or to “give a second look a second thought” do little when another driver is in a hurry, distracted, or drunk. When your injuries are severe, you may face lengthy hospital stays, treatments, surgeries, and missed time from work. The emotional and financial stress of your situation requires rest even though you constantly worry about your bills.
Insurance companies like to make an initial settlement offer soon after the accident to settle the case quickly. While their initial offer may seem like a large sum of money for you, chances are it will not cover your future medical needs. Keep in mind that insurance companies are looking out for their best interests and not yours. Consulting with a personal injury attorney regarding the details of your case is a smart idea. In fact, it is in your best interest to not speak with insurance company representatives and especially not to sign anything until you speak with an attorney.
Many Florida motorcycle accident attorneys offer free case evaluations, so you have nothing to lose by calling one. You can gather your evidence and schedule a consultation, or, if you are unable to leave the hospital, ask the law firm if someone can come to you.
Fight for Justice
Ask anyone why they ride a motorcycle and the answer often involves the freedom of the open road. Motorcyclists state that riding engages all their senses, that it is relaxing, saves on fuel, and more. The freedom that comes from two wheels is exhilarating for riders and their passengers.
There’s no excuse for driver behavior that results in serious injury—and sometimes death—for a motorcyclist. Your ability to ride can come to an end forever because of someone else’s poor decisions. But there are some steps you can take to ensure a safer ride, such as:
- If you wear a helmet, make sure it is a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. While helmets are not required in Florida, riders over the age of 21 who choose not to wear one must prove that they carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage.
- Wear reflective clothing.
- Clean your mirrors.
- Check all lights to ensure they are in proper working order.
- Obey traffic rules.
- Avoid dangerous behaviors, like drinking and driving.
These proactive steps are your best defenses against a possible accident. Other actions are out of your control, such as those taken by reckless and negligent drivers. Sometimes there is simply nothing you can do to avoid a collision caused by someone else.
Your life can go from carefree to one of uncertainty in an instant. A personal injury attorney can help you and your family get through this difficult time by providing the legal representation you deserve. Attorneys with experience in motorcycle cases have the skills needed to negotiate with insurance companies. If they are unable to reach a fair settlement, the legal team you hire should be unafraid to go to trial.
The right personal injury attorney will fight aggressively for you while treating you and your family with respect. They keep the lines of communication open so you never have to wonder about the status of your case. Remember, a personal injury attorney is on your side throughout the litigation process.
If your motorcycle ride turned tragic due to another driver’s negligence, you have rights under Florida law. Learn more about them and about how a personal injury attorney can help you by scheduling a free consultation as soon as possible.
Motorcycles and cars can safely share the road if everyone takes care and exercises caution behind the wheel. Unfortunately, too many drivers take risks that sometimes result in serious harm. If you ride a motorcycle and experience serious injuries due to no fault of your own, consider taking legal steps to protect your financial and medical future.
Dolman Law Group
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900