Accidents involving motorcycles can be devastating and serious injuries often occur. When a motorcycle has an accident with another, larger vehicle, or veers off the road, the possibility of catastrophic injury or death is possible. Motorcycle injuries are generally more devastating than injuries associated with automobile collisions; they often result in spinal injuries, head trauma, and even death. In two thirds of motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle’s right of way and caused the accident. Furthermore, motorcyclists are about 26 times more likely to die in a crash than someone riding in a passenger car, and 5 times more likely to be injured.
Problems Faced on the Road:
Motorcycles lack crashworthiness and occupant protection. In comparison to a car, a motorcycle is lightweight; it has no roof, no doors, no airbags, and no safety belts. Motorcycles face unique risks on the road and there are several factors can contribute to an accident:
- Visual Recognition: Motorcycles are smaller visual targets than vehicles they share the road with; they are more likely to be obscured by other vehicles or by road and weather conditions. This is a problem especially at intersections.
- Road Hazards: Hazards that are a minor irritation for an automobile are a major hazard for a motorcycle. These include: pot holes, oil slicks, debris or other objects on the roadway, ruts, uneven pavement, and railroad tracks.
- Speed Wobble: The front end of a motorcycle may become unstable and begin to shake or “wobble” especially at higher speeds. This problem may be due to the misalignment of the front and rear tires of the motorcycle. If an accident is caused by a high speed wobble, the manufacturer of the motorcycle may be financially responsible for any resulting injuries.
- Riding Skills: Many motorcycle accidents are caused in whole or part by a rider’s lack of basic riding skills, or a failure to appreciate the inherent operating characteristics and limitations of the motorcycle. Driving a motorcycle requires more skill and physical coordination than driving a car.
Motorcycle Injuries May Include:
- Road Rash: In a motorcycle accident riders can suffer painful skin abrasion or bruises, even when wearing sturdy protective clothing such as leather or denim. These types of injuries are typically minor, but can become quite serious if left untreated and allowed to become infected.
- Bone Fractures: Impact with another vehicle or being thrown from a motorcycle can easily result in a broken arm, leg, or other body part. A broken limb often requires a cumbersome case to be worn to keep the injured area immobile; this can affect an individual’s day to day activities, making it difficult to preform household chores, carry out duties on the job, or participate in recreational activities.
- Traumatic Brain Injury: Helmets protect the head and brain in a motorcycle accident. While a helmet may reduce the seriousness of some head injuries, a motorcycle helmet will not fully eliminate the risk of potentially life altering injuries. Traumatic brain injury can affect an individual’s personality, speech, cognitive thinking, and motor skills. Many brain injury victims are unable to continue to work, requiring full time care and frequent medical treatments such as physical therapy. As a result victims and their families often experience severe strain under the weight of mounting medical bills.
- Spinal Cord Injury: Damage to an individual’s spinal cord often results in permanent injury, typically partial or complete paralysis, and requires many victims to seek full time care. A majority of these victims will be permanently unable to work to support themselves. As with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injury can mean a lifetime of costly continued care and insurmountable medical bills.
- Disfigurement: Motorcycle accidents can also lead to permanent disfigurement; Broken bones, burns, and severe lacerations can all leave disfiguring evidence of the accident. This may include anything from scars to loss of limbs. Furthermore, disfigurement can be emotionally traumatic and can leave the victim in a cycle of depression that is difficult to escape.
- Fatality: Too often motorcycle accidents lead to fatal injuries. A perpetuated misconception is that motorcycle accidents are generally the fault of the rider; the truth is that many of these accidents occur due to the fault of the other driver and could have been avoided if the driver has exercised responsible caution while on the road. The wrongful death of a loved one can devastate the family and friends who are left behind.
Tips for Staying Safe:
- Get the Right Gear: What riders wear is part of the crash protection system. Even if you don’t collide with another vehicle, you could simply lose control and lay your bike down; in that situation you’ll be sliding on asphalt, which is not something you want to do in shorts or flip flops. Leather and other specialized or armored motorcycle gear can help protect you from sliding across asphalt or from other road hazards (such as small rocks, like small rocks, and cigarette butts). Motorcycle boots are also a good idea to protect your feet not only from asphalt in the event of a crash, but from the heat of the engine as well.
- Ride Within your Skills: Like all skills driving a motorcycle is one you need to develop. To stay safe make sure you always drive within your skill level; do not attempt to travel at high speeds or weave in and out of traffic if you are not capable. Many motorcycle dealerships offer advanced riding courses if you want to practice more advanced maneuvers.
- Avoid Distraction: Distracted driving is a bad idea in the first place, but it is worsened when riding a bike. If you are fiddling with your phone or ipod your reaction time is cut, putting you at higher risk for collision.
- Leave Enough Space: One of the biggest mistakes drivers and motorcycle riders make is leaving enough stopping distance; while motorcycles may take less space to stop and maneuver, they still need more than you might think. Practice stops in a safe space on your bike so you know how much space to give yourself in traffic and leave generous following distance between yourself and the car in front of you.
- Watch the Weather: Motorcycles are not as stable as cars and riding in the rain is much riskier on a bike; two wheels give you half the traction of a car. Additionally without windshield wipers your visibility is compromised.
- Look Twice: Never assume the driver sees you; ride defensively and take responsibility for staying safe around cars.
- Wear a Helmet: The most important thing you can do to stay safe on a motorcycle is wear a helmet that fits properly. While it may not prevent injury completely, depending on the severity of the accident, it will help protect your head. Head injuries are the leading cause of death for motorcycle riders.
If you or a loved one has been in a motorcycle accident and sustained serious bodily or head injuries, you should consult an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today for a free consultation and case evaluation: 757-451-6900