Motorcycles generally have the worst types of accidents. The rider is exposed to the environment, motorcycles offer little protection if in an accident, and they are driven at high speeds; this is a cocktail for a disastrous accident. In California there were 474 motorcycle deaths in 2019, in the whole US there are on average 5,000 deaths from motorcycles. A motorcyclist is 27 times more likely to die in an accident compared to a passenger vehicle. Studies have shown that 98% of motorcycle accidents result in injuries. Even with the proper protection such as helmets which have been estimated to be 37% effective to protect against fatal injuries, motorcycles are still quite dangerous.
Motorcycle deaths have been rising in the past decade with more inexperienced riders buying motorcycles, but they are not the only ones causing a rise in the total deaths. Older riders age 40+ are also attributing to the death toll; these older riders have a slower reaction time and are unable to react to unforeseen situations.
Most Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Many injuries are to the legs and feet, which account for 30% of the injuries. The second most common injury is to the head and neck, this accounted for 22% of the injuries. Many accidents result in severe injuries, listed below are the most common Injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents:
- Traumatic brain injuries: A traumatic brain injury is a disruption in the normal function of the brain, this can be caused by hitting your head hard or something penetrating your head. According to the NHTSA, 15 percent of riders that were helmeted and 21 percent of unhelmeted riders sustained traumatic brain injuries.
- Leg and feet Injuries: Leg and feet injuries are by far the most common injury motorcyclists suffer from. Broken bones to the feet and legs are more common than soft tissue damage.
Spinal cord injuries The impact from a collision can result in damage to the spine, this damage can be quite severe, usually resulting in paralysis. This injury usually causes permanent disability for the rider.
- Fractures: Fracturing bones is common in motorcycle accidents, the rider has little to no protection while in a crash. If a car t-bones them they are getting the bumper of the car to their leg, or if they crash the bike could land on top of them. They could also fracture their wrists and hands while catching themselves to break their fall.
- Internal injuries: Blunt-force trauma or something penetrating the rider can cause damage to internal organs and internal bleeding. Hitting the street hard enough would cause blunt-force trauma, and debris on the street or other sharp objects might penetrate the rider.
- Road rash: Road rash is when the bare skin of the rider makes contact with the road, while at high speeds this can cause serious abrasions. The severity of road rash ranges from mild to serious, these types of injuries are highly susceptible to infection and scarring.
Preventing Motorcycle Accidents
How should you prevent yourself from an accident or being injured? It is important to realize that you, the motorcyclist, are a lot smaller and sometimes invisible to cars and trucks. Make sure you keep a safe distance behind cars and trucks. If you are in a state that allows lane splitting, like California, that you are keeping an eye out for cars that are changing lanes. Be prepared to stop or slow down if a car does pull out in front of you. Be weary that you could be in a vehicle’s blind spot, motorcycles are so much smaller than cars, you might be in their blind spot even though they might be able to see a car in the exact same spot.
Wear protective gear. Helmets are so important to wear, even though some states do not require you to wear one. You might think it looks dorky to wear a helmet but being alive is much cooler than being dead. Helmets are 37% effective in preventing death and 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. It is recommended that you get a new helmet every 5 years, this is due to the glue that holds the helmet together deteriorates. It is also important to get proper motorcycle boots, since feet and legs are the most common injuries. Without proper footwear, your shoe could fall off in a crash and your feet and ankles are exposed to anything the road has to offer. Having a motorcycle jacket can prevent you from getting horrible abrasions if you do crash. Body armor while riding is not as common as it should be. Body armor is made with kevlar and shock absorbing material, this could prevent you from breaking bones or damaging your spine.
Why Motorcycle Accidents Happen
- Driving Errors: Driving errors are the most common reason for motorcycle accidents. A driving error is when cars pull out in front of a motorcyclist, hits a biker while changing lanes, or the biker runs a redlight or stop sign. Drivers are not aware the biker is there for multiple reasons; bikes are much smaller than cars and can easily hide in their blind spot, either the motorcyclist or driver is distracted, and not paying attention. Blind spots are a huge factor for motorcycle accidents, not only are the bikes smaller than cars, but our brains are programmed to be looking for cars not motorcycles. This is especially true when motorcycles are lane splitting, we aren’t looking in between the lanes for any vehicles, so we might not see them as they pass by.
- Dangerous Road Conditions: Motorcycles are more prone to crashing in dangerous road conditions, this could be poorly maintained road with potholes, liquids on the surface that could cause the bike to lose traction, or poorly designed streets that have blind curves that could cause a bike to be hit or crash.
- Defective Equipment: A defect in the bike such as faulty suspension or brakes could slip past a manufacturer and could cause an accident. Faulty safety equipment could cause serious injury to the rider if they do get in an accident. For example if they had bought a faulty helmet and it was not glued together properly, the helmet could break resulting in a traumatic brain injury.
If you are riding your motorcycle make sure you are attentive and aware of your surroundings. You the motorcyclist are more in danger then the cars around you and many times other drivers aren’t looking out for you. Be a defensive driver and be careful.
What to do After a Motorcycle Accident?
- Remove Yourself from Danger: A scene of an accident can be dangerous, other drivers might not be aware that there is an accident there and could hit you. Since cars might not see you or the accident, they might not slow down or avoid the accident. Find a safe place away from other cars. When you are out of danger, call an ambulance if you are injured and call the police.
- Receive Medical Care: Motorcycle accidents tend to be quite severe. You might not feel injured at the moment because your adrenaline is rushing through you, but the adrenaline might be masking any underlying injuries. If you are severely injured call an ambulance and promptly receive medical care. If not severely injured it’s still recommended to get a medical evaluation. You could have a concussion or whiplash, both of these might not be apparent directly after an accident. Head and neck injuries are quite common with motorcycle accidents. Head injuries can be life altering, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Call the Police and Report the Accident: If you have not been taken away from the scene by an ambulance, call the police and report the accident. The police will help you document the accident, you can also request them to take photos of the scene of the accident, if you are unable to take photos yourself. They will also be able to collect any information about who was involved in the accident and if there were any witnesses to the accident. Having this documentation can be crucial for your ability to receive compensation, this will also help determine liability.
- Find a Motorcycle Accident Attorney: An attorney will help determine who is at fault and liable for the accident. Determining who is liable can be difficult because there may be multiple parties at fault. You will want to find an attorney that is in your area and familiar with the area that the accident occurred. The attorney will build a case based on your claims and losses due to the accident. They will also help you receive the proper medical care for your injuries.
Pursuing Compensation for Damages in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accidents tend to be more severe than car accidents, medical bills will be more expensive and losses due to the accident can be 4 to 12 times higher than a car accident. Because the losses are higher, it’s important to seek out an attorney to assess your losses and help you build a case so you can receive the compensation that you deserve.
- Medical Bills: Medical bills from motorcycle accidents are likely to be more expensive than vehicle collisions, this is because they often cause more severe injuries.The average medical bill for something as common as a fractured bone is about 16,000 dollars. The medical bills can range anywhere from 16,000 dollars to upwards of 50,000 dollars. The reason medical bills are so expensive is because of hospital stays, doctors’ visits, surgery, physical therapy, and chiropractor visits. You are entitled to past, present and future compensation for any medical costs that were caused by your motorcycle accident.
- Wage Loss: Your injuries might prevent you from performing your job, this would cause you to lose wages that you would have got if you hadn’t have gotten injured. You are entitled to those loss wages and are entitled to receive compensation for them. Trips to the doctor may have caused you to miss out on work, these are also wages that you are entitled to receive compensation for. You also might have been permanently injured from the accident and you are no longer to perform the duties your job requires. An attorney will help you calculate all loss wages past, present, and future, so you can receive proper compensation from the accident.
- Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering is broken down into two categories, physical pain and suffering and mental pain and suffering. Physical pain and suffering is the literal pain from the injuries a person sustained during an accident. This includes any discomfort from the injuries. Pain and suffering does not only just apply to present pain that a person is enduring but any pain that they endured from the date of the accident to future pain they will endure. Mental pain and suffering is any psychological problems a person may have in result to their injuries or from the accident itself. This includes mental anguish, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, and emotional distress. You are allowed to receive compensation for any pain and suffering that was caused from the accident. Any attorney will help you calculate the compensation that you are warranted to.