Motorcycle Accidents: What You Need to Know

Car Accidents

When you are on your bike, you are far more vulnerable to the dangers of the road than you are in your car or another vehicle. While riding is a great way to unwind and get around – and reduce your carbon footprint in the process – the dangers are very real. When you ride, always make arriving safely your primary concern.

The Factors that Leave You More Vulnerable

When you are out enjoying the open road, there are a variety of factors that leave you more vulnerable to the dangers of the open road.

You Have no Protective Shell

If you are in a car accident, you have the protective shell of the car itself to help shield you from the dangers of the open road, but when you are on your bike, you have nothing but your helmet to protect you from the immense impact of an accident. In a motorcycle accident, you are almost certain to make contact with the ground, which leaves you susceptible to burns, cuts, abrasions, and scrapes that are commonly known as road rash and that are closely associated with serious infections.

Your Size Makes You More Difficult to See

When you are on your bike, you take up far less space on the road itself, which makes it more difficult for other motorists to spot you (if they are looking for motorcycles in their midst in the first place). The cars, SUVs, trucks, vans, and semis that you share the road with have significant blind spots, which means that, when you ride in one of these blind spots, the driver in the vehicle cannot see you, and if he or she is not on the lookout for motorcyclists on the road, it puts you in a very dangerous position. The immense size difference between your bike and the other vehicles on the road helps to ensure that you are far more likely to be seriously injured in an accident than anyone else who is involved.

The Condition of the Road Affects You More Seriously

When you are on your bike, you are far more likely to be dangerously affected by negative conditions on the road than other motorists are. Because you ride on only two wheels and, thus, have less traction with the road and must balance your ride, you are more vulnerable to all the following:

  • The dangerous effects of bad weather, such as high winds, rain, and ice

  • The dangers posed by road construction

  • The dangers posed by debris on the road

  • The dangers posed by heavy traffic

You Have a Shorter Stopping Distance

Your bike is not only far smaller and easier to maneuver than the much larger cars that roam our roads but is also much lighter and requires far less distance on the road to come to a safe stop. When another motorist fails to leave ample distance between his or her vehicle and you, he or she increases the risk that you will be injured in a rear-end accident.

RELATED READINGS: You Are More Vulnerable to Serious Injuries on Your Motorcycle 

Motorcycle Accidents: Common Injuries

When you’re on your bike, you take the full force of an accident's impact, which makes those injuries that are common to bike accidents are exceptionally serious.

Broken Bones

It does not require a lot of imagination to recognize just how painful a broken bone is. Even when the break is simple, you can expect a long recovery period, and if the break is complicated, you may be looking at dangerous secondary health concerns. A broken bone that fails to heal properly can leave you with chronic pain and can cause physical disabilities, including a significant loss in the range of motion.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Even if you make it your practice to always wear your motorcycle helmet, a motorcycle accident can leave you with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and because these injuries affect your brain, the results are as unpredictable as the injury is serious. Victims of TBIs often suffer psychological symptoms that make their recoveries that much more complicated, including:

  • Accident flashbacks

  • PTSD-like symptoms

  • Anxiety attacks

  • Bouts of depression

  • Sleep disturbances that can include nightmares and/or night terrors

  • Severe mood swings

  • Pushing others away and a tendency to self-isolate

  • Emotional lability that can include crying jags

  • Changes in personality

One of the most painful emotional aspects of TBIs is that the psychic pain can serve to push your loved ones away just when you need their support the most.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries can happen anywhere on the spinal cord, and they are often caused by a blow to the neck, shoulders, or head. If your spinal cord is severed in a motorcycle accident, it can leave you permanently paralyzed below the accident site, which corresponds with a lifetime of healthcare needs and can leave you requiring assistance with the activities of daily living. Even a minor spinal cord injury, however, can seriously diminish your range of motion and can lead to chronic pain that is very difficult to manage.

Burn and Cuts

In motorcycle accidents, victims are often dragged across the road, which leads to burns, cuts, and abrasions that are known as road rash. Road rash is as slow to heal as it is painful and vulnerable to dangerous infections. In a motorcycle accident, however, you are also vulnerable to serious burns and/or cuts anywhere on your body (as you come into contact with the energy generated by the accident and are buffeted about in its wake). Serious burns and cuts can lead to serious secondary health concerns, and if either is on or near the face, it can be permanently disfiguring.

Your Economic Damages

In your motorcycle accident claim, you can seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Your economic damages are those losses that come with a clear price tag – you pay a specific price to address the matter – and they break down into several classifications.

Property Damage

The damage to your motorcycle is generally quite clear, and there is a verifiable price attached.

Your Medical Costs

Your medical expenses also correlate with specific costs, but it is important to factor in any secondary health concerns and/or any ongoing healthcare needs you may have. If your motorcycle accident claim fails to incorporate your complete damages, you are unlikely to obtain the just compensation you need to reach your most complete recovery. Common medical costs you may experience include:

  • Emergency treatment and transportation

  • Surgical care and aftercare

  • Hospital stays

  • Medical treatments, tests, and procedures

  • Physical therapy

  • Occupational therapy

  • Rehabilitation

  • Pain management

  • Adaptive physical devices and adaptations to your home and/or vehicle

  • Home health care

  • Prescription medications

Lost Earnings

While you seek the medical care that you need and tend to your health and recovery, you will very likely miss work, which generally leads to lost wages. Your lost wages are also fairly clear cut and not difficult to assign a value to. It’s important to note, however, that if your ability to do your job and/or to grow your career is affected, you can face a decrease in your ability to earn into the future, which can be costly. If your career is adversely affected, it can also have an emotional effect (due to the significance we tend to place on our work).

Your Non-economic Damages

Your non-economic damages refer to those losses that are not readily associated with a cost but that are just as real and just as challenging to overcome as your economic damages.

Pain and Suffering

The primary source of non-economic damages is generally physical and emotional pain and suffering. The violent and terrifying nature of motorcycle accidents can obviously lead to considerable physical pain, but it can also cause immense psychic pain that is difficult to adequately address and overcome.

Does Your Claim Qualify for Damages Related to Pain and Suffering?

Factors such as the following help to determine if your claim is eligible for compensation related to pain and suffering:

  • The length of time it takes you to recover (the lengthier your recovery, the more likely it is that your claim will qualify)

  • The kinds of injuries you experience and the level of pain that is commonly associated with them

  • Whether you sustained any permanent injuries, such as a disability

  • Whether your ability to participate in the daily activities of life has been affected

  • Whether your injuries stop you from returning to your career and/or stop you from engaging in the activities you enjoy

  • The emotional toll the accident has on you which can include stress, anxiety, fear, and/or depression

Calculating the Cost of Pain and Suffering

In the State of Texas, there is no set method for calculating the cost of a motorcycle accident victim’s pain and suffering, but often, a multiplier method is used. This means that the total value of your economic damages will be calculated, and this amount will be multiplied by a number from 1.5 to 5 (depending upon the severity of the accident and the degree of pain and suffering you endured).

Punitive Damages

Traffic accidents such as motorcycle accidents are generally caused by driver negligence, which means that punitive damages that are intended to punish the at-fault driver are rare. If, however, the driver who leaves you injured acted recklessly, willfully, or without concern for your well-being, punitive damages may apply.

Shared Fault

Many motorcycle accident claimants worry about whether or not their own fault in the accident might bar them from seeking compensation, but this is something you should discuss with your experienced motorcycle accident attorney. The fact is that the insurance company would like you to believe that you share fault in the matter (whether this is true or not), so do not admit to any fault before it is established that you actually bear a percentage of it. This is a matter for your attorney to help you determine. Even if you do share some of the fault in the motorcycle accident that leaves you injured, however, you retain the legal right to seek damages for the percentage of fault the other motorist is responsible for (as long as you are not found more than 50 percent responsible for the accident).

FAQ

The answers to those questions motorcycle accident victims ask most frequently may help you with your own claim.

How can I afford a motorcycle accident attorney?

You are facing considerable damages, which makes the thought of paying a motorcycle accident attorney seem difficult at best, but most reputable motorcycle attorneys work on contingency, which means your attorney will not get paid (a prearranged percentage of your settlement or court award) until and unless you receive a settlement or court award. In other words, there is no financial risk to you.

Should I accept the insurance company’s settlement offer?

Beware of an early settlement offer because it is likely an effort to entice you into settling before you are fully aware of your complete damages. Do yourself a favor, and never sign off on a settlement before reviewing the matter with a motorcycle accident attorney who is well versed with your claim.

Will my claim go to court?

The vast majority of motorcycle claims settle out of court, which means that it is very likely that yours will do the same. If, however, the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith and fails to make a just settlement offer, your savvy motorcycle accident attorney may advise you to move forward by filing a lawsuit against the insurance company. Even this, however, does not ensure that your case will end up in court. When the insurance company recognizes your determination to obtain the compensation to which you are entitled, it may become more amenable to negotiating fairly.

An Experienced Killeen Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a practiced motorcycle accident attorney who is committed to skillfully advocating for a favorable claim resolution that addresses your physical, financial, and emotional damages in their entirety. For more information about what we can do to help you, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 today.

RELATED READINGS: 

Motorcycles and Lane Splitting in Texas

Sharing the Road Safely with Motorcycles 

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