Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Ty Uehara, a college student and an avid motorcyclist, nearly lost a good friend to a motorcycle accident. Having suffered a broken pelvis and tailbone, the friend was alone on the roadway, unable to call for help or to move out of the way of traffic.
Instead of causing him to stop riding, Uehara was instead inspired to create a helmet that will use technology to contact 911 as soon as it hits the ground. Most riders carry their cell phone in their back pocket, in their backpack, or mounted to their bike, Uehara explained, often leaving it unavailable for use if it breaks in the crash or the rider becomes separated from his or her bike.
The helmet would need three components to work, including a GPS tracker, an accelerometer to track sudden changes in speed, and pressure monitors to detect high impact to the helmet’s outer shell. Uehara says it will provide a lifeline to those who are injured and unable to move. The helmet was the winner of the University of Hawaii’s Breakthrough Innovation Challenge and the recipient of a $2,000 prize.
While Uehara’s helmet presents great promise for the health and safety of motorcyclists in the future, for now, motorcycle accidents kill about 5,000 people each year in the United States, and many thousands more suffer serious and life-altering injuries.
The Dangers of Motorcycle Accidents
According to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than the occupants of passenger cars. There are several reasons why motorcycles produce so much risk for riders, including:
- Motorcycles require different skills to operate than other motor vehicles do. These skills may be difficult to learn as well as difficult to transition to for the weekend rider who drives a passenger vehicle most of the time.
- They lack the protective features of automobiles, including a steel frame, airbags, or seat belts. Without these features, motorcyclists face likely ejection from the vehicle in an accident, which results in the rider’s body colliding with objects or the roadway.
- Lack of visibility to other motorists due to a much thinner, smaller vehicle body and fewer headlights.
- With only two wheels, motorcycles are less stable than other vehicles, which increases the likelihood of a crash occurring due to the motorcyclist attempting to maneuver around obstacles, taking evasive action to avoid an accident, or even something as simple as driving the motorcycle on a road where there is loose gravel, wet roads or roads that have been made slick with oil or other substances, or debris that could cause it to lose traction.
How Are Motorcycle Accidents Caused?
Many motorcycle accidents are caused simply because the other motorist failed to notice the motorcycle and turned into or drove into its path.
However, motorists can cause these accidents in many ways:
- Motorists making left turns: Left turns present one of the most dangerous situations for motorcycles, as there is a risk of motorists turning into the path of the motorcycle as they attempt to make their turn.
- Distracted motorists: Distracted motorists are another serious risk for motorcyclists, as drivers of passenger vehicles are already less likely to see or notice a motorcycle on the roadway than any other vehicle type. Distracted motorists may also drift into the motorcyclist’s lane or follow too closely.
- Dooring: Dooring is a term used to describe a situation where the occupant of a parked motor vehicle attempts to get out of his or her vehicle and opens the door into the path of an approaching motorcyclist, causing him or her to either collide with the door or swerve in an attempt to go around it.
- Speeding: Around one-third of all motorcycle accidents occur due to speeding. Whether it’s the motor vehicle that is traveling too fast for the conditions of the road or the motorcycle, speeding poses a risk of causing the driver/ rider to lose control of his or her vehicle, and makes coming to a safe stop for a hazard in the roadway more difficult.
- Alcohol impairment: Motorcyclists involved in fatal accidents have been found to have a higher incidence of alcohol impairment than drivers of any other vehicle type that are involved in fatal accidents. In one recent year, 25 percent of motorcycle riders in fatal accidents were alcohol impaired at the time of the crash. Motorcycle riders who were killed in accidents at night were three times more likely to be alcohol impaired than riders who were killed during the day.
- Following too closely: Motorists who follow a motorcycle too closely undoubtedly cause the motorcyclist extreme discomfort, and also place them at high risk for being rear-ended. Rear-end accidents involving motorcycles can be deadly due to the lack of steel frame protecting the rider, and the chance of both the rider and the motorcycle becoming airborne in the crash.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries: Head injuries are the leading cause of death and disability for motorcyclists involved in accidents and are suffered by more than one-fifth of all motorcyclists involved in collisions. Head injuries can be relatively minor issues that resolve within a few weeks or they can result in a lifetime of injury-related impacts including the loss of memory, the inability to communicate, deficits in coordination, and damage to the ability to hear, smell, or see.
- Spinal cord injuries: Spinal cord injuries are always serious, as they can lead to loss of sensation and function below the injury site, including paraplegia, which is loss of sensation and function in the legs, feet, and pelvis; or tetraplegia (also known as quadriplegia), which can cause loss of sensation and function in the legs, feet, pelvis, torso, chest, shoulders, and arms.
- Road rash: Road rash is a skin abrasion that is caused when the body comes in contact with a rough surface such as the roadway, which causes the skin to be scraped off. Road rash can be significant if it occurs over large parts of the body, and can lead to long-term complications such as scarring, disfigurement, and infection. Some infections that may be acquired after a person experiences road rash can be life-threatening.
- Biker’s arm: Biker’s arm is a term used to describe nerve damage to the arm or hand that is caused by the motorcyclist attempting to “catch” him- or herself during an accident. Biker’s arm may result in partial or complete paralysis of the arm or hand. In addition to this condition, other hand and arm injuries are also common in motorcycle accidents, including fractured bones, sprains, and deep lacerations.
- Broken bones: Because of the likelihood of ejection during an accident, motorcyclists face the risk of breaking virtually any bone in their body if it is landed on wrong or struck against an object. Of particular danger are broken ribs, which can result in damage to internal organs that are punctured or scraped by the broken bones.
- Injuries to the legs and feet: 30 percent of all non-fatal motorcycle accident injuries are sustained to the lower extremities, with the most common being broken bones, damage to the knee, and soft tissue injuries occurring in the legs. The ankles and feet are also susceptible to injuries in motorcycle accidents.
- Limb amputations: Limb amputations due to a motorcycle accident may occur during the accident itself as a result of sharp objects shearing off a body part at the scene or a doctor may surgically amputate after the accident if limbs are so badly injured that they have no chance of functioning properly again.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder is commonly experienced after a motor vehicle accident, and causes symptoms such as flashbacks or nightmares about the accident, extreme anxiety when placed in situations that remind the individual of the accident, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
How to Prevent Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries
All accidents are preventable when other drivers pilot their vehicles with appropriate care and caution. Motorcyclists, for their part, can reduce the chance of suffering serious injuries in an accident caused by others. Those things include:
- ATGATT: An abbreviation for “All the gear, all the time,” this means wearing a DOT-approved helmet to protect yourself from suffering a head injury in a motorcycle accident, whether the law in your state requires you to do so or not. It also means wearing your other protective gear, including riding jacket and pants made of a durable material such as leather or ballistic nylon; boots that cover the ankle and provide a thick sole; full-fingered gloves to prevent hand injuries in an accident or due to flying debris such as small pebbles when riding; and eye protection.
- Be seen: Motorcyclists should consider brightly colored motorcycles as they’re easier for motorists to see. You should also wear bright or reflective clothing and consider placing additional lighting on your motorcycle to further increase your visibility for drivers. Remember that lack of visibility is one of the most common ways that drivers cause accidents with motorcyclists.
- Be alert: Motorcyclists should avoid distractions and increase vigilance with the knowledge that a lot of distracted drivers are on the roadway who may not only have trouble seeing them but also may not even be looking for them. Don’t text while you’re riding, cut down interaction with other riders, and remain focused on attending to the lane ahead of you.
- Use extra caution at intersections: About half of all motorcycle accidents take place at an intersection where many vehicles are traveling in different directions and yielding right-of-way at different times. Pay close attention to left-turning drivers.
- Plan your trip: Avoid riding on routes where there is loose gravel as that poses a danger of sliding. You should also pay attention to the weather forecast for the time in which you need to ride as wet or icy road conditions also increase your likelihood of having an accident. In addition, poor weather often produces conditions of low visibility, which can make it even harder for drivers to see you.
- Never stop learning: Make sure you’ve received proper training on your motorcycle and that you take refresher courses on a regular basis to learn new skills that can keep you safer.
- Don’t get overconfident: Newer riders should avoid high-powered supersport motorcycles, which are essentially modified, street-legal racing bikes. These motorcycles can generate a lot of power and can overwhelm a novice rider. If you’re riding with a group, make sure the group is on a relatively equal level in regards to experience. Riding with others who are more experienced could lead you to take unnecessary risks and tackle conditions you’re not ready for.
- Ride single file: When riding with groups, don’t ride side-by-side or in a pack. Instead, ride single file with enough space between each motorcycle for you to maneuver and respond if you encounter a dangerous situation.
Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Call Our Motorcycle Accident Law Firm Now
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident that someone else caused, our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers would like to talk to you about how we can help you.
Call Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, at (877) 505-2368 to schedule your free case evaluation, or write to us using our confidential contact form.