Newark Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Were you injured in a motorcycle accident in Newark? The personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, can help. We have the experience and results to guide you through the complicated legal process of seeking compensation for an injury caused by someone else’s negligence.
If you need our services, you’re not alone. As noted by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, motorcyclists represent the most vulnerable motor vehicle operators on the road. In one four-year period, more than 12,000 motorcycle crashes took place on New Jersey roadways, and 82 percent of the riders in motorcycle accidents in the state suffered injuries or died as a result. More than half of all the motorcycle accidents in New Jersey that involve other vehicles occur at intersections.
For example, a 20-year-old woman was charged with vehicular homicide after she struck and killed a motorcyclist in Piscataway. Shortly before 7 a.m., the woman allegedly crossed into oncoming traffic lanes in her 2017 Toyota Corolla and hit the 2015 Harley Davidson motorcycle head-on. The 64-year-old rider was transported to the hospital, where he died due to complications from the injuries he had sustained in the crash a little over two weeks before. The woman was previously charged with numerous traffic infractions related to the crash, including careless and reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, speeding, and failing to maintain her own lane.
Determining Liability in a Motorcycle Accident
Upon experiencing an accident that results in injury, it is often automatically assumed that the motorcyclist was at fault. However, this is certainly not always the case. Motorcyclists are at risk of motorists exhibiting careless or reckless behavior, such as speeding, driving distractions, alcohol impairment, following too closely, and red-light running. Your motorcycle accident lawyer will carefully examine the details of your case to determine all liable parties and all potential insurance resources.
To prove liability in an accident, you must be able to show that the other motorist:
- Owed you a duty of care. In motor vehicle accidents, the duty of care is generally to operate the vehicle in a safe and lawful manner.
- Breached that duty of care. In motor vehicle accidents, his is the negligent driving behavior that led to your accident.
- Caused an accident that resulted in injuries to you, expenses, and impacts to your life.
Motorcyclists are required to purchase the same amount of insurance as other registered vehicle owners, including liability insurance, personal injury protection, and uninsured motorist coverage. Your own personal injury protection policy may not even cover your initial expenses for your injuries. If your injuries meet the impact threshold and you can prove that the accident was a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Due to the lack of protective features that are found on other motor vehicle types—such as a steel frame, seat belts, and airbags, motorcycles present hazards that increase the risk of the rider suffering severe injuries or death in a crash. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to be killed in an accident than drivers of other motor vehicles. Some of the hazards that motorcyclists face include:
- Almost certain ejection, which may result in traumatic head injuries, broken bones, and road rash.
- A chance of the motorcycle’s weight coming to rest on the motorcyclist’s body, resulting in a higher chance of crushed limbs, burns, and internal injuries.
- Lack of visibility when compared to other motorists in larger, better lit vehicles. This dramatically increases the risk of becoming involved in an accident.
- Lack of stability when compared to vehicles with four wheels, meaning that there is a higher risk of a seemingly minor issue—such as a pothole or the occupant of a car opening his or her door in the motorcyclist’s path—causing a major accident.
The Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
There are many reasons that motorcycle accidents occur, including:
- Alcohol impairment: A drunk driver can cause catastrophic injuries to a motorcyclist. With judgment impaired, a drunk driver is far more likely to crash into a motorcyclist than a sober driver—and a drunk driver may speed, brake too late, or otherwise act or react in a way that can cause worse injuries to a motorcyclist than a sober driver with normal inhibitions and reaction times might.
- Speeding: Speeding increases the chances of all accidents, and it makes collisions far worse—a car traveling at 45 miles per hour will generate more impact force than a car traveling at 30 miles per hour. That increased speed and impact force can transfer into a relatively unprotected motorcyclist with tragic results. Moreover, motorcycles stop far more quickly than cars and trucks. When other vehicles speed, they increase their stopping distances—and if they’re following a motorcycle, they could collide before they can come to a stop.
- Distracted drivers: With motorcycles already lacking the visibility present in other types of motor vehicles, riders are at further risk of experiencing an accident due to distracted motorists.
- Left turns: Other vehicles making left turns are one of the most hazardous situations for motorcyclists, accounting for about 42 percent of all two-vehicle accidents involving a motorcycle. This is because the motorist is often unable to see the motorcycle approaching and will attempt to complete its turn into the path of the motorcycle or into the motorcycle itself.
- Obstacles on the roadway: A collision with an obstacle is the most common cause of single-vehicle fatal motorcycle accidents. A man and a woman were killed in Liberty Township due to a collision with a guardrail. Upon striking the guardrail, both the rider and passenger were thrown from the vehicle and declared dead at the scene.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Due to the lack of protective features on the vehicle, motorcycle accident injuries are often quite severe. Common injuries to be sustained in a motorcycle crash include:
- Brain injuries: Traumatic brain injuries are a leading cause of death for motorcyclists involved in accidents. However, wearing a DOT-approved helmet can dramatically reduce the chance of suffering a brain injury as well as the severity of head injuries suffered. New Jersey law requires all motorcycle riders to wear DOT-approved helmets when riding motorcycles in the state.
- Road rash: While not the most serious of injuries faced, road rash is the most common injury sustained by motorcyclists involved in accidents. Road rash is a type of skin abrasion caused when the skin comes in contact with a rough surface, such as the roadway, and scrapes away the outer layer. It is often regarded as a minor injury, but road rash can be quite severe and can result in life-threatening complications caused by infection.
- Broken bones: Colliding with objects or with the ground, or having a heavy motorcycle fall on top of a person, can result in broken bones. Common bone fractures associated with motorcycle injuries include broken legs, ankles, the bones in the feet, hips, arms, wrists, and ribs.
- Spinal cord injuries: When motorcyclists suffer injuries to the spinal cord, the impacts are often life-long and may even involve permanent disability. One of the common symptoms of a spinal cord injury is paralysis, which is the loss of sensation and function below the site of the injury. The higher up on the spine the injury is, the more catastrophic the paralysis will be.
What You Can Do to Prevent Serious Injury on a Motorcycle
Drivers can avoid nearly every motorcycle accident when they start seeing motorcycles by paying proper attention to the road. You can’t control how they drive, but you can take some steps to reduce your risk of a motorcycle accident and reduce the threat of serious injury if you are involved in one.
These steps include:
- Make sure you are properly licensed and well-trained to operate a motorcycle safely. Important training is provided in the licensing process and refresher courses are available for new and experienced motorcyclists alike.
- Select a motorcycle that fits your size and your experience level. New riders should avoid sport bikes, as they feature a higher amount of power than a new rider can typically handle safely.
- Consider the conditions when you plan to ride. Riding in inclement weather not only impairs both your visibility as well as that of other motorists on the roadway, but may also subject you to slick or icy roads that could cause your motorcycle to slide or other vehicles to slide into you. You should pay attention to road condition forecasts for your area during the time you plan to ride. You should also consider the time of day and the area in which you’re riding. Avoid riding in the morning or evening rush hour or other high-traffic times of the day. Additionally, you should choose less-congested routes, as those often provide the safest road for your journey.
- Take care to avoid seemingly small hazards, such as loose gravel, vegetation, debris, and other items on the roadway that could cause you to lose traction.
- Remember that most vehicles have blind spots, which are areas on either side of the vehicle where the driver cannot see you in rear or side mirrors if you’re traveling in those areas. Tractor-trailers and large box trucks have large blind spots. You should avoid riding on the side rear area of any vehicle to avoid lingering in someone’s blind spot long enough for the driver to forget you’re there.
- Inspect your motorcycle before riding, ensuring that your tires have the appropriate amount of air and that all of the vehicle’s functions are working as they should, including lights and brakes. Establish a regular maintenance routine to keep your motorcycle in optimal running condition at all times.
- Always wear your helmet. The NHTSA reports that motorcycle helmets were responsible for saving more than 1,800 lives across the nation and more than 800 more could have been saved if a helmet had been used when an accident occurred.
- Protect the rest of your body too, through the use of protective gear, such as long pants and jackets made of strong material, such as leather or ballistic nylon, thick-soled boots that cover the ankle, eye protection, and gloves.
- Make yourself as visible as possible through the use of bright or reflective clothing, a brightly colored motorcycle, and the use of headlights during both nighttime and daytime rides.
- Remember that a lot of accidents involving motorcycles occur because other motorists fail to see the motorcycles. In addition to improving your visibility, it is important to also ride defensively, using great caution, particularly at intersections so that you can avoid being involved in an accident caused by bad driving practices of other motorists.
- Ride responsibly. This means knowing and obeying the traffic laws and avoiding risky driving practices, such as speeding or alcohol impairment.
Call the Newark Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, Today
Let our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys help you understand the legal options available in your case.
Click here to contact us or call (973) 643-2707 for a free case evaluation. Our compassionate and experienced team looks forward to seeing how we can help you.
“If it were not for the integral legal team of experts at Jacoby & Meyers I would not be where I am today with my recovery. I highly recommend hiring Jacoby & Meyers should you ever find yourself injured in an accident, and an individual or company needs to be held accountable for their negligence.” -C.J.
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