Anyone who has ridden a motorcycle will tell you that it's an exhilarating experience. But the fact is that most "thrills" come with an underlying risk, and motorcyclists face unique dangers on the road.
Motorcycle accidents are like other vehicle accidents in some ways, but because of some unique factors inherent in motorcycles and motorcycle riding, the causes of motorcycle accidents, the injuries resulting from motorcycle accidents, and the liability issues surrounding motorcycle accidents can be very different from car accidents.
The Risks of Motorcycle Riding
Motorcycles are much smaller and lighter than cars, have only two wheels, and do not enclose the rider in a box of metal. These characteristics, along with others, make motorcycle riding riskier than riding in a car. As compared to car accidents, motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in death or serious injury. For example, according to the federal government, per mile traveled in 2006, there were 35 times more deaths from motorcycle accidents than from car accidents.
Some of the risks unique to motorcycle riding include:
Less visibility to cars. Because motorcycles are smaller and more easily hidden by objects on or off the road, cars are less likely to see them, especially at intersections.
Road hazards. Things that have little effect on a car, like debris, uneven road surfaces, small objects, or wet pavement, can cause a motorcycle to crash.
No barrier between rider and road. Unlike passengers in a car, bikers are not protected by a container of metal. Motorcycles also don't have seatbelts, and most don't have airbags. Wearing a motorcycle helmet can offer some protection to bikers, and motorcyclists who don't wear helmets are more likely to die in an accident than those that do.
Less stability. Vehicles with two wheels are less stable than those with four, especially during emergency braking and swerving. Also, some motorcycle accidents are caused by front wheel "wobble" that can occur at high speeds.
Skill level and difficulty. Riding a motorcycle requires more skills than driving a car. Unskilled riders account for a disproportionate number of motorcycle accidents. In 2001, more than one quarter of all motorcyclists killed in crashes did not have a proper motorcycle license.
High-risk behavior. Lighter and more powerful motorcycles such as sport and super sport bikes can encourage speeding, fast accelerating, and other high-risk behavior.
The good news is that bikers can take steps to reduce the risk of being in an accident, including getting professional training, being aware of and avoiding road hazards, maintaining the bike, and not sharing lanes with cars. Other steps, such as wearing proper protective clothing and a helmet, can reduce risk of injury in motorcycle accidents.
Liability in Motorcycle Accidents
Liability in most motorcycle accidents is governed by the law of negligence. A person is negligent when he or she behaves in a careless manner and causes injury to another person. A driver must use care to avoid injuring other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians -- basically, anyone that he or she encounters on the road. If a driver is not reasonably careful and injures someone as a result, the driver is liable for injuring the accident victim.
In many motorcycle accidents, it is the driver of another car or truck that is negligent. The driver can be negligent by doing something that he or she should not have done (for example, speeding through a red light) or by failing to do something that he or she should have done (for example, failing to check mirrors before making a left-hand turn).
Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
Injuries received in a motorcycle accident tend to be worse than auto accidents due to the small nature and vulnerability of the bikes. Injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe head and spinal trauma. Road rash is a type of injury that occurs very frequently in motorcycle accidents. Road rash is mild to severe skin abrasion resulting from a fall on the bike that involves sliding on a hard surface such as the interstate.
Daniels & Scriven, P.C. represents clients in motorcycle accidents across Colorado. Because a motorcycle accident can create multiple issues and significant losses, an injured party should hire an experienced attorney who not only handles such accidents with injured parties, but also has the resources necessary to provide for a victim’s medical needs as well as medical and liability experts. The attorneys at Daniels & Scriven, P.C. have over 40 years of experience and have primarily handled personal-injury matters. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, call Daniels & Scriven, P.C. (720) 863-6006 for a free in person or virtual consultation. Our attorneys are seasoned, dedicated, passionate and will advocate on your behalf and fight for what you deserve.