For many, riding a motorcycle is not just a mode of transportation or hobby; it is a way of life. Riding a bike can be exciting and invigorating for the same reasons motorcycle riders need to take precautions each time they go on the road. Several factors make motorcycle riders vulnerable to accidents and the potential resulting injuries and other serious consequences. These riders are at high risk of accidents caused by circumstances in and out of their control. Motorcyclists and their passengers are entitled to the same safety and rights under the law as drivers of cars, SUVs, trucks, and anyone else sharing the road.
Motorcycle accidents are not uncommon and can be fatal. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcyclists are approximately 35 times more likely to die in crashes than other motorists. Ohio ranks fourth in the nation for motorcycle use and is one of the top states known for a high rate of motorcycle accidents. It is essential for anyone sharing the road with motorcycles in Ohio to stay aware of this, take preventative action, and know what to do if involved in a motorcycle accident.
A severe motorcycle crash can be devastating, often leaving the rider with life-altering injuries. Motorcycle accidents occur for various reasons, regardless of how experienced a motorcycle rider is or whether particular circumstances are within a rider’s control.
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
The following are some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents:
- Speeding: One of the most common factors in motorcycle accidents is speeding. The speeding may be on the motorcyclist’s part, the driver of another vehicle, or both. Most motorcycle accidents involve high-performance motorcycles, which means they can reach speeds of 160 miles per hour or more. Speeding makes the motorcycle more challenging to maneuver and brake quickly enough in emergencies. It also causes a greater impact on collision, resulting in more severe injuries.
- Reckless drivers: Drivers who are impulsive and quick to endanger the lives of others on the road are considered reckless. Examples of reckless driving other than speeding include tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, changing lanes unexpectedly, refusing to signal, and not sharing the road. These unsafe and reckless driving behaviors can result in serious motorcycle accidents.
- Rear-end collisions: This type of accident occurs when one vehicle strikes the back of another. Rear-end collisions are often caused by the failure to leave enough distance between cars or distracted driving. A motorcyclist may suffer severe injuries upon impact, even in low-speed rear-end collisions. A rider can be thrown from the motorcycle even if the vehicle or motorcycle were not traveling at high speeds; in those cases, severe or fatal injuries are always an increased risk.
- Left-hand turns: It is common for motorcycle accidents to occur when the driver of another vehicle attempts to make a left-hand turn in front of an oncoming motorcycle. Often, the driver making the left-hand turn is found to be at fault for the accident for not following the right-of-way rules of the road. In some situations, accidents are caused by drivers misjudging the distance between their turning vehicles and oncoming motorcycles. In other cases, drivers fail to look for oncoming motorcyclists.
- Failure to yield right-of-way: Motorcycle accidents can happen when other drivers fail to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists. In some instances, drivers are not paying attention and do not see motorcyclists. In others, they intentionally violate traffic rules or are unaware of the traffic rules. Whatever the case, these motorcycle accidents can be deadly, especially if the crash is head-on.
- Distracted drivers: It is well-known that distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents. Drivers often text and talk on their cellphone instead of focusing on the road. Other common distractions include discussions with other vehicle occupants, listening to music, grooming, and eating. It is easy for a distracted driver not to see a motorcyclist, which can result in a severe motorcycle accident. It is important to note that motorcyclists can also be distracted drivers and must stay focused on the road at all times.
- Driving under the influence: Anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs and driving a motorcycle or other vehicle is more likely to cause a severe or fatal accident. Intoxicated drivers experience impaired judgment, blurred vision, difficulty maintaining control of the car, and other impediments to safety. Signs that a driver might be under the influence include weaving, sudden acceleration or braking, traveling at night without headlights, failure to signal, tailgating other vehicles, and driving in the wrong direction. It is imperative to avoid a driver showing any of these behaviors. It is even more important to stay off the road if you have been drinking.
- Dooring accidents: A dooring accident occurs when the driver or another vehicle occupant opens the door into the motorcyclist’s lane without looking first. Usually, this happens before motorcyclists have time to react, resulting in them striking the vehicle door and being thrown from the motorcycle, sometimes into other lanes of traffic. This can lead to severe injuries and even fatalities.
- Road conditions: Because motorcycles are less stable than four-wheeled vehicles, and motorcycle riders are much more exposed, any variance in road conditions can be especially dangerous for motorcyclists. Common road conditions particularly hazardous to motorcyclists are potholes, cracked and crumbling pavement, uneven heights between lanes, and road debris.
Are Motorcycle Accidents Preventable?
Although many motorcycle accidents are unavoidable, there are ways to reduce certain risks for motorcycle riders. The following are some guidelines for motorcyclists to consider before they take the road:
- Motorcycle maintenance: It is an excellent idea to do a safety check each time you plan on taking out your motorcycle. This should include ensuring tire pressure is correct and checking the brakes, lights, mirrors, and horn are all working properly. If anything is broken, it is imperative to fix it as soon as possible. Also, remember that if a part of your motorcycle has malfunctioned, causing it to be involved in an accident and you to become injured, other parties may be liable for your case.
- Helmet safety: The Insurance Information Institute (III) consistently reports that helmets save the lives of more than 1,500 motorcyclists a year. The same data reflects that motorcycle helmets are about 40 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to riders and passengers. Not only is it crucial to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, but it is also essential to be the proper fit. It is critical to wear a helmet that meets the quality and safety requirements of the Department of Transportation (DOT).
- Proper gear: In addition to having a proper helmet, it is also necessary to wear critical pieces of safety gear. Proper footwear is typically a pair of durable motorcycle boots that lace on the inside. This helps ensure a firm grip on the bike and avoid the laces getting tangled. It is essential to wear a motorcycle jacket appropriate for the season that also includes a color that keeps you visible to other motorists. Wearing strong, weatherproof motorcycle gloves is also a necessity. Motorcycle gloves help grip the handlebars while providing added protection from potential injuries.
- Extra guards: Motorcyclists are encouraged to invest in the elbow, knee, and shin guards and wear them every time they go on the road. These extra layers of pads can prevent various types of injuries to the rider. In general, an additional layer of protection between a motorcyclist and the road can make a huge difference in the event of a motorcycle crash.
- Be alert: As previously noted, distracted driving is a top cause of car accidents. It is equally essential for motorcyclists to stay focused on the road, including staying aware of all traffic rules, driving defensively, and avoiding unnecessary interactions. Most importantly, never ride a motorcycle if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Stay visible: Some drivers do not see motorcyclists on the road. Whether riding at night or during the day, all precautions must be taken to keep yourself easily visible while riding a motorcycle. Be aware of your position compared to others on the road, keeping in mind nearby blind spots. Wear reflective clothing, use reflective decals, and use your headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and horn as required.
- Look out for hazards: Pay attention to your surroundings so you may be able to maneuver past any obstructions. In addition to hazards marked by signs or flashing lights, watch out for fallen branches, construction debris, loose gravel, oil spills, and animals on the road. Some obstacles can appear out of nowhere, causing an impact with force strong enough to eject a rider from the motorcycle.
What Should You Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents are different from car accidents in that motorcyclists are more vulnerable to severe injuries that can require more immediate and extensive treatment. Many motorcycle riders who survive accidents are immediately taken to the emergency room. In many cases, people might still be recovering during settlement negotiations or a trial. This also means that there may be compensation for future medical treatment, which can further complicate the situation.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, it is crucial to receive proper medical treatment. Hiring an experienced Ohio motorcycle accident lawyer is also essential to assist with the overwhelming legal progress people often face. You have the right to bring forth claims for both economic and non-economic damages against the at-fault party. If your loved one has died from fatal injuries from an ejection accident, you may also have a cause of action for a wrongful death suit.
Why Should You Hire a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
There are several reasons to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer, including:
- A knowledgeable lawyer will move the case along quickly and efficiently.
- Recovering compensation after a motorcycle accident can be complicated. A lawyer will determine how much can be obtained, considering current and future medical bills, physical therapy and counseling, current and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
- A lawyer will ensure that the accident site is investigated properly, police and medical records examined, witnesses interviewed, and experts consulted.
- You will be able to focus on recovering from any physical and emotional trauma. When insurance companies, other parties, lawyers, or representatives request phone contact, your lawyer will handle all of those calls. Your lawyer will also take all necessary correspondence.
- Multiple insurance policy claims are often filed after a motorcycle accident, which can be legally complex. Hiring an experienced lawyer who knows the proper procedures is advantageous. This includes requesting all required paperwork, filing all possible claims, being aware of the statute of limitations, and understanding insurance policy coverage.
- Some other individuals or entities may also be held liable. A manufacturer that has built a defective motorcycle can be held responsible for injuries or fatalities. An auto mechanic who knowingly used faulty parts may be sued for damages and the manufacturer of those faulty parts.
Our Ohio motorcycle accident lawyers are highly experienced and put their clients first. Our legal team at the Wolterman Law Office will work alongside you and take the appropriate steps to pursue the compensation you and your loved ones deserve after a motorcycle accident.
Ohio Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office Are Experienced in Helping Clients Who Have Been Injured in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries, and navigating through the aftermath can seem impossible without assistance from a skilled lawyer. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, speak with one of our experienced Ohio motorcycle accident lawyers at the Wolterman Law Office. Call us at 513-488-1135 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation today. We are located in Loveland, Ohio, and we proudly assist clients throughout Hamilton County, Fairfield, Norwood, and Forest Park.