Brockton, MA Motorcycle Accident Attorney
When a sunny day dawns in Brockton, it can be very appealing to jump on your motorcycle and ride to the ocean or out to the country. But along with the joy of the open road, motorcyclists face danger from traffic accidents.
Even when bikers wear proper safety gear, including dot-rated helmets, motorcycle accidents can still cause catastrophic injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and broken bones. When the collision ejects riders from their bikes, the riders may suffer from additional injuries beyond the crash impact if they slide into a guardrail, tree, or another vehicle. In personal injury cases that stem from these types of crashes, vehicle drivers often try to place the blame on the motorcyclist, which can make it difficult for bikers to collect damages for their injuries.
Additionally, Massachusetts personal injury protection insurance does not cover motorcycle riders. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should always retain an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to assist you. Your ability to prove that the other driver caused your injuries is essential if you hope to recover compensation.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle accident, the experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at the Law Firm of Gerald J. Noonan can help. Establishing who is at fault can be complicated in motorcycle accidents, and receiving compensation for damages suffered in an accident is more complex than it is in a car accident. We can fight to get you fair and just compensation.
We Get Results for Motorcyclists Injured in Accidents
Massachusetts law places the burden of proof of the party seeking damages in personal injury cases, which makes personal injury cases particularly difficult to manage on your own if you don’t know the law. Keep in mind that insurance companies are always looking out for their bottom line. Even if they actually agree that the other driver caused your accident, they will try to pay out the least amount possible for every claim.
On the other hand, when you retain an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, the insurance company must deal with someone who not only knows the law but also knows what amount of compensation the insurance company should pay. Furthermore, if the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, a motorcycle accident lawyer with litigation experience will not hesitate to take your case to trial.
Fair and just settlements often require investigating the causes of an accident and negotiating. In one case, for example, our client had a green light, yet was struck by a vehicle trying to make a left turn into a shopping plaza. The vehicle driver’s insurance company claimed that it was the insured who had the green light instead, and denied liability—meaning that the insured motorcyclist would receive no compensation. In fact, they claimed that the motorcyclist was at fault for failing to keep a proper lookout.
Attorney Patrick J. Noonan was able to obtain a statement from an independent witness to the accident, however, that proved the insurance company’s statement was not valid. He also went to the scene of the accident and timed the intersection’s traffic light, proving that the motorcyclist had a green light, and that the vehicle driver thus hadn’t properly yielded right of way.
As a result, our firm was able to settle the insurance claim for $20,000, the policy maximum. In addition, Noonan was able to negotiate an additional $7,500 for physical therapy and chiropractic treatment after the accident, considerably more than the $1,500 initially offered.
Unfortunately, claims that a vehicle had the right of way when in fact the motorcyclist did are often used by insurance companies. In another case, a motorcyclist was making a left turn when a vehicle cut in front of him, causing him to drop the motorcycle. The insurance company claimed that the motorcyclist was negligent because he hadn’t yielded the right of way to oncoming traffic, and denied liability. Attorney Patrick J. Noonan negotiated and settled the case for $48,000.
You can minimize your risk of sustaining many of the most common motorcycle accident injuries if you practice good motorcycle safety. Most importantly, always wear the proper safety gear—avoid flip flops, shorts, and short-sleeve shirts. You should wear gloves while riding; consider investing in breathable leathers that you can wear during the warmer months.
Watch for Traffic
Because motorcycles are difficult to see, even with the headlight on, you should always drive defensively and remain aware of any approaching cars. Learn how to anticipate what other drivers are going to do by reading their actions. If a vehicle is coming up to a stop sign quickly, you should realize that it may not stop. Even a rolling stop through a stop sign can cause serious injury to you if the vehicle collides with your bike.
Make Sure Your Bike Is the Right Size
If you’re considering buying a motorcycle, make sure that when you are on the bike, you can put both feet on the ground. If you cannot but only need an additional inch or two, you can probably change the seat out for a lower seat. With your feet flat on the ground, you have better control over the bike at a stop, especially if the roads are wet or you happen to put your feet down in an oil slick.
Always make sure that all of your bike’s equipment is working properly. Before you go out for a ride, check the taillights, brake lights, signals, headlights, and horn. Repair any damaged safety equipment before you ride. Also, check the brakes to make sure that they are working properly. The front brake on a bike has most of the stopping power, but you also need the rear brake to help control the bike. If you use only the front brake, you could find yourself going over the handlebars. And, if you use only the rear brake, you’ll need a longer distance to stop.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Because bikers don’t have the benefit of a car frame and body around them, airbags, and other similar safety equipment, motorcycle accident injuries are usually more serious than accidents that involve regular cars.
Motorcyclist deaths in crashes happen almost 28 times more often than deaths in car crashes per vehicle miles traveled, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). More than 5,170 motorcyclists were killed in a traffic accident in 2017.
Motorcyclists are not protected by their vehicles. Accidents often throw them from the bike, sometimes over considerable distances. They can be hurled into traffic, or hit pavement and objects at a high velocity. Because of all these issues, 80 percent of motorcycle crashes end in either injury or death.
Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries that we see include:
- Road rash (skin abrasions, cuts, scrapes, and bruises, ranging from mild to severe)
- Strains, sprains, and dislocations
- Pulled or torn muscles
- Fractured bones
- Compound fractures
- Internal injuries, including injured organs
- Head injuries (including traumatic brain injury, or TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI)
- Nerve damage
- Damage to extremities, such as knees, feet, and hands
These injuries can require medical treatment, plus physical therapy or other types of long-term treatment for the effects.
Motorcycle Accident FAQ
Motorcycle riding is very popular throughout the United States, especially in the spring and summer months. Riding a motorcycle offers a sense of freedom unmatched by other motor vehicles. However, as enjoying and freeing as riding a motorcycle may be, accidents do happen. Because motorcycles lack the protection provided by other vehicles, accidents often have devastating consequences. Below, we present answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about motorcycle accidents.
How dangerous are motorcycle accidents?
Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents tend to cause serious injuries. As mentioned, motorcycles are smaller than other vehicles on the road, and motorcyclists are much more exposed to harm in the event of an accident. Car and truck drivers and passengers are surrounded by a protective steel frame that is not afforded to motorcyclists.
When a motorcyclist needs to stop suddenly or experiences impact from another vehicle or object, oftentimes, the rider may be thrown from the motorcycle. When falling from their bike, motorcyclists may forcefully come into contact with the hard surface of the road, other vehicles, or roadside objects. Due to a motorcycle’s design, riders are much more prone to certain types of injuries stemming from hitting the road.
Such injuries include road rash, which involves small cuts and skin abrasions caused by rubbing on road surfaces or pebbles and rocks. While some road rash injuries are minor, others may remove several layers of skin, damaging the tissue underneath or even revealing bone. Motorcyclists frequently suffer arm injuries because of their instinct to catch themselves as the force of the collision throws them from their bikes.
Motorcycle accident deaths account for 14 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities, far above the percentage of motorcycles represented among all motor vehicles. A total of 4,985 motorcyclists lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in just one year.
How are damages from a motorcycle accident compensated?
The question of compensation for motorcycle accident injuries is very complicated in states that follow a no-fault car insurance system.
In a no-fault system, all drivers of registered vehicles are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. In the event of an accident, drivers must first use the coverage provided by their own PIP policy to cover the costs of medical bills and missed time from work.
The requirement may lead drivers to believe that PIP coverage also applies to motorcycle accidents, as it does in some states. However, in other states, PIP insurance does not apply to motorcycle accidents in the same way as passenger vehicles. In these states, motorcycle PIP coverage is extremely limited. The driver and any passengers are not afforded coverage by motor vehicle PIP policies, as they are in accidents involving passenger cars.
If you’re seeking compensation for your injuries in a motorcycle accident, several factors come into play. First, whether you can seek damages depends on who was at-fault in causing the accident. To be entitled to file a personal injury claim, the other party involved in the accident must have acted negligently. A party is potentially responsible if their actions contributed to causing the accident. Careless drivers can cause a motorcycle accident, as can manufacturers of defective components or repair shops that failed to repair a vehicle properly.
Drivers owe a duty of care to other drivers and the public, which includes the duty to drive safely and obey traffic laws and regulations. When a driver fails to drive safely and obey traffic laws, they have breached the duty of care owed to other drivers. Manufacturers and repair companies have a duty to manufacture safe products and repair products safely. Defective products or inadequate repairs constitute a breach of their duty of care. Behavior that represents a breach of the duty of care is negligent. If negligent behavior causes an accident, the negligent party may bear financial liability for any resulting injuries or losses.
Second, whether you can seek damages depends on the available evidence and proof. In a personal injury case, courts analyze the evidence presented to determine who or what caused an accident. The burden of proving the accident was caused by another driver or vehicle malfunction is always on the plaintiff, the party who files the lawsuit.
What constitutes proof of fault in a motorcycle accident?
Several possible forms of proof exist in any vehicle accident, including motorcycle accidents. Follow these steps to acquire and preserve that evidence.
- First, call the police or 911 after any accident in which someone is injured or killed. Officers will respond to the scene of the accident, examine the vehicles, and speak with all parties involved. Thereafter, the officers will file a formal police report, which may be valuable evidence.
- Second, if you have a smartphone and can take pictures, take multiple pictures of the accident scene. Capture photos of every vehicle, any damaged road areas or obstacles, and the area itself. Anything that could establish how the accident happened may be helpful. If you don’t have a phone, take detailed notes on what happened as soon as possible after the accident. Obviously, if you or responding EMTs decide you need emergency care after an accident, medical treatment takes precedence over pictures or notes from the scene. It is always possible, although more difficult, to gather evidence at a later time. However, failing to seek necessary medical care may cause further injury, impacting your ability to recover. Your physical health must always come first.
- Third, if any eyewitnesses observed the accident, speak with them about what they saw. If they are willing, obtain their contact information. If they do not want to be contacted later, take notes on their observations for your own record.
- Fourth, take pictures of your injuries. Some injuries can contribute to the investigation of the cause of the accident, which can lead to determinations of fault. For example, if you suffered soft tissue injuries after a rear-end accident, the driver in the rear probably caused the accident.
- Fifth, if you are not transported to an emergency department from the accident scene, seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible after the accident. Some severe and even life-threatening injuries do not immediately display symptoms. You should get an evaluation to ensure that any injuries you may have do not cause complications later. Keep all records of your visits and treatment, as these can not only provide some proof of the cause but also demonstrate the nature and severity of your injuries.
- Sixth, consult our Brockton motorcycle accident attorneys. Experienced motorcycle accident lawyers like us regularly fight for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to. When appropriate, our attorneys may work with crash scene investigators and forensic analysts to determine the cause of an accident. Once we know the cause, we can identify and pursue the at-fault party for compensation.
What compensation can I receive for my motorcycle accident injuries?
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, injured victims may be entitled to seek compensation for damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses, including doctor’s visits, surgery, emergency transport and treatment, hospital stays, prescription medication, physical therapy, medical devices, and retrofitting a home to accommodate injuries.
- Past and future lost income, if you cannot work while recovering from accident injuries.
- Pain and suffering.
If you need more information, consult our experienced Brockton motorcycle attorneys today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
Who Is at Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?
Anyone driving a vehicle in Massachusetts is responsible for following all laws and for operating the vehicle safely. This includes paying attention to traffic, speed limits, posted signs, right-of-way laws, and all other aspects of driving. Any driver, of any vehicle, who either violates the law or doesn’t drive safely can cause an accident. A driver who causes an accident is negligent.
If, for example, a motorcyclist is driving at the speed limit down a street and a driver of a parked car opens a car door directly into the motorcyclist’s path, it will cause an accident, either by hitting the motorcyclist directly or by causing the motorcyclist to stop or fall off the bike. The car driver is liable for the accident, and negligent, because drivers are responsible for paying attention to approaching traffic. (All too often, car and other vehicle drivers don’t “see” motorcycles in the same way they do cars or trucks—they don’t register the presence of a motorcycle and respond as they would do to a larger vehicle.) But that is no excuse; they are responsible for treating motorcycles as a vehicle just the same.
It is possible for all the drivers in an accident to be somewhat responsible. Massachusetts follows a comparative negligence rule in assessing responsibility for an accident. Say a car intending to make a left turn pulls out into a road as a motorcyclist is approaching, believing there is enough space to turn safely. The motorcyclist hits the car, and is going over the speed limit. A court might deem both drivers partly responsible, for turning unsafely (the driver) and for speeding (the motorcyclist).
What Compensation Could I Obtain If Someone Causes My Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcyclists should know that compensation for damages suffered in motorcycle accidents are treated very differently than car accidents under Massachusetts law. Car owners are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which pays for injuries, property damage, lost wages from work, and pain and suffering if they are in an accident under Massachusetts no-fault laws.
However, PIP does not extend to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists injured in an accident must bring a suit against the other driver for negligence to receive any compensation. A personal injury suit can recover damages for treatment of injuries, property damage, lost wages from work, and pain and suffering.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may recover three types of damages: (1) economic, (2) non-economic, and (3) punitive damages. Economic damages are intended to reimburse your actual costs associated with the accident, such as medical costs and property repairs. Non-economic damages are awarded for those things that you can’t put a price on, such as the amount of pain and suffering that you experience as a result of your injuries. Punitive damages are rare; courts only award them if a defendant’s actions qualify as grossly negligent or if a defendant acted with malicious intent.
Following a motorcycle accident, a court may award you economic damages, which often include the following:
- Current medical costs
- Future medical costs, including additional surgeries, future doctors’ appointments, and physical, occupational, and psychological therapies
- Prescription medication, including for psychological issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Current loss of wages
- Future loss of wages if you cannot work because of long-term or permanent injuries
- Replacement or repair of your property, including the bike and anything on the bike or in the saddlebags
Courts award non-economic damages for losses that do not have specific costs attached to them, including the following:
- Pain and suffering. You may receive compensation for your pain and suffering if you have long-term injuries that continue to cause pain, such as some spine injuries or traumatic brain injuries.
- Loss of comfort. A court may award you compensation if you can no longer engage in activities that you normally would do, such as cooking, cleaning, hiking, and other activities that you might enjoy doing with your family.
- Loss of consortium. A court may award you compensation if you are unable to enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of a limb. A court may compensate you for the loss of a limb, especially if the loss prevents you from enjoying life or necessitates a career change.
Can Negligent Drivers Try to Claim They’re Not Responsible?
Negligent drivers can always claim they are not responsible, unfortunately. They can say they obeyed the stop sign, were going the speed limit, did not drink alcoholic beverages before getting behind the wheel, and many other claims, regardless of what the facts might show.
Many motorcyclist accidents need to be investigated to determine the cause. The experienced personal injury attorneys such as the Noonan law firm work with investigators who can reconstruct accidents and interview witnesses. They will also gather police reports and any surveillance camera footage available.
Contact the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan After a Brockton Motorcycle Crash
The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan have decades of experience in negotiating motorcycle accident cases. We handle cases in Brockton and throughout Massachusetts. We know the value to place on damages in a motorcycle accident—and insurance companies know we do. We use our experience to get you the justice you deserve. Our initial consultation and case review are always free.
If you have sustained an injury in a motorcycle accident, call the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan at (508) 588-0422, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation with a qualified member of our legal team.
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“I was very happy with the way Brendan Noonan worked on my accident case got it done in a timely manner and was very happy with the end results.”
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