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.
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.