Riding a motorcycle in any city is dangerous, because no matter how loud the bike is, how big it is, and how bright the light is, many people just do not see motorcycles. That can lead to terrible crashes and exorbitant medical bills from catastrophic injuries—and the need to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer to pay for them.
For example, on a sunny spring day, one man lost his life when another driver allegedly didn’t look before he crossed the eastbound lanes of a road while turning left, presumably into a plaza. The man who lost his life was riding a motorcycle, and the man who allegedly took his life was in a pickup truck.
Witnesses stated that there was no other traffic around and that the weather was clear—in other words, there is no reason that the driver of the truck could not see the man on the bike.
Massachusetts Motorcycle Crashes
Across the commonwealth, 2019 saw 1,694 motorcycle accidents. In the first month of 2020, 13 motorcycle accidents took place, according to Mass.gov. Of these, 45 of the accidents in 2019 were fatal, while one in 2020 was fatal. In 2019, of the 1,694 wrecks in 2019, 1,211 had non-fatal injuries, while seven wrecks had non-fatal injuries in 2020. Additionally, 384 crashes resulted in property damage in 2019, and five with property damage only in 2020.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Sometimes, motorcyclists, especially younger riders, are partially at fault for an accident. However, most bikers are careful, knowing that a motorcycle accident could mean catastrophic injuries or death. No matter how careful you are, the risk of wrecking is higher than when you ride in a car, and the risk of serious injury or death is higher than the risk of injuries in a car crash.
Motorcyclists must be more alert when in traffic, driving in poor weather conditions and must be more aware of maintenance issues. Causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Worn tires. When the tire gets low on tread on a car or a motorcycle, it is dangerous to drive, especially if it’s raining or snowing. However, it’s inherently more dangerous on a bike because you only have two wheels.
- Blowouts. When a motorcycle tire blows out, whether from poor maintenance or because the driver hit something he or she didn’t see, the chances of dumping the bike is very high. It takes great skill to keep the bike upright when you have one tire, especially the front tire, that is sending the bike from side to side. Even riders who have been riding for many years have a hard time controlling a bike with a blown tire.
- Stalls. Anything that could cause the bike to stall becomes dangerous. If the bike stalls in traffic, other drivers may not notice it and could run into the bike. An inexperienced rider could panic and dump the bike after it stalls. Even trying to coast to the side of the road, if you have to cross lanes, is dangerous because other drivers just don’t see something as small as a bike.
- Other drivers. The biggest bane of motorcycle riders is other drivers. They do not look for motorcycles, so run them over. A driver might pull out from a stop when the biker has the right of way, T-boning the driver. When passing a motorcycle, a driver might merge in front of the bike so close that it causes the motorcyclist to ram into the back of the driver. If a driver is passing a vehicle, he or she often does not see the motorcycle in front of the vehicle he or she is passing and merges into the motorcycle. And, because a motorcycle does not take up most of a lane, a driver could merge into a motorcycle on a multi-lane highway if the other driver needs to merge to the right to get off a highway or just to get into the right lane. A driver could also merge left to pass someone on a multi-lane highway and merge into a motorcyclist passing him.
Even with bright lights, drivers often say that they “just did not see” the motorcyclist. Thus, a biker must take every precaution when riding, and must be extra alert for other drivers.
Injuries You Could Suffer in a Motorcycle Accident
Because a motorcyclist has very little protection, he or she is more apt to suffer major or catastrophic injuries, or even death, in a motorcycle accident. Injuries could range from:
- Death. Because of the very little protection a rider has, he or she could suffer death from head trauma, internal bleeding, spinal cord injuries, and more.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Even with a helmet, a rider could suffer from traumatic brain injuries if he or she hits his head hard enough. However, a proper DOT-approved helmet lessens the risk of traumatic brain injuries.
- Head, neck and shoulder injuries.
- Spinal cord and back injuries.
- Broken bones, including simple and compound fractures.
- Soft tissue damage, including sprains, strains and pulled muscles.
- Bumps, bruises, scrapes, and cuts.
Because of the lower level of protection a rider has, he or she could also suffer from disfigurement. Deep scrapes or burns could leave scarring.
An injured motorcyclist, or the family of someone who died in a motorcycle accident, may collect certain damages from the person who caused the accident, including economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages include things that you come out of pocket for, such as past and future medical expenses; past and future lost wages; medical aids; replacement or repair of personal property; cognitive, physical and psychological therapies; and funeral and burial expenses.
Non-economic damages do not have a set amount assigned to them, and often include pain and suffering; disfigurement; loss of consortium; loss of companionship; loss of use of a body part or function; and inconvenience.
Punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant’s behavior is grossly negligent or intentional. This type of damage is not to make the injured whole again, but to punish the defendant for his or her actions.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, or you lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, speaking with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney is one of the best ways to protect your rights.