Operating any type of motor vehicle can be dangerous because there are a lot of irresponsible drivers on the roadways, but some vehicles are inherently more dangerous than others. Motorcycles, for example, can be particularly dangerous because you do not have anything surrounding you to absorb an impact, like you would if you were in a car.
The body of the car provides protection to the car’s occupants during a car accident and helps keep them inside, but a motorcycle does not afford that type of protection. When you are involved in a collision while riding a motorcycle, there is nothing separating you from the object you are impacting, and this can result in a very serious injury or even death.
As a motorcycle rider, you have probably heard the same lecture about wearing a helmet over and over again. However, even if you choose to listen and wear a helmet, this cannot prevent all motorcycle injuries, especially in very serious accidents. Contusions, broken bones, face injuries, burns, arm, leg, and feet road rash, and other very serious conditions can easily occur when there is nothing protecting the rest of your body from the road, other vehicles, poles, and anything else that you may come into contact with in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, choosing to ride a motorcycle brings on these risks and dangers automatically, and there is not much that you can do to prevent them other than safely operating your bike. But because there are other dangerous drivers on the roadways, being as safe as you can possibly be while riding your motorcycle is no guarantee of safety.
Motorcycle Accident FAQ
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you undoubtedly have a lot of questions. Here are the answers to some of the questions most frequently asked.
What makes motorcycles more dangerous than cars?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that motorcycle riders are about 28 times more likely to die in an accident than the occupants of passenger cars. Some of the reasons that motorcycles are so dangerous include:
- Less protection than a car: Motorcycles lack the natural occupant protection characteristics of a car, such as a roof, door beams, seat belts, and airbags.
- Less stability: Motorcycles, with just two wheels, are less stable than cars, meaning that there is an increased risk of accidents caused by road hazards such as potholes, uneven lanes, or slick conditions.
- Less visibility: The drivers of passenger cars or commercial vehicles have a hard time seeing motorcycles, particularly at night, leading to accidents caused by cars turning into the motorcycle or into its path.
- Lane splitting: This dangerous practice involves a motorcycle riding between and within the same lane as cars that are slowed or stopped due to traffic. State law prohibits lane splitting.
- Lack of training or licensing: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 27 percent of motorcyclists killed in crashes in 2015 were riding without valid motorcycle licenses, indicating that some of these motorcyclists did not go through the training and/or test of skills that would be required when obtaining a motorcycle license. Georgia law requires motorcyclists to obtain a motorcycle license.
What is the most common cause of accidents for motorcyclists?
According to a report from Ride Apart, the most common type of motorcycle accident is drivers making left-hand turns into or into the path of motorcycles. Drivers often don’t see motorcyclists before beginning their turn. Speeding by either the motorcyclist or another motorist and alcohol impairment also are common causes of motorcycle accidents. Information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that approximately one-quarter of all of the motorcycle riders killed in crashes in the United States is alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash. About 30 people die in alcohol-related vehicle accidents in the Atlanta area every year.
What are some common injuries suffered by motorcyclists?
Motorcycle injuries can be quite serious, and may include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Head trauma is the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents.
- Spinal cord injuries, which can lead to complete or partial paralysis and even death.
- Limb amputation
- Severe muscle damage
- Burn injuries, which can be caused by gas tank spillage. Burn injuries increase the chance of infection and permanent scarring
How can I pay for the injuries I suffered in a motorcycle accident?
Motorcyclists who are injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence often wonder how they’re going to be able to afford the mounting cost of medical treatment, the loss of wages and future earning capacity, long-term care for catastrophic injuries, and other expenses associated with their recovery. Georgia is a “fault” state, meaning that the first resource to turn to for compensation for your injuries is a third-party claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance. If the at-fault party’s insurance carrier delays or denies your claim or fails to offer a reasonable settlement based on your current and future medical needs, then there also may be the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit in court if your accident occurred within the personal injury statute of limitations, which is two years.
What must I prove to win my motorcycle accident case?
As with other types of personal injury cases, a successful outcome to your motorcycle accident case involves proving negligence. In order to establish negligence, you must show:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. If the at-fault party is the driver of another vehicle, the duty of care would be to obey traffic laws and to operate his or her vehicle in a safe manner.
- There was a breach in the at-fault party’s duty of care.
- This breach in care resulted in the accident, which caused the damages you are seeking to recover.
If I am partially responsible for my accident, can I still sue the other at-fault party?
Georgia practices a modified comparative negligence standard. What this means is that even if you are partially responsible for the accident that caused your injuries, you may still file a claim against other at-fault parties as long as your own liability is not 50 percent or more. However, any damage award you obtain through that claim will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility you bear for the accident.
If my loved one died in a motorcycle accident, is there any way to recover damages?
You may be eligible to recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. State law defines wrongful death as the death of a person caused by the negligent, reckless, intentional or criminal acts of another person or entity. Those eligible to file a wrongful death claim include:
- The decedent’s spouse
- The decedent’s children
- If there is no spouse or children, a claim may be filed by the decedent’s parents
- The personal representative of the estate
Some of the damages that can be recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Lost wages and benefits, including those that the deceased person reasonably would have earned if he or she had lived
- Loss of care and companionship and other intangible losses
- Medical expenses related to the deceased’s final injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Conscious pain and suffering that the deceased endured before death
Wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the deceased’s date of death.