Operating a motorcycle can be inherently dangerous, but when the condition of the highway puts motorcyclists at a much higher risk, then the government should be held responsible for any resulting injuries or death. A motorcycle accident lawyer can help you navigate your way through litigation, if you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of highway conditions.
Q. How common are motorcycle fatalities?
A. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011 nearly 4,700 motorcyclists were killed as a result of motorcycle accidents. This was a 2% increase from the prior year. A recent study performed by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), shows that motorcycle deaths increased nearly 9% in 2012. This was the highest overall traffic fatality increase reported, following a steady trend over the last 15 years. Regrettably, motorcycle riders are still one of the few groups of motorists that have shown no progress in increasing safety, over the last decade.
Q. How can I avoid an accident when a car turns left in front of me?
A. This is probably the most common motorcycle accident scenario. The driver of a car does not see you, or does not judge your speed accurately and turns in front of you at an intersection. Regardless of whether the cause is distraction or a blind spot, it happens. In some cases, automobile drivers simply perceive the absence of another car as opposed to the presence of a motorcycle.
The only way to avoid this situation is to be more observant. Unfortunate for motorcyclists, you need to develop a sort of “sixth sense.” Put another way, you need to know how to recognize the signs that someone may turn in front of you. For example, if there is a car at an intersection waiting to turn or a gap in traffic near an intersection, driveway or parking lot, be careful. Slow down, cover your brakes and get ready to take evasive action.
Q. What should I do if I hit an unstable surface?
A. If you have ever unexpectedly run into a patch of sand, gravel, leaves, or any other unstable surface while on your bike, you know the horror of wiping out as soon as your front tire hits it. Obviously, the best way to avoid this is not to hit the unstable surface. But, if you are on an unfamiliar road, the only way to do that is to ride at a pace that will allow for an appropriate reaction time.
Q. What can I do if I enter an unexpected corner too fast?
A. You’re trying to negotiate a curve, but you realize that it is tightening on you and you’re probably not going to make it around. The trick is to only ride as fast as you can see. You need time to be able to use visual clues such as telephone poles and signs to judge a road’s direction, especially when that road is disappearing over a hill. But if you find yourself in that situation, the best thing to do is trust your bike and ride it out. Take as much lean out of the bike as possible, look where you want to go and control the bike as smoothly as possible.
Q. How do I handle it when a car changes lanes into my path?
A. Another common scenario is when a car unexpectedly moves into your lane, into the space you are occupying, as if you weren’t there. The unfortunate reality is that motorcycles fit far too easily into automobile blind spots. Add to that the fact that most drivers are looking for cars and aren’t “programmed” to see motorcycles. In order to avoid these situations, you must be aware of blind spots lie and stay out of them as much as you can. The rule of thumb is, if you can see a driver’s eyes in their mirror, then they can see you on your motorcycle.
Q. What if a car opens its door unexpectedly?
A. Suppose you see a gap in traffic between a line of parked cars and a line of traffic that isn’t moving, and you decide to scoot through. Suddenly, a driver in a parked car swings her door open right in front of you. Obviously, the best way to prevent this type of accident is to never ride between an active traffic lane and parked cars. Even if the active lane of traffic is at a standstill, you should never do this. Not only do you have to worry about opening car doors, but also pedestrians, cars pulling out into traffic slightly in order to see, but also many other unavoidable or unpredictable situations. All you could possible do in this situation is brake as hard as you can, and pray.
Q. How do parties value a potential motorcycle accident case?
A. Valuing a case means coming up with a best guess at what a jury might award the person suing (the plaintiff), and also guessing what the person being sued (the defendant) would be willing to pay. It also means figuring out what the plaintiff would ultimately be willing to accept to settle the case before trial. That’s a lot to keep track of. But the two biggest factors in valuing the case are the extent of the plaintiff’s damages — meaning how bad the motorcycle accident was and how significant the resulting injuries are — and how likely the jury is to find the defendant liable (at fault for the accident).
Q. What kinds of damages can I expect?
A. Estimating the potential outcome of a motorcycle accident case is quite difficult for one main reason: at trial, it will most likely be a jury that ultimately decides just how much money the defendant must pay the injured motorcyclist. Some personal injury damages, like medical bills and lost wages, are easier to predict because “concrete” costs like these will mostly be based on the amount the plaintiff demonstrates he or she has paid or lost and/or will continue to pay or lose. For subjective, less concrete damages like “pain and suffering,” predictions are at best an educated guess based on awards in similar motorcycle accident cases in the past. Because every case and every jury is different, even the best analysis will still only predict pain and suffering damages within a broad range.
If you have questions or concerns regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.