What You Need To Know About Motorcycle Crashes
In many parts of the country, motorcycle traffic begins declining in September and October as the weather turns markedly cooler. But here in the Sunshine State, motorcycle riders are out practically twelve months a year. Unfortunately, this means that motorcycle accidents continue almost unabated year round as well.
Because they are completely exposed to the dangers of oncoming traffic, motorcycle riders are thirty times more likely to die in car crashes than persons inside four-wheel vehicles. This statistic also speaks to the severity of the nonfatal injuries involved in these incidents, such as broken bones.
What Causes Motorcycle Crashes?
Nearly every vehicle driver who has ever struck a motorcycle rider has said something to the effect of “She came out of nowhere” or “I never even saw him.” Indeed, according to the seminal Hurt Report, the majority of vehicle-motorcycle collisions occur when the vehicle tries to make a left turn against traffic and crosses directly into the motorcycle rider’s path.
These scenarios increase both the risk of a collision and the force of that collision. Typically, drivers in these situations are waiting for a momentary gap in the oncoming traffic rather than inspecting the traffic itself, so they are not looking for motorcycles. Moreover, most drivers suddenly accelerate across traffic to take advantage of the slight gap, so if the drivers hit motorcycles, the collisions are especially violent.
When the Hurt Report appeared, most four-wheel traffic consisted of small coupes and sedans. The left-turn visibility issue is even more acute today, because large visibility-limiting vehicles, like SUVs and pickups, dominate most Florida roadways.
Motorcycle Crash Injuries
Over the last several years, as motorcycle fatalities have climbed, the average victim age has increased as well. Typically, older drivers are more cautious and conservative than younger operators. Ironically, it appears that this dynamic has increased motorcycle injuries rather than decreased them, as slower and more cautious riders are apparently less visible than their younger and somewhat more reckless counterparts. Some of the serious injuries include:
- Road Burns: These large, deep abrasions are almost impossible to treat with anything other than rest, and they significantly impair mobility while they slowly and painfully heal.
- Head and Neck Injuries: Helmets do not protect necks in impacts and they cannot prevent the sudden jarring motion, much like an egg yoke hitting the inside of an eggshell when the egg is shaken, which often causes head injuries.
- Internal Injuries: The same violent motion causes internal organs to bump and grind against one another, creating deep abrasions that are difficult to detect and rectify.
Due to the serious nature of the injuries, motorcycle crashes are usually exempt from the no-fault law, so victims are automatically entitled to both economic and noneconomic damages.
When a tortfeasor (negligent driver) crosses in front of a victim, insurance company lawyers often try to assert the last clear chance defense. This doctrine excuses negligent conduct (which in this case is a failure to yield the right-of-way) if the victim had a reasonable chance to avoid the collision, yet failed to do so.
But motorcycles are not nearly as maneuverable as four-wheel vehicles, because they are harder to control and balance. Moreover, since the tortfeasor usually accelerates suddenly into a left turn, a collision is almost inevitable. It’s important to remember that, for the last clear chance rule to apply, the victim must have the last clear chance, which is not the same thing as the last possible chance.
Rely on Tenacious Lawyers
Motorcycle crashes almost always cause serious or fatal injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.