Whether you own a motorcycle or you love to ride on the back of one, you are already aware of how dangerous they can be. Regardless of how responsible and cautious you are on the road, all it takes is a split second of distraction or a reckless driver to cause a severe accident.
Motorcycle rider fatalities occur 27 times more often than deaths in other vehicle crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Whether you have been involved in an accident or you are concerned about your rights if you are involved in one in the future, it is vital that you understand the facts. Some of these facts might be a given, while others could surprise you.
Your best defense from being taken advantage of by the insurance company is to know everything possible. Naturally, you should speak with a motorcycle accident attorney as well to explore your options and protect your rights.
Throw out what you think you know about motorcycle accidents, because these facts might surprise you. From the causes of accidents to the party at fault to the internal injuries, review these before you go back out for your next ride.
Motorcycle helmet laws vary depending on where you live. But here in Illinois, there is no helmet law for any kind for motorcycle. Illinois is one of the three states to have no motorcycle helmet usage laws. While you could legally ride down I-90 wearing no helmet, you should reconsider.
NHTSA has heavily researched the use of motorcycle helmets and found that helmets have saved more lives in motorcycle accidents than incidents without a helmet. They also periodically publish an estimate of lives saved by wearing helmets. Using the 2003 data, they estimate that 1,060 lives were saved because of helmets and an additional 1,644 deaths could have been avoided had they worn helmets.
So, while the state might not require their use, wearing one could significantly change the outcome of an accident if you are involved in one in the future.
A study by Brown University found that older riders suffer more severe injuries than younger riders. In the study, they cited that declining vision and reaction times combined with the heavier, larger bikes older riders favor, increases the chance of more serious injury. The heavier bikes can roll easier. And because the body becomes more fragile as it ages, the weight of those bikes can lead to harsher injuries.
According to the HURT study, three-fourths of motorcycle accidents involved a collision with another vehicle – usually with a passenger vehicle.
Only one-fourth of the accidents analyzed in the study involved a single vehicle accident where the motorcycle collided with a fixed object or crashed due to road conditions.
Motorcycle riders often learn from family, friends, or they are self-taught. A vast majority of accidents involve riders with no formal training. One study found that the more training and experience a rider had, the less chance of a fatal crash.
More than half of the analyzed motorcycle accidents also involved riders with fewer than five months experience riding, and the total street riding experience added to three years among the accident victims.
Accidents involving motorcycles revealed that 73 percent of those riders had no eye protection. Therefore, their eyes were exposed to debris including dirt, bugs, and pebbles. It is likely that their unprotected eyes led to vision impairment, which reduced their reaction time and could have caused the accident.
Even the most experienced rider might be surprised to find out that in the average accident scenario, there are less than two seconds allotted to react before the collision. Therefore, it is even more critical that you are fully aware of your surroundings and never distracted, because you have less than two seconds to use an evasive maneuver.
Motorcycle accidents cost $16 billion in direct costs, including property damage, productivity losses, insurance costs, medical costs, emergency services, and the cost of litigation, according to the Government Accounting Office (GAO).
Motorcycles have a more complex stopping mechanism than the average passenger vehicle. When bikes do not have ABS, the rider can brake too hard, forcing their wheels to lock and the bike to turn over. Riders that have bikes with ABS do not have that risk, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) founds that the risk for an accident on a bike with ABS is much lower than the same model bike without ABS.
Motorcycle riders have no vehicle sides or airbags to protect them. Therefore, the injuries in a motorcycle accident are going to be more traumatic than a passenger vehicle incident. The rider’s bike and body tend to absorb most of the impact. And while head trauma is common – especially without helmet use – that is not the only type of injury a rider can sustain.
In fact, other common injuries that can be just as severe include:
While there are the apparent physical injuries, do not forget the mental anguish and emotional trauma that stems from a motorcycle accident. These accidents are especially traumatic, and there is the risk of a victim developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms of PTSD can vary. But for a motorcycle rider involved in a catastrophic accident, these symptoms might include irritability, fearfulness, difficulty sleeping, inability to get into a motor vehicle, mood swings, panic attacks, and depression.
Intersections are dangerous for motorcycle riders, and approximately 50 percent of motorcycle versus vehicle accidents occur there. Vehicles might unexpectedly turn in front of a motorcycle or pull out of a side street or driveway, which does not give the rider enough time to react. Also, some intersections have limited visibility due to parked vehicles, buildings, and shrubbery – therefore, you should cross with caution.
You might assume that if you are riding through a neighborhood at a casual 20 miles per hour the chances of a serious accident are minimal. It is true that slower speeds mean more reaction time, but that does not mean you should be careless or ride through assuming you are not at risk.
Not all accidents happen because of speeding or at higher speeds in general. There are numerous reasons motorcycle accidents occur. Some common causes include:
Most motorcycle accidents, like car accidents, occur during short trips such as running to the store, riding to work, or on your way home from work.
It is not just operators of passenger vehicles that can cause crashes due to alcohol consumption. Almost half of the fatal accidents involving motorcycle riders involved alcohol. The injuries in motorcycle accidents increase significantly when alcohol, speed, or heavier bikes are involved.
After a severe motorcycle accident, you need an attorney ready to fight for your rights and secure the compensation you need to recover. Motorcycle accidents can leave you permanently disabled and suffering from long-term medical complications. You need an attorney that understands the complexity of these types of cases and one that will fight for fair compensation.
To explore your options, speak with an attorney from Malman Law today. We will meet with you for a free case evaluation, and there is no fee unless we recover in your case. Call to schedule your appointment at (888) 625-6265 or send us a message online.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023