Free Consultations | Tap To Call Today: 1.888.625.6265

Speak to a Lawyer 24hrs a Day


Free Consultation, Call Now!

Why Are Motorcycle Accidents so Catastrophic?

Schedule Free Case Review

Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Are Motorcycle Accidents so Catastrophic?

Motorcycles, unlike motor vehicles, are unprotected from their surroundings. That means when a rider is involved in an accident, they could be hit by debris, asphalt, and even vehicles. Being so vulnerable puts a rider at high risk for catastrophic injuries – some of which could be fatal.

Therefore, it is no surprise that motorcycle accidents result in catastrophic injury claims and higher settlements than average motor vehicle accidents.

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, it is in your best interest to speak with an accident attorney. An attorney can assess the circumstances of your accident and not only determine if you have a valid claim, but aggressively fight for your right to compensation.

Looking at the Numbers: Why Motorcycle Accidents Can Be Devastating

Motorcycles are not as stable and lack the visibility of your average passenger car, but they still have high performance capacity. Therefore, they can move quicker and zoom in and out of traffic with ease. While they have that mobility, the mobility is often what hurts the rider. After all, to provide such performance capacity, the rider must be fully exposed to the elements. They do not have the protections of a passenger vehicle, including airbags, crash absorption systems, and so forth.

The full force of the impact is placed on the rider’s body. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute, the government estimates that for every one mile traveled in 2015, the number of deaths for riders was 29 times higher than the number for passenger vehicles.

Here are just some of the statistics the IIHS found in their 2016 study:

  • There were 4,976 total deaths
  • Motorcycle deaths accounted for 13 percent of crash deaths in 2016
  • The number of motorcycle deaths for 2016 doubled from the numbers in 1997
  • A high volume of those riders was not licensed to ride motorcycles
  • 40 percent of motorcycle fatalities occurred in single-vehicle crashes, while 60 percent occurred in multiple vehicle crashes
  • 91 percent of the riders killed in 2016 were male
  • 68 percent of the female riders who died in motorcycle accidents were passengers, and their deaths accounted for 92 percent of the total passenger deaths
  • 61 percent of the fatalities were wearing helmets, but helmet use was lower for passengers riding on the motorcycle
  • The average engine size of the motorcycle riders killed was larger than a 1,400 CC.

Head Trauma Is the Most Common Injury

One of the most common and devastating injuries in a motorcycle accident is head trauma. When a traumatic brain injury occurs, it can be devastating and lead to long-term complications. For some, it could lead to death.

You can see that a clear majority of riders still died from their injuries despite wearing a helmet. However, not wearing a helmet increases the risk of death in a minor motorcycle accident substantially. Therefore, all riders and passengers on motorcycles should still wear the proper helmet to increase their chances of surviving a crash.

While lower extremity injuries are also common, the most common fatal injuries occur to the head, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Lower Extremity Injuries Are Non-Fatal, but Still Catastrophic

A catastrophic injury does not have to be fatal.  In fact, many devastating injuries are not fatal, but leave the victim with long-term disabilities. Lower extremity injuries are the most common seen by Level I and Level II trauma centers nationwide.

An estimated 97 percent of those injuries were AIS 2 or higher, and a vast majority involved bone fractures and soft tissue damage. Luckily, an estimated 81 percent of patients who sustained lower extremity injuries were eventually discharged from the hospital, but the cost of those injuries ranged anywhere from $20,745 in hospital charges to as high as $56,288 per patient. These charges only reflect the immediate care after the accident, and do not even address the long-term care or other financial losses that victims sustain.

Examining the Anatomy of a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycle accidents are highly complex and involve the interaction of a motorcycle, environmental factors, vehicles, and the person riding the bike. There is no such thing as a “typical” motorcycle accident. In most cases, these accidents are violent events that result in death or disability. An ejection from the motorcycle is a common pathway to injury or fatality, because when the bike comes to a sudden stop, there is nothing affixing the rider to the bike. Also, the rider can forcibly strike any objects within the pathway of the ejection – as well as the ground.

Vehicle Versus Motorcycle: Examining the Differences

Think of your passenger vehicle, then consider a motorcycle. A motorcycle does not have the same protection or crashworthiness. Vehicles weigh considerably more and have more bulk. They also contain door beams, roofs, airbags, and seatbelts – things that a motorcycle does not have. They are stable, because they have four wheels on the ground, while a bike has two.

When a motorcycle sacrifices weight and bulk, it receives agility and maneuverability. A skilled rider can also swerve quickly, when necessary. However, in an accident situation that they cannot escape, those protections that bikes lack are glaringly obvious.

Why Motorcycle Accidents Happen

Motorcycle accidents occur for a variety of reasons, but one of the more common is a lack of control or understanding. A rider may not be able to appreciate the characteristics or limitations of their motorcycle; thus, causing their own accident.

Other times, multi-vehicle crashes are the cause. For example, a common reason for motorcycle versus passenger vehicle accidents is that a motorcycle is caught by a vehicle turning into its path during a left hand turn.

Also, a good majority of motorcycle accidents involve alcohol, whether the rider, or the driver of the other vehicle was intoxicated. Riding a motorcycle while impaired is especially dangerous, because it affects a rider’s reaction times and ability to stay balanced.

Helmets Work Despite the Trauma

While head and chest injuries are the most common reason for motorcycle fatalities, you must realize that helmets are still the single most important safety device. A helmet has a large, durable outer shell that can distribute the force of an accident away from the skull and protects it from being pierced. The inner liner is crushable and limits force by absorbing a portion of that impact. When a helmet works, it can save a victim from a lifetime of traumatic brain injury consequences.

Federal safety standards are in place for motorcycle riders and the helmets they wear. Therefore, riders should only purchase motorcycle helmets that have been federally approved. Older models often do not meet these safety standards, and they can even obstruct a rider’s view – thereby actually causing an accident.

Head-On Collisions Are by Far the Deadliest

Crashes that involve a motorcycle and passenger vehicle striking from the front are often deadlier than any other type of vehicle incident. That is because it forces the motorcycle to come to a sudden stop, which ejects the rider into the other vehicle, over the vehicle, or into standing objects. At high speeds, rarely will a rider survive a head-on collision with another motor vehicle.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting Causes Accidents Too

Lane splitting is when a rider rides in between the two lanes of traffic, such as in a traffic jam situation. Lane splitting can lead to a catastrophic accident because:

  • Vehicles are closer to the rider than they would be sharing the same lane.
  • There is reduced space between vehicles for the rider to maneuver and swerve to avoid an accident.
  • Cars do not anticipate that a vehicle or rider would be passing them in stopped traffic; therefore, they rarely look for riders.

Sometimes in a lane splitting accident the rider is at-fault, while other times the motorist could be at fault. It depends on the cause of the accident, and the laws of the state – whether lane splitting is allowed in that state or not.

Who Pays for the Catastrophic Accidents?

In a serious motorcycle accident, the at-fault party will typically pay for damages. Sadly, there are incidents where the passenger vehicle takes off or does not even realize they caused an accident. For example, when it is dark, and a motorcycle is attempting to pass a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle tries to change lanes, but doesn’t check their blind spot before doing so. The rider sees the vehicle and tries to swerve out of the way to avoid the collision, but crashes on the side of the road as a result.

The driver never noticed the rider; therefore, does not realize they ran them off the road. In this case, the motorist continues to drive away.

In instances where the driver leaves the scene, the rider’s uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may pay for the injuries until the driver of the at-fault vehicle can be found.

Regardless, catastrophic injuries may exceed a person’s insurance coverage, especially if that motorist has the minimum liability insurance coverage. While insurance is only obligated to pay up to the policy maximum, there are other ways that a victim can recover fully.

Speak with a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

If you have suffered a serious accident because of a careless motorist, you have the right to compensation for your injuries. To explore your options, you need to speak with an attorney that has experience handling the complexity of a motorcycle accident case.

Speak with an attorney from Malman Law today to get started. Schedule your free consultation 24 hours per day, seven days per week at 888-247-2160 or request more information online.

Related Posts

Why People Choose Malman Law

You’ll want your lawyers to be this good.
You’ll want our experience on your side.
  • Icon

    Credibility & Experience

    25,000+ Cases over 25 Years
  • Icon

    Track Record of Success

    25,000+ Cases over 25 Years
  • Icon

    Team of Litigation Lawyers

    25,000+ Cases over 25 Years
  • img

    They are very helpful, and when it comes to getting things done with your case I had the pleasure of working with Jason Kellerman he was awesome I highly recommend them.

    - Britany Weaver

  • img

    I’m very pleased to recommend Malman Law to my friends and relatives! I have to mention how efficient and professional in dealing with my case has been with everyone that I’ve been in contact with at Malman Law. Mrs. Sabo is outstanding as well as her secretary and assistant in responding quickly to any of my questions or concerns. This firm has gone above and beyond to keep me updated and get answers to my questions at any time, weekends included! Malman Law rules in my opinion!

    - Cheryl Wagemann

  • img

    I’ve been knowing about this Law firm for many years through friends, referrals & advertisements, never I thought I would need their services because I believed things & situations don’t happen to me like this, long story short I was in a situation that I needed help & advice!!! In the right direction, I connected with the Firm & a very patient, understanding professional woman by the name of Margie assisted me in what I needed 🙂 Thank you I will refer as I was as referred as well This firm really does care!

    - Elvira G.

  • img

    I was rear-ended by a semi-truck on my way to work. I was transported to the hospital and my car was totaled. In the aftermath, Dan Petrich and Anna Schmidt from Malman Law helped me get set up with physical therapy and negotiated with the insurance companies to make sure the resulting settlement would cover my medical bills and a rental car until I could get a new car. I would highly recommend their services.

    would do everything they could for me.

    - Tony S.

  • img

    I contacted Malman Lawafter my work injury. So professional from my first phone call. Mr. Malman’s investigator, Dan, came right out to our home. Everything was explained in detail so I know what to expect during this process. I certainly recommend anyone ever in need of a personal injury lawyer to call Malman Law. Truly the best!! Thanks, everyone!

    - Devin Jones

  • img

    Attorney Greg Lamorena was my lawyer when I slipped and fell. He kept me updated throughout the case and was always available to talk when I had questions. He is a great lawyer and could not be happier about my settlement!

    - Annie Ong

  • img

    Alexis was the attorney on my case! She kept me in the loop about everything with my case. If I had any concerns I was able to contact her and she’ll answer my questions right away. If you’re interested in working with Malman Law I would highly recommend Alexis she was GREAT. I would highly recommend Malman Law if you’re ever in need!

    - Eugenia Cathery

  • img

    They are so efficient and professional. Always available to help. Attorney Boyer was great and very good with my case. I really appreciate Malman Law. I gave them 5 stars because there is nothing higher.

    - Omolewa Snyder

  • img

    I have had an amazing experience with Malman law so far. From the start, Dan was super easy to work with, got me the medical attention I needed, and fast. Couldn’t ask for better communication. Neil Kilcoyne has been nothing but the best I could not recommend a better attorney. Malman Law is a 10 out of 10 law firm.

    - Trevor Harris

  • img

    Hi, I just want to acknowledge Jay McCarron, Kelly & the firm at Malman Law for representing me as they continue to work on my case. Thanks for keeping me updated & responding quickly to any of my questions or concerns. I would highly recommend you and your firm to friends & family. E. P.

    - Ernest Pitts

  • img

    Alexis was the attorney on my case and she was GREAT. She made sure I was updated on everything about my case. I would highly recommend Malman Law if you’re ever in need.

    - Ariel Fleming

  • img

    I had the best experience with Jason and Jay attorneys from Malman Law they really went all the way to settle my case I’m telling you there just the best!! Recommend 100%!

    - Carmen Rivera

  • img

    Adam Meadow acted as the attorney for a family member who was in a car accident. He was highly personable and actively listened to our issues throughout the litigation process. He was able to get us a settlement for the reparations of the accident. We would recommend their services!

    - Greg Gustafson

  • img

    Excellent customer service and a great experience. Malman Law handled the whole process and it was very smooth. The settlement was a great success. I would choose Malman Law again in the future.

    - Malak St.Clair

  • img

    Helped me out of a big jam when my auto was hit twice when and the other drivers had no insurance. Adam Meadow is the only Lawyer I will call for helping me and my daughter.

    - Devri Lott

  • img

    I cannot give enough praise to the team at Malman Law, for helping with my case. My children were involved in an auto collision and the attorney Adam along with his paralegal Michelle worked diligently until the matter was resolved and my entire family was happy. I would definitely recommend Malman Law for anybody going through legal troubles.

    - Adrian Lopez

  • img

    A close friend recommended me to Malman Law. I currently have a case with them due to a car accident I had and ever since the accident they have been taking care of everything for me without me having to worry about anything. They took care of the medical bills & helped me get physical therapy right away. I highly recommend them.

    - Vanessa Leon

  • img

    Bella Feinstein, Jason Kellerman, and Terry Davey have been instrumental in helping me through many difficult situations. Not only did they work to get my mom a settlement, but they have also continued to help me through the legal process of relocating my mom to a different state. I’m very grateful for their hard work and good advice.

    - Nyah Vuljanic

  • img

    This law firm is the best they got me paid and Malman Law kept in constant communication with me which meant a lot to me I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone who. In the position, they are awesome sincerely. Jeff walker

    - Jeff Walker

  • img

    Mr. Kellerman of Malman Law shows compassion for his clients. Returns calls and emails promptly, he takes time to listen to his clients, and gather facts accordingly.

    - Steve Acosta

  • img

    Everyone at Malman Law made me feel welcomed and heard. My lawyer, Adam Meadow, as well as staff, kept me up to date and were more than happy to do so! I would highly recommend their services. Also- a plus is many employees are fluent in Spanish. My experience was easy and worthwhile.

    - Adrianna Gomez

  • img

    Dan Petrich was the best man for my case of falling through my porch of an apartment I rented. He made sure I got what I deserved not only $ wise but medical wise and that my hospital bills and Dr bills were left at a $0 balance before closing my case. I was definitely happy and glad I choose him. Thank you. 5 stars

    - Jose Cruz

  • img

    Steve Malman helped me with my auto case. He quickly responded and answered any and all the questions I had. My case was a success as well as 2 other family members I recommended to him won their cases as well. Definitely a 5 star!

    - Meagan Cruz

  • img
    Malman Law goes above and beyond handling your legal injury case needs. From the first appointment through to the ending verdict my sister and brother in law were very happy with their case results. Highly recommended!

    - Eddie Villarreal

  • img

    I am very impressed with Malman Law and my experience with Tiffany Alberty. She was very professional and knowledgeable. I appreciate the great communication and never felt out of the loop. She was very patient and hard working on my case. I would highly recommend this firm. Thanks for the hard work and all your help!

    - Madissen Miller

  • img

    Malman Law is definitely professionals and skilled at what they do. Mr. Adam Meadow always kept me informed and never hesitated to answer my questions and was open to hearing my concerns. Wouldn’t think twice about referring them to family and friends. Thank you to all at Malman Law!

    - Christina Ocon

  • img

    Mailman Law, Excellent firm!! Tiffany Alberty and her assistant Margie Gallegos were super efficient and knowledgeable. Great communication—very quick response and great follow up! My case was resolved sooner than expected. I highly recommend them!

    - Adriana Martinez

  • img

    So glad I contacted Malman Law regarding my accident. Professional and caring. Thank you Mr. Malman. I most definitely recommend to anyone if you need the best to call Malman Law!!!

    - Virgil Sanner

  • img

    I really appreciated and enjoyed Yennin Calderon’s service. I called asking questions and she was so helpful. Not only did she answer all my questions and concerns. It was also a bonus that she was bilingual in Spanish! Loved the warmth she brought. Thank you!

    - Jazlyn Caraballo

  • img

    My experience with Malman Law was great. I worked with Attorney Tiffany Alberty and her assistant Margie. Both communicated what was going on with my case, explained the next steps, and got my case resolved early. I would highly recommend Malman Law.

    - Ashley Jenkins

View more testimonials

What’s your case worth? Submit for a free case review



2 years ago I was involved in a trucking accident involving a 14-wheeler truck that nearly disabled me for life. Steve fought to make sure that I received the most possible compensation for my injuries. I was about to take the insurance company’s lowball offer, but decided to call Steve first – it was the best decision I’ve made yet

NOAH TAFFELPersonal Injury Victim