Here we’ll discuss some safety precautions while riding a motorcycle on public roads, and what to do if you were injured by a negligent driver.
For many people, riding a motorcycle is both a convenient way to travel and a hobby. They enjoy the freedom and excitement of this means of transportation and we can safely say that being a motorcyclist is a lifestyle. However, as the large number of motorcycle accidents proves, it is also a dangerous lifestyle. Fatal crashes take the lives of thousands of motorcycle operators every year or leave them with severe, life-changing injuries. If you were hit by a motor vehicle while riding your motorbike, contact an Arlington motorcycle accident attorney at Michael Kelly to understand your legal options.
We know how severe motorcycle injuries can be and how expensive the medical treatment is to recover or, at least, to reach the point of maximum medical improvement. We strive to recover the maximum compensation in motor vehicle accident claims for injured motorcyclists. We also know that, without expert legal representation, you may be sidelined by the at-fault driver’s insurance company and receive only a fraction of the compensation you are entitled to.
However, we also know that it is important to reaffirm motorcycle safety rules and the role of helmet laws in our state to reduce fatal motorcycle accidents and the number of tragedies.
Motorcyclists Are the Most Vulnerable Users of Public Roads
You have your motorcycle license and your vehicle and you believe you’ve won the lottery. In reality, you should start being more careful and responsible than ever. Statistical data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that in 2020 no less than 5,579 motorcycle rider deaths occurred on public roads across the US.
Other statistical data collected by the Insurance Information Institute show that:
- 83,000 motorcyclists were injured in the United States in 2020
- most crashes resulting in motorcycle deaths occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- 32% of motorcycle riders involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents were under the influence of alcohol
Another aspect that makes motorcycle riders vulnerable on the road is the failure to wear a motorcycle helmet. In Massachusetts, wearing a helmet is mandatory for all motorcycle operators. As we will show later in this article, petitions to introduce more lax helmet laws led to serious consequences in other US states. Yet, even with the risk of penalty, many riders flout the law and the most effective safety tips, sometimes with tragic consequences.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
As any Arlington motorcycle accident attorney knows, fatal crashes between motorbikes and passenger cars are mostly caused by negligent car drivers. The motorcycle is a small vehicle, which may not be visible at high speeds and which offers its operator no protection.
A motorcycle crash is usually caused by:
Open Car Doors
Sadly, many severe accidents are caused when a car is stopped and the driver or passengers open the doors, hitting an oncoming motorcyclist. Thus, one of the simplest thing car occupants can do to avoid this type of motor vehicle crash is to look behind them along the lanes of traffic before opening the door.
Motorcyclists are often in the blind spot of car drivers. Even if there is no traffic light or any traffic signs, all drivers should be careful when changing lanes, especially in heavy traffic. Any sudden maneuver may cause fatal accidents.
Driving under the Influence of Alcohol or Illegal Drugs
Drunken driving or motorcycle riding are prohibited by law. Alcohol impairs the senses and reflexes and can lead to car, pedestrian, bicycle, or motorcycle fatalities. The combination of a vehicle’s speed makes any accident extremely severe, with terrible consequences for a motorbike rider, who benefits from no protection from their vehicle.
Riding a motorbike between two opposing flows of traffic lanes is not only illegal in Massachusetts, but also dangerous. As any Arlington motorcycle accident attorney can attest to, many motor vehicle deaths among motorcycle riders are caused by a lane-splitting crash. This type of traveling requires extremely advanced driving ability, where it is allowed by law.
Both driving and riding a motorbike above the speed limits can lead to motorcycle fatalities. This type of crash is even more serious when there is a big gap between the vehicle weight rating of the car and motorbike, like an SUV hitting a lightweight motorcycle.
Despite distracted driving laws that prohibit texting and driving, many people continue to use their mobile phones while they are behind the steering wheel. This form of driver distraction contributes to a large percentage of motorcyclist deaths, as well as other fatalities in traffic crashes.
3 Safety Precautions for Motorcycle Riders
Now, let us focus on the main purpose of this article: making motorcyclists aware of what they need to do to avoid any motor vehicle incident or reduce the risk of severe injuries.
1. Always Wear a Motorcycle Helmet
Helmets save lives. As promised, we will give a brief explanation of why strong helmet laws are effective. A motorcycle safety handbook prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the immediate effect of lax helmet laws in Florida. In 2000, the Sunshine State decided that only motorcycle operators under 21 years old and those who carry less than $10,000 in insurance had to wear a motorcycle helmet. The result was a 55% increase in motorcycle driver deaths and a 40% increase in motorcycle crash-related hospitalization.
Wearing a properly fitting helmet, approved by the Department of Transportation, is the first and most important safety tip for any motorbike rider. The helmet should cover the entire face and carry the logos that prove it was made in accordance with the standards set out by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, cheap and flimsy-built helmets of substandard quality offer little protection.
2. Stay Visible on Public Roads
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and other authorities constantly remind both car drivers and motorcycle riders of the importance of being aware of every type of road user. Unfortunately, as we explained above, motorcycles may get into a driver’s blind spot, especially in the case of large vehicles (SUV, truck, van).
To prevent this, motorbike riders should never drive too close to lane markings on the side of the car and should wear brightly colored and high-visibility clothing over their protective gear. A high visibility vest is especially important while riding a motorbike during the night.
3. Obey Traffic Laws
You must hold a valid license and have proper insurance to ride a motorcycle on the public roads of Massachusetts. Always obey traffic signs and signal any intentions to change lanes or take a turn. Also, make sure that all the important parts of your motorbike are working properly, including:
- the brake lights
- the parking brake
- the regular brakes
All these can help prevent motorcycle driver deaths. Also, if you were injured and you need an Arlington motorcycle accident attorney, you must know that the right to seek compensation is conditioned by being less than 51% at fault for your accident.
Not wearing a helmet or failing to stop at a red traffic light, as well as any violations of traffic laws on public roads represent your contribution to the crash. And insurance companies will definitely add up the numbers and try to make you the main person responsible for the accident.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
Despite your best efforts to stay safe, you may be hit by another car. In this case, you should do the following:
1. Call 9-1-1
You should notify the accident to the police and seek emergency medical attention. In most cases, the ambulance crew will recommend taking you to a hospital for investigations and treatment. Do not refuse them, because you may have suffered serious injuries, even if they are not visible or you do not have worrying symptoms.
Any medical expenses will be added to your insurance claim and recovered by your Arlington motorcycle accident attorney.
2. Document the Accident Scene
Whenever a traffic accident happens on public roads (even single-vehicle crashes), the police must investigate the circumstances. However, you should not rely only on their accident report. You should also photograph the accident scene, paying particular attention to your injuries, the damages to your motorbike, and the position of the other car.
3. Do Not Talk to the Insurance Adjuster
A large percentage of motorcycle riders do not receive the fair compensation they deserve after a crash. Unfortunately, there is an ongoing bias across the United States against motorcycle riders. They are deemed to be reckless by nature, thus, by default responsible for their accidents. And insurance companies take advantage of this unfair attitude to offer accident victims very low settlement amounts or even deny their claims.
For this reason, you should not discuss anything with an adjuster. They are skilled at twisting your words into self-incriminating statements. Just tell them that your Arlington motorcycle accident attorney will be in contact with them shortly to file your claim.
4. Hire an Experienced Arlington Motorcycle Accident Attorney
At Michael Kelly, we fight to seek justice for all motor vehicle accident victims. If you were injured while riding your motorcycle by a negligent driver, we will make sure that you receive the fair compensation you deserve.
Remember that in our state the statute of limitations (the period of admission for any personal injury legal action) is 3 years after the date of your accident, so schedule a free case review with us as soon as possible: 1-800-LAW-GUYS!