How Motorcycle Accidents are Different from Car Accidents
News stories of motorcycle accidents are all too common on our roads. Last month, a 27-year-old man died after hitting a concrete sign in Greenville on his motorcycle, and a 43-year-old-man died after striking a mailbox and tree in Greer. Earlier this year in April, a Spartanburg police officer died from injuries after hitting a car while on his motorcycle. These are just a few of the fatal motorcycle accidents that happen on South Carolina roads every year.
Like all motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accidents can cause injury, death, time off work, and reduced quality of life. What makes motorcycle accidents different from car and truck accidents is the higher level of risk associated with riding motorcycles and how those claims are fought after an accident happens.
Motorcycles are associated with higher risks compared to cars and trucks
Some quick facts about heightened risk of motorcycles:
- The average number of motorcyclist fatalities in the U.S. was 4,644 per year between 2009-2014.
- Motorcycles make up just 3% of registered vehicles but motorcyclists represent 14% of all motor vehicle fatalities.
- The NHTSA stated that for the year 2013, “Per mile driven, fatality rates for motorcyclists were 26 times that of passenger vehicle occupants.”
Why is it so much riskier to ride a motorcycle than to drive a car or truck? A few reasons.
The design of the motorcycle itself makes riding riskier, as there’s no chassis, and no advanced safety features, to offer protection in case of an accident. Relaxed helmet laws in South Carolina undoubtedly lead to higher rates of fatalities and brain injuries than would otherwise occur. The motorcycle’s smaller profile also makes it more difficult for other motorists to see, causing collisions between motorcycles and cars. Finally, aggressive tendencies or distracted driving of car and truck drivers often place motorcyclists at greater risks on the roadways. Drivers of an enclosed vehicle are significantly more likely to be distracted or otherwise divert their attention from the roadway than someone operating a motorcycle.
Motorcycle accidents may be more devastating and more difficult to fight
Injuries may be more devastating. Beyond the higher risk of death after an accident, motorcyclists are at higher risk for certain kinds of injuries, including road rash, TBI, and amputated limbs.
There may be a bias against motorcycle riders. Unfortunately, despite evidence to the contrary, motorcyclists sometimes are painted with a negative reputation as daredevil drivers. If a case goes to court, lawyer should be prepared to fight against this potential misconception that may be held by some jurors.
Understanding safe operation of a motorcycle. Those same jurors who already think motorcyclists are reckless drivers may not understand certain safety maneuvers motorcyclists make on the road before an accident. This may be because, in part, it is not how the driver of a car would behave. In order to achieve a favorable verdict and recover fair and just compensation, a lawyer may suggest offering expert testimony from a witness qualified in the areas of motorcycle operation, human factors, and/or accident reconstruction.
Insurers may fight liability harder in motorcycle-involved accidents. Insurance companies understand in cases of disputed liability that a motorcyclist often faces an uphill battle in making a case to recover damages for personal injuries. Arguments can be made and witness testimony may be taken into account, but these cases may need specialized expert testimony from third parties to clarify issues and support a plaintiff’s case. At The Carolina Law Group, our lawyers have handled motorcycle injury and motorcycle death cases that have involved significant expert witness opinions and testimony.
Get Representation for Your Motorcycle Accident Case
If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, don’t try to settle with the insurance company yourself. Call the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Carolina Law Group today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. Call one of the numbers below or fill out this contact form.
The Carolina Law Group has four offices in upstate South Carolina for your convenience: Greenville (principal office; call 864.312.4444), West Greenville (864.312.4444), Greer (principal office; call 864.757.5555), and Spartanburg. Call today.
 Source for this stat and other stats in this section – from the GHSA, based on NHTSA and DOT data: http://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2016-12/motorcycles_2015.pdf