What Should I Know About Motorcycle Accidents?
According to the federal government, motorcycle accidents cause 35 percent more deaths in America than car accidents. Owing to these statistics, motorcyclists must take more precautions than car drivers. Motorcycles can be unstable, respond to poor weather conditions, and are difficult to see on the road. Motorcyclists may also have a passenger riding behind them or in a sidecar who could be injured.
Because of the nature of the vehicle, motorcycle accidents often lead to serious injuries or even death. The skilled New Jersey car accident lawyers at Ellis Law have more than two decades of experience protecting the rights of automobile and motorcycle accident victims in the area. Our goal is to get you back on the road as soon as possible, and we do that by providing attentive and accessible representation that meets your individual needs.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes
Left-Hand Turns: The single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists occurs when cars make left-hand turns. These collisions account for 42 percent of all accidents. Typically, the car strikes the motorcycle when the motorcycle is going straight through an intersection, passing the car, or trying to overtake the car. Drivers are looking for large vehicles that may be in their path, but often do not see the motorcycle passing through the intersection. Motorcycles could be struck during a left-hand turn if a driver does not see the motorcyclist next to them, and the driver might hit a motorcyclist who has turned right when coming from the other direction.
These accidents are common between two cars as well, but the motorcycle’s small size makes it even less visible to a turning vehicle. Motorcycles that pass cars within the same lane are even more vulnerable. Drivers do not expect, and are often surprised by, a motorcycle that seems to have come from nowhere.
Speeding: Half of the accidents involving a single motorcycle are caused by speeding or alcohol use. Motorcycles get up to speed quickly, and they can travel down the highway at the same speed as a car. A motorcycle, however, cannot stop the same way a car can stop. An emergency stop on a motorcycle could throw the rider from the vehicle, cause a crash, or cause the bike to turn over. Motorcycles also respond to steering more readily than cars. If you are speeding, hit a bump, and try to regain control of the motorcycle, you could drive off the road, be thrown from the vehicle, flip the bike, or skid violently.
Alcohol Use: Although alcohol use affects the motor skills of all drivers, a drunk motorcyclist will have less protection on their cycle and thus be more prone to an accident and/or fatal injury. As mentioned, a motorcycle rider who is impaired might make arbitrary movements that will cause the bike to react violently. Even worse is the drunk motorcyclist who falls asleep on their bike.
Collisions Between Motorcycles and Fixed Objects: Motorcycles colliding with fixed objects account for 25 percent of motorcyclist deaths and only 18 percent of car crash deaths. Because the motorcyclist is not surrounded by much protection, they will likely to be thrown from their vehicle; such accidents are more deadly for motorcyclists. Although motorcyclists may think they can swerve to miss a fixed object, they often do not see that object until it is too late.
Dangerous Road Conditions: Crumbling pavement, potholes, debris, and a lack of necessary signals or signs all increase a motorcyclist’s chance of losing control of their vehicle. Motorcycles skid readily on wet surfaces, and motorcyclists often cannot see puddles on the road if they are going too fast. Ice and snow are much more dangerous for motorcyclists, and heavy winds can knock over a motorcyclist.
Pavement ridges, road work debris, rocks kicked up by passing trucks, and broken tires can cause motorcyclists to crash, whereas car drivers may not notice these obstacles. Motorcyclists who ride the shoulder could also be thrown off their bike if the shoulder dips suddenly.
Helmet face shields can be covered with gunk from road debris, or rain might obscure the rider’s vision. Snow and bright sunlight can produce a white-out effect that temporarily blinds the rider. Slowing down or stopping is the only way to remain safe.
Inexperienced Riders: Inexperienced motorcyclists are often involved in crashes because they do not understand how to remain safe on the road. Passing your riding test qualifies you to ride the bike, but nothing can prepare you for harsh weather conditions, heavy traffic, or a car that does not see you.
Car Doors: Riders who are slipping through a parking lot or driving through stopped traffic could be struck by a car door at any time. Motorcyclists who try to speed past an accident scene could be struck by a car door when an injured driver tries to check on other people involved in the accident. Motorcyclists are advised to remain safely clear of all vehicles.
Lane Splitting: Lane splitting is a technique used by motorcyclists that is either outlawed or frowned upon. New Jersey law does not directly address lane splitting, but drivers could be cited for failing to remain in their lane or reckless driving. Lane splitting could lead to a collision when a driver wants to change lanes, does not see the motorcycle, and sideswipes the bike.
Unsafe Lane Changes: Unsafe lane changes involve weaving in and out of traffic. Motorcyclists often have the maneuverability to change lanes several times in just a few seconds. If the motorcyclist cuts off another driver, the results could be catastrophic. Even if the motorcycle makes it to their lane safely, they could cause an accident. If the rider misjudges where the car is located, they could clip the back of the bike, skid, or be thrown from the bike. If the other driver cannot stop fast enough, the motorcyclist could be run over.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
When you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you must try to collect as much evidence as you can about the crash. This can be difficult if you were riding a motorcycle, but eyewitnesses might help you. If you are involved in an accident with a motorcycle while you are driving a car, complete these steps as safely as possible.
- Call the police and/or 911
- Take pictures of the accident scene
- Check on the other drivers or riders if you can do so safely
- Collect any eyewitness accounts and ask for their contact information
- Go to the hospital
- Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible
What are My Rights?
After a motorcycle accident, it is important to know your rights and how you are protected by your insurance company. Understanding your insurance policy is a critical component when obtaining compensation, and our attorneys will review your policy. You should make sure you are covered for property damage, medical expenses, and carry personal injury coverage. We will file a claim against the other driver for the following damages:
- Personal property loss
- Medical expenses
- Continued medical care
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Pain and suffering
If either insurance company denies you coverage or attempts to minimize your damages, we will file a suit to recover all the expenses the insurance company should pay as well.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Motorcycle Accident?
You may file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of New Jersey if you lose someone in a motorcycle accident. You must, however, be an immediate family member, such as a spouse, child, or parent. If no surviving immediate family members exist, an extended family member may file a wrongful death claim if they substantially depended on the deceased. You have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim.
New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help Victims Injured in Motorcycle Accidents
If you or someone you know was injured in a motorcycle accident, the New Jersey car accident lawyers at Ellis Law will hold the negligent driver liable for injuries related to your accident and will assist you in obtaining maximum recovery and/or insurance coverage under the law. Call our office today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online for a free consultation. Centrally located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, New Jersey, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.