Motorcycle accidents are very different from car accidents in a lot of ways which often leads to very different outcomes. There are a lot of things about riding a motorcycle that are very different from driving a motor vehicle which makes the level of injury sustained by a motorcyclist much more severe. Head-on collisions could result in serious injury such as a traumatic brain injury and, without appropriate compensation, medical bills for the accident victims could spiral.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes riding a motorcycle so risky, how liability is determined in the event of a crash, and what are some of the most dangerous situations for motorcyclists. Remember, motorcycle accidents aren’t necessarily more common than car accidents but they are more likely to result in serious injury or death.
What Are the Risks of Riding a Motorcycle?
As all insurance companies will tell you, it goes without saying that there are a lot of differences between driving a car and riding a motorcycle. One of the most obvious things is that motorcycles are smaller and lighter than cars and motorcycle riders are completely exposed. This makes any substantial motorcycle crash much more likely to end in death or sustain serious injuries than car accidents and emphasizes why it’s so important for motorcyclists to wear the proper protective gear.
Here are some of the risks of riding a motorcycle that you might not have considered:
- Motorcycles are less visible to cars. Because they’re smaller, they’re easily hidden behind other cars, signs, or buildings on the side of the road. This is especially true for intersections.
- Road hazards are more dangerous. A pothole, uneven surface, gravel, or wet road may not affect a car much at all but these things can be very dangerous or even deadly for a motorcycle.
- They’re not as stable as cars. It’s simple science. Because they have two wheels instead of four, motorcycles are more likely to have trouble when braking or trying to avoid an accident.
- They’re easier to abuse. Lightweight, powerful motorcycles accelerate quickly and can achieve very high-top speeds. Most motorcyclists are responsible motorists who have obtained a special license to be able to ride but there are some who will abuse the speed and power of the bike.
How Is Liability Determined?
In most accidents, liability is determined by figuring out who behaved negligently or in a careless manner that led to someone else getting injured. Everyone on the road is expected to act reasonably carefully. If someone doesn’t and causes an accident, that person is usually found to be the one at fault.
In motorcycle accidents, it’s common for the other driver to be found negligent for simple things like not checking that the roadway was clear before making a left-hand turn or speeding through a red light. Remember, motorcycles aren’t as easy to see as cars so they’re much easier to miss if you’re not looking carefully.
Of course, motorcyclists don’t always drive responsibly, either, which is why the law requires the injured party to prove negligence.
An injured person has to show that the defendant or driver at fault was not being careful and driving like a reasonable person, that injuries or losses resulted from the accident, and that the defendant caused the injuries.
It’s also possible that both parties are at fault and the motorcyclist was not driving in a careful, reasonable manner. For example, the driver of the car may not have seen the motorcyclist because they were driving too fast or weaving in and out of traffic. In that case, the motorcyclist may get a reduced settlement or no settlement at all depending on the specifics of the situation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
There are some common situations that motorcyclists face that put them at higher risk of being involved in an accident.
While a lot of drivers might think motorcyclists are more often at fault, most motorcycle accidents result from a car striking a motorcycle. The most dangerous situation of all is when a car is making a left-hand turn and the motorcycle is either crossing the intersection, passing the car, or attempting to overtake the car. In this situation, the person making the left-hand turn is usually found at fault unless the motorcycle was speeding or otherwise behaving irresponsibly. This is a common accident scenario for two cars as well but, again, there’s a much high chance of death or serious injury if a motorcycle is the one that’s hit.
Lane splitting is another situation that can cause problems. This is when a motorcycle drives between the center of two lanes of cars that are stopped or moving slowly and is actually illegal in some states. This behavior can cause problems, even when done legally, because of how close together the motorcycle is to so many cars, the small space that the motorcycle has to move around in, and that cars just aren’t expecting a motorcycle to zip past them in that kind of traffic situation. If lane splitting is illegal in the state where the accident occurred, the motorcyclist will be found at fault for the accident because they were the party acting carelessly and breaking the law. If lane splitting is legal, determining who’s at fault in a situation like this can be a little hairier.
Of course, there are motorcycle accidents that don’t involve any other vehicles. Single motorcycle accidents usually occur when the rider is speeding or impaired. These are some of the same factors that cause single car accidents, too, but because motorcyclists are less protected, there’s a much greater chance of significant injury or death.
Stay Safe, Be Protected
If you ride a motorcycle, here’s the big picture. Regardless of who’s at fault, you’re going to be the one paying for it after an accident. Motorcyclists are much more likely to get injured or even killed in an accident than someone in a car which is why it’s important to always stay safe. Drive responsibly and wear the proper protective gear. You never know what can happen, through no fault of your own.