According to NHTSA data from 2019, 34% of motorcycle accidents are fatal. This translates to 5,014 motorcycle fatalities that year, with another 84,000 injuries. For the vehicle miles traveled in 2019, motorcycle fatalities were nearly 29 times more common than passenger car fatalities. In a motorcycle crash, there is an 80 percent chance of injury or death (426 per 100,000 vehicle miles traveled), versus only 20 percent for passenger vehicles.
Although motorcycles are more likely to be involved in accidents than closed vehicles, this doesn’t account for the large difference in fatality rates on its own. There are other factors, such as differences in DUI stats – the Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that 27 percent of motorcycle riders involved with a fatal accident are driving while intoxicated.
However, in situations where the motorcycle is in a crash with a closed vehicle, the other driver may be at fault. A very common cause of fatal motorcycle crashes is failure to yield on the part of the other driver. In the year 2019, the NHTSA reported that nearly half of all fatal motorcycle/passenger vehicle crashes occurred when the passenger vehicle was making a left turn and failed to yield to the bike. This in itself can have other causes, such as the turning driver dealing with distractions, speeding, or being intoxicated. But another common scenario is when a driver who turns in front of a motorcycle insists they just didn’t see the bike. The relatively small size of motorcycles does make them more difficult to see, and motorists are encouraged to “look twice and save a life.”
Many motorcycle riders think their insurance covers all their costs, but often this is not the case. Under North Carolina law, motorcycles should be covered by insurance that provides at least $30,000 for bodily injury claims, and up to $60,000 per accident. If you’ve ever had to deal with medical bills after an accident, you may realize how insufficient this is in many situations. Even one surgery may leave you in debt by more than $30,000!
In many situations, you may be able to file a suit against the other driver’s insurance. You can ask for damages including medical bills, lost income from missing work while injured, loss of consortium or the ability to enjoy your life, pain and suffering, and wrongful death if you lost a loved one in the crash. However, the insurance company is likely to argue that you as the motorcycle’s driver contributed to the crash in some way. This is because of a North Carolina law that states if the victim is even a small percentage at fault for an accident, the insurance company doesn’t have to pay anything at all.
Fortunately, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer may be able to argue against the insurance company’s claims and secure your compensation. To find out if you have a case for your accident, please contact us online or call 800-559-5741 for a free consultation.