Motorcycles invite the thrill of the open road. They can also be involved in major vehicle accidents that cause severe injuries and even deaths.
After a devastating motorcycle accident, injured victims may have substantial medical bills and other costs, known legally as damages. These victims — or their surviving family members — can pursue a claim to recover all of these damages with the help of a motorcycle accident lawyer.
A motorcycle accident attorney representing your case will help you pursue all available forms of compensation from all potentially at-fault parties. Taking legal action is often necessary so that victims can recoup all of their costs, not just some of them, and fully repay their medical bills and other damages.
Auger & Auger has been representing motorcycle accident victims and their families for over 25 years. We have assisted with countless motorcycle personal injury cases, including some that involve wrongful death or defective product claims.
You deserve to have a fighting chance at obtaining full compensation. If you or a close family member has been involved in a motorcycle crash, you can call us at (855) 969-5671 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your possible case.
Motorcycle riders are vulnerable, and drivers of other vehicles on the road are often too careless to notice them.
Data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation shows that 3,135 motorcyclists were injured and 139 were killed in crashes in the state during 2017. There were also 1,079 accidents involving mopeds, scooters, and other two-wheeled vehicles. 87% caused injuries, and 3% were fatal.
Similar data from South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety reveals that there were 2,349 motorcycle accidents in the state in 2017, leading to 1,741 injuries and 122 deaths.
Nationwide, motorcycle accidents have been on the rise. 2016 data for the entire U.S. states that 5,286 deaths occurred in 2016 — the equivalent of 14 fatal accidents every single day.
Fatal and injury-causing collisions with motorcycle riders can happen for various reasons. When these reasons relate to negligent behaviors, such as breaking the law or driving aggressively, then motorcycle accident victims may have the grounds for a liability claim for their bodily injuries and other damages.
Common reasons negligent drivers collide with motorcyclists include:
Other negligent reasons include property owners, construction workers, or other parties allowing dangerous conditions to remain on the roadway.
A motorcycle accident lawyer will examine the circumstances of your crash to determine all potentially liable parties.
Sometimes you do everything you can to stay safe, but other people on the road don’t do the same! Not every accident can be avoided, but driving defensively can help reduce the risk. Here are some common situations we see and ways they can potentially be avoided in some instances:
Vehicles Turning or Getting Over Into The Path of a Motorcycle
These crashes more commonly involve drivers turning left, usually while turning at an intersection or out of a driveway or parking lot. The driver thinks the way is clear, but the car is then broadsided by the motorcycle. In many cases, the car driver isn’t badly hurt, but the biker is severely injured.
Right turn accidents also happen, and may involve trucks or larger vehicles that swing wide when making a right turn. In a big truck, a motorcycle in the right-hand lane is easy to miss. Avoiding other drivers’ blind spots, especially those in large trucks, is always helpful when riding a motorcycle. Never attempt to slide past a semi-truck on the right when approaching an intersection, just in case the trucker makes a last-minute lane change or turn.
The number one reason for both types of turning accidents is because the vehicle driver didn’t see the motorcycle. Sometimes this is caused by distracted driving, like eating or looking at a phone or GPS. But in other cases, the motorist was paying attention to their driving and still failed to notice the bike. Mainly this occurs because motorcycles are relatively small and difficult to see – but that doesn’t mean drivers shouldn’t take responsibility for seeing them. “Look Twice, Save A Life” is a campaign started to help vehicle drivers remember to look more carefully before turning. Doing so can reduce the risk of pulling out in front of a biker.
As a motorcyclist, it is also helpful to wear reflective gear or get some for your bike, so you can be more visible on the road in general. Driving with your lights on when visibility is poor, such as on cloudy or foggy days, is another good idea. Also, keep an eye out for traffic gaps, especially those near an intersection or driveway, as these may indicate a vehicle is about to turn. Slow down if you see someone looking around like they’re going to turn or change lanes or waiting to turn at an intersection, just in case they don’t see you.
Unfortunately, these accidents are very likely to be fatal or cause serious injuries to the biker. In fact, more than half of motorcycle accident fatalities can be attributed to head-on collisions. A driver who crosses the center line may be drunk, drowsy, distracted, or having some sort of problem with their vehicle. Motorcyclists should consider the following “Four R’s” recommendations from the National Safety Council to reduce the risk of a head-on collision:
Accidents Involving an Intoxicated Driver
This can be either the motorcyclist or the vehicle driver – no one should drive when they’ve been drinking. If you notice any of the following signs of an intoxicated driver, proceed carefully and give the other driver a wide berth:
Lane Switching or Splitting Accidents
As a motorcycle rider, it can be tempting to want to cut between slow-moving or stopped vehicles. But this practice, called lane splitting, can be dangerous for a biker. Often it leaves you in other vehicles’ blind spots, and it can be hard to respond if someone starts to pull out toward you due to limited space between lanes. Although it’s not illegal under North Carolina law, lane splitting is discouraged, and for a good reason. It’s better not to do it at all, but if you do, go slowly and keep an eye on the mirrors of cars nearby you. If you can’t see the driver, they can’t see you. For their part, drivers stuck in traffic should look very carefully before attempting a lane change.
Turning Corners on a Motorcycle
This can be riskier than turning corners in a car, especially if you are going too fast or turning too sharply. Sometimes a biker can be thrown off balance if they take a corner too fast. This situation may also be made worse if the bike encounters some sort of disruption in the road, like loose gravel, water, ice, snow, sand, debris, etc. Use caution when turning corners and be on the lookout for any disturbances in your path.
No Contact Accidents
Another possible situation occurs when a motorcycle is technically involved in a “single vehicle” accident. This may be what the accident report says. However, the driver may report being run off the road or getting into a wreck because of another vehicle. For example, if another driver suddenly swerves into the biker’s lane, the biker may swerve to avoid hitting it but go off the road or lay down their bike, leading to injuries. Or they may crash into an object like a tree or streetlight, which can also cause them to be hurt. A bike is much easier to destabilize than a car, and the biker is more likely to be injured because there are no seat belts or airbags to protect them.
If another driver’s negligence caused you to get in a motorcycle crash, you can seek compensation from them. However, you will need to do several things:
After your crash, your attorney will file a personal injury claim against any at-fault driver’s insurance companies and other potentially liable parties. In rare cases, this claim will proceed to a lawsuit and court trial or arbitration to seek compensation for all damages caused by the accident. However, most cases can be settled out of court.
A successful motorcycle accident claim will include damages for any or all of the following:
You want to be very careful when dealing with insurers because they have a strong financial motivation to reduce or deny claims. Some insurers may attempt to prove that you were partially or fully responsible for your accident.
In a contributory negligence state like North Carolina, being just 1% responsible for the accident can prevent your ability to pursue compensation (with rare exceptions). In South Carolina, a comparative negligence state, you can still pursue a claim if you were 49% or less at-fault for the incident, but your damages awarded will be decreased according to your percentage of fault. Either way, the insurance company benefits if they can make you out to be at fault.
Insurers may also dispute the extent of your injuries or whether all treatments were “necessary.” Always be wary of making statements or releasing documents to insurers. Decline to make a recorded statement since anything you say could later be used against your case.
Instead of dealing with insurers on your own, you can appoint a personal injury lawyer. Your motorcycle accident attorney will negotiate with insurers on your behalf and file all necessary paperwork involved. Their knowledge of the law will allow you to build a strong case and back it with evidence from your crash scene as well as from the testimony of experts.
You have nothing to risk by speaking with a lawyer. An attorney from Auger & Auger can assist you with filing your claim and, if necessary, a lawsuit against all potentially liable parties. They will explore all of your available legal options to help you obtain the maximum amount of compensation available under the law.
To speak with one of our motorcycle accident lawyers for free during your no-obligation initial case evaluation, call us now at (855) 969-5671 or contact us online.