Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
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 Accident and Injury Lawyers have 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 Accidents in the Carolinas and U.S.
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.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
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:
- Turning left in front of an oncoming motorcycle
- Following a motorcycle too closely
- Changing lanes or turning without seeing the rider
- Drunk driving
- Erratic behavior, like sudden lane changes
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.
Types of Motorcycle Crashes and How They Happen
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:
- Read the road in front of you – keep an eye out for cars behaving erratically, speeding, or engaging in other risky behavior, as well as any other road hazards. If you see them, slow down and stay as far away from them as you safely can.
- Stay to the right. If a right lane is available, it keeps you farther away from the center line if a car crosses it.
- Reduce speed. Going slower will make it easier to stop or maneuver if you see a car heading your way.
- Ride off-road when you can. There are fewer vehicles, resulting in less 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:
- Tailgating or getting too close to other vehicles from the side.
- Speeding, or alternating between speeding up and slowing down.
- Slowly wandering into the next lane, then correcting. (Sometimes this is also a sign of a distracted driver. Either way, keep your distance!)
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:
- Be able to identify the other driver. Getting a license plate number is ideal, but accidents are not ideal. Sometimes motorcyclists are victims of a hit-and-run crash and never get a chance to see the plate number. If you didn’t get the license plate number, try to write down the car’s description (and the driver’s, if you happened to get a look at them). Write down anything you can think of that might help the police identify the driver, no matter how small. Even if the police are unsuccessful at finding the other motorist, your motorcycle accident lawyer will try to track them down. Sometimes our investigators are able to seek out more witnesses who can provide additional information.
- If the other driver has been identified, you will need to demonstrate that it was their negligence that caused your accident and resulting injuries. (In North Carolina, you will need to go so far as to show that the crash was 100 percent the fault of the other driver. In South Carolina, you will need to show that it was at least 51 percent the other motorist’s fault.)
- In this situation, proving negligence can be difficult, but your attorney will work hard to find all evidence. This may include canvassing the area where the accident happened to find more witnesses, interviewing known witnesses again, looking at traffic cam footage from the area, or seeking out bystanders who may have taken video of their own. We may also look at electronic data from either your bike or the other vehicle.
Damages Available After a Motorcycle Collision
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:
- Medical bills past and future. Medical care can be expensive, and health insurance may only cover some of it. Because motorcycle accidents often cause multiple serious injuries, you may have many expensive bills from your crash. It’s also important to consider future medical expenses when you’re still in treatment.
- Lost wages from missed work. It’s hard to go to work when you’re in the hospital, or if you work a physically demanding job and suddenly find yourself on crutches, etc. Some people quickly use up their sick days, which is an economic loss in itself, and then they have no income until they can return to work. If they’re out of work for several weeks or months, this can quickly become financially devastating.
- Out-of-pocket expenses for prescriptions, parking, etc. We go over these with our clients to ensure nothing is missed. If you had to buy mobility aids, like a wheelchair, or home accommodations, these are valid medical expenses. You may also have travel costs if you have to visit a specialist far from where you live.
- Pain and suffering. Injuries from a motorcycle accident can cause both physical and mental pain and suffering.
- Permanent disability or disfigurement. You should seek additional compensation if your injuries have led to a permanent disability, such as losing a limb or the ability to walk, or disfigurement like severe scarring.
- Mental anguish. People can experience anguish for numerous reasons after an accident, including their physical injuries, the trauma of the accident, or the loss of a loved one who was also in the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. If your injuries have left you unable to take part in the things you usually enjoy, either because of a physical injury or a mental health issue like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, you deserve compensation for that loss.
- Funeral and burial expenses for deceased accident victims. If you lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, you might also file a separate wrongful death claim.
How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
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.
Contact a Lawyer at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation
You have nothing to risk by speaking with a lawyer. An attorney from Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers 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.