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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclist fatalities occur roughly 27 times more frequently than passenger car occupant fatalities.
Even if a crash is non-fatal, riders often sustain more severe injuries than drivers of the vehicles that hit them due to their comparative lack of protection. These life-altering injuries can cause extensive physical damage, immense financial strain, and tremendous psychological distress. Therefore, it is critical for those who have experienced a motorcycle collision to promptly seek legal advice from competent injury lawyers.
Do not talk to the other person’s insurance company before you’ve contacted a lawyer. Their lawyers can use anything you say against you to avoid responsibility for your injuries.
Motorcycle crashes can result in devastating and debilitating damage to the rider. Some of the most common examples of these injuries include:
- Road rash and other abrasions/lacerations.
- Broken bones, torn ligaments (ACL, MCL, etc.), nerve damage or joint damage.
- Whiplash, neck pain, facial injuries such as broken teeth.
- Various kinds of traumatic brain injuries, commonly known as TBIs.
- “Non-visible” damage such as internal bleeding or damage to organs.
- Spinal cord damage, including partial or full paralysis.
Following the Law
Motorcycle riders must follow traffic laws, including adhering to all speed limits, properly using lanes, and maintaining proper following distances between your motorcycle and other road users.
Ohio has some specific laws regarding motorcycles that could potentially impact a claim for compensation after an injury (reasons the insurance company would claim you were the negligent party). These laws may require that you:
- Ride facing forward in a permanent or regular seat or saddle.
- Ride sitting astride the seat, with one leg placed on each side of the motorcycle.
- Only carry a passenger in an attached or regular seat.
- Only carry as many passengers as the motorcycle is designed for.
- Have handlebars that are no higher than your shoulders.
- Have a working headlight and brake lights.
- Have one or more mirrors that provide a clear view behind you.
- Have working turn signals (so long as the motorcycle was built after January 1, 1968.)
Movies and TV shows often unfairly cast motorcyclists as reckless. However, the drivers of traditional-sized cars are most likely the cause of collisions that involve motorcycles. Studies conducted as part of the famous "Hurt Report" determined that drivers of regular-sized cars were nearly three times more likely to be responsible for these types of accidents than motorcycle riders—largely due to a lack of awareness of motorcyclists on the road and various careless maneuvers that fail to account for them.
Common causes of motorcycle accidents that are not the fault of the motorcyclist include:
- Being struck by flying objects (such as cigarettes and other litter).
- The phenomenon, known as “windblast”, occurs from larger vehicles passing by.
- Being struck by a vehicle following too closely or merging.
- Being struck by a vehicle’s extended or oversized mirror.
- Being struck by a drunk driver.
- Poor road conditions, i.e., a pothole or loose manhole/sewer grate.
- Even some mechanical failures—which would involve a “product liability” claim against the manufacturer of the motorcycle.
Ohio's "At-Fault" System
Thus, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you must be able to demonstrate that another party was at fault to hold them liable. Drivers will frequently attempt to absolve themselves of such liability by blaming the victim or other motorists instead.
Ohio applies the doctrine of comparative negligence (Ohio Revised Code § 2315.33). The doctrine of comparative negligence means that several drivers may share liability for a single injury incident, and determining that responsibility depends on the extent of their fault.
In Ohio, if you are found to be greater than 50% percent at fault, you are prohibited from obtaining any compensation for your injuries.
* If you are injured while not wearing a helmet, this could negatively impact your claim and potential compensation. If you were legally required to wear a helmet and you were not, this may be considered contributory negligence.
Fortunately, injured motorcyclists have a right to seek full compensation from all negligent parties involved. When you bring such a claim without an attorney, you will be fighting a large, sophisticated auto insurance company that profits by reducing the value or not paying claims at all.
The standard personal injury statute of limitations will apply to a claim alleging negligence by another driver. This means that a plaintiff generally has only two years after the date of the injury to file suit.
What if I’m Injured?
1.) If seriously injured, seek immediate medical attention.
2.) Call the police.
3.) Try to get information from any drivers that were involved. Ohio law requires the exchange of information in all accidents that result in damages.
4.) Take photos of everything relevant at the scene, road, and weather conditions, all vehicles, etc.
5.) Get any information you can from witnesses (including those who may have seen the things that led up to the accident).
6.) Keep a record of all medical expenses.
7.) Consult a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible.
8.) DO NOT communicate with the other vehicle’s insurance carrier.
Brian Reddy has a demonstrated ability to litigate and successfully resolve motorcycle injury claims. He loves to ride his own motorcycle and is dedicated to protecting other riders. To learn more about what we can do for you, please contact us today to request your free initial consultation. We handle motorcycle injuries and other personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis. That means we only get paid if you receive an award.