There are over 3,000 motorcycle crashes in Pennsylvania involving a motorcycle every year. Although this seems like a somewhat small number, consider this — 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents result in death or injury. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycles are 27 times more likely than cars to be involved in a fatal crash over the same distance traveled. And unfortunately, the majority of these accidents are out of motorcyclists’ control.
Motorcycle accident involving a passenger car. Source: Wikipedia
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycles are the most vulnerable vehicles on the road, both because of their size compared to other motor vehicles and the fact that they share high-speed roadways with these larger vehicles. This contributes to the fact that 75 percent of all motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle, usually a passenger car. Of these accidents, two-thirds involve the other vehicle violating the motorcycle’s right of way — 42 percent of overall motorcycle deaths involve a vehicle making a left turn into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
Some of the most common motorcycle accident scenarios include the following:
- Left turn accidents
- Unsafe lane changes
- Distracted driving
- Following too closely
- Driving under the influence
Who We Represent
Both motorcycle riders and their passengers can have their lives negatively impacted by an accident. While it may be difficult to separate the events of a traumatic incident like a crash, our lawyers have the experience and knowledge to take over and make sure all the boxes are checked.
- Motorcycle drivers: The high risk of serious accidents is a regrettable consequence of the thrill and freedom offered by motorcycles. Even the most careful operator may find themselves injured in an accident due to the negligence of the driver of an automobile or another vehicle on the highway. If you or a family member were injured while driving a motorcycle, please contact us for assistance.
During the course of your representation, we will get your medical records, review the parties involved for liability and negotiate with any applicable insurance companies. We know that injuries sustained during a motorcycle crash can be severe and that your first priority is healing. We will work to ensure that you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
- Motorcycle passengers: A motorcycle passenger can also be injured or killed in an accident. It’s an extremely unfortunate ending to what should be a fun experience with a friend or family member. There are any number of scenarios which can result in injuries to the passenger.
If the driver caused the accident, their insurance policy will cover compensation. PA law requires motorcycle drivers to carry insurance. Their policy will include bodily injury protection which will allow you to get compensation for the injuries that you suffered.
If a car causes the crash, they can be held responsible for your costs. If they have insurance and they are found to be at fault, their policy will cover the costs of your medical expenses. If they are underinsured, which means their insurance policy coverage limits will not pay all the costs related to your injury, then the driver must be sued in a lawsuit to recover the additional costs from them.
Source: Piqsels.com, shared under Creative Commons Zero license
Motorcycle Helmets: The Law and Their Use
Pennsylvania has what is often referred to as a partial helmet law. It requires that any person on a motorcycle must wear a helmet (“protective headgear”) unless he or she is over 21 and has either two years of riding experience or has complete an approved motorcycle safety course. To comply, a helmet must meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards. It will have a DOT sticker centered on the back of the helmet.
Close to one-third of those involved in motorcycle accidents do not wear helmets, and as the saying goes, helmets save lives. NHTSA data has found that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal crashes — meaning that for every 100 helmetless motorcycle fatalities, 37 lives would have been saved had everyone been wearing a helmet.
This figures into a question of liability called “contributory negligence.” States handle the question of whether the failure to wear a helmet reduces or eliminates the liability of another party under doctrines of comparative or contributory negligence. Please consult with one of our personal injury attorneys for additional information on how Pennsylvania handles compensation for individuals who are not wearing a helmet.
What Should You Do Following a Crash?
The most immediate concern is tending to any injuries. Once the injuries of all involved have been addressed and stabilized, it’s important to do the following:
- Lodge a police report
- Take photos of the accident scene, the vehicle(s), other contributing factors and any injuries you or your passenger have
- Keep records of your injuries and medical treatment
- Keep a record of other damages, such as days missed from work
- Never give a statement or supply information to anyone other than your own doctor and your insurance company – you are not obligated to speak with the other driver’s insurance company
- Do not accept a settlement offer from an insurance company until you have consulted with a lawyer
Frequently Asked Questions
How common are motorcycle accidents?
Nationwide, motorcycle accidents cause over 5,000 deaths and about 100,000 injuries per year.
Do motorcycle accidents usually involve high speeds?
The average speed of a motorcycle prior to an accident is 29.8 mph, and only 21.5 mph at the time of impact.
How many crashes involve vehicular malfunctions?
About 3 percent of motorcycle accidents are caused by a problem with the vehicle itself — mostly punctured tires.
How often are environmental causes responsible for crashes?
Roadway defects like potholes are responsible for 2 percent of overall crashes, inclement weather causes another 2 percent, and animals cause crashes 1 percent of the time.
Is motorcycle riding the most dangerous form of transportation?
According to the CDC, the rate of serious injury per hour horseback riding is much higher than motorcycle riding — higher even than auto racing.
Motorcyclist after crash. Source: Wikipedia
When to Consult with an Experienced Accident Attorney
At McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt, we have over 30 years of experience in litigating auto accident cases. We take all motorcycle accident injury claims on a contingency basis, and will only charge you attorney fees if we are able to obtain financial compensation for your losses.
McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt welcomes clients from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania communities near and far. To schedule a meeting for a free consultation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-800-590-4116.