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What Happens if a Road Hazard Causes My Motorcycle Accident?
No matter how careful you are on your motorcycle, you can still get into an accident. Along with careless and negligent drivers and adverse weather conditions, road hazards cause many motorcycle accidents each year. Since motorcycles travel on two wheels and are much smaller and lighter than most other vehicles, they are more vulnerable to certain road conditions that would not affect cars and trucks as much.
Although you may worry about holding someone liable for your injuries, you may have options for obtaining compensation if a road hazard caused your motorcycle accident. Depending on your case and the road hazard involved, you may pursue compensation from local or state governments or other parties who created the conditions that led to your crash.
To learn of your options for pursuing compensation, get help filing your claim, and recover damages from the at-fault party, consult an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Various road hazards can cause motorcycle accidents. Hazards can arise due to poor road conditions, inadequate maintenance, or the actions of other road users.
Road hazards that can endanger motorcyclists include:
Potholes. Potholes occur when the road surface deteriorates, leaving irregular holes in the pavement. Motorcycles are more vulnerable to potholes than cars. Hitting a pothole can cause loss of control, instability, or even a crash.
Debris. Debris can cause motorcycle accidents—leaves, rocks, tree limbs, or other natural objects that blow into the road. However, many times, debris can come from people littering or cargo falling off a vehicle. Debris can cause motorcycle accidents if the motorcycle strikes the object or the biker loses control when trying to avoid the hazard. Debris can also injure motorcyclists if it hits them when falling off a truck or bouncing off the road.
Uneven pavement. Uneven pavement can result from road construction, weather, or poor maintenance. Sudden changes in the road surface, such as height variations, ruts, or bumps, can endanger motorcycles, leading to loss of traction and control. One common example is the so-called edge break between lanes on a highway or interstate, where crews left one lane’s pavement higher than the other.
Road grooves. Some roads have grooves intentionally placed in them to channel ice, snow, or rain away from the road and create more traction for vehicles. Unfortunately, grooved payment can significantly reduce the motorcycle’s stability.
Gravel or loose road surface. Loose gravel or other debris can reduce traction, making it easier for a motorcycle to slide or skid. We find these hazards on rural roads, construction zones, or areas that road maintenance neglected.
Oil or fluid spills. Oil, coolant, or other fluids spilled on the road can create slippery surfaces, particularly on wet roads. Motorcycles have less stability and traction than four-wheeled vehicles, making them more susceptible to losing control on oil or fluid spills.
Insufficient or obstructed signs. Missing, unclear, or obscured signs can lead to confusion for motorcyclists, especially when it comes to speed limits, curves, intersections, or other road conditions. Inadequate signs can increase the risk of accidents, as riders may not have sufficient warning or information to drive safely.
Construction zones. Construction zones often leave uneven pavement, changes in road layout, reduced lane width, and other hazards. Inadequate signs or poorly marked construction zones can increase the risk of motorcycle accidents.
Lack of guardrails or barriers. The absence of guardrails or barriers in certain areas, such as sharp curves, steep slopes, or near bodies of water, can increase the risk of motorcycles running off the road or colliding with hazards.
Animal crossings. Wildlife crossings or areas with frequent animal activity can endanger motorcyclists. Collisions with animals, such as deer or smaller wildlife, can cause severe injuries or loss of control.
Improperly marked or designed intersections. Inadequate intersection markings, unclear right-of-way indications, or poorly designed intersections can lead to confusion and increase the risk of motorcycle collisions.
Railroad crossings. Motorcyclists should always cross railroad tracks perpendicularly to avoid getting the motorcycle’s tires caught in the tracks. Even if a motorcyclist exercises caution and tries to cross the tracks properly, they can still get into a crash because of wet or slippery tracks or maintenance issues around the crossing.
Expansion or bridge joints. Many roads and bridges contain expansion joints to prevent cracks from forming in concrete. However, some expansion joints have wide gaps that can catch a motorcycle’s tire and cause the biker to crash.
Reporting hazardous road conditions to the appropriate authorities can improve safety for all road users.
If a road hazard caused your motorcycle accident, the facts and circumstances of your case will determine your options for pursuing compensation. Contact a motorcycle accident attorney immediately for a review of your case and advice on your options.
Who Is Liable if a Road Hazard Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
Determining liability if a road hazard caused your motorcycle accident will depend on the hazard that caused you to crash and whether any party bears responsibility for it. Your ability to pursue compensation may also depend on the jurisdiction where the accident occurred and other specific circumstances.
That said, some possible parties you could hold liable for your motorcycle accident injuries include:
Governments or municipalities. If the road hazard resulted from negligent maintenance or improper design of the road, you may have a claim against the responsible government entity. This can include cases involving potholes, uneven pavement, inadequate signs, or other dangerous conditions that contributed to the accident. However, filing a claim against a government entity often involves specific procedures, shorter time limits, and potential immunities, so consult with an attorney experienced in governmental liability.
Third-party liability. If a third party caused the road hazard, such as a truck that spilled cargo or left an object on the road, you may have a claim against the responsible party. This could include construction companies, maintenance crews, or individuals who negligently created the hazardous condition. In such cases, you may pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party or their insurance company.
Insurance claims. If you have motorcycle insurance, your policy may cover damages resulting from road hazards. You can file a claim with your insurance company to seek compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, property damage, and other losses.
Regardless of the circumstances, consult a personal injury attorney with motorcycle accident claim experience. They can evaluate your case, assess liability, gather evidence, and advise you on the best course of action to pursue compensation for your injuries and damages. Furthermore, you need a lawyer who understands your state’s laws regarding comparative or contributory negligence, as they can have a substantial impact on your ability to obtain compensation. Your attorney can explain these laws to you and offer a realistic opinion on your ability to get compensation.
The legal process for motorcycle accident claims based on road hazards can vary, and the outcomes depend on your situation. An attorney can protect your rights and advocate for you if the insurance company or at-fault party blames you for the crash.
What Types of Compensation Can I Receive?
Motorcycle accidents can cause serious, life-altering injuries to bikers and their passengers. In the worst cases, motorcyclists die from their injuries. If you suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, you have likely incurred substantial medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs, and may need to miss work while you recover.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, who caused the crash, and other factors, you could recover:
Economicdamages. To cover the financial losses you incurred, such as:
Loss of earning capacity
Physical therapy and rehabilitation
Costs to repair or replace your motorcycle
Non-economic damages. To cover the intangible losses you incurred as a result of your injuries, including:
Pain and suffering
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Loss of enjoyment of life
If the motorcycle accident killed a close family member, you may also receive compensation for funeral expenses and burial costs, medical expenses, loss of consortium, and other damages through a wrongful death claim.
What Should I Do After a Road Hazard Caused My Motorcycle Accident?
Despite the trauma and fear immediately following a motorcycle accident, take these steps to ensure your safety and well-being and protect your rights and legal interests:
Get medical treatment. This goes for you as well as your passengers. If the accident caused serious injuries, call 911 and get victims to the hospital. Even if you don’t feel seriously injured at the scene, get a medical exam as soon as possible. Some internal injuries may not show symptoms right away, or you may need imaging tests to determine the extent of your injuries. Regardless, you will need documentation you suffered injuries and received treatment to file an injury claim.
Document the scene and your injuries. Take photos or videos of the crash scene and document as much evidence as you can. Document the road hazard that caused your wreck and any road signs that may have contributed to the crash, or their absence. Photograph your motorcycle’s damage as well as your injuries and anything else you feel contributed to the cause or result of the accident. Keep copies of all this information in a secure location.
Report the accident. You must, by law, report any accident involving injuries or death. Call local law enforcement to the scene. The police will draft an official report of the accident, and you will need this when you file your claim.
Get witness information. Obtain statements from any witnesses to the crash and get their contact information. This could help determine the cause of the crash and establish liability.
Get insurance information. Get the contact and insurance information of any other drivers involved in case you have to file a claim with their insurer.
Notify your insurance company. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with the necessary details and cooperate with their investigation. However, do not discuss the accident. Consult your attorney before providing a recorded statement and let your motorcycle accident lawyer handle all communications with the insurance company.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney
As soon as you can, consult a personal injury attorney who has experience handling motorcycle accident claims, particularly those arising from road hazards. A lawyer can evaluate your case, determine liability, and guide you through the legal process. They can also protect your rights, gather evidence, and deal with insurance companies. A personal injury attorney in Tampa can fight for you and increase your chances of obtaining the fair compensation you deserve for your motorcycle accident caused by a road hazard.
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