Driver education courses teach new drivers how to share the road with motorcycles. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to remember this important skill as they take to city streets, country roads, and highways. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that during a four year period, nearly 55 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involved multiple vehicles.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission adds that the state experiences approximately 75 deaths from motorcycle accidents each year. Contributing factors when it comes to driver negligence include dangerous behaviors and reckless actions. Drivers often fail to take the necessary precautions when it comes to sharing the road with motorcycles. If you’ve suffered a serious injury in a motorcycle accident as the result of a negligent or reckless driver, contact a Washington personal injury lawyer without delay.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
There are a variety of reasons why motorcycles and other vehicles collide. With slightly more than half of all accidents caused by passenger and commercial vehicles, a closer analysis of these crashes is worth everyone’s time. Below we discuss where and why many accidents occur:
Intersections – Failing to yield the right-of-way when turning left is one of the largest contributing factors to motorcycle accidents. Drivers turning left often turn directly in front of a motorcycle. The NHTSA refers to intersection accidents as “looked but failed to see” (LBFTS) errors. Described as a type of cognitive blind spot, drivers are generally less observant while turning left due to one or more of the following reasons:
- Cognitive bias toward vehicle type—not looking for or expecting a motorcycle
- Motion camouflage
- Errors in perception and expectation
Intersections are the most common areas for motorcycle accidents. When a vehicle turns left in front of a rider, the motorcyclist has nowhere to go, often resulting in ejection from his or her bike.
Blind spots – Roughly 40 percent of a car’s perimeter contains blind spots. Poor mirror adjustment accounts for failing to see a motorcycle before striking it. Drivers often fail to signal before changing lanes or simply cut off motorcycles by not looking for them.
Distractions – As advances in technology continue to develop, more and more drivers are driving while distracted. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reading or sending a text at 55 miles per hour is equivalent to driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed.
A study by the AAA Foundation for Public Safety found that 58 percent of those surveyed believed talking on the phone while behind the wheel is dangerous. Another 78 percent stated that texting while behind the wheel is extremely dangerous.
Despite these findings, nearly half admitted to talking on a cellphone while driving, and 35 percent admitted to texting. The statistics for those who engage in this reckless behavior are alarming:
- Drivers talking on a cellphone are up to 4 times more likely to crash
- Drivers who text while driving are up to 8 times more likely to crash
Other distractions include programming navigational systems and the standard distractions of eating, reaching for something, or changing music. All of these behaviors amount to increased risks for other drivers, especially motorcyclists.
Motorcycle behaviors/dynamics – Drivers of passenger and commercial vehicles must allow for certain motorcycle behaviors and dynamics. Examples of these behaviors and dynamics include:
- Using their transmission to aid in deceleration instead of braking, resulting in no visible brake lights. A significant portion of non-intersection crashes involves rear-end collisions, where other drivers fail to stop behind a slowed or stopped motorcycle.
- Weaving within their lane. Most drivers do not realize that motorcyclists intentionally weave within their lane to increase their visibility in your mirrors.
- Adjusting to road conditions. Potholes are more than just annoying for motorcycles—they are downright dangerous. Road hazards often require riders to change lanes or adjust their speed to stay safe.
Drinking and driving – Washington has a legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. Alcohol often makes people feel overconfident in their ability to drive. Many drivers use excuses like that they don’t have far to go or have no other transportation. These excuses are exactly that—excuses. These drivers’ poor choice can have deadly consequences for motorcyclists, due to the force of impact, whether it’s a head-on, rear-end, or failure to yield the right-of-way accident.
Driving under the influence of marijuana – Washington decriminalized recreational marijuana in 2012; however, driving under the influence of the drug remains illegal. The legal limit for THC—the chemical compound responsible for the euphoric high associated with marijuana— in a person’s blood is five ng/ml or higher for those age 21 or older. For drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of THC in their blood.
Careless Actions Have Serious Consequences
Any single one of these actions, or a combination of several, can have serious consequences for motorcyclists. Cars have safety advantages over motorcycles, with such features as seatbelts, airbags, and a roof. Part of what makes motorcycles so enticing is the openness and freedom that riding a bike provides riders.
Protective gear can only do so much when a motorcycle is hit by a heavy vehicle, whether passenger or commercial. Riders are usually ejected from their bikes, and the consequences depend upon the force of the impact. Drivers of private cars and commercial vehicles may walk away from an accident unscathed; sadly, the same cannot be said for motorcyclists, who likely flew off their bikes and collided with the ground or asphalt.
When people choose to drink and drive or text a friend from behind the wheel, their actions are reckless and negligent. No one should suffer physically, financially, or emotionally due to the selfish and irresponsible decisions of another driver.
In our hurried, high-tech world, drivers no longer prioritize safe driving and sharing the roads with other vehicle types and pedestrians. Despite attempts by governmental officials to encourage safe driving, drivers continue to speed, text, and drink and drive. This type of risky behavior either qualifies as negligence on its own or leads to negligent behavior. Serious motorcycle accidents alter the lives of all individuals involved, but mostly the rider who suffers serious injury in the accident.
If you’ve experienced serious injuries in a collision with a passenger or commercial vehicle, contact Boohoff Law, P.A. today. Depending upon the circumstances of your case, you may recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our legal team will fight for you every step of the way.
Common Types of Motorcycle Injuries
The blunt force trauma of a motorcycle collision with a heavy vehicle is often catastrophic for the motorcycle rider. The lack of protection associated with motorcycles exposes a motorcyclist to such injuries as:
- Broken bones – Major leg and arm fractures are common in motorcycle accidents. A rider may experience one or more broken bones, requiring an extended hospital stay. Broken ribs may puncture a lung. Future surgeries and rehabilitation to regain the use of injured limbs may delay or prevent an individual’s return to employment. Motorcyclists who wear half shell helmets may experience jaw or facial fractures. The possible implications of broken bones from a motorcycle accident are almost limitless.
- Internal bleeding – Not always visible to the naked eye, internal bleeding requires image testing, like a CT scan. Symptoms of internal bleeding include dizziness, chest pain, and bruising around the abdomen. Internal bleeding is dangerous and demands immediate medical care.
- Spinal cord injury – Vehicular accidents are a common cause of spinal cord injuries. These types of injuries are either incomplete or complete, meaning there is some or no sensation below the injury point. A spinal cord injury may result in paralysis, which limits an injured individual’s ability to perform daily tasks unassisted. Power chairs and vehicle and home modifications are just a few examples of expensive needs for patients. The overall cost of a spinal cord injury ranges in the millions of dollars over the course of the patient’s lifetime.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – While helmets do save lives, riders still face a risk of sustaining a TBI during a crash, even while wearing a helmet. A severe TBI interrupts brain function and affects an individual’s behavior, cognitive skills, motor function, and sensations, like hearing, vision, perception, and touch. Sadly, the person who left home for a motorcycle ride may not be the same person after being involved in a serious accident that results in TBI. Depending upon the severity of the TBI, a patient may require a lifetime of personal care.
In addition to these serious injuries, many riders experience road rash during a crash. Any exposed skin, like a rider’s face if wearing a half-shell helmet, becomes painful and may require skin graft surgery. Infection is another risk factor when debris enters a wound upon impact.
Soon after any accident, insurance companies are quick to offer low initial settlement amounts in the hopes of closing the case. While this initial offer may appear like a large sum, there is little chance it will cover any future medical care or long-term expenses. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Contact the highly skilled lawyers of Boohoff Law, P.A. to discuss your case today.
About Boohoff Law, P.A.
Everyone deserves to travel safely throughout Washington. When a careless driver fails to share the road with a motorcycle, the consequences are often devastating for the rider. At Boohoff Law, P.A. our legal team works hard to secure fair compensation for all of our clients. We understand how insurance companies operate, and if we are unable to settle, we are unafraid to go to court.
If you cannot travel to our Seattle office, we can come to you—either at your home or the hospital. We treat all of our clients with the respect that they deserve, and we keep our lines of communication open. You never have to wonder about the status of your case, as we will keep you constantly updated.
We take great pride in our customer service and in our experience representing motorcycle accident victims. Let us deal with the details of your case so that you can concentrate on your rest and recovery.
The truth is, better driving behavior and awareness could prevent many collisions with motorcycles. Until drivers take more responsibility for sharing the road and refrain from reckless behavior behind the wheel, motorcycle riders remain in danger.
Contact Your Washington Motorcycle Crash Lawyers at Boohoff Law
To schedule a free evaluation of your case, call Boohoff Law, P.A. at (877) 999-9999, or contact us online. Time is of the essence; the sooner we review your case, the sooner we can decide upon the best course of action for you.
No matter how defensively you drive, you can’t predict the actions of every other driver. A crash occurs in seconds, but the physical, financial, and emotional impact may never end. Protecting your rights and pursuing justice is where we can help. Extensive injuries require more than a low dollar insurance settlement; rather, they require compensation that will cover your past, current, and future medical expenses, as well as other costs that you’ve incurred as a result of your injuries. Our litigation experience comes with a clear understanding of Washington law as it applies to personal injury cases.
Every case is different. That’s why our legal team needs to review your case as soon as possible. We must closely examine the details contained in every eyewitness statement, the police report, and any medical records. Gathering this information takes time, as do the negotiation and litigation processes.
A motorcycle accident is a sudden event that you never expect to happen to you. When it does, the aftermath can cause overwhelming stress and anxiety. Worrying about how to pay your bills and dealing with physical pain is all too much, particularly if you are also trying to negotiate with insurance companies and handle the details of your personal injury claim on your own.
Let the lawyers of Boohoff Law, P.A. go to work for you. We work hard for our clients, and we value the trust that they place in us. No one should suffer due to the reckless and negligent behavior of another driver.
Washington is a beautiful and scenic state for riding a motorcycle. When someone takes that ability away from you because he or she chose to drink and drive or failed to yield the right-of-way, contact us. We’ll get to work reviewing your case and answering your questions immediately. Pursue justice for you and your family today by reaching out to Boohoff Law, P.A.