There were 24 motorcycle fatalities in Wyoming in 2016. There were 22 fatalities in Idaho. As motorcycle accident lawyers, we help people in both states. Many people don’t know, but motorcycle fatalities increased in 2016. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, motorcycle fatalities increased 5.1% nationwide from 2015. There are a couple of distinguishing features that make a motorcycle accident different than a car crash. From our experience, motorcycle injury cases are different from auto injury cases in several ways.
Who caused the motorcycle accident
Often a motorcycle accident isn’t the rider’s fault. The motorcyclist was doing nothing wrong. The driver of the other vehicle doesn’t see the rider and hits the motorcyclist. Maybe the car failed to yield the right of way. Maybe the car came into your lane without signaling. Maybe the car in front slammed on its brakes causing you to lose control. Also, people spill stuff on the road and cause accidents. You might come around a corner and see a mattress in the middle of the highway. Stuff happens.
The extent of the injuries
Motorcycle accidents frequently cause severe injuries. A motorcycle rider is 29 times more likely to die than a passenger in a vehicle, according to NHTSA. The injuries aren’t always the ones the public expects. If you’ve got full leathers and a helmet, depending on how you lay the bike down you may skid for a while and walk away. On the other hand, it’s easy to break your back. The way the helmet protects your head can cause neck and spine problems. If you’re in a wreck, make sure your doctor is taking care of you.
There is a negative public perception about motorcyclists. In my experience, the accidents are typically not the motorcyclist’s fault, and the injuries are often severe, yet the public isn’t especially sympathetic. Your potential jury pool sees a motorcyclist as someone who’s reckless. They think of Hells Angels or guys on crotch rockets doing wheelies down the highway. The fact that you ride a bike means at least some members of the public prejudge you. They are prepared to believe that you’re at least partially at fault. They may want to side with the driver and blame you for the accident. If jury sides with the driver, you will not win the case. The insurance company knows this. So if insurance company responsible for the defense decides that you’re not sympathetic for some reason, they may reduce what the offer and make the case more difficult. There are ways to counter this. The most direct way is to educate a jury about you, about your style of riding and about the facts. You can also use experts to show that the driver was at fault. You can use experts to show that you were riding safely. You can use experts to show the nature and extent of the injuries. Of course, just like anyone else, sometimes motorcycle riders speed or have alcohol in their system. Don’t assume those factors stop you from bringing a lawsuit. Personal note: I’ve owned three motorcycles in my life. While I love riding a bike on a summer day, I know that many drivers are not looking for bikes, or driving carefully. Start seeing motorcycles.