It is generally well known that having an accident while riding a motorcycle is much more serious than having an accident while driving a car. This is true for two primary reasons:  cyclists are far more exposed to physical harm during the collision and  motorcycles are much less visible on the road than other vehicles. As a matter of fact, motorcyclists are five times more likely to be injured during a vehicular accident.
What may not be as well know is that motorcyclists are nearly 30 times more likely to die as a result of accidents than drivers of other motorized vehicles. Even more disturbing, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of motorcycle deaths continues to increase. In 2015, for example, almost 5,000 people died in the U.S. in motorcycle crashes, up 8.3 percent from the year before. The NHTSA also reports that over 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents in the country cause injuries or fatalities.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important to have the help of a skilled personal injury attorney to make sure that you recover present and future medical costs, lost wages, and compensation for your pain and suffering.
Why is Tennessee particularly dangerous for motorcyclists?
Alarmingly, in the first third of 2016, the number of motorcycle fatalities in the state of Tennessee was up 25 percent compared to the same period during 2015. While no official explanation for this increase has been given, the increase is speculatively attributed to a combination of increases in distracted driving and substance abuse. Although Tennessee state law requires motorcyclists (and their passengers) to wear helmets, and although wearing a helmet reduces a biker’s chance of dying in a crash by 29 percent, the statistics are still daunting.
The High Price of Freedom
Although motorcyclists love the freedom and maneuverability of their bikes, they cannot avoid exposing themselves to greater danger than those riding in enclosed vehicles. Because motorcyclists have no substantial protective barrier between themselves and the road or the other vehicle, and because they are less visible to other drivers, they have to exercise much greater caution than the average driver in order to remain safe.
Unfortunately, the statistics show that motorcyclists tend to exercise less, not more, caution than those they share the road with. As an illustration, 29 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involve cyclists who have been drinking and 34 percent involve cyclists who have been speeding.
Accidents that are Not the Fault of the Motorcyclist
Many motorcycle accidents are not caused by any fault of the cyclist’s. In two-thirds of motorcycle collisions, the driver of the other vehicle violates the motorcycle rider’s right of way, causing the accident. Motorcycles are harder to see than larger vehicles, especially at intersections, where 70 percent of such collisions occur.
In addition, riding a motorcycle takes a great deal more skill and coordination than driving a car so motorcyclists have to be well-trained in balancing and navigating in various kinds of weather conditions before taking to the open road. All potential hazards are worse for cyclists than for drivers, including:
- Ruts, potholes, oil slicks, puddles, black ice
- Uneven pavement
- Unexpected objects on the road
- Instability of the machine itself
When a motorcycle develops a high-speed wobble or other manufacturing or assembling defect, it is entirely possible that the manufacturer may be held financially responsible for injuries under product liability laws.
How Legal Responsibility Is Determined in Tennessee
Tennessee is an “at fault” state in terms of vehicular accidents. Depending on determinations by insurance adjustors or rulings by judges or juries, it may be decided that the motorcycle operator was wholly, partially at not at all responsible for the accident. According to the percentage of fault determined, the cyclist may be able to recover all, some, or none of the damages incurred, including both medical expenses and property damages.
Immediate Actions To Take if You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident
Depending on the severity of the accident, immediate actions may differ. Obviously, if anyone is injured, the first order of business is to offer first-aid and call for emergency medical assistance. Any serious accident should be immediately reported to law enforcement, the Department of Safety, and your insurance company. You should also exchange identification and insurance information with the other driver.
Motorcycle accidents, especially those involving injuries, require consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney. Trying to handle the complexities of the law alone, particularly when you are traumatized and possibly in physical distress, is certainly a mistake. At Chadwick & Tignor, our trained and compassionate attorneys are ready to meet with you to discuss your case and make you aware of your best options. In order to protect your rights, you should never sign any insurance forms without making contact with us first. We can be reached through the convenient contact form on our website or at 615.379.7900. Remember, you never pay a fee unless we settle your claim to your advantage.