Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Funding
Sure motorcycles are fun; they are also some of the most dangerous and deadly vehicles on the road. During the last decade there has been a steady increase in the number of motorcycle sales and registrations in the United States. Predictably, at the same time there has been a 10-year, year-over-year increase in deadly motorcycle crashes.
Fatal Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia (FARS) has something interesting to say about motorcycle deaths in single vehicle motorcycle crashes:
“One out of four motorcycle riders in fatal crashes in 2013 had an invalid license.”
~ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Pre Settlement Funding on Motorcycle Accidents
It’s quite common for motorcycle crash victims to find themselves in need of extra money to pay bills, basic living expenses, cover emergency medical travel or stop a foreclosure while they are recovering from their injuries and waiting for their lawsuit to settle.
Lawsuit settlement funding can give plaintiffs the money they need to take control of their finances now.
“Per vehicle mile traveled in 2013, motorcyclists were about 37 TIMES more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and about 9 times more likely to be injured.”
~ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Over half of fatal motorcycle crash victims were not wearing helmets
High blood alcohol content is a major factor among motorcycle fatalities; 27% of fatal accidents had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08%
Half of motorcycle fatality accidents occurred while negotiating a curve
Undivided roadways account for a majority of fatal motorcycle accidents
Excessive operator speed is a contributing factor in 67% of motorcycle deaths
Almost 60% of fatal motorcycle crashes occur at night
Motorcycle accident deaths account for almost 1 in 8 motor vehicle deaths
Motorcycle deaths have increased 128% since 1998
In 2007, 49% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved someone age 40 or over
In 2007, 36% of all bikers involved in fatal motorcycle crashes were speeding
About 1 in 4 motorcycle deaths involve a biker without a valid license
Motorcycles are less safe than other vehicles; the fact that it only has two wheels, no enclosure and are faster in acceleration are already warning signs in terms of safety issues. Evidently, accidents involving motorcycles are more likely to result in serious injury or death as opposed to accidents involving motor vehicles.
Motorcycle accidents account for a huge percentage of the overall amount of road related accidents in the United States. A number of factors can contribute to motorcycles because of its overall design, and the difference between cars and motorcycles, as they are listed in the following article.
While most motorcycle accident lawsuits involve negligence or fault, different fault types are also applied by state laws in terms of determining the compensation that parties may receive. Wrongful death lawsuits can also arise from motorcycle accidents when filed by family members or loved ones in behalf of a departed loved one. Compensation can range between thousands up to millions of dollars. Product liability lawsuits may also occur in cases that defective part was the cause for a party’s injuries in a crash.
Many statistics have also shown the great dangers involved with motorcycle accidents. Reports have shown that operators and riders of motorcycles have greater risk of injury and death, which also depends on the protective and safety gear of the riders. More statistics are showing the risks that are related to these motorcycles. It is recommended to take caution when encountering motorcycles on the road as they can be faster and harder to see on the road.
Even though most accidents involving motorcycles are due to the negligence of the motor vehicle driver and not the motorcycle rider, each party may still be entitled to a percentage of fault/s in every accident. The percentage of fault of a party will be the determining factor of the amount of compensation the party will receive. It is also important to note that every motorcycle accident case is unique, and how an attorney will handle a case is dependent on various factors such as percentage of fault, product liability, sought damages, and even the defendant involved. Cases may either be settled outside of court or closed through a trial verdict, depending on the parties involved.
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits and Litigation
Many lawsuits and verdicts have amounts from of thousands and garnering up to millions. Settlements are made by the two parties depending on the negotiations, while verdicts award plaintiffs of an amount of money, either determined by the presiding judge or jury.
Like any other lawsuit, motorcycle accidents can either choose to pursue court trials or make settlements outside of court. Settlement amounts are calculated according to compensation for damages sought. Negotiations for settlements with insurance companies can be tricky, and if settlements are not up to par with the standards set by the injured party, the plaintiff can opt to pursue legal actions against the negligent party.
Laws applied to motorcycle accidents vary depending on the state. However, if the motorcyclist was proven to not have any fault in the accident, the motorcyclist can still seek to recover damages from the negligent party that caused the crash.
Injured motorcycle riders do not have restrictions when seeking for compensation, which allows them to also retrieve compensation for pain and suffering claims. Unlike motorcycle riders, motor vehicle accident claims are unable to recover damages regarding pain and suffering. Another difference between the two similar kinds of accidents is that motor vehicle accident claims involve PIP insurance which gives restriction to the damages they can seek and must pass an injury threshold to seek compensation for damages. Because motorcyclists are not required to have PIP insurance, they are not bound by its restrictions as well, including passing the injury threshold and are able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, mental anguish or emotional suffering, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.
Product liability claims may also happen in some cases. If the accident was caused by a defective part or a totally defective motorcycle, a motorcyclist can opt to sue the manufacturer for product liability claims. Regardless of the negligence that occurred by either party that was involved in the accident, manufacturers can still be held liable for the occurrence due to a defective motorcycle component or a defective motorcycle. The manufacturer is held liable when the injuries that the motorcyclist retained were a result of fault design, manufacturing of labeling.
Like any case, the plaintiff must also be able to prove that the defect was a factor that contributed to the injuries retained. Most cases will require expert testimony and analysis in order to prove that the defect exhibited during the process of manufacturing or after the motorcycle was sold to the consumer. In cases which the manufacturer is liable, it must be proven that (1) the defective motorcycle or its components were “unreasonably dangerous;” (2) the motorcycle was operated by the rider as intended; and (3) the performance of the motorcycle has not been altered or has not changed since its initial purchase. A number of product liability claims against manufacturers have included defective tires, brakes, accelerators, and fuel systems.
Liability and Negligence with Motorcycle Accidents
Most motorcycle accidents are liable through the law of negligence. Negligence in a person is defined as sporting a certain kind of behavior that is deemed in a careless manner and thereby causing injury to another party. Because drivers are responsible for caring for their own vehicles as well as driving carefully on the road, a person in this case is liable for an injured party when he drives without care or thought.
In many motorcycle accident cases, the negligent party is the motor vehicle driver – not the motorcycle driver. Obviously, in some cases, the motorcycle driver may also be the negligent party. Of course, each case varies in correspondence to the events and occurrences that arose from the accident itself.
In filing negligence claims in a motorcycle accident, the plaintiff must properly present four elements, (1) that the defendant was required by law to be careful on the road. This is pretty obvious since motorists should always exercise cautiousness and care when riding or driving vehicles; (2) The defendant was not exercising care; (3) The conduct and behavior of the defendant resulted in the injuries of the plaintiff and (4) the plaintiff suffered losses or injuries unless the motorcyclist was not hurt or was unable to provide evidence of damages, regardless of the careless manner of the defendant.
Motorcycle Fault Laws
Fault or negligence laws regarding motorcycles vary depending on the state. There are five basic fault types: no-fault, pure contributory fault, pure comparative fault, modified comparative fault (50 percent rule), and modified comparative fault (51 percent rule).
No-fault occurs when the insurance company (of the injured party) covers the medical expenses of the (said) injured party, until the agreed upon amount – depending on the insurance policy of the injured party. In terms of material damages in an accident, the fault is determined through state laws. States that make use of the no-fault law are Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
Pure contributory fault basically states that an injured party can file a lawsuit and seek compensation for medical and material damages, but only if they are 100 percent not at fault. Even if the party is only accountable for 1 percent in the accident, they are no longer warranted of any compensation for their damages. The few states that recognize this type of fault are Alabama, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Pure comparative fault grants compensation for a party, but the amount of compensation to be received for medical and material damages is dependent on the percentage of accidental fault. Again, this will also vary depending on the law of each state. Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington are the states that exercise this kind of fault.
The 50 Percent Rule or the modified comparative fault states that if the party is at fault for 50 percent or more for the accident, the party is no longer warranted compensation for their incurred damages. However, if the two parties are at equal fault, the two parties do not get compensation either. When a party is at fault for less than 50 percent of the accident, it is only hen that the party can receive the compensation, but it is also based on the percentage of fault. These states apply the 50 Percent Rule: Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.
Lastly, the modified comparative fault basically states that if a party is at fault for 51 percent or more of the accident, then they are automatically no longer eligible to receive any compensation. The party which has less fault will receive compensation based on their percentage of fault. The states that make use of this type of fault are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Dangers and Risks: Motorcycle vs. Vehicle Riding
While motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents share many common aspects, the former still has some factors that are unique to the type of vehicle it is. The differences between the two kinds of accidents are the severity of the injuries, to the liability issues, to the causes of the accidents, among others. Given that motorcycles are smaller, lighter and have no protective enclosure for the riders, motorcycles make riders more prone to grave injuries and even death, as compared to motor vehicle riders. Motorcycle accidents are evidently more likely to result in death and severe injuries.
Motorcycles, again, are smaller and lighter since it only has two wheels. They have more exposure to the harmful factors on the environment, unlike motor vehicles that have a protective box of metal that can catch more of the heavy impact during accidents. Even things as little as minor debris like rocks or pebbles, hazardous road surfaces, or any other thing on the road has the capacity to cause a motorcycle accident, while these little factors are pretty much negligible when using a motor vehicle. Motorcycles are more prone to road hazards.
Due to the size and speed of a motorcycle, cars or any other motor vehicle for that matter, are sometimes unable to see these motorcycles – which can lead to an accident between the vehicle and the motorcycle. Motorcycles often speed up fast, and are less visible to cars, and these can led to a number of accidents.
Evidently, motorcycles are less stable than motor vehicles because of the difference in the number of wheels that are present. This is can also become a huge factor in accidents especially in cases that require emergency breaking or swerving. Riding in motorcycle, then, requires a certain level of skill because of its increased difficulty in driving, as compared to driving a car.
All these dangers and risks, among many others can be the cause of any accident regarding motorcycles. Evidently, each accident results in different injuries, often serious. The most common of these include brain injury, spine injury, amputation injury, internal organ damage, serious abrasions, and disfigurement. In particular cases, wrongful death lawsuits can also be brought up by family members in behalf of a loved one who died in a motorcycle accident.
Reports and Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA crash data, 103,000 motorcycles were involved in accidents in 2005. In the same year, motorcycle crashes involved with another motor vehicle accounted for 47 percent.
While 13 percent involved accidents with stationary objects and other objects that were not motorized, 39 percent, however, involved no collision, as reported by the same administration. Also in 2005, 4,553 lives were taken and another 87,000 were injured due to motorcycle accidents.
The NHTSA also reported that motorcycle operators are 26 times more probable to die as compared to other types of drivers when involved in a crash. Motorcyclists are also at least three times more prone to retain injuries in an accident, as compared to car drivers. An earlier NHTSA study also revealed that more riders aged 40 and older are killed in motorcycle accidents.
Other statistics to note include: (1) motorcycle accidents are more frequent in country roads as compared to urban streets and freeways; (2) 80 percent of single vehicle motorcycle accidents happen off the roadway; (3) more than half of motorcycle accidents happen in the evening; (3) undivided roadways are a factor in majority of motorcycles; (4) a speeding motorcycle accounts for two thirds of motorcycles; (5) accidents involving stationary objects account for over half of fatal motorcycle accidents; (6) single vehicle motorcycle accidents happen when drivers are negotiating a curve instantly, this accounts for half of the deaths incurred of this type of accident; (7) inebriated motorcycle operators, and those with high blood alcohol content levels are a major concern with motorcyclists.
Professor H. Hurt at the University of Southern California piloted a motorcycle crash study between 1976 and 1981, which was funded by the NHTSA. As reported by the professor, vehicle drivers were unable to see the motorcycle before the crash happened; this is with regard to motorcycle accidents that involved another vehicle.
In 2006, 37 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes were due to speeding as reported by the NHTSA. The same year, it was also found that unsafe turning was also a big factor in motorcycle accidents. Reportedly 40 percent of these accidents had participation from another vehicle that was making a left hand turn, whether it is in front of an approaching motorcycle on the straightaway, of a passing motorcycle, or an overtaking motorcycle from behind. Also in 2006, 37 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes were due to speeding.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study and reported findings of a whopping 4,502 motorcycle rider deaths in 2010 from motorcycle accidents in the U.S. This is 14 percent of all road traffic deaths for the year of 2010. In the same report, it was noted that there was a significant difference between death rate of those that wear helmets and those who do not. In some states, wearing a helmet is mandatory and only 12 percent of reported motorcycle accidents were fatal in those that wore the protective gear. In comparison, death rates of 64 percent were reported in the states in which motorcyclists were allowed to not make use of a helmet.