Motorcycle and Bicycle Injuries

Damages in Motorcycle and Bicycle Claims

Motorcycle and bicycle accidents are similar to other accidents in certain ways, but due to some unique factors, these types of accidents can be quite different from regular car accidents.

Damages in Motorcycle and Bike Accidents

Generally, you may be able to collect damages for the following, if the defendant is found negligent in the accident:

  • Specific damages: All of the easily definable costs associated with your injuries:  medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost wages and reduced earning capacity.
  • Non-specific damages: Damages that are harder to calculate, such as pain and suffering, anxiety, embarrassment, fear and loss of quality of life.
  • Punitive damages: Awarded in cases where the defendant acted in an extremely reckless manner.

 

Risks Involved in Motorcycle and Bicycle Riding

Bikes obviously are much smaller and lighter than cars. They have only two wheels and do not offer any protection to the rider. These facts and others make riding either a higher risk endeavor than riding in a car.

This is borne out in federal accident statistics, with motorcycle accidents much more likely to result in serious injury or death. Per mile driven in 2006, there were 35 times more deaths with motorcycles than cars.

The most common motorcycle and bike accidents are:

  • Head on collisions – 78% of the time, this is what happens. Only in 5% of crashes does a car hit the biker from the rear.
  • Car making left turn. In most accidents, the vehicle that hits the biker will be found at fault. However, note that if you are a motorcyclist and speeding, you could be found partially at fault. This will reduce the damages you may claim in a lawsuit.
  • Lane splitting: See the section about this below. This is illegal in Oregon, and if you do this, you will probably not be able to recover damages in a lawsuit.
  • Road hazards
  • Collisions with fixed objects

 

Some of the risk factors involved in motorcycle and bike riding are:

  • Reduced visibility to cars: Both are smaller and more easily concealed by objects on/off the road, so car drivers are less likely to see them.
  • Road hazards: Items on the road that have little effect on cars, such as debris, potholes, wet pavement, and things dropped on the road from vehicles, can cause a devastating accident for someone on a motorcycle or bike. A recent motorcycle accident on a Minnesota highway went viral on YouTube – a truck dropped a large item on the road that caused a serious accident to the motorcycle driver behind. Fortunately, he did not suffer serious injury.
  • Nothing between the rider and the road: People on bikes are not protected by any sort of metal or enclosed container. Motorcycles and bikes also do not have seatbelts or airbags. While wearing a helmet does offer some protection, bikers still suffer serious injuries in accidents.
  • Not as stable: Any vehicle with only two wheels is less stable than vehicles with four. This is especially true during swerving and emergency braking. Some motorcycle accidents also can be caused by a wobble in the front wheel that may occur at higher speeds.
  • Skill level: Riding a motorcycle or bike safely requires more skill than driving a car. There are many serious motorcycle accidents that occur with unskilled riders. In fact, in 2001, ¼ of all motorcyclists who died in crashes lacked a motorcycle license.

 

Liability in Motorcycle and Bicycle Accidents

Liability for most bike accidents is governed by the law of negligence. A person will be deemed negligent if he or she acts in a careless manner and causes injury to another individual. A driver has to use great care to avoid hurting anyone else when they are driving. If a driver is not exercising reasonable care and hurts someone else, the driver will be held liable.

In many motorcycle and bicycle accidents, the driver of a car or truck is often negligent and causes serious harm. The car driver could be held liable for doing something that he should not have done. For example, many bike accidents occur when a car driver speeds through a stop sign or turns left in front of a biker.

In some cases, of course, the bike rider also can be negligent. A biker could swerve in front of a car and cause the car to crash. In that case, the biker would be liable for the driver’s injuries.

 

Elements in a Motorcycle or Bicycle Accident Claim

If you are hurt in a bike accident, there are four elements that you must show:

  • The law requires that the person who is being sued had to be ‘reasonably careful.’ In any car or bike accident case, this is understood: Any car or motorcycle driver has to exercise caution.
  • The defendant did not exhibit this level of care that was required. To determine if the defendant was careful or not, the law compares the conduct of the driver to a ‘reasonable person.’
  • The conduct of the defendant led to the injuries of the plaintiff.
  • The plaintiff suffered injuries or losses of some kind. If you did not suffer any injuries or cannot prove damages, then you cannot recover anything.

 

What to Do If You Are In a Motorcycle or Bicycle Accident

If you are in a bike accident, what you do right after and in the days afterward can make a huge difference in your ability to recover damages. Remember to do the following:

  • Take plenty of notes. As soon as you are no longer upset and your head is clear, you need to write down everything that you recall about the accident. We recommend that you note what happened, the time it happened, the weather, witnesses present and all other details. Think hard, because your memories of what happened are clearest in the first few days.
  • Document your losses and injuries: The best way to get your injuries documented to is to see a doctor immediately. By having your injuries noted right away by a medical professional, you will be able to show in a potential lawsuit that your injuries were serious enough for you to seek medical attention immediately. It also is critical to keep a careful log of your injuries. Also note the pain you are feeling, your treatments, sleep you have lost, lost work time and any other problems and inconveniences you are experiencing due to the bike accident. Take photographs of your injuries too.
  • Record conversations: Write down the place, time, date, and witnesses present regarding all the conversations you have about your bike accident.
  • Go back to the accident scene: If you can, go back to the accident scene and look for any evidence that can help your potential case.
  • Take pictures: Take photos from as many different angles as you can. Also, take photos at the same time and day of the week that your accident occurred.
  • Find witnesses: Call any witnesses you know of as soon possible so you can get their story while it is still recent.

 

A Few Words About Lane Splitting

Lane splitting is when either a motorcycle or bike rider drives between two lanes of stopped or slowly moving vehicles. This is most common in traffic jams. If an accident happens while the rider is lane splitting, determining fault will depend on whether lane splitting is allowed in that state, as well as the views of the responding police officer and judge.

It should be noted that lane splitting currently is not legal in Oregon. So if an accident occurs when you are lane splitting, it is likely that the fault for the accident will lie with you. You would be unlikely able to recover damages for your injuries.

Given these facts, it is not advisable to lane split in Oregon, as it is both against the law and you are unlikely to win in a civil lawsuit if you are injured.

If you have been in a motorcycle or bike accident, please contact Herron Law LLC today for a no-obligation consultation.

 

A Few Words About Motorcycle Helmets

In Oregon, motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. If you do not wear a helmet in an accident and suffer an injury, the defendant could raise an issue about your own negligence leading to your injuries.

Your legal recovery could be reduced or even barred as a result of contributory negligence. Of course, there is a distinction between negligence that caused the accident and negligence that contributed to your injuries.

Generally speaking, failing to wear a helmet in Oregon while riding a motorcycle could be found to constitute negligence contributing to injuries. This could then limit your ability to recover damages. Therefore, it is good practice in Oregon to obey the law when on a motorcycle – wear a helmet.

If you have been in a motorcycle or bicycle accident, please contact Herron Law at 503-699-6496  24/7 today for a no-obligation consultation.