Massachusetts Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries

If you are a motorcycle owner and enjoy the freedom, thrill, and fun of riding your motorcycle on some of the great scenic roadways across Massachusetts, you should know some of the statistics and facts of being a motorcycle rider.  Sure, going out for a ride on a beautiful morning or evening can be great, but motorcyclists should know that they are at greater risk of serious injury or even death if they are involved in an accident.

The following statistics may be shocking to some, but we here at Mahaney & Pappas see motorcycle accidents frequently and are not surprised by these numbers.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 92,000 motorcyclists were injured in motorcycle accidents in 2014.  This number increased from the previous year by 4.5 percent.  The NHTSA also reported that 4,586 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2014.  It has been stated that people on motorcycles are 26 percent more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than passenger car occupants were. 

These numbers establish that motorcycle riders are at a greater risk of serious injury or death than others on the streets, roads, and highways.  Obviously, you have much less protection on a motorcycle than people in a car or truck.  Also, since motorcycles are smaller, they are most times not seen by drivers of cars on the road.  We have seen plenty of motor vehicle crash reports where people driving cars who hit a motorcyclist say that they never saw the motorcycle coming when they pulled out of a side street. 

Typical Causes of Motorcycle Crashes

It takes skill to ride of motorcycle and a rider must always be on guard.  Hesitation on a bike or a poor decision could put you in a life-threatening situation.  One of the main causes or contributing factors to motorcycle accidents in Massachusetts is speeding.  Of course, motorcycles are built for speed and opening up a bike on the road is a great thrill.  But, speeding on a motorcycle significantly increases the risk of an accident. The NHTSA reported that 34 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding.  Speeding can create a significant legal issue in a claim for personal injuries following a motorcycle crash.  This is because the other vehicles insurance company will argue that the speed of the motorcycle was the main cause or a contributing factor to the accident. This will allow insurance companies to either deny a claim or reduce any possible settlement offer.

Accidents are not always caused by the motorcyclists.  The rider can be cruising along within the speed limit as cautiously as possible and can still be involved in a motorcycle accident.   In these situations it is usually the drivers of other cars or trucks on the road.  It is amazing how many times cars just pull right out in front of a motorcycle, because they just don’t see them.  Cars either directly collide with a motorcycle or cause the motorcycle to swerve out of the way and dump their bikes or crash into something else.  Either way, the motorcyclists can be seriously injured.

Some Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents

Because there is not much protection for the motorcycle rider, any crash can cause severe injuries or even life threatening injuries.  One very common injury suffered in motorcycle crashes are head injuries.  Our laws in Massachusetts require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet and helmets do offer great protection.  But, wearing a helmet doesn’t protect the rider from all injuries.  A motorcycle accident can cause the rider to either strike the other vehicle involved in the crash or fall off the bike and strike his or her head on the ground.  While the helmet does offer some protection, it does not completely protect the rider from head injury.  Motorcyclists can suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI), concussions, or even brain damage from accidents.  This is similar to football players, who wear helmets that are at risk of these same type of head injuries.  

Another common injury we see from motorcycle accidents are broken or fractured bones.  Again, since there is not much protection for a motorcyclist, he or she can be thrown from the bike onto the ground or into another obstruction, such as a guardrail or telephone pole.  The force of being thrown from a bike can result in broken legs, arms or other bones. 

Road rash is another common injury we see in motorcycle crashes. Road rash is causes when the rider is either thrown or struck off of the bike and slides across the pavement.  Clothing or even protective motorcycle gear does not always protect against road rash.  Road rash can result in serious injuries including permanent scarring, nerve damage and the risk of infection.  In some serious cases of road rash the crash victim can undergo serious medical complications and medical procedures, such as skin grafts.

Personal Injury Claims for Injuries in Motorcycle Crashes

Insurance coverage for motorcycles are different than that of regular motor vehicles.  Insurance companies do not have to offer Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits on a motorcycle policy.  For this reason, motorcyclists should make sure they have adequate health insurance coverage. 

A motorcycle rider injured in an accident can seek money damages for injuries suffered in a motorcycle crash. The motorcyclist would seek recover of damages from the other driver, if he or she can prove that the crash was the other driver’s fault.  The typical laws of negligence apply to motorcycle accidents.  This means that the motorcyclist must establish that the other driver failed to use reasonable care and that this breach of care caused the crash and the crash resulted in the motorcyclist’s injuries.

Having a personal injury lawyer, who is experienced in handling motorcycle accident cases, is important.  In a lot of motorcycle crashes the insurance company for the at-fault driver will try to place some blame on the motorcycle driver in order to minimize or reduce any possible settlement offer or deny the claim entirely.  Having the right lawyer will give the motorcyclist the leverage and representation he or she needs to deal with insurance companies and negotiate the claim to obtain a proper settlement.  An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to properly investigate, present, and argue for a fair, just and reasonable settlement.