South Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Helping Victims of Motorcycle Accidents Claim Compensation for Their Injuries
Motorcycles are a fun, easy, and highly efficient method of travel. Unfortunately, the same qualities that make motorcycle riding so enjoyable also make riders some of the most vulnerable motorists on the road. While the typical car or truck has a variety of safety features such as a roof, airbags, and seatbelts, motorcyclists often have little more than their helmet and clothes for protection against a crash. That may be why motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to lose their lives in a motorcycle accident and nearly five times more likely to suffer serious injuries.
Motorcycle crashes are unique from other types of vehicle accidents in the sense that they are almost always a violent event. More than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or fatality for the motorcyclist, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The most catastrophic injuries happen when a sudden stop causes the rider to be ejected from the motorcycle. When this happens, riders are at risk of being hit by another car or even their own motorcycle, or being thrown into a solid object like a tree or a wall. Motorcycle riders may also suffer severe injuries and burns if caught under a fallen motorcycle.
Common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Brain and spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones, especially common in legs and feet
- Head injuries – can be significantly reduced with helmet use
- Injuries to internal organs
- Loss of limbs
- Severe skin abrasions (also called “road rash”)
Comprehensive Legal Representation in a Range of Motorcycle Accident Scenarios
The circumstances surrounding a motorcycle accident — just like a car accident or truck accident — can have a significant impact on how the injury claim is litigated. Whereas a minor rear-end incident at a stoplight might give rise to minimal damages (for medical expenses), an accident involving a highly-intoxicated driver could give rise to punitive damages.
At Folkman Law, our Cherry Hill accident attorneys represent motorcyclist-plaintiffs in a range of accident scenarios, including (but not limited) to the following:
Speeding and Reckless Driving
Speeding and reckless driving are common factors contributing to motorcycle accidents. In many cases, the defendant-driver may not mentally register that they are putting others at risk by driving at an excessive speed (or by driving recklessly given the circumstances). Speeding has become so engrained in the regular driving activities of some drivers that motorcyclists are consistently exposed to a heightened risk of injury.
Motorcyclists are often put in a difficult situation when they encounter a speeding or reckless driver. Drivers may not be paying any attention to the presence of the motorcyclist, and as a result, the burden of avoiding the collision is shifted to the motorcyclist (who already has a number of circumstantial considerations to account for).
Intersection collisions are dangerous for all motor vehicle operators, but especially motorcyclists, for whom even a relatively low speed accident could cause injuries that lead to functional impairments and emotional distress. Drivers often violate traffic rules at intersections when they believe that there are no other vehicles present — this can quite easily give rise to an accident if the driver is not aware of the presence of a motorcycle at the intersection.
It is estimated that about half of motorcycle accidents do not involve another vehicle. Instead, the motorcyclist may have been disrupted by their interaction with an environmental hazard or may have engaged in negligent behavior that contributed to the accident. Environmental hazards that may not otherwise pose a serious danger to four-wheel vehicles can pose a serious danger to motorcyclists. For example, a pothole may be a minor inconvenience for a truck, but for a motorcycle, a large enough pothole could cause an accident.
Unsafe Lane Changing Accidents
Unsafe lane changing is among the most common acts of negligence that cause motorcycle accidents in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Drivers often change lanes in a manner that does not adequately contemplate the risks posed to others. With respect to motorcycles, this risk is further enhanced due to its minimal profile. If the driver does not notice the presence of a motorcycle in the other lane, they may swerve into the lane carelessly and sideswipe the motorcyclist, causing injury.
Front end collisions (i.e., head-on collisions) are often catastrophic due to the additive effect of the impact forces involved. Though front-end collisions can lead to significant physical injuries in the context of motorcycle accidents, many people are unaware of the psychological consequences — when motorcyclists can “see” the impending accident, this can lead to severe psychological trauma due to their inability to control the outcome and avoid harm.
Rear end collisions are particularly dangerous for motorcyclists, as their ability to maintain balance is compromised— even if the collision occurs at a low speed. When the accident occurs at relatively high speeds, a rear end collision can send the motorcyclist careening wildly out-of-control and towards other vehicles or environmental hazards.
Wide turn accidents can pose a serious threat of injury to motorcyclists, as drivers may impede on an occupied lane and cause a collision. Many drivers who make “wide turns” do so based off their experiences handling such turns in reference to four-wheeled vehicles — they may not be equipped to avoid a collision with a motorcycle.
Left-Hand Turn Accidents
Left-hand turn accidents rate among the most common in the context of motorcycle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, left-hand turn accidents (and other accidents involving a vehicle that turns into the path of a motorcycle) make up roughly a third of total motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists have to anticipate the possibility that a driver may be making a left turn without checking to see if there is a motorcycle that will be crossing their path.
Factors That Increase Risk to Motorcycle Riders
- Driver Negligence: All drivers have a legal duty to share the road responsibly. Careless or reckless driver behavior poses a risk to everyone on the road, especially to those not protected by the bulk and weight of a typical car or truck. Dangerous driving behaviors include: speeding; failure to yield; failure to use turn signals; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; drowsy driving; and distracted driving.
- Hazardous Road Conditions: Motorcycles are sensitive to road conditions that might otherwise go unnoticed by the typical car or truck driver. Common conditions that can potentially be a major hazard for motorcycle riders include potholes, oil slicks, puddles, uneven pavement, leaves, gravel, and other road debris. Motorcycles are also more susceptible to the effects of weather conditions such as rain, ice, and wind.
- Instability: Fewer wheels means less stability, especially at high speeds. Driver inexperience only makes matters worse. Many motorcycle accidents can be attributed in part to the rider’s lack of experience or failure to appreciate the inherent qualities and limitations of the motorcycle.
- Limited Visibility to Other Drivers: Due to their smaller size, motorcycles are harder to see than other vehicles on the road. Moreover, because most drivers are psychologically programmed to look out for other cars and trucks, they are more inclined to miss a nearby motorcycle or misjudge the speed of an oncoming rider. This is especially true at intersections, where most motorcycle accidents occur.
- Motorcycle Design or Manufacturer Defects: Motorcycles have numerous sophisticated parts that must operate together in a compact space. If any one part fails to perform because of poor design or a manufacturing defect, the result can be catastrophic. Likewise, helmets that are not properly designed or manufactured will not effectively protect its wearer from head injury.
Determining Liability in a Motorcycle Accident
As in many states, motorcycle accident claims in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are governed by the theory of comparative negligence. Under this rule, an injured party is entitled to pursue compensation for damages even if he or she was partly at fault for the accident. However, the degree to which the motorcyclist’s actions contributed to the accident could diminish or even prevent legal recovery.
Similarly, an injured motorcyclist’s claim could also be reduced if his or her actions contributed to the severity of the injury. This includes failure to adhere to state laws regarding use of protective gear. In New Jersey, all motorcycle riders are required by law to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet. Pennsylvania law mandates that riders wear approved helmets unless he or she is over the age of 21 and has either two years of riding experience or has completed an approved motorcycle safety course. Both states require the use of protective eyewear to shield riders from bugs, dirt, and other flying debris that can limit vision or cause an eye injury.
South Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. Obtain Justice and Compensation for Victims and Their Families
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or suffered the wrongful death of a loved one because of another person’s reckless or negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the South Jersey motorcycle accident lawyers at Folkman Law today to learn about your rights and legal options. Call 856-354-9444 to schedule a free case evaluation or contact us online. We offer flexible appointment hours.