Learn how the difference between motorcycles and cars can impact your personal injury lawsuit
The news that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars doesn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, motorcycles are often associated with people who enjoy the thrill that comes with riding their bikes in the open air, which provides little protection in a crash.
While motorcyclists do carry higher risks, there are things that they can do to minimize them as much as possible. Exploring the differences between motorcycle and car accidents gives insight into how everyone can work together to make the roads safer.
What are the main differences between car and motorcycle accidents?
Operating a motorcycle comes with substantially different risks compared to a typical car. A motorcycle has only 2 wheels, which decreases its stability. Since there are no seatbelts or an outdoor protective enclosure of metal, riders are more likely to be thrown from their bike in the event of an accident.
The smaller size of the vehicle also reduces its visibility to other motorists. Since all motorists are required to be aware of other vehicles in their vicinity, someone operating a car could be held liable for a wrongful death if they fail to check appropriately for motorcycles at intersections or when changing lanes.
Consider these motorcycle vs. car accident statistics
While motorcycles have obvious characteristics that make them seem like a bigger risk for accidents, it’s still common to wonder if cyclists actually experience more collisions. Let’s take a look at some statistics that help highlight the importance of motorcycle safety:
- Motorcycles represent only 3% of vehicles on the road, yet they account for 14% of the total vehicle fatalities recorded.
- More than half of all reported road traffic deaths are cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
- In 2020, after considering per vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclist fatalities from crashes occurred almost 28 times more frequently than car occupant fatalities.
Injured in a head-on crash caused by another driver? File a personal injury lawsuit. Call Lorenzo & Lorenzo injury law firm for a free consultation.
What are the most common causes of car and motorcycle accidents?
Although motorcycles and cars have significant differences in their design and methods for operating the vehicles, there are some similarities regarding the most common causes of accidents for both types.
The leading causes of accidents tend to be based on driver carelessness and recklessness rather than the mechanical structure of a vehicle. Common reasons for cars and motorcycles to be involved in accidents include:
- Driving while intoxicated
- Distracted driving
- Failing to follow applicable driving laws
It should also be noted that mechanical defects on a car or motorcycle, such as faulty brakes, can lead to accidents. Hazardous road conditions are another factor that anyone who operates a vehicle needs to be alert for as they drive.
Other leading causes of motorcycle accidents
Below are some additional causes of accidents that are more common with motorcycles.
- Speeding. Unfortunately, speeding is one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents, but that doesn’t always mean cyclists are at fault. Car drivers often hit motorcyclists when they’re speeding, since going faster can make it more likely that they won’t see a smaller bike in their path.
- Poor visibility. Poor visibility is another contributing factor to motorcycle accidents. A motorcycle is simply less noticeable, which leads to cars striking it as they turn or change lanes. Motorcyclists can increase their visibility by wearing a brightly colored half-shell helmet or other types.
- Lane splitting. Lane splitting might be a controversial topic among riders, but it also can lead to collisions when a car operator doesn’t see someone in their path.
Differences between motorcycle and auto accident claims
All too often, motorists, insurance companies and attorneys alike fail to recognize the differences between motorcycle accident claims and automobile accident claims.
The fact is that motorcyclists, while following the same laws of the road as automobile drivers, must also possess certain safety equipment and licensing, which varies by state. Personal injury claims require an entirely new set of criteria and timeline for proving a motorcyclist is entitled to compensation. Anything from bias to a failure to gather enough evidence could be the reason behind a failed injury claim for motorcycle drivers.
Here are some major differences to consider between automobile and motorcycle accident claims.
Nature of motorcycle injuries
Motorcycles, unlike automobiles, leave their drivers completely exposed. Because of this, motorcycle injuries tend to be much more physically devastating than automobile injuries, with brain trauma, 2nd- or 3rd-degree burns and muscle damage being very real possibilities.
In turn, the cost of managing these injuries is likely to be higher than automobile accident injuries, which can influence the way insurance companies behave toward claims.
Compliance with state safety laws
To receive any sort of compensation, motorcycle drivers must prove without a doubt that they were not at fault for an accident. This can be much harder for motorcyclists than automobile drivers.
Motorcycle drivers are subject to specific laws while using the roads, and drivers must prove themselves to be completely in compliance with state safety laws before fault can be given to another party. For example, in the state of Florida, motorcyclists are required to wear eye protection and cannot alter the bike’s muffler noise level or handlebar height above regulation.
If you are injured while driving a motorcycle that doesn’t comply with every law, it’s possible to receive blame for an accident even if it wasn’t your fault.
When it comes to an injury case, the laws of negligence often decide who was involved. Negligence refers to an accident being caused by one party failing to use common sense while driving or neglecting traffic laws and regulations.
In order for a motorcycle injury claim to be granted, the driver must prove that they were not guilty of any negligence and that a defective motorcycle was not the cause of the accident.
Evidence of this must be collected, whether through witness observation or surveillance camera footage. However, motorcycles react differently in accidents than automobiles do, and it can be difficult even for witnesses to truly tell which party is guilty.
Judges, police officers and insurance companies often hold preconceived biases about motorcycle drivers. They are assumed to be reckless, unsafe drivers who hold little to no regard for other motorists. This attitude frequently carries over into important decisions regarding a motorcyclist’s injury claim.
For example, police officers responding to the scene may make a claim of guilt based on bias, or an insurance company may try to lower compensation or issue none at all based on the biker stereotype.
Because of the requirements for proving guilt and the existence of unfair biases, it often pays to hire an attorney who is familiar with motorcycle injury cases and aware of the different obstacles that exist in comparison with automobile accidents.
Follow these motorcycle safety tips
Motorcyclists don’t have the benefit of a seatbelt and airbag to help reduce their risk of injuries during a collision, which makes it even more important to pay attention to safety. Following these tips can help you to avoid an accident, even if the other driver isn’t doing their part to keep others safe.
When riding your motorcycle, following these safety tips could help you avoid a serious accident.
Wear a helmet
Motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets are more likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury or experience a fatality. Look for a helmet that meets safety standards and that provides as much coverage as possible.
While a full-face helmet provides the best coverage, wearing a motorcycle half-helmet is better than not wearing one at all. Protecting your head is one of your biggest priorities, even when you’re riding on rarely used roads.
Add on other essential gear
Being flung from your motorcycle or laying it over also leaves your body exposed to potential injuries such as road rash. Motorcycle boots and long pants are helpful for keeping the lower part of your body protected from the hot engine and asphalt. Riding gloves can also protect your hands from being torn up if you hit the ground.
Remember to look twice
Recognizing your risk of being hit by a car that doesn’t see you also means doing what you can to overcome this problem. Always make sure to look twice before proceeding with a directional change on the road. If the other driver doesn’t see you, adjust your driving accordingly to avoid an accident.
Use cameras to record driver interactions
The hard truth is that you’ll still encounter negligent drivers on the road, even when you follow all of the proper precautions. Adding a camera to your half motorcycle helmet can help you to record what happens for use later if the worst scenario occurs. Being able to show the other driver’s actions can play a significant role in your accident claim.
Get help from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney
At the end of the day, there is no getting around the fact that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. For those who still love to ride, there are multiple ways to protect yourself, your passengers and the other drivers on the road.
Car operators should also recognize the vulnerabilities posed by motorcycles and take the appropriate precautions to watch out for smaller vehicles on the road. While there will always be car accident injuries and fatalities, it is possible to reduce the rates when everyone takes responsibility for keeping each other safe.