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Unfortunately, motorcyclists have a much higher risk of dying than other motorists in accidents. Indeed, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that motorcyclists are 16 times more likely to die in vehicle accidents than passenger car occupants.
Motorcyclists are in greater danger of being seriously injured or killed for many reasons, one of the biggest of which is a motorcycle does not protect the way a metal frame that an enclosed passenger vehicle does. With just two wheels, motorcycles are also harder to control and keep on balance, especially when hit by a vehicle many times heavier.
If you lose a loved one in a motorcycle wreck, you may recover compensation for the expenses and impacts you incur.
More than 5,000 motorcyclists died in accidents in just one year in the U.S. The most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents is head injuries, making wearing a helmet critically important. DOT-compliant helmets help to save lives and lessen the severity of injuries. The number of motorcycle fatalities would be much higher were it not for helmets and other safety clothing and equipment that all motorcyclists should wear, and in many states are legally required to wear. Even so, a motorcycle inherently renders operators more exposed, increasing the likelihood of fatal accidents.
Motorcyclists can prevent some fatal crashes. As mentioned, wearing helmets and other protective gear is extremely important. Motorcyclists can further protect themselves by wearing bright clothing or clothing with reflectors on it, especially in low-light circumstances, to increase their visibility to other motorists.
Motorcyclists can also protect themselves by checking their bikes before every ride. Check that the tires are in good condition and properly inflated; make sure the brakes work properly; make sure the lights are working, including the brake and tail lights; and check for oil and gas leaks. Make sure to take your bike into a shop frequently to ensure it is properly maintained.
And, while it should go without saying, motorcyclists can keep safe by riding carefully and obeying all traffic rules. Never coast through a stop sign or light, or split lanes. Keep sufficient distance between you and other vehicles to allow enough space for sudden braking situations. When riding alone in a wide lane next to a road shoulder, err to the side of the lane furthest from the shoulder to prevent other vehicles from forcing you off the road by merging into your lane.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful a motorcycle rider is, fatal wrecks may occur, simply because other drivers do not look out for motorcyclists. Drivers who crash into motorcyclists often state that they didn’t see the biker—even in broad daylight. While all drivers should look out for motorcyclists, riders cannot count on that, and should be hyper-vigilant at all times riding. Motorcyclists need to be even more aware of what is going on around them than if they were driving in a car or truck.
The injuries you could suffer in a motorcycle wreck depend on how you are hit, the size of the vehicle that hits you, your speed, and whether you are wearing protective equipment and clothing. Any number of these injuries can be fatal, either immediately or because of complications that develop in the hours or days following the accident.
Potentially fatal injuries include:
After a fatal motorcycle accident, the family of the motorcyclist may recover what the law refers to as “damages,” which is legally mandated compensation. Damages may be compensatory or punitive. The most common damages are compensatory damages, in the form of economic and non-economic damages.
A family of a motorcyclist killed in an accident may recover economic damages. These damages account for measurable costs and expenses the family experiences because of the accident and the death of their loved one.
The family of a motorcyclist killed in an accident may recover:
A family of a motorcyclist killed in an accident may also recover certain non-economic damages. These damages compensate families for impacts they experience from the death of their loved one that do not come with a price tag.
Non-economic damages may include:
A court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make a victim whole again. While the money doesn’t bring back a loved one, it can relieve the financial stress that families often experience with the loss of their loved one and give them the compensation they need to move on with their lives the best they can.
In rare cases, a court may order a defendant (al-fault driver) to pay punitive damages. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are not used to make victims whole again. Instead, the court orders the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for grossly negligent or intentional behavior, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol.
The tradeoff of riding a motorcycle is taking on a higher risk of ending up in a fatal accident on the road. In this worst-case scenario, a family should have an experienced motorcycle accident attorney on their side to help recover the compensation they deserve.
While it’s a good idea to have the name of a motorcycle accident lawyer in your address book beforehand, most people do not think about who they will contact until after an accident. If you haven’t researched experienced motorcycle accident attorneys in your area beforehand, make sure to find one and contact them as soon as possible after an accident.