May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, and with Memorial Day rapidly approaching, motorcyclists will be in even more danger than usual.
In fact, Memorial Day is statistically the worst time of year for auto accidents. Last year, CBS News predicted Memorial Day weekend alone would leave 400 people dead on the highways, 22% of them motorcyclists.
The danger for motorcyclists is also increasing overall, as motorcycle fatalities went up 8.3% from 2014 to 2015, according to the Insurance Information Institute’s latest data. The number of motorcycle deaths per miles traveled is more than 27 times that of automobiles.
Whether you’ve been a victim of a motorcycle crash, are an avid motorcycle rider, or are just a concerned car driver, keep reading for information on overcoming these devastating statistics.
Danger of Motorcycles
Clearly, riding a motorcycle comes with its dangers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied over one million people who were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for motorcycle-related injuries. The most common places for injury were the legs and feet, followed by the head and neck. After, motorcyclists tended to have injuries to the upper trunk, arms and hands, then the lower trunk. Because motorcycle accidents involve a considerable amount of head trauma, especially when the rider is not wearing a helmet, life-threatening brain injuries are a serious concern after an accident.
Both motorcycle riders and car drivers can practice safety measures to help prevent deadly crashes.
Remember, in the event of a crash, the non-motorcycle driver is usually at fault. Drivers often violate motorcyclists’ right of way because they don’t see them, don’t anticipate their movements, or are distracted. Most accidents could be prevented by drivers avoiding distractions, checking over their shoulders before turning or switching lanes, and maintaining defensive driving habits.
For motorcyclists, wearing a helmet is single-handedly the most important safety precaution one can take. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries for operators and 41% effective for passengers. Helmets saved an estimated 1,772 lives in 2017, and could have saved an additional 740 lives if more riders had been wearing helmets. Motorcyclists should wear a new, full-coverage helmet that meets Department of Transportation safety standards (National Safety Council).
In addition to wearing a helmet, safety measures motorcyclists can take include (Ride Texas):
- Invest in antilock brakes
- Take a motorcycle safety course, whether or not it is required by law
- Don’t drink and drive
- Always use headlights (day or night)
- Don’t speed
- Wear protective clothing, including gloves and boots that cover the ankles
Motorcycle Crashes and the Law
In Texas, all riders under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet while operating a motorcycle. Riders over 21 may ride without a helmet only if they have completed a safety course or are covered by an applicable insurance plan (TxDOT). Regardless, motorcyclists should wear a helmet at all times.
The law also dictates other standards for safety that apply to the motorcycle’s equipment. The required equipment includes:
- Wheel assembly
- Exhaust system
- Tail lamp
- Stop lamp
- License plate lamp
- Rear red reflector
- Head lamp
- Vehicle identification number
Passengers on a motorcycle must be at least 5 years old, and wearing a helmet if under 21. A motorcycle operator cannot carry a passenger unless the motorcycle is equipped with a permanent passenger seat.
In the event of a motorcycle crash, personal injury claims are governed by the legal concept of negligence. Negligence is when a person fails to take the proper amount of care that a reasonable person would take in the given situation. If a driver suddenly changes lanes without looking, knocking over a motorcyclist in the process, that would not be reasonable behavior, and the driver would be held legally responsible for the biker’s injuries.
Even if you are worried you may have been partially at fault in an accident, you may still want to pursue a claim. Texas is a comparative negligence state, which calculates damages based on the amount of each party’s fault. For example, under comparative negligence, a car driver could be found 80% at fault, while the motorcyclist is found 20% at fault. The damages would then be split up accordingly, and the motorcyclist could still recover 80% of the amount a jury awards him.
Motorcycle Crash Attorney
Motorcycle crashes are far too common and far too dangerous. In the unfortunate event that you are involved in one, you will want an experienced Dallas motorcycle accident attorney. A knowledgeable attorney will know the laws, how to determine fault, and fight to get you the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, and other costs.
In the moments and days after the motorcycle crash, be sure to take photos of the scene, contact police to get an official record, and save any medical bills. The more detailed information you have, the more comprehensive case you can build. For a free consultation with the experienced Dallas motorcycle crash attorneys at The Law Offices of Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, call (214) 231-0544.