More than 3,500 auto accidents involving motorcycles occurred in North Carolina in 2013. Most of them resulted in injuries (about 3,000), and 154 resulted in death (North Carolina DMV). It is essential to be as safe as possible when operating a motorcycle. You should always wear a helmet, stay out of blind spots and remain visible to others, wear protective clothing, stay caught up with maintenance of your motorcycle, wear light colored and reflective clothing, and avoid weaving in and out of traffic. Remember that a motorcycle is not as stable as other types of vehicles. It is less visible, and more likely to lead to injury or death in an accident.
The most common cause of auto accidents involving motorcycles is driver error. It may be your error, as the operator of the motorcycle, or it may be the error of other drivers. Common causes of motorcycle accidents include drivers failing to yield to motorcycles when changing lanes, following too closely, failing to navigate with care, and driving in the motorcycle’s travel lane.
It is also terribly common for motorcyclists to endure serious and expensive injuries, such as traumatic head injuries, road rash, biker’s arm, leg injuries, and facial disfigurement.
Traumatic head injuries occur when the head is struck by an object or slammed into a hard surface. The head can be punctured, damaging the brain, or the brain can be violently shaken within the skull. This can cause mild concussions or severe brain damage, depending on severity. In some cases, these injuries result in significant disability or even death.
Road rash occurs when the motorcyclist slides or is dragged across pavement. This can happen when the operator is thrown from the bike and slides across the road when landing. This can decimate outer clothing before destroying the skin with cuts, scrapes, deep abrasions, infections, and even nerve damage in some cases.
Biker’s arm refers to the injury that occurs when a motorcyclist instinctively extends his or her arm to lessen the impact when throw from the bike. Naturally, this instinct does little to help in a motorcycle accident, and generally results in extensive arm injuries, including broken bones and damaged nerves. Leg injuries are also common motorcycle accident issues, with the knees and feet being most at risk for shattered and fractured bones.
Finally, about 35% of motorcycle accidents will lead to facial disfigurement in the chin area. This happens because the face and chin are not adequately protected and can suffer the effects of sliding across the ground and/or impacting an object.
When auto accidents involve motorcycles, the injuries are often substantial, serious, and very expensive to treat. The medical bills alone can devastate the life of the victim. They are typically much higher than ordinary auto accidents and can involve multiple surgeries, years of rehabilitation, and numerous specialists to address injuries. Finally, you may be out of work for a long time and face overwhelming financial burdens while struggling with the insurance company to obtain the compensation that you are entitled to.
What to Do After the Accident
There are many things that you can and should do after an auto accident involving a motorcycle.
The first step is to seek medical assistance. Accept emergency treatment, no matter how serious you think the injuries might be. If you do not accept treatment at the scene of the accident, seek a full medical evaluation as soon as possible. If you don’t do this or if you fail to document your injuries and expenses, then you may be unable to prove them later.
Before leaving the scene of the accident, you should obtain the information of each vehicle involved and all witnesses. Take pictures of the accident, write down your version of what happened, and stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives. When they do, you should offer a general statement, but be sure to avoid saying anything that might indicate fault on your part.
Next, you’ll need to contact your insurance company to let them know about the incident, also without making any statements that might indicate fault. Then, you need to contact an attorney. Because motorcycle accidents have such a significant impact, you should have legal representation when attempting to recover fair compensation, particularly if there are serious injuries, questions about fault, costly property damage, or any fatalities from the accident.
You will likely be contact by another driver’s insurance company. When this happens, you should not answer questions or give statements without talking to an attorney. Anything you say could be used to argue against your claim. You should maintain all records from lost time from work, damage repairs, and medical treatment and expenses. Hold onto receipts of payments, insurance questionnaires, explanations of benefits, and all other documents that you receive.
Remember that motorcycle accidents are not like ordinary car accidents. There are differences in the injuries and the losses. You’ll want to have an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of motorcycle accident cases and fight for your right to recover compensation.