Many people in America choose to drive motorcycles instead of enclosed vehicles. It’s no wonder. The Arizona climate makes it a perfect way to get around Phoenix and other busy areas. Whether driving a motorcycle for the pure joy of it or as a preferred means of transportation, motorcycles can be a convenient, fuel-efficient, and enjoyable mode of transportation. Unfortunately, due to their small size, motorcyclists are much less visible to other drivers than larger vehicles. Even a small distraction can prevent a traditional vehicle from noticing a motorcycle, increasing the risk for collisions.
What makes motorcycling riding great also increases its risk to riders. Motorcycles are simply less stable than cars and lack the protection of enclosed vehicles, causing riders to face a far greater risk of serious injury than drivers of larger vehicles. Motorcyclists are more likely to be seriously injured or even killed in a traffic collision with another vehicle than the other driver. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) says that passenger car occupants are 27 times more likely to survive a crash than motorcyclists.
Phoenix Roadways Are Meant For Motorcyclists, Too
If you experience a motorcycle accident, we will stand by you. With almost a quarter century of experience as a personal injury attorney, Luis P. Guerra and his knowledgeable team in Phoenix will advocate for you and guide you in the courtroom in battling insurance companies that refuse to compensate you and your family. We are aggressive and experienced and will do our best to secure the maximum compensation possible.
The Serious Injuries Faced By Motorcyclists
We know motorcyclists are susceptible to serious injuries and even death when in a road accident. And some of these injuries may be life-changing. There are many types of motorcycle accident-related injuries, but some of the more serious include:
- Spinal cord injuries. Many traffic accidents cause spinal cord injuries. The sudden impact can cause spinal vertebrae to be crushed, fractured, dislocated, or compressed, which can lead to numerous serious and long-term conditions.
- Paralysis. Spinal cord injuries resulting from traumatic impact often cause paralysis, paraplegia, quadriplegia, and other long-term disabilities.
- Amputations. The extreme force of impact can sometimes throw a rider along with their bike with enough force to shatter their limbs beyond repair. In this instance, surgeons are forced to amputate the shattered limb.
- Traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries account for many motorcyclists’ deaths every year and can occur even if the victim had on a helmet at the time of impact. Traumatic brain injuries account for the majority of motorcycle accident-related deaths in America every year.
- Broken bones. Legs, ankles, wrists, arms, and ribs can easily fracture or break from the impact of the collision itself, from being caught under the weight of the bike when it falls, or from being propelled into the air and landing on pavement.
- Road rash. Serious skin abrasions (called road rash) can occur when a motorist’s skin contacts the pavement. Excessive road rash can cause serious skin loss, which needs immediate medical attention and is highly susceptible to infection and scarring.
- Lower-extremity injuries. A recent study by NHTSA concluded that leg and other lower-extremity injuries are the most common injury sustained by motorcyclists.
- Internal injuries. Blunt force trauma can cause damage to the internal organs or internal bleeding, while penetration trauma caused by a shard of glass, metal, or another object piercing the abdomen can cause severe internal damage and blood loss.
- Death. Thousands of motorcyclists die every year from motorcycle accidents. If someone you love was killed in a motorcycle accident, contact a Phoenix motorcycle lawyer to learn about the options available to you and your family.
Luis P. Guerra, LLC, can help you understand what to do if you sustain injuries in a motorcycle accident. Any of these can lead to dramatic changes in your life. You may be unable to work or even walk again. You may have to learn to walk again or adapt to the injuries that have affected your family life. In such extreme cases, you may not have the financial resources to get through. Our steady, knowledgeable, experienced, and aggressive team will do their best in representing you.
How Do You Protect Yourself From a Motorcycle Accident?
Learning to drive your motorcycle safely is one of the best things you can do to prevent a crash. Before attempting to drive in traffic, you need to spend hours practicing with a motorcycle driving instructor. Even after obtaining all necessary licenses, it is good to practice driving in low traffic areas first and slowly introduce yourself to driving in various weather and roadway conditions before hitting the streets. There are also several driving habits you can develop that will help keep you safe. Some safe motorcycle driving practices include:
- Going more slowly. The more swiftly you drive, the less time there is to compensate for debris in the roadway or to other vehicles suddenly braking or turning in front of you. Sometimes an extra second is all you need to avoid a pothole, slippery spot, or crack in the pavement, and maintaining a safe speed will give you that reaction time you need.Traveling at a slower speed will also enable you to make turns without risk. For example, if you attempt taking a corner while traveling too fast, you may panic, hit the brakes, and end up flying off your bike. On the other hand, if you take the corner too fast, your bike could slide out, trapping you under it in the process. Following the speed limit while driving a motorcycle is one of the most reliable ways to prevent a crash.As previously mentioned, traveling at high speeds limits your ability to apply the brakes safely. If another vehicle turns, brakes, or maneuvers in front of you, there may not be enough time to stop your forward momentum even if you apply the brakes. Furthermore, if the pavement has any patches of water, sand, gravel, or oil when you suddenly apply the brakes, it could cause your tires to slide out from under you abruptly.
- Look to the rear when stopping at intersections. When motorcyclists stop at a crosswalk or intersection, or slow for an animal or pedestrian to cross the road, they are often hit from behind. If you plan to stop or slow in a situation like this, check your mirrors first to make sure there isn’t a vehicle right behind you. If there is, flash your lights and move over to the side before slowing to a stop.
- Never drive between two lanes of traffic or lanes of parked cars. This is dangerous for several reasons:
- A vehicle could suddenly swerve into you if you drive too close to them, and it could sandwich you between the two vehicles with nowhere to go.
- A driver could open their door, and you would drive right into it.
- Never drink and drive. You might think that a beer or two won’t affect your driving, but in truth, even a small amount of alcohol increases the time it takes you to react. While operating a motorcycle, maintaining good reaction time and quick reflexes is especially important.
- Do not wear earbuds or headphones while driving. If your motorcycle has a radio, that’s one thing. But listening to music through earbuds or headphones can block out the sound of cars approaching from behind, car horns, and other important traffic indicators.
- Perform regular bike maintenance. Making sure your bike is functioning properly could save your life. You should perform regular tests to make sure there are no problems with your bike. Before driving anywhere, it’s a good idea to make sure there are no issues with your motorcycle’s:
- Brakes (both front and rear)
- Brake lights
- Turn signals
- Avoid sharing lanes with another driver. Attempting to share the lane with another larger vehicle is an unnecessary risk. Other drivers are not accustomed to sharing their lane and may not know to be watching for you.
- Learn to maneuver through common hazards. There are certain roadway hazards that every rider will eventually encounter while driving, whether it’s wet pavement, loose gravel, sand, potholes, train tracks, or flotsam and jetsam on the road. Practicing driving over or navigating around these obstacles at low speeds in a low traffic area before you take to the busy roads will prepare you for facing these hazards later when you might not have as much reaction time.
- Wear protective gear at all times. Sometimes avoiding an accident is not an option. In those instances, your body must be as protected as possible. That’s why you should wear long pants, leather gloves, proper riding boots, and long sleeves or a riding jacket every time you ride, even if it’s only for a short distance.
There are a few other safety measures motorcycles can take as well. Motorcyclists have a better chance of avoiding broken bones and other injuries if they think about or practice falling in a controlled manner. If there is a crash, the rider is more prepared to take the fall in the safest way possible. Some tips for safer falling are:
- Keep your body loose and avoid tensing up.
- Do not break the fall with your hands.
- Bend your elbows and place your hands over your head.
In Arizona, helmet use by people older than 18 is optional. If you choose not to wear one, or if your helmet does not include a face shield, by law you must wear protective eyewear such as high-performance goggles that can protect you from sand, grit, debris, and other particles that may fly into your eyes and cause you to lose control of your motorcycle.
What Type of Motorcycle Accident Is Most Common?
While motorcycle accidents are not necessarily more frequent than accidents involving other vehicles, they are more likely to result in serious injuries or death. Overwhelmingly, deadly motorcycle accidents are caused by collisions with another vehicle. Out of these collisions, 78% involve another vehicle striking the motorcycle from the front. Educating yourself about the common types of motorcycle accidents is necessary for preparing yourself for the road. Along with head-on collisions with other vehicles, many motorcycle crashes are caused by:
- Cars making left-hand turns. Forty-two percent of all motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle are caused by car or truck drivers not noticing an oncoming motorcycle when making a left-hand turn. In most cases, the car or truck strikes the motorcycle when it is:
- Traveling straight through an intersection
- Attempting to pass the car or truck
- Trying to pass or overtake the car
- Lane splitting. Lane splitting is when a motorcyclist attempts to travel between rows of unmoving cars, usually in a traffic jam. Whether the motorcycle driver or the car is found at fault in a lane splitting accident depends mostly on whether lane splitting is legal in that state. In 2020, lane splitting became illegal in Arizona. Motorcyclists involved in a lane splitting accident in Phoenix are likely to be found at fault. Lane splitting is a common cause of motorcycle accidents for the following reasons:
- Close proximity of the motorcycle to other vehicles.
- Not enough space for the motorcycle to maneuver.
- Other drivers are not expecting a motorcycle to be passing them in slow or stopped traffic.
- Collisions between motorcycles and fixed objects. Because motorcyclists are not protected by an enclosed metal box like car and truck drivers, they are likely to be thrown hard in the event of a collision with a fixed object such as a light post, fire hydrant, telephone pole, or an open car door.
- Road hazards. Due to their smaller size and less stable nature, motorcycles face greater risks than other vehicles when it comes to certain roadway hazards. Potholes, dead animals, debris, and other unexpected obstacles and irregularities pose a great threat to riders.
- High-performance motorcycles. Supersport and sport motorcycles are light-weight and have high horsepower engines. This makes them able to travel at exceptionally high speeds, upward of 160 mph. The number of deaths caused by supersport and sport motorcycles is four times higher than for riders of other types of motorcycles.
Who Is at Fault in Most Motorcycle Accidents?
While the long-standing stigma against motorcycles and bikers leads many people to believe that the rider causes most motorcycle accidents, this is rarely the case. Forty-two percent of accidents involving other vehicles are caused by other drivers’ failure to notice the motorcycle coming from the opposite direction while making a left turn. Although car and truck drivers are, in fact, responsible for causing many of these accidents, motorcyclists are often blamed due to lack of awareness and the widely held public perception that motorcyclists are “reckless drivers.” You must contact an experienced Phoenix motorcycle attorney right away if you or someone you love was involved in a crash so that you can get what you deserve and receive compensation for your losses.
Fault in a motorcycle accident is determined based on attorneys’ arguments in court concerning the evidence and information gathered during an accident investigation. In most motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle, the other driver should be held at fault, although both drivers’ actions will be considered when making the determination. If the accident occurred due to poorly maintained roadways, the government entity responsible for providing proper roadway maintenance could be liable to pay the damages. To successfully settle your case, you will need the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer who has experience defending motorcycle accident claims.
How Long Does a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Take?
Just as every accident is unique, so too is every motorcycle accident lawsuit. Many victims and survivors of motorcycle accidents in Phoenix approach their lawsuits with a host of expectations about the duration, timeline, and process of their claim. How long the lawsuit will take, how many steps are involved, and other details of the procedure are determined largely by the specifics of the accident, as well as the types of damages the victim wishes to recover.
Types of Damages Available in Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits
The types of damages you hope to receive after your motorcycle accident can affect how long it takes to settle the claim. Usually, the cases with higher damage demands take more time. A Phoenix motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine what damages are available to you. Some potentially available damages include:
- Medical bills. Hospital and other medical expenses following a motorcycle accident can be substantial. Many victims of motorcycle crashes are eligible to receive compensation for all past, present, and future medical fees. You may need to present hospital bills, bank statements, and other court documents to claim compensation.
- Pain and suffering. Most motorcycle accidents result in both extreme physical and emotional trauma. The amount of damages you can receive in this category depends on how severely you were impacted by the accident. Depending on the damages you wish to receive, you may need to have a medical or mental health doctor testify on your account.
- Loss of work/wages. Medical bills are one thing, but many people are also unable to continue working or are forced to limit their work due to the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
- Diminished earning capacity. Sometimes a person’s ability to work is permanently impacted and restricted due to long-term or even life-long conditions and injuries caused by a motorcycle accident.
- Disfigurement. Some motorcycle accidents lead to permanent disfigurement or amputations. Additional damages are available for motorcycle accident survivors in this category.
- Disability. Some motorcycle accident survivors face life-long disabilities. While no monetary sum could ever make up for a disability, the American justice system works to provide motorcycle accident victims facing disabilities some financial relief.
Because motorcycles lack the protection of enclosed vehicles, victims of motorcycle accidents often face much more serious injuries. Spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, and painful skin abrasions are just a few of the common injuries associated with motorcycle collisions.
Though no personal injury claim process is fast, motorcycle accident claims can take longer than traditional car or truck accident claims. That’s generally due to the severity of injuries, which can take longer to heal. It is best to pursue legal action after the victim has made somewhat close to a full recovery in most cases. Waiting until the victim is as healed as they can be, given their injuries, is better for their health. This also makes it easier to assess and calculate the total cost of medical bills associated with the accident. Additionally, the more serious and catastrophic the victim’s injuries, the more expensive it usually is to treat them. Greater monetary damages in a case usually take longer to settle.
Other Motorists Must Pay Heed To Motorcyclists
For years, motorcyclists have faced prejudice from members of the public. This lack of respect may enter the courtroom, where some jurors may view motorcyclists as unsafe thrill-seekers and risk-takers. This perception is inaccurate. Other motor vehicle drivers on the road present inherent dangers such as distracted driving. Many drivers are unaware or forget that motorcyclists share the road with them and that in some instances the motorcyclist has the right of way. So, motorcyclists need to take extra safety precautions while riding on the road because they are exposed and do not have a structure around them.
We represent injured or deceased motorcycle riders or their families. If insurance companies refuse to provide an appropriate compensation, we will take the case to trial. No one deserves the life-altering injuries that result from a motorcycle accident. While insurance companies may not be on your side, we are at Luis P. Guerra, LLC.
Contact Luis P. Guerra, An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
A motorcycle injury can transform your life and the lives of your loved ones. If you’re faced with medical and life uncertainties after a motorcycle accident, get an experienced, aggressive and understanding lawyer to represent you. To schedule a free consultation, contact the law firm of Luis P. Guerra at 602-381-8400. Hablamos español.