A motorcycle accident can be one of the catastrophic things to ever happen to a person and their family. The serious physical injuries caused by a motorcycle accident can be traumatic – severe burns, amputations, spinal cord damage, brain injuries or even death from motorcycle accidents occur all too frequently in Pittsburgh. Due to the severity of motorcycle accidents and the seriousness of injuries sustained by motorcyclists, the average personal injury settlement following a motorcycle crash is nearly $74,000, according to law. Your personal injury case can be worth considerably more if you are represented by experienced Pittsburgh motorcycle accident lawyers.
Physical damages to a victim or a victim’s family come with a heavy price – medical bills, lost wages, future lost wages, not to mention severe emotional pain and distress.
In Pennsylvania, there are more than 835,000 licensed motorcyclists, who get into more than 3,200 motorcycle accidents per year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Motorcycle crashes are considered the most dangerous type of motor vehicle accidents on our roads because the vast majority of these accidents involve high speeds. Besides, unlike occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcycle riders are not protected by multiple layers of metal and steel, and thus are more likely to sustain a serious injury or die at the scene.
Why Are Motorcycle Accidents More Dangerous Than Other Types of Crashes?
Statistically speaking, motorcycle accidents are deadlier than any other type of motor vehicle collisions. But why is that? Because motorcycle riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, they are more likely to get injured or die in motor vehicle accidents.
Per mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles was nearly 28 times the number in passenger cars, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Our Pittsburgh motorcycle accident attorney notes that motorcycle crash fatalities have doubled in the past decade, largely due to the fact that an ever-increasing number of people purchase motorcycles.
Contrary to popular belief, not all motorcycle accidents are caused by young, inexperienced, and reckless motorcyclists. In fact, a large percentage of motorcycle crashes involve riders over 40 who have slower reaction times, operate the bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and get distracted while riding, not to mention that there is more congestion on our roads than ever before and drivers travel at faster speeds.
Statistics show that the rider’s legs and feet account for about 30 percent of all motorcycle accident injuries, while injuries to the head and neck account for more than 22 percent of all motorcycle injuries. A large percentage of head injuries and deaths can be prevented by helmet use. Since Pennsylvania repealed its mandatory helmet law in 2003, those who operate motorcycles are not required to wear protective headgear unless under 21 years of age.
Fact: Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries, according to the IIHS.
What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Pittsburgh?
The things you do after a motorcycle accident have a tremendous impact on your safety, recovery, and the likelihood of obtaining financial compensation.
- Make sure you are safe: It is paramount that you escape immediate danger after a motorcycle accident. The scene of a motorcycle crash can be full of hazards and dangers, as the vast majority of these accidents involve fuel leaks and spills that could turn into fires.
- Make sure other motorists realize what happened: In many motorcycle accidents, motorcyclists get injured, or their injuries are aggravated due to other motorists failing to slow or brake at the scene of the crash. Your priority is to move to a safe place after a motorcycle crash and make sure that other motorists are warned about the crash.
- Get medical attention: Even if you think that you are fine. Seeking medical attention after a motorcycle accident is very important because your failure to get medical care may prompt insurance companies to cite “lack of injury” as grounds to deny your claim. After all, if you did not need medical attention after a motorcycle accident, how can insurers know that you were not injured somewhere else after the crash?
- Call the police: Reporting the accident is of paramount importance because the police report will serve as key evidence in your legal case against the other party(s) involved.
- Gather evidence and contact information: Talking to witnesses and all the parties involved is also critical, and so is writing down their contact information such as the full name, address, phone number, insurance info, and many more.
- Do not report the accident to your insurance company: Unless you talk to a Pittsburgh motorcycle accident lawyer first. Insurance companies will stop at nothing to devalue or deny your claim, which is why you can definitely expect your insurer to use dishonest tactics just so they pay you as little as possible. Only an experienced personal injury attorney can adequately evaluate your case and determine the amount of money you are entitled to.
Time Limit to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim
It is critical for individuals to understand that they have a limited amount of time to file motorcycle accident claims In Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania personal injury statute of limitations is two years from the date an injury occurs. If a motorcyclist fails to file a claim within this two-year timeframe, they will lose the ability to recover the compensation they need.
However, we do want motorcycle accident victims in Pittsburgh to understand that insurance carriers do not have the same deadline. Most insurance carriers require that motorcycle accidents be reported within a day or two after they occur. Failing to abide by insurance carrier deadlines could result in a claim delay or denial.
How Often Do Motorcycle Accident Injuries Occur?
When we turn to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, we can see that there were nearly 3,000 total motorcycle collisions across the Commonwealth during the latest reporting year. Out of these incidents, there were 2,860 injuries reported and a total of 174 fatalities.
When we take a closer look at these statistics, we can see that the vast majority of motorcyclists involved in these accidents sustained some sort of injury or fatality. Motorcyclists simply do not have much protection from the force of a vehicle slamming into them. Additionally, these accidents often result in two impacts for the motorcyclists – one with a vehicle and another with the ground. Both of these impacts can lead to serious injuries for the victim.
What Happens if a Motorcyclist is Partially at Fault?
Injured motorcyclists in Pittsburgh may still be able to recover compensation even if they are partially at fault for their injuries. Pennsylvania operates under what is called a “modified comparative negligence” system. This means that injury victims in the Commonwealth can recover compensation so long as they are less than 51% responsible for their injury. Any person 51% or more responsible for an accident will be unable to recover compensation for their losses.
However, as part of the modified comparative negligence system, the total amount of compensation a motorcycle accident victim receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. For example, if a motorcyclist attempted to change lanes and was rear-ended by an alcohol-impaired driver right after changing lanes and sustained $100,000 worth of damages, the impaired driver may be seen as being totally at fault. However, what happens if the motorcyclist failed to use a turn signal or hand signals to indicate that they were changing lanes?
In this particular situation, it is plausible that a personal injury jury will find that the motorcyclist was 30% at fault because they failed to properly signal the lane change. In this instance, the motorcyclist would receive $70,000 in compensation instead of the full $100,000 to account for their percentage of fault.
Determining Fault in a Motorcycle Accident
It is unfortunate that so many motorcycle accidents could have been avoided if the drivers of the automobile who caused the accident had been less negligent. The most common cause of motorcycle accidents is negligence by another driver. Oftentimes drivers of cars, pick-up trucks, SUVs and large trucks do not give motorcyclists enough space causing rear end crashes.
Other vehicles may also cause limited visibility crashes by failing to check their mirrors closely before changing lanes. If motorists do not see the motorcyclist in their mirror, they may overlook them altogether, not bothering to check blind spots. Or, other drivers may be distracted or texting or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The difficulty lies in proving the other driver was negligent and caused the motorcycle crash. Having an aggressive and compassionate motorcycle accident lawyer who specializes in guiding accident victims and their families through the legal process of personal injury is crucial to getting the best outcome for your case.
Types of Damages You May Be Entitled To
Our personal injury law firm was established based on the partnership of two experienced attorneys – one who spent decades representing injured people and the other with an extensive background in representing insurance companies. Our attorneys understand how both sides work and use this knowledge to maximize the outcomes for our clients.
Our law firm does not believe in backing down to insurance companies when they are offering our clients an unreasonable settlement. Instead, we advise our clients that we are ready, willing and able to prepare their case for trial. Of course, sometimes our clients are not interested in going to court, and in those instances we work hard to resolve the matter without involving further litigation.
As a motorcycle accident victim or the loved one of a victim, you may be entitled to recover damages such as:
- Medical Expenses
- Paid Medical Expenses
- Property Damage
- Lost Wages
- Future Lost Wages
- Emotional Distress
- Permanent Physical Disability
- Physical Pain and Suffering
Why You Need a Pittsburgh Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Many victims of motorcycle accidents wonder, “What motorcycle accident lawyers do that I can’t?” If you are one of those who have no idea how a personal injury lawyer can help in your situation, you need to understand that there are a lot of things that go into investigating motorcycle accident cases and pursuing compensation for damages and losses. In fact, it may be difficult to recover damages even when the other party’s fault is obvious.
Apart from providing you with a free consultation about your case, handling all the paperwork necessary for your legal case, handling negotiations on your behalf, and preparing your case for a trial process, your motorcycle accident attorney in Pittsburgh or elsewhere in Pennsylvania will do the following:
- Collect sufficient evidence establishing the other motorist’s fault: According to FindLaw, the driver of the other vehicle violates the motorcyclist’s right of way and is to blame for the crash in two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents involving a passenger car. Your Pittsburgh motorcycle accident lawyer will investigate your particular accident to find compelling evidence of the passenger car driver’s fault.
- Establishing fault of other liable parties: The other motorist might not be the only party to blame for the motorcycle crash, as poor road conditions cause a large percentage of motorcycle accidents. When road conditions factor in causing a motor vehicle collision, your lawyer will investigate whether the government entity or any other public entity such as the city, municipality, or county can be held accountable for the crash.
- Inspecting the motorcycle, safety gear, and other vehicles: According to the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), more than 45,000 motor vehicle crashes are caused by a vehicle malfunction, many of which occur as a result of poor vehicle maintenance. Your attorney will hire specialists to inspect bikes, safety gear, and other vehicles involved in the crash to determine whether or not other parties – such as auto manufacturers or auto mechanics – can be held liable.
There are many benefits of hiring a team of motorcycle accident lawyers in Pittsburgh. If you are still uncertain about whether or not you need legal representation from an attorney, schedule a free consultation with our lawyers at SMT Legal. Contact us to learn how we can help you.