Riding a motorcycle is not without risk. If you are at the controls of a motorcycle traveling down the road, you should possess more skill and coordination than a person driving a car. Despite possessing increased operator skill, a motorcycle driver or passenger is more likely to suffer deadly injuries if that motorcycle crashes. The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) states a motorcyclist’s risk of death is 27 times as great as a person riding in a passenger vehicle.
In Ohio, about 170 motorcyclists die each year in crashes, according to recent statistics from the Ohio State Patrol for the years 2015 to 2017. Thousands of more motorcycle riders are injured each year, many of them catastrophically. NHTSA figures claim 5,286 motorcyclists died in accidents throughout the nation in 2016.
The first question often asked after a motorcycle crash is—Who was at fault?
Fault in a Motorcycle Accident
It is very important to accurately determine fault in an accident as there may be one party at fault or several. Each responsible party may have separate assets and separate insurance to cover any injuries and damages sustained in the accident. A motorcycle accident attorney, like those at Slater & Zurz LLP law firm, will help an injured motorcyclist identify the at-fault parties.
In the worst case scenario, the motorcyclist has died in the accident or shortly thereafter. In a time of grief, it may seem crass or unfeeling to think about money, but it is not. In most instances, the family of the deceased will need to seek any compensation due them to help with bills that often cannot be paid in the absence of their loved one. Someone will have to be paying attention as to how damages entitled to those family members can be collected. The motorcycle lawyers at Slater & Zurz LLP are the people who can pay attention to this issue.
In a motorcycle death, motorcycle accident attorneys may seek a wrongful death civil judgment for the benefit of the motorcyclist’s loved ones.
In all cases, the motorcycle lawyer will carefully investigate all aspects of the crash, collecting medical records and accident reports in preparation for dealing with insurance companies and determining exactly what happened on the day of the wreck.
The motorcycle injury attorneys are familiar with the excuses negligent drivers often use, for example blaming the accident on a blind spot when they were actually not paying attention to the road around them. If there are few or no crash witnesses and little evidence beyond the police report, proving your claim may appear difficult, but consider consulting with Slater & Zurz motorcycle attorneys before concluding your case is not a good one. Your initial consultation with this law firm is free. They have convenient offices in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati and can arrange to meet you elsewhere in the state.
How Motorcycle Crashes Happen
“Crash stats” from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that 42% of motorcycle crashes occur when a vehicle turns left while a motorcycle is going straight or passing a vehicle. Other causes of motorcycle accidents are speeding, driving while intoxicated, distracted driving, failure to signal, lane splitting, reckless driving, blind spots, and failure of the motorist to “see” the bike. Slater & Zurz motorcycle accident attorneys have experience with accidents caused by all of these factors.
Slater & Zurz LLP motorcycle crash attorneys are familiar with common injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI)s, amputations, muscle damage, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, injuries to the knees and feet and road rash which often occurs when a motorcyclist slides across the pavement and his skin is scraped off. The latter can cause permanent nerve damage.
All of these injuries are potentially very serious and the injured person is urged to seek examination by a medical professional as soon as possible after a crash. An attorney by your side will be welcome if you must seek compensation for your injuries.
Compensation for other types of damages in a motorcycle crash
An injured motorcyclist may be entitled to compensation for wages and future earnings if he or she missed work due to their injuries or if the motorcyclist can no longer perform the duties they once did on the job. The motorcyclist may be compensated for past and future medical bills and for pain and suffering experienced due to the accident. He may be compensated for disfigurement and loss of property—for anything caused by the accident that affects the way life is now compared to how it was before the crash.
A motorcycle accident attorney can show an opposing insurance company, a jury or other attorneys what the crash has done to the life of their client and why that client deserves compensation for their injuries.
If part of the accident is the fault of the person driving the motorcycle
According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, motorcycle drivers are at fault in 55.2% of motorcycle crashes that happen in Ohio. Non-motorcycle drivers are at fault 35.4% of the time. However, NHTSA says their recent research, on a national level, consistently identifies motorists as “at-fault in more than half of all multi-vehicle motorcycle-involved collisions.” NHTSA findings conclude motorists are distracted more than 50% of the time while driving.
The good news, even if a motorcycle driver is partly at fault in an accident, is that he or she may still have a right to compensation. In Ohio, one is not barred from recovery unless their negligence is more than 50% responsible for causing the accident. When the total amount of damages is calculated, each party will be responsible for his or her proportionate share. If the court or a settlement agreement determines the motorcyclist is 20% at fault and the other driver is 80%, the other driver or his insurance company must pay 80% of the total damages.
Motorcyclist not wearing a helmet
In Ohio, a motorcycle operator and his passenger are only required to wear helmets if they are a novice rider or under 18 years of age. If the driver of the motorcycle is required to wear a helmet, so is the passenger.
The other party in an accident case may challenge a motorcyclist’s injury claim, by asserting the defense that if the motorcyclist were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, their injuries would have been less severe and thus, damages would be lower. The person making this contention must be able to present factual evidence that injuries sustained would have been reduced or prevented with the use of a helmet and that the actions of the non-helmeted motorcyclist were negligent and caused harm.
Despite any claims concerning helmet use, the motorcyclist would not be barred in the state of Ohio from recovery in the accident as long as his negligence was not more than 50%.
What to do after a motorcycle crash
If you are involved in a motorcycle crash, you may be too seriously injured to immediately think about your legal rights. You should remain at the scene and not move if you are injured. Wait for emergency help. As soon as you possibly can, do the following or ask a loved one to assist you:
- If possible, take photos of the crash, damage to vehicles and your injuries.
- Write down details including times and locations, positions of the vehicles, names and contact information of any witnesses. Especially if you do not have photos, these notes could be very beneficial later.
- File a police report and make sure you obtain a copy.
- Do not discuss the accident and do not admit fault to anyone. Do not give a statement to any insurance company or accept an offer of payment from an insurance company until you have spoken to a motorcycle lawyer.
- Don’t have your motorcycle repaired immediately and do not attempt to repair it yourself. Leave your motorcycle “as is” after the accident so it can be examined by an expert. This could be critical to your case.
Remember a Slater & Zurz LLP motorcycle accident lawyer is an expert in dealing with a client’s personal injury and any other aspect of an accident. The lawyer is there to help you with any of the steps listed as you attempt to decide what should be done after your loss. You can always get a new bike. If you have a custom-made motorcycle, there may only be one like it, and yet physical injuries to your body or to a passenger should take priority.
Why you should hire Slater & Zurz LLP
After a devastating motorcycle crash, families experience a variety of emotions. If there has been loss of life, family members are usually focusing on their grief. There may be financial struggles, but they are temporarily pushed aside. A motorcycle injury attorney is in a unique position to help. When you are least able to deal with insurance companies, the attorney can do it for you.
- The motorcycle accident attorney can talk with witnesses who may have seen the accident and talk with police to obtain a copy of what they reported at the scene. Slater & Zurz LLP attorneys are dedicated to aggressively protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
- At Slater & Zurz LLP, our Ohio motorcycle injury attorneys have handled thousands of personal injury cases during more than 40 years in practice. They know what to do and when to do it.
- Slater & Zurz LLP attorneys will help you decide if you should seek a resolution through negotiations with an insurance company or other parties responsible, or if you want to take the matter to court and litigate.
- As part of their representation, our attorneys work with medical professionals and accident re-constructionists, if necessary, to provide you the best possible resources.
- If someone else is responsible for a motorcycle accident that resulted in the wrongful death of your loved one, that party could be liable for costs associated with the accident, including medical costs and lost wages. In some cases, there could be punitive damages awarded to the loved ones of the deceased if the individual found responsible for the crash was found to be reckless or highly negligent in their conduct.