As winter gives way to warmer temperatures, the days grow longer, and ice ceases to pose a threat on Ohio’s roadways, motorcycles slowly begin to burst forth like the first leaves to add color to the wintry gray landscape, roaring forward in celebration of spring and a new riding season. Coupled with the long-awaited freedom to once again populate the highways is the reality that with more riders on the roads, more accidents are bound to happen. Typically, motorcycle accidents increase during the spring and peak in the summer.
2020 brought with it a surge of motorcycle-related injuries and deaths. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), 4,810 motorcyclists were seriously injured and 873 were killed in Ohio traffic accidents between 2016 and 2020. From 2019 to 2020, serious injuries and fatalities among motorcyclists rose 24% and 33%, respectively. In 2020 alone—a record year for serious injuries and deaths—1,176 motorcyclists were seriously injured and 212 were killed.
Motorcycle accidents can cause serious injuries, and a personal injury lawyer experienced in the unique issues pertinent to motorcycle crashes can guide you through the process of recovering all damages to which you are entitled—medical bills, lost income, loss of the conjugal relationship, and companionship with your spouse, and more. As soon after an accident as possible, you should consult a personal injury attorney to maximize the amount you can recover from every person responsible for your injuries.
At Slater & Zurz LLP, we’ve been handling personal injury claims, including motorcycle claims, for over 30 years. One of our attorneys is an avid motorcyclist. Call or email our team of dedicated professionals for a free consultation. We’ll thoroughly evaluate your claim, answer your questions, and recommend the best way to secure all the compensation that you’re entitled to receive.
As a motorcyclist, you face a much greater risk of serious injury or death from a crash than anyone surrounded by the bubble of protection afforded by a car or truck. Without a helmet, your head is virtually unprotected, whether you’re rear-ended and ejected backward or sideways, or whether you slam into a car turning left in front of you when you have the right of way.
While everyone on the road has a duty to observe all the motor vehicle laws, motorcyclists stand to lose much more in the event of an accident than those inside other vehicles. It’s essential that you take every possible step to protect yourself and any passengers on your motorcycle.
- Make sure that your motorcycle is ready to roll. Did you make any modifications to it during the winter? Did you notice any problems at the end of last season that haven’t been corrected? Give it a thorough check-up (or have a mechanic check it out) to make sure that it’s in good working order before taking it out.
- In a March 13, 2021 crash, police found the body of a 36-year-old man lying on a highway. Their investigation revealed that while the man was operating his motorcycle, it became disabled on the highway. As the victim and his motorcycle were stopped, they were both struck by a Ford Mustang and a pickup truck, fatally injuring the motorcyclist, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
- Obey all traffic laws, including posted speed limits and turn signal requirements. They’re there for your protection!
- Don’t ride if you’re impaired. According to the OSHP, more than half of those killed in 2020 while operating their motorcycles were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Wear a helmet—and if you’re the parent of a teen under 18 years old, insist that he or she wear a helmet while operating or riding on a motorcycle. Ohio law requires all riders under 18 to wear a helmet, along with all drivers with less than a year’s experience operating motorcycles. Passengers are required to wear helmets when the driver is required to do so. According to OSHP, over 70% of the motorcyclists who died in Ohio crashes during the past five years were not wearing helmets.
- Make sure other drivers can see you. Car and truck drivers aren’t looking for motorcycles—especially in early spring. AAA recommends that you keep your headlight on at all times, wear bright colors, and use reflective tape. Stay out of other drivers’ blind spots, and position yourself where other drivers can see you.
- A common cause of fatal motorcycle accidents is a driver’s failure to see a motorcycle until it’s too late to avert a collision. All too often, the driver claims not to have seen the motorcycle.
- A 21-year-old Wellington motorcyclist recently sustained fatal chest injuries when a truck he was passing turned into his path.
What you should—and shouldn’t—do after a crash:
- Leave your motorcycle where it is if possible. This may aid in any investigation.
- Comply with the law and cooperate with law enforcement. Share your insurance and driver’s license information with other involved drivers and any law enforcement officers at the scene. Be polite and cooperative.
- Don’t admit fault. The fault usually depends on both the facts and the law. There will be time to determine who was at fault, and to what degree, after you’ve recovered from the shock of the crash after you’ve seen a doctor, and after you’ve spoken with a personal injury attorney.
- Gather as much information as you can at the scene. Get the other driver’s license and insurance information, as well as the identity and address of the other vehicle’s owner. If possible, talk to any witnesses, and get their names, phone numbers, email, and physical addresses. Take photos of the scene and all involved vehicles.
- See a doctor! A doctor can ensure that your injuries are properly treated. Without a doctor’s report, it may be difficult for you to prove the extent or likely cost of your injuries.
- Don’t sign any papers presented by an insurance company. After the accident, an insurance company may contact you and offer a quick settlement. Consult a personal injury attorney before signing any papers or accepting any settlement. The insurance company’s primary interest is in limiting its financial obligation—not in ensuring your complete recovery.
- Medical release forms. The insurance company may ask you to sign medical release forms giving the company access to all your medical records, including those unrelated to your accident. Don’t sign without first consulting a personal injury lawyer. Usually, records unrelated to the injuries you sustained in the accident are none of the insurance company’s business!
At Slater & Zurz, we can investigate the probable cause of your accident, using experts if necessary; evaluate the degree to which you or the other driver was at fault; determine which medical records are relevant to an insurance company’s investigation, and assess whether a settlement proposal is reasonable. Call us at #4LAW or email us to schedule a free consultation. We’re on your side!
Tips for Car and Truck Drivers:
- Focus on driving—not your passengers, electronics, pets, or food.
- Always be on the lookout for motorcycles.
- Don’t throw trash or cigarettes out the window—seemingly insignificant road debris can kill a motorcyclist.
- Maintain a safe following distance behind motorcycles—they can stop much more quickly than you can.
- Always look for motorcycles before merging or turning, and signal in advance.
Place Your Trust in Us to Handle Your Motorcycle Accident Claim.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, you owe it to yourself to reach out to an established law firm with a proven record of success in handling personal injury cases involving motorcycle crashes. An insurance company faced with the prospect of compensating you for your injuries is not likely to tell you if you have a strong case or advise you to consult with a motorcycle accident lawyer before attempting to negotiate on your own.
At Slater & Zurz, we build relationships with our clients one at a time, through honesty, commitment, perseverance, and trust. Like so many others who have placed their trust in us, you can count on us to fully assess your motorcycle accident claim, answer your questions, and advise you concerning the most likely pathway to success. There’s no obligation on your part—we offer a free consultation, and if we take your case you won’t owe us anything unless we succeed in winning a judgment or a favorable settlement for you. Call or email our team for a free consultation. We’re here to serve your legal needs with unwavering dedication and the drive to win for you.