Motorcycle enthusiast face unique risks that greatly exceed those of other drivers on the road. Those who ride motorcycles are more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers of passenger cars, trucks and other vehicles and far more likely to suffer serious and even catastrophic injuries. Motorcyclists do not have the protection of a door, roof, air bag or safety belt. A few statistics illustrate the unique vulnerability of those who ride motorcycles.
• Two-thirds of all accidents involving motorcycles are caused by the other driver violating the motorcycle rider’s right of way.
• 5,290 motorcyclist were killed in accidents nationally in 2007.
• 614 motorcyclist were killed in Maryland in accidents in 2005 – 14% of all motor vehicle deaths.
• 90% of all motorcycle fatalities in Maryland in 2007 involved riders wearing helmets.
• Per mile traveled, motorcyclist were 16 time more likely than passenger car occupants to be killed in 1998.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
• Size and Visibility: Motorcycles are small and less visible to other drivers and more easily obscured by other vehicles, road conditions or bad weather. Lack of visibility is an even more serious problem at intersections where approximately 70% of motorcycle collisions with other vehicles occur.
• Road Conditions/Hazards: Road conditions and/or hazards that are incidental to passenger vehicles can become especially treacherous to motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are much more vulnerable to such road hazard because they are much lighter and unstable given that they have only two wheels. Obstacles such as uneven pavement, potholes and debris pose a serious risk to motorcycle riders.
• Speed “Wobble” Accidents: When motorcycles are driven at high rates of speed, the front end of the motorcycle may become unstable and begin to shake making them difficult to control. This shaking is sometimes called a “wobble” and may be caused by misalignment of the front and rear tires. In some cases, the manufacturer of the motorcycle may be liable for this type of accident under Maryland product liability law. Maryland product liability law provides compensation for physical injuries and property damage resulting from defective or unreasonably dangerous products.
As with other types of accident injury law, a motorcycle rider who is involved in an accident may be entitled to compensation if another party was responsible for the accident and resulting injuries to the motorcyclist. A motorcyclist may be entitled to recover if the negligence of the other driver or a third party contributed to the motorcyclist injuries. Generally, a party is negligent if they “failed to exercise a reasonable standard of care” to protect others from injury. This basically means showing the level of reasonable care that a prudent person would exercise in the same or similar situation. A couple examples of negligence that can result in a motorcycle accident include the following:
• Violation of Law: A motorist may violate their obligation of reasonable care by violating basic traffic laws including speeding, failure to yield, running a stop light or stop sign, DUI or any other violation of basic traffic laws that creates an unreasonable risk of harm.
• Legal Though Unsafe Driving: A driver my not violate any actual traffic law but instead does not exhibit driving practices that pose an unreasonable risk even though the practice is not technically illegal. For example, the driver does not significantly reduce his speed and increase his following distance despite a wet roadway or decreased visibility.
• Product Liability: A motorcycle accident may be the result of the negligent design or manufacture of the motorcycle. A Maryland motorcycle lawyer will be familiar with relevant motorcycle product liability issues and/or product recalls.
Types of Injuries
More than any other types of vehicular accident, motorcycle accidents tend to result in serious even catastrophic injuries including death. A motorcyclist is 26 times more likely to be killed in an accident than someone in a passenger car. Injuries that are the common result of a motorcycle accident include the following:
• Head injuries
• Brain trauma
• Spinal injuries
• Severe fractures
• Loss of limbs
• Road rash
• Burn injuries
Safety Precautions to Prevent Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 imposed safety standards designed to protect motorcyclist. Most states have also enacted safety rules and regulations to increase motorcycle safety. All states require a special license to operate a motorcycle. As of 2006, twenty states required all motorcyclists to wear helmets while another 26 states required some riders to wear helmets. Maryland also requires all on-road riders to wear eye protection. Although not required under Maryland motorcycle accident law, using headlamps even when driving during the day can make a motorcycle more visible and reduce the risk of accident.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another, a Maryland motorcycle accident lawyer can make sure that you meet statute of limitation deadlines that strictly govern the timeframe within which a case must be filed. If you need a qualified motorcycle accident lawyer, click here.