Unique Risks Motorcycle Riders Face

The Unique Risks Motorcycle Riders Face Compared to Other Vehicles

If you have suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident due to another’s fault, the same personal injury laws for compensation will apply to your case as those involving cars and SUVs.

However, you must know that as a motorcycle rider you face unique risks that make you more vulnerable on the road compared to a car driver. Understanding this difference is vital when you pursue your claim for personal injury damages against the at-fault driver.

Facts Speak for Themselves

A motorbike by design is lighter and smaller than a car, and cannot provide the kind of protection and barriers that a car offers. As a result, your risk of injuries in a motorcycle crash is much higher.

IIHS Data

Data published by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) says that in 2013, the number of fatalities occurring in motorcycle crashes was nearly 23 times higher than the deaths in car crashes. As many as 13 percent of all fatalities occurring in automobile crashes that year were of motorcycle riders.

CMAJ Research

A research study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) showed that in comparison to car crashes, accidents involving motorcycles result in three times more injuries and six times higher medical costs (due to the greater severity of motorcycle injuries).

NHTSA Report

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, the risk of motorcyclists suffering a fatal injury in an accident is 16 times higher than the risk that an occupant of a passenger vehicle faces.

Unique Risks Motorcyclists are Exposed to on the Road

Difficult to spot them 

Car and truck drivers often find it difficult to spot a motorcycle, considering the smaller size of the motorbike. A larger object may obstruct the car or truck driver’s vision, and the motorcycle rider may get hidden behind it. At intersections, this risk increases even more.

More vulnerable to road hazards

Road hazards such as wet pavement, spilled liquid, small object, gravel or sand, uneven or broken road, and debris on the road may not pose much risk to a four-wheeler. Still, it can endanger the life of an unsuspecting motorcycle rider.

Minimal protection

A motorcyclist does not have the protection of a closed vehicle, seat belt, or airbags (in most cases). While protective gear such as helmets offers some protection to the head, the entire body below the head, including the neck and spine, remains almost entirely exposed to a risk of catastrophic injuries.

Mismatch of stopping distances

The stopping distance of a motorcycle is considerably shorter than that of a car or truck. Therefore, when a motorcyclist presses the brakes, their bike will stop rather abruptly. If the car driver behind has not chosen to keep a safe distance, they could cause a rear-end crash into the motorcycle as it stops.

Failure to give right-of-way

Many of the accidents involving motorcycle riders occur because a car or truck driver caused a right-of-way violation and failed to provide the motorcyclist with the right of way when they should have.

Greater risk of traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Even when a motorcycle rider is wearing an approved helmet, their risk of suffering from injuries of the head and neck is significantly higher than that of other drivers on the road. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) may lead to death or permanent disability. Long-term medical treatment and rehabilitation costs may be involved even if the motorcycle rider survives the head injury because of the helmet.

Watch YouTube Video: 5 Dangers to Motorcycle Riders Nobody Talks About. This video discusses the top 5 dangers to motorcyclists on the road.

Fighting the Battle of Perceptions

Motorcycle riders often have to struggle with the common perception that other people – including jurors – may have about them as dangerous riders, daredevils, or stuntmen. Maverick from Top Gun and movies such as Ghost Rider don’t always help enhance the perception of motorcycle riders.

As a result, when a motorcyclist suffers serious injuries in an accident caused by the negligence or recklessness of another motorist, many people may wrongly assume that the motorcycle rider must have been indulging in unsafe driving, speeding or switching lanes dangerously.

Anyone (including a juror) who has no personal experience with motorcycle riding may not be aware of the inherent and unique risks that the rider is exposed to compared to a car driver. Insurance companies may also try to exploit the popular biases that work against motorcycle riders and make it harder for them to obtain fair compensation.

Motorcycle Accident Attorneys in Sacramento 

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Motorcycle Accident Attorney. If you or a member of your family has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident because of the fault of a motorist, you have a right to seek maximum personal injury compensation under the law in California. Consult with a seasoned Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney who understands the unique risks and challenges that a motorcycle rider faces and will help you obtain your rightful damages. Call me today for free, friendly advice at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See a list of our past cases on our verdicts and settlements page and our client reviews on Avvo, Yelp, Google.

Photo by Jan Starek on Unsplash

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