When it comes to road safety, motorcyclists are at a distinct disadvantage, and despite a steady decline in the number of accidents, motorcyclists continue to be overrepresented in traffic fatalities.
Not only are motorcycles less “crashworthy” than cars or trucks (which are enclosed), there are other factors that increase the risk of accidents and injuries:
- Motorcycles are less visible on the roadways, often occupying blind spots
- Operating a motorbike is more mentally and physically challenging than driving a car
- Motorcyclists are more affected by road hazards and inclement weather conditions
To protect your life as well as the life of your passengers, take precautions like wearing a helmet, and make sure you and your passengers are equipped with appropriate clothing and gear made of durable material. Don’t forget to wear boots and gloves.
It’s also wise to ensure your motorcycle is road ready, especially during the rainy season. Check that all lights are operational, your brakes work, and you’re not leaking any fluids. Further, all states, including Florida, require riders to have a motorcycle license, which involves a written and skills test. If you’re carrying a passenger, instruct them on proper body positioning and warn them to keep both feet on the footrests. Make sure to account for the extra weight distribution as you ride and maneuver the bike.
Still, no matter how careful you are, you can’t control the actions and behaviors of other motorists. If their negligence causes harm to you or a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. Working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can ensure that you get the funds you need to get back on your feet, both physically and financially.
What to Do When You Are in a Motorcycle Accident
Unlike a car accident, you don’t have the protection of a vehicle, so the immediate moments after the incident are critical. The first thing to do is get out of harm’s way, assuming you’re able to do so. This means getting off the roadway and out of traffic.
Then, call 911, and stay calm. If possible, document any details with a smartphone or camera and check to see if any witnesses saw what happened.
As you wait for the authorities to arrive, do not remove your helmet or any gear. Paramedics should examine you first; otherwise, you risk damaging your neck and spine. The injuries from motorcycle accidents are often more dramatic and visible than a motor vehicle accident, so you must seek medical attention right away.
Even if you have no visible signs of injury, it’s best to get checked out, just in case. Your injury may not produce symptoms until days or weeks later, in some cases.
What Can Our Motorcycle Accident Attorneys Do for You?
As soon as possible after your accident, you should also speak with an attorney. A personal injury lawyer can help you recover lost wages, get your medical bills paid, and advocate for you to receive compensation for intangible injuries like pain and suffering.
At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, our team will work with you to get the maximum compensation possible for you or your loved ones. We are highly skilled at negotiating with insurance companies, and we will fight aggressively for your rights to come to a fair settlement or verdict.
The Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries in Florida
According to the CDC, 30% of all non-fatal motorcycle injuries happen to the legs and feet, and 22% occur to the head and neck region.
- Road Rash – Road is more than just a skinned knee. If left untreated, road rash can lead to significant skin irritation, infections, and even nerve damage.
- Biker’s Arm – This term refers to when a motorcyclist lands on his or her arm and causes damage to the tendons or bones. This injury is relatively common because it’s instinctual to put your arms in front of you as you brace yourself for a fall.
- Facial Injuries and Fractures – The severity of a facial fracture can vary from mild and fast-healing to disfigurement and blindness. Depending on the fracture, your injury could also result in difficulty eating, speaking, or breathing. Immediate symptoms of a fracture include swelling, bruising, and bleeding.
Because the helmet doesn’t protect the face and jaw as well as the skull, facial cuts and bruises are also common.
- Disfigurement – Whether it’s broken and damaged teeth, a permanent scar, or a damaged nose or jaw, when your looks are altered it can lead to severe psychological problems, including depression, a loss of confidence, low self-esteem, and damaged relationships. It’s not just vanity – our physical appearance is a major part of our identity.
- Broken Bones and Sprains – The body’s extremities can sustain the most impact in an injury. A study by the AAAM (Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine) found that the tibia and fibula were the most common broken bones in the lower body. The wrist and the humerus (the long bone in the upper arm) were the most frequently broken in the upper extremities.
Of all the bones in the human body, the WHO (World Health Organization) reports that the tibia (shin bone) is the one most often broken. Given that it is often the least protected and the most exposed part of the body when riding a motorcycle, it’s not surprising that it sustains the most injuries.
Though a broken pelvis is less common, it does happen. As one of the largest bones in the body, it can also bear the brunt of the impact, causing extreme pain and mobility issues.
- Burns – Accident victims can sustain first, second, or third-degree burns. The burns can be caused by fire or if the skin is exposed to chemicals or hot parts of the bike. While a first-degree burn damages only the outer surface of the skin, third-degree burns can penetrate and destroy your skin all the way down to the nerves.
- Limb Amputations – In some cases, the damage to a limb is so severe that it requires amputation. The amputation can happen at the scene of the accident; for example, if a finger, hand, toe, or foot is severed during the collision. Or, the limb can be partially severed and require amputation. Rarely, though it does happen, the body part can become infected after the accident, and require amputation.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – Together, auto and motorcycle accidents account for 35% of spinal cord injuries, making them the leading cause of this type of damage. Injuries can range from minor to severe. A severe injury would result in the accident victim becoming paraplegic or quadriplegic. This injury is not only physically debilitating, but it can also be a substantial financial burden on the victim and his or her family. The first year following the accident can cost up to $1 million to treat, and it’s expected to cost $4 million over the person’s lifetime.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries – Motorcyclists are at a particularly high risk for head and brain injuries, even with a helmet. These injuries can range from a concussion to loss of consciousness, and even coma or death. The aftermath of a TBI can be uncertain. Some victims are left with a physical or mental impairment, and the damage can be permanent.
- Death – While it’s unpleasant to think about, the fact is that motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic fatalities. The number of fatalities has fortunately been on the decline, dipping below 5,000 in 2018, but the risk riders face every day is still genuine. On a mile-for-mile basis, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to have a fatal accident than the driver of a car or truck.
In the vast majority of accident cases, the vehicle driver, not the motorcyclist was at fault. Common errors that drivers make include cars making left-hand turns into bikes, colliding head-on with the motorcycle, and vehicles making unsafe merges and lane changes. Most of the time, the driver is at fault, though the motorcyclist can be found partly at fault if he or she was speeding or riding in the wrong lane.
Regardless of the circumstances of your accident, your next step should be to contact an attorney. At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers in Florida, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation to determine if you have a case. We handle all of our motorcycle accident cases on a contingency-fee-basis, so you don’t pay anything unless we win.
If you have been injured in a Palm Beach County car accident, I encourage you to contact me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally to discuss your legal rights. To learn how the injury team at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers can help you Demand More® for your injuries, call (561) 513-4957 now.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog is not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. If you need advice on specific legal issues, please consult with a licensed Personal Injury attorney.