Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can happen for a wide variety of reasons, many of which involve the negligent or reckless acts of another party or person. Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Distracted drivers;
- Drivers not properly watching for motorcycles;
- Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Aggressive drivers;
- Drivers who are overly fatigued or who fall asleep at the wheel;
- Speeding, following too closely, improper passing, and other traffic law violations;
- Road hazards including large cracks, potholes, or gravel on the roadway;
- Defective motorcycle parts that malfunction while driving;
- Defective safety helmets or gear that do not provide adequate protection in a crash.
Motorcycle Accidents Can Result In Devastating Injuries
In addition, many types of collisions cause motorcyclists to be thrown from their vehicles, often head-first over their handlebars. This can result in a direct impact to the face and head with whatever is in front of them–another vehicle, an object, or the pavement.
For all of these reasons, it is no surprise that the injuries that result from motorcycle accidents are often catastrophic. Some of the common injuries sustained by motorcyclists in crashes include:
- Fractured or shattered bones in the face or jaw;
- Damage to teeth;
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI);
- Broken or crushed limbs;
- Neck or back injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Internal bleeding and internal organ damage;
- Burns from flame or from friction with the roadway; and
- Serious contusions or lacerations.
The above injuries all require emergency medical attention for a proper diagnosis, stabilization, and necessary treatment. Medical treatment for such devastating injuries can require long-term and ongoing medical care, resulting in extensive costs.
Sources of Compensation After a Portland Motorcycle Accident
If you are involved in a motorcycle accident and experience any of the injuries listed above, you’ll be facing high medical bills, disabilities, potential lost wages, pain, suffering, and other damages – for all of which you deserve compensation. As such, determining who is liable for your damages and what types of insurance options exist is incredibly important after a crash. Sources of compensation after a Portland motorcycle accident might include:
- The at-fault driver’s liability insurance. In Oregon, all drivers are required to carry bodily injury liability insurance in an amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, as well as property damage liability insurance in an amount of $20,000 per crash. If the driver who hit you was to blame for the accident because they did something negligent, such as failing to signal before changing lanes or drive while drunk or distracted, then that driver’s liability insurance will be responsible for paying your claim.
- Your own insurance policy. Motorcyclists are required to carry the same type of insurance as the drivers of standard motor vehicles. This means in addition to the liability insurance policy explained above (which pays for injuries caused by the policyholder to others), motorcyclists are required to carry personal injury protection coverage in an amount of at least $15,000. They are also required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in amounts of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per crash for bodily injury. This means that regardless of fault, you can file a claim against your own policy’s personal injury protection coverage to help to pay for a portion of your medical bills after a crash. And if the driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to pay for your damages, you can also file a claim against your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
- A third party’s insurance. Accidents don’t always involve just two people; in some cases, an accident could be caused by a third party. For example, if a motor vehicle and a motorcycle collide, the reason could be because the brakes on one of those vehicles were defective. If this is the case, the manufacturer or distributor of the brakes/vehicle could be held liable for damages that result.
Steps To Take After a Motorcycle Accident
- Report the accident to the police. One of the first things that you need to do is report the accident to the police. If you have been seriously injured, it is likely that someone will call in the accident on your behalf. Even if the accident is minor though and your injuries are not serious (or at least don’t appear to be serious initially), you still need to call the police and report the accident. As soon as you are able to, request a copy of the police report for your records. You will need the police report when filing an insurance claim.
- Call your insurer. The second thing that you should do after being involved in a motorcycle accident is to call your insurance company to report the accident. Doing this early in the process is important, as your insurance company has a right to investigate the crash. If you wait too long to give your insurance company notice, they could deny your case. It’s best to report the crash to your insurance company within 24-48 hours of its occurrence if you are able to. If you’re not able to, a loved one or your attorney can do this on your behalf.
- Get medical care. Getting medical care immediately after your crash is one of the most important things that you need to do. If your injuries are serious, then you will have no choice but to get medical care – you’ll likely be transported to the hospital from the accident scene. If this is the case, then your efforts (once you are able) should be focused on documenting your medical care and following your doctor’s orders once you are released. If you are in an accident where you suffer minor but not severe injuries, such as minor road rash or a minor concussion, do not make the mistake of thinking that you shouldn’t go to the hospital! If you try to make a claim for damages later on and there is no record of you seeking medical care after the crash, it’s very likely that your claim will be denied.
- Collect evidence. As early on in the process as possible, you should start collecting evidence that can be used to support your case. In many situations, victims are too badly injured to do this, and so lawyers do this on their behalf. Types of evidence that are important in a motorcycle accident claim include photos of the accident scene, information about the weather and conditions at the time of crash, any video footage of the accident, traffic light data, names of eyewitnesses and their statements, the police report, vehicle design and potential defect information, electronic control module data, and more.
- Document your damages. You’ll need to keep a thorough record of all of your damages. This might include notes about your physical limitations and pain based on your injuries, documentation of your lost wages and property damage, medical bills, a journal about how your life and relationships have been impacted, and more.
- Call an attorney. Finally, you need to call an attorney as soon as possible after a crash. While there is no requirement to do so, working with a Portland motorcycle accident attorney may significantly improve the outcome of your case and be a key part of building your strategy and securing the settlement you deserve.
Recovering For Your Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The extensive medical expenses often resulting from motorcycle accidents are only one type of loss incurred by accident victims. The following are examples of losses for which a motorcycle accident victim may be able to recover:
- Costs of emergency trauma care, hospitalization, surgeries, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, assisted living facilities, home health aides, physical therapy, and more, in addition to estimated future medical costs related to the injuries.
- Wages, overtime, and benefits that were lost from missing work during recovery and for estimated future lost earnings if the victim is unable to return to work.
- Physical, psychological, and emotional pain, suffering, and distress caused by their injuries or by the trauma of the accident itself.
- Permanent disfigurement, impairments, or disabilities.
- Loss of enjoyment of everyday life as a result of pain or limitations.
- Punitive damages if the actions of the responsible party were intentional or particularly appalling.
Depending on the cause of your motorcycle accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for your losses from the responsible driver, motorcycle manufacturer, or the party responsible for road maintenance.
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