“It wasn’t until I went to college and I got my first motorcycle that I understood the thrill of speed.” ― Vin Diesel
Motorcyclists ride for many reasons. To riders, it’s a deep passion within them. The freedom gives the illusion that they are flying, and the speed provides a thrill that cannot be compared to any other activity (so I’m told). But… motorcycle accidents will happen-and what’s more-who is at fault and what to do?
Although the exhilaration of riding is indescribable, there are dangers around every curve and intersection. The National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study of motorcycle accidents, and discovered that most of the fatalities on United States roads involved riders between the ages of 40 to 55. In addition, according to AAA, motorcyclists are 27-times more likely to die in a collision as compared to car accidents. The majority of crashes take place in July and August.
Summer Factors that Increase Motorcycle Accidents
During the summer months, more people are on the road going on trips and enjoying the sunny weather. This means motorcyclists need to take extra care on the road. Motorcycle accidents increase in the summer months of June, July, and August than during the rest of the year.
Along with the warmer weather, there are other factors the summer months bring that can increase motorcycle accidents. Such factors include:
- A greater amount of traffic due to traveling
- More teen drivers on the road
- More road construction being performed
- Increased drinking and driving, especially during holidays like the Fourth of July
Speed can also be a major contributor to an accident. According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, 33-percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were going too fast.
“If they don’t give themselves that reaction time, obviously things can turn fatal or very serious,” says an experienced Traffic Safety Sgt.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, but usually some combination of inattention, inexperience, and intoxication is at the core.
- Motorcycle Collisions Involving Another Vehicle: Car drivers tend to be unaware of motorcycles on the road and not realize how much space riders need, and therefore, cause a collision.
- Single Vehicle Motorcycle Accidents: Inexperienced motorcycle riders, particularly those with no formal training, are the most likely to be involved in an accident. However, many collisions happen because a rider was inattentive, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Lane splitting is the act of driving a motorcycle between cars or trucks that have stopped, typically to avoid traffic and practiced by almost all cyclists. Since motorcycles are smaller and narrower than most vehicles on the road, they can fit between other vehicles and move along the lines that indicate each lane. This is incredibly dangerous and illegal in New Jersey, which means you can end up with a ticket, or, even worse, be critically injured or killed.
Fault in Motorcycle Accidents
When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, the first and foremost step is to seek medical attention immediately as well as get to safety. Secondly, contact the police, or have someone else do it, and gather evidence. The police are an important authoritative figure that can help you gather evidence you need for your potential case. Being able to prove the liability of the other party after a motorcycle accident is often the difference between getting a settlement and the insurance company limiting their payout to you.
Make sure to gather the following types of evidence for your motorcycle crash case:
- Pictures of both motor vehicles at many angles, especially point of contact.
- Pictures of license plates and the scene of the accident.
- Write down the other party’s contact and insurance information.
- Gather witness testimonies.
- Draw a model of the accident location and scenario while fresh in your mind.
Someone must be at fault for the collision to have a valid motorcycle accident case. You cannot claim damages unless there was a negligent party in the accident. Comparative negligence is used to determine responsibility in an accident by each party involved. The amount of fault which you contributed to an accident, like lane splitting, can be used against you and lessen any damages you are awarded after a civil case.
What to Do When a Motorcycle Accident Occurs
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you’re likely facing expensive repairs to your bike, injuries that will keep you from living your life, and escalating medical bills and permanent health problems. The first step is typically to file a personal injury claim with their auto insurance company. If seeking a settlement through a claim is unsuccessful, you might decide to sue the other driver. Fortunately, New Jersey law allows you to make a civil claim for restitution from the party that caused your accident and injuries. It’s best to seek the representation of an experienced personal injury attorney in New Jersey. The Office of Andrew Maze has been successfully representing New Jersey injury victims for over 30 years. Call us today for a free consultation at 732-750-5000.