Top 10 Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents occur less frequently than automobile accidents, but when they do happen, they often leave motorcyclists with serious, permanent and even fatal injuries.
The motorcycle attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman know that most motorcycle accidents are caused by negligent motorists who aren't paying attention to the road or refuse to share the road with those on two wheels.
Here is a look at the type of motorcycle accidents that we tend to see on a regular basis in our Boston office:
- Head-on collisions: In most of these accidents, the motorist strikes the motorcycle from the front, causing serious and often fatal injuries. The motorist may have veered into oncoming traffic while playing around with a cellphone or reaching for something in the vehicle, or may have driven the wrong way down a one-way street or highway ramp. In many cases, the motorist is speeding, under the influence of drugs or alcohol or just not paying attention. Other causes of head-on motorcycle crashes include a driver who has fallen asleep behind the wheel, is passing on a two-way road, or has taken a curve too fast. Regardless of the cause, head-on collisions involving motorcycles are almost always the fault of the motorist.
- Left-turn collisions: These crashes occur when a vehicle making a left-hand turn strikes a motorcycle that is traveling straight through an intersection. This type of crash is one of the most common types of motorcycle accidents. While turning left is one of the primary causes of all roadway collisions, motorcyclists are especially at risk of being struck by a left-turning vehicle because they are smaller in size than other vehicles on the road. In many cases, motorists will claim that they failed to see the biker. However, the motorist may be violating traffic laws by traveling at a high rate of speed or making an illegal left turn. Drivers who are distracted by their cellphones are likely to misjudge the amount of time that they have to make a left-hand turn at a light.
When turning left, motorists must yield the right of way to other drivers, including motorcyclists. When a driver fails to do so, he is almost always at fault for causing a crash. Motorcyclists can guard against left-turn collisions by slowing down and driving defensively each time they enter an intersection. They should check to see if oncoming motorists are turning left, make sure they are visible and watch motorists for cues as to how they are likely to proceed.
- Motorcycles hitting a fixed object: Motorcyclists striking fixed objects account for approximately one-fourth of all fatal motorcycle accidents. Unlike the driver of an automobile, motorcyclists have little protection when they crash into a tree, utility pole, traffic barrier or another stationary object. Many fixed object crashes occur at night when visibility is low. Alcohol is often involved. Upon impact, the motorcyclist is likely to be tossed from the bike and at risk of sustaining head injuries. The collision can cause injuries to organs and other internal damage. Government entities can be held liable for failing to design and maintain a safe roadway. Road work contractors can be held liable for maintaining an unsafe construction zone.
- Roadway hazards: While cars and trucks can usually ride over potholes and other roadway defects with little trouble, potholes can be dangerous and even deadly to vulnerable motorcyclists. If a motorcyclist hits a pothole while traveling at a high rate of speed, the rider can be tossed over the handlebars. Motorcyclists are at risk of suffering serious injuries from a number of other roadway hazards, including uneven or cracked surfaces, gravel on roadways, and areas of standing water. Roadways that are defective in design can be dangerous to navigate. For example, roads with curves that are too sharp can cause motorcyclists to lose control and the bike to slide out from under the biker. When motorcyclists spot a pothole up ahead, they should slow down and go around the pothole if possible. Government entities can be held liable for roadway design defects, as well as for failing to maintain roads in safe condition.
- Other single motorcycle accidents: Motorcycles are prone to skidding, tipping over and sliding, especially when an inexperienced biker is riding. These accidents aren’t always the motorcyclist’s fault. Single motorcycle accidents can be caused by defective motorcycles or defective motorcycle parts, including brakes, tires, clutches, handlebars, fuel tanks and frames. Brakes that don’t work the way that they should or a leaky fuel tank, are accidents waiting to happen. Motorcycle manufacturers, parts makers and distributors, and motorcycle dealers can all be held liable for accidents caused by defective motorcycles.
- Rear-end collisions: Less than 10% of motorcycle accidents involve a vehicle striking a motorcycle from behind. While defensive driving may help a motorcyclist avoid other types of accidents, this tactic is not effective in preventing rear-end collisions. The worst part about this type of accident is that the motorcyclist has no opportunity to avoid the collision or brace for impact. The biker is likely to be tossed from the motorcycle and onto the roadway. Common injuries include broken bones, head and neck injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
- Lane splitting: Lane splitting, which is also known as “stripe riding,” occurs when a motorcycle rides between two lanes of vehicles that are traveling in the same direction. Motorcyclists often lane split on highways when traffic is moving slowly or to reach the front of a line of traffic at a traffic stop. Lane splitting is illegal in Massachusetts and most other states. It is important to note that if a motorcyclist is lane splitting and gets into an accident, he or she is not necessarily prohibited from recovering damages.
Lane splitting is a controversial topic. Some groups claim that the practice is dangerous because it leaves motorcycles with a narrow space to maneuver and places them in close proximity to other vehicles. These groups also maintain that a motorcycle that is lane splitting has the potential to startle drivers who are not anticipating a motorcycle to speed by. Proponents of the practice say it allows motorcyclists to avoid accidents.
- Dooring: Motorcyclists can suffer serious injuries when a vehicle passenger or driver opens a door in the path of a moving motorcycle. While drivers—and insurance companies—tend to blame motorcyclists for dooring incidents , stating they failed to watch where they are going, the majority of dooring incidents are caused by negligent, inattentive motorists. In these cases, it is the motorist who is at fault for failing to spot a motorcycle coming from behind before opening a car door. Massachusetts’ dooring law, MGL c. 90 § 14, prohibits vehicle occupants from opening a door “unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of other traffic.” Dooring incidents are common in large cities like Boston with many streets lined with parked cars.
A car door can send a motorcyclist flying into traffic or into a utility pole, or another fixed object. Motorcyclists involved in dooring incidents are at risk of suffering broken bones, internal injuries and spinal damage, among other serious and debilitating injuries. Motorcyclists who are able to swerve around an open door may find themselves veering into a lane of oncoming traffic.
- Aggressive motorists: Motorists who drive in an aggressive manner are a danger to everyone on the road but especially to vulnerable motorcyclists. Aggressive driving includes speeding, tailgating, ignoring traffic signs and making improper lane changes by weaving in and out of traffic. In extreme cases, aggressive drivers may brake suddenly, cut off a motorcyclist, or force the motorcyclist off of the road. Road rage is a type of aggressive driving. Motorcyclists who encounter aggressive motorists on the road should stay calm, keep a safe distance, and avoid eye contact. They should call 911 if they feel unsafe or threatened.
- High-performance motorcycles: Sport and super-sport motorcycles are lightweight and have powerful engines that allow them to travel at speeds of 140 miles per hour or more. As a result, when one of these motorcycles is involved in a crash, the outcome can be catastrophic. In fact, motorcyclists riding high-performance bikes are four times more likely to be killed in a motorcycle accident than motorcyclists riding conventional motorcycles. Not all accidents involving these bikes are the rider’s fault. Sport and super-sport motorcyclists injured in crashes have a legal right to pursue compensation for damages from negligent motorists, regardless of whether their motorcycle is considered to be a high-risk vehicle.
To learn more about how our motorcycle attorneys can help you with an accident claim, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 777-7777 or use our online form.