With less protection and only two wheels, motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than other motor vehicles. Motorcycle accidents can result in severe, catastrophic, and even deadly injuries. Unfortunately, motorcycle accidents aren’t uncommon.
While motorcycles constituted just three percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2020, they also accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, 18 percent of all occupant fatalities, and four percent of all occupant injuries. That’s why it’s so important to always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Unfortunately, almost 40 percent of all motorcycle crashes in 2020 included individuals without a helmet.
North Carolina requires all operators and passengers on motorcycles and mopeds to wear a motorcycle safety helmet of a type that complies with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. 218. N.C.G.S. § 20-140.4. In the event of a motorcycle accident, failure to comply with North Carolina’s helmet law is not automatically considered contributorily negligence and will not automatically bar you from the ability to recover damages.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) motorcyclists are approximately 28 times likelier to die in an accident than occupants in a passenger car. Despite this enormous difference, motorcycle accidents and car accidents share many of the same causes. Such causes include:
- Passenger vehicles making left-hand turns
- Road hazards (e.g., potholes and fallen cargo)
- Alcohol and/or drug use
- Lane splitting (when a motorcyclist drives between two lanes)
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
While injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident can vary greatly, some common ones include:
- Road rash
- Broken or fractured bones
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury
- Damage to the lower extremities
- Internal injuries/hemorrhaging
With injuries suffered and mounting medical bills, it’s important to be able to hold those responsible for your injuries liable. To assist with this, it’s important to collect and preserve the following evidence:
When the police come to the scene of the accident, they put together what is called a police report or accident report. This report details what seems to have transpired after speaking with witnesses, looking at the scene of the accident, and observing any obvious injuries. The police report is important because it is made to show what the police believe led to the accident. This report could help to support your claims. If you don’t have a police report you can ask for a copy of it by contacting your local police department.
Medical Records and Bills
Medical records and bills can also help to demonstrate what happened, when it happened, and the extent of your injuries. Medical records can also be used to establish the right statute of limitations for your claim (i.e., the time you have to bring it).
Other Receipts and Pay Stubs
When someone has been injured in a motorcycle accident there are a lot of things to consider. Motorcycle accident injuries often cause the victim to miss work and lose money. Saving and providing your paystubs can help to prove your lost earnings, or what you would have earned had you not been injured in the accident. You will also want to preserve bills for things such as medication or physical therapy. You should also save any bills concerning the repair of your motorcycle.
One of the most valuable forms of evidence is witnesses. Providing your attorney with any witness information can be very helpful in supporting your claim as to what transpired. These individuals can also help establish a timeline of the events leading up to and after the accident. Witness statements in writing should also be offered if you have them.
Be sure to obtain a copy of your insurance policy to provide to your attorney. This can help to accelerate the communications between your attorney and your insurance company. Also, be sure to provide your attorney with a copy of the other party’s policy if you have one.
Photographs and Video
If you were able to stay at the scene for a bit after the accident, it can be very useful to take pictures and video of the scene of the accident, damage to the vehicle, and any apparent injuries. Having time-stamped pictures and videos – which are now standard on most smartphones – are best. If you are unable to remain at the scene, if someone else can take photos and videos that can be useful. Also, be sure to take progress photos of any injuries as you go through the recovery process.
Anything Else Relevant
Be sure to preserve any other evidence that you believe is relevant to supporting your claims and your case. One thing that may be useful is to write down your own account of what happened and how it happened. Since memory naturally fades with time, the sooner you can do this the better.
What About No-Contact Motorcycle Accidents?
Sometimes motorcycle accidents can occur without colliding with another vehicle. These are called no-contact motorcycle accidents. Approximately 41.03 percent of all motorcycle crashes in 2020 were single-vehicle crashes. Since motorcycles only have two wheels, they tend to tip more easily – especially when maneuvering so as to avoid something. Common causes of no-contact motorcycle accidents include:
- Motorists who switch lanes without seeing the motorcyclist in their blind spot
- Unmaintained roadways (e.g., uneven pavement/holes)
- Poor road design
- Defective vehicles or vehicles with issues
- Defective traffic devises
- Fallen cargo
- Other motorists who try to beat a red light, causing the motorcyclist to swerve and crash
- Vehicles turning left in front of the motorcycle, which brakes
- Drunk drivers who almost hit the motorcyclist, who then purposefully swerves to avoid a worse injury
It’s important to understand that just because no other motor vehicle was involved in your accident, it doesn’t mean that someone else can’t be held responsible for your injuries. In situations in which no other vehicles were involved, it’s commonly government entities or product manufacturers that are held liable for negligence.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
- Get yourself to a safe location if possible (e.g., away from active traffic)
- If another vehicle caused the no-contact accident, try to obtain the vehicle’s license plate information
- Call 9-1-1- for police and ambulance
- Collect contact information of other parties
- Collect contact information of any witnesses
- Take photos and video
- Seek medical attention right away – even without apparent injuries
- Contact a qualified motorcycle accident attorney – do NOT give any statements to an insurance adjuster or sign anything before doing so.
Individuals involved in no-contact accidents, need to be aware of the implications of North Carolina’s no contact rule. In North Carolina, if you cannot identify the at-fault driver because they have left scene and there was no-contact between the two vehicles (known as a “phantom vehicle”), then you cannot file your claim or recover damages through your own uninsured motorist coverage. This is even true if you have a witness what saw the accident and can confirm that the “phantom vehicle” caused the accident. That’s why it is crucially important to obtain license plate information of a vehicle responsible for a no-contact accident.
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, any injuries can have an impact on your life and wellbeing. Whether your injuries are permanent or temporary, it can take a lot of effort to recover from them. Those responsible for your injuries should be held liable for your damages. That’s why it’s so important to preserve all relevant evidence as discussed and share it with a motorcycle accident attorney.
Bradford Law Fights for Those in Charlotte Who Have Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident
Motorcycle accident injuries can be devastating, uprooting your life and the lives of your loved ones. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. While no money can undo what has transpired, compensation can help you to move forward with your life, putting your accident behind you and allowing you to focus solely on getting better.
At Bradford Law, we will work tirelessly to hold the responsible party accountable and get you meaningful compensation. We have comprehensive knowledge of the applicable negligence and insurance laws and will put those laws to work for you. We understand the lasting impact a serious injury can have on you and your family and will make sure that all of your medical and financial needs are met. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!