Causes of Motorcycle Accidents Have Legal Implications

Jul 27, 2012 View Comments by

Riding a motorcycle can be very exciting. Unfortunately, it can also be very dangerous because motorcycle riders are at greater risk for traffic fatalities and injuries than are car drivers.

If you’re a biker, take a look at these common factors involved with motorcycle accidents. If you’re in an accident, any of the following could affect your insurance claim and have legal implications.

Speeding: High speeds can displace the alignment of your motorcycle and cause the front end of your bike to wobble. This can turn a simple bump in the road or slip of a tire into a devastating accident. Additionally, if speeding is listed as a contributing factor on the police report, you could be held liable for your medical and repair bills, as well as bills for others involved in the accident.

  • In 2009, the most recent year for which motorcycle accident statistics are available, 35 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alcohol: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair some of the major functions necessary for safe riding like balance, coordination, and concentration. If you drink, ride, and cause a crash, not only will you be responsible for any injuries or damages, but you could also face fines, jail time, license suspension, and

increases in your insurance premiums.

  • Statistics show that 29 percent of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the national legal limit of 0.08 percent in 2009.

Licensing: Obtaining the proper licensing not only protects you legally if you’re involved in an accident, it also introduces you to motorcycle knowledge and safety standards that can help prevent an accident from occurring in the first place.

  • Roughly one out of four motorcycle riders who were involved in fatal crashes were riding without a valid license in 2009.

Other motorists: Seasoned riders may know that a common cause of motorcycle accidents is failing to yield to bikers or drivers. If a car or truck driver fails to yield or share the road, that driver could be held responsible for the accident because they did not obey their state’s traffic laws.

  • It is estimated that around two-thirds of all accidents involving a motorcycle and another motor vehicle result from a car or other motor vehicle violating a motorcyclist’s right of way.

Poor road conditions, changing lanes, negligence, and rear-ending are other common causes of motorcycle accidents. The road can be especially dangerous for motorcycle riders, but you can help avoid accidents by knowing hazards you may encounter and doing everything possible to eliminate them. However, you can’t control what other drivers or bikers do. If you’re ever in a crash, be sure to file a police report and follow these steps to take after an accident.

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About the author

I have over 45 years of experience helping injury victims. My Pennsylvania-based law firm, Edgar Snyder & Associates, has represented hundreds of bikers and am active in the biker community. The Edgar Snyder & Associates’ Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.