Riding a motorcycle delivers a unique transportation experience, giving riders a great amount of control, flexibility, and excitement. However, all of this comes at a cost—namely the risk of encountering other drivers on the road. For some people, it may seem like riding a motorcycle is an inevitable path to experiencing an accident. However, this does not have to be the case. Other drivers owe the usual duty of care to motorcycle riders and everyone else on the road.
Motorcycle accidents make up a significant portion of motor vehicle crashes, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirms are primarily tied to human error. Even when an accident does not seem particularly serious at first, the cost of recovery could end up being a significant expense. You should hire a motorcycle accident lawyer for a minor accident, regardless of your personal estimate of the damages. A motorcycle accident lawyer can be a great resource for determining your legal options for compensation.
Measuring Accident Severity
Motorcycle riders use highways, freeways, and major roads alongside much larger vehicles, which makes them some of our most vulnerable road users. Motorcycle accidents are often more severe due to the lack of exterior protection on the vehicle, compared to cars, trucks, and busses. This is one reason why various states require drivers to report all accidents that involve an injury, even if the injury does not seem significant at the time.
Just as no two drivers are the same, no two accidents are the same either. A car or motorcycle accident can be a daunting experience and not easily forgotten. Does that mean every accident is severe enough to file a lawsuit? Not necessarily. The answer will vary, based on the circumstances of the case at hand.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), accident severity is a law enforcement rating scale from 1 to 5 that is used to put the damages from an accident into perspective. Most states have individual criteria for each level. At worst, accident severity results in death. In the least severe types of accidents, no injuries are reported at the scene, and no one is transported by Emergency Medical Services. This simply means that an injury was not discovered at the accident, but does not prevent accident victims from seeking compensation for injuries that become apparent afterward.
The litigation that follows any vehicle accident will depend on different consequences of the accident severity, including:
- A complaint of pain: When an accident was severe enough for a victim to self-report an injury, but it was not clearly visible at the time, law enforcement should note a possible injury. This may include symptoms like limping or increasing pain.
- A visible injury: For non-incapacitating accident injuries, there may be visible bruises, a bloody nose, lacerations, bumps, and more to indicate a potential injury that does not otherwise appear to disable an individual.
- Severe injury – This rating is for accident injuries that limit a person’s ability to walk, drive, or normally function as they did before the accident. Severe injuries may also result in unconsciousness at or directly after the accident.
- Fatal injuries – The most severe types of accidents involve deaths within 30 days of the accident due to related injuries. This may include the fetus of a pregnant woman if the death is attributed to the crash.
Accident severity is usually determined at the time of the accident. If you are wondering if you should hire a motorcycle accident lawyer for a minor accident, the extent of your injuries may be a good place to begin your self-evaluation process. A police report will likely contain information related to the condition of victims at the time of the accident. You could go through this process alone, but working with a motorcycle accident lawyer can help determine if you have a viable case.
Motorcycle Accident Litigation
Litigation following a motorcycle accident will depend on your specific needs for recovery and where the accident occurred. Some states have no-fault auto insurance laws that require every driver to file a claim with their own insurance company after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. In states with no-fault laws, such as California, all drivers are required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) as part of their insurance policy.
Some states also follow comparative negligence rules, which may limit the percentage of a settlement or financial award. The exact percentage will depend on the degree of fault in your case. For example, if you are found to be 30% at fault for the accident, you would receive 70% of the final amount.
About Negligence Claims
You may want to seriously consider working with a motorcycle accident lawyer—even for a seemingly minor accident—if your injuries are a result of someone else’s negligence. In negligence claims, the plaintiff must be able to show that the liable driver neglected to drive carefully and caused your injuries and losses.
If you had any contribution to the fault of the accident, it will likely be determined at the scene. This may limit the amount of compensation you can seek in a lawsuit, but the exact circumstances of your case could make all the difference. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today at (800) 223-5115 for a free consultation.