An American Pastime: Motorcycling
Motorcycling is one of the nation’s most popular pastimes. Who can deny the joy gained from cruising down the open road on a Harley Davidson or a sportbike, the sights and the sounds of the great outdoors blurring past in stunning array? If statistics are any indication, not many people can deny the joy experienced in motorcycling. In 2009 close to ten thousand motorcycles were sold in the United States. Nine percent of the American population owns a motorcycle with over 4 million motorcycles registered in the United State s.
Though motorcycling can be a fun and rewarding hobby, it is important that motorcyclists concern themselves with the safety of their sport. Unfortunately, motorcycle rider deaths are close to 30 times higher than drivers of other vehicles and motorcycles have a higher fatality rate per unit of distance travelled than cars.
Contrary to popular belief, which tends to imagine the worst motorcycle accidents happening on extended road trips, the majority of motorcycle accidents happen during routine trips—short jaunts to the shopping mall or a quick visit down the block to a family member. The death rates of these motorcycle accidents are on the rise: a brief sample of motorcycle deaths between 1998 and 2000 showed an upward trend in motorcycle fatalities. In 2006 alone, over 4,500 people were killed in motorcycle accidents and thousands more suffered permanent injury. Three-fourths of those accidents involved a collision with another vehicle such as a passenger car.
The most common place these accidents occur is at intersections. Some experts estimate that nearly two-thirds of all car-motorcycle accidents result from vehicles refusing to yield the right-of-way to motorcyclists.
Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? File a Police Report
Though a motorcyclist can take certain safety measures, like wearing a helmet or brightly colored clothing, it is often the case that serious injuries are sustained in motorcycle accidents, especially if another vehicle is involved. Indeed 98 percent of multiple vehicle accidents involving motorcycles result in injury to the motorcyclist. Sometimes the injuries can be minor. The following minor injuries are common in motorcycle accidents:
- Broken or Fractured Joints: Typically shoulders, elbows, knees, wrists or hips.
- Pelvic Injuries.
- Soft Tissue Damage: Skin and bone injuries resulting from abrasion, a.k.a. “road rash.”
- Nerve Damage: Typically to the extremities resulting in loss of feeling and paralysis.
- Facial Disfigurement. Chin damage results from 35 percent of accidents.
More often than not, however, injuries from a motorcycle accident are serious—even fatal. Here is a list of some of the more serious injuries motorcyclists sustain in accidents:
- Brain Damage: Motorcycle accidents are the leading cause of this type of injury.
- General Neck or Head Injuries. One out of every five motorcyclists sustains these types of injuries.
- Concussions, Spinal and Nervous System Damage: Paralysis often results.
- Brain Injuries: Often resulting in coma.
All of these serious injuries can leave the injured motorcyclist incapacitated for life and saddled with expensive medical bills for ongoing treatment.
Because the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident can be so life-altering, it is important to follow specific guidelines when involved in an accident. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, follow these essential rules:
- Call the police and have a police report filed immediately.
- Check for injuries. Make sure to seek medical attention after the police report is filed.
- Remain at the scene of the accident. You do not want the other driver’s word to be the foundation of the police report.
- Exchange information with the other motorists involved in the accident. This means driver’s licenses and vehicle registration information. Write down the following information: name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number and expiration date, written description of the other vehicle (make, model, license plate number, expiration date and vehicle identification number), and the other motorists’ insurance company and contact information.
- If possible, take as many pictures as you can of the crash scene. These pictures will serve as evidence later on.
- If your phone records audio, record statements of witnesses or other drivers.
Motorcycle Accidents: California
California offers specific advice for the would-be motorcyclist. Its motorcycling handbook stresses that other motorists will frequently overlook motorcycles on the road, a mistake that can result in a serious accident. And while the handbook urges motorcyclists to increase their chances of being seen by other motorists—by riding in the lane that provides the best view of oncoming traffic or paying extra attention to blind spots at stop signs, for example—there is only so much a motorcyclist can do to prevent accidents with other vehicles, especially if the drivers of those vehicles fail to pay attention to motorcyclists on the road. Indeed in 2008 there were 560 motorcycle fatalities in California. Though this figure represents an overall decline in California motorcycle fatalities, it nonetheless remains disturbingly high. Some tips are available online at:
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
A motorcycle accident can seriously alter your life. You can suffer a loss of health, wages and a general sense of well being. You can incur tremendous costs for medical bills and motorcycle repairs. Therefore it is important to contact a motorcycle accident attorney should you be in an accident. A motorcycle accident attorney will be familiar with traffic laws and local regulations that may have been violated in your case. They will help you navigate the often complex process of filing an insurance claim and ensure that you receive the settlement and compensation you deserve for the expenses and suffering incurred from a motorcycle accident.
Motorcycle accidents are terrible events. They can result in life-altering injuries and often death. If you are the victim of a motorcycle accident, seek the help of a motorcycle accident attorney to ensure legal satisfaction.
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