When a car and a motorcycle collide, the motorcyclist is far more likely to suffer severe injuries. Motorcycle crashes can result in a rider’s serious injury, permanent disability or death. In nearly all motorcycle accidents, the motorcyclist fares worse than the driver or passengers of the larger vehicle because of the lack of protection motorcycles afford riders.
The average age of motorcyclists injured and killed in collisions has risen in recent years, according to the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine. The types of injuries that older motorcyclists sustain are different as well. Older motorcyclists tend to suffer from chest injuries and broken ribs more than younger riders. This is linked to the tendency of older riders to ride larger motorcycles, which correlate with increases in head and thoracic injuries.
When a motorcyclist is injured in any way because of another party’s negligence, he or she can seek compensation for his or her resulting damages through a personal injury claim. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is three years from the date of the accident.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Negligence on the part of the motorcyclist or another driver can cause a motorcycle accident. A few ways any driver or motorcyclist can be negligent include:
- Using a handheld device while driving or riding;
- Driving or riding while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Disobeying posted traffic rules like the speed limit or signs designating where to stop, yield, and merge; and
- Driving or riding despite being too tired to do so safely.
There are ways motorcyclists can specifically be negligent and cause accidents, such as weaving in and out of traffic, and failing to make themselves visible at night. Drivers can easily miss motorcyclists in traffic or riding beside them, especially after dark.
Motorcyclists should wear reflective clothing when riding at night and use their high beams when they are not following or meeting another vehicle. In New Mexico, all riders under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets. New Mexico law also requires motorcyclists to either equip their motorcycles with fixed windshields or wear protective eye devices, such as goggles or eye protection affixed to their helmets.
Why Are Accidents Worse for Motorcyclists Than for Motorists?
Motorcyclists are more likely to be injured in a crash than occupants of a car because motorcycles lack the enclosed, protective passenger compartment that cars and trucks have. It is certainly possible to be severely injured in a car. But the car’s frame typically absorbs at least some of the initial impact of a collision. In addition, cars have seat belts.
When a motorcycle collides with another vehicle, there is nothing to prevent a rider from being thrown from the motorcycle onto the road. A helmet can reduce a motorcyclist’s risk of suffering a serious head injury if he or she is thrown to the ground.
The types of injuries that can result from a motorcycle accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Fractured collar bones and pelvises;
- Burns; and
- Organ and tissue damage.
These injuries can lead to severe complications like blood loss, paralysis, permanent disability, and even death. When a motorcyclist dies in an accident caused by another party’s negligence, his or her loved ones may seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit for the losses associated with the death. This can include the victim’s medical bills, the costs of the victim’s funeral and related expenses, and the loved ones’ own damages such as the loss of the victim’s income and companionship.
Other Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Not all motorcycle accidents are caused by driver or rider negligence. In some cases, a motorcycle malfunctions, causing the rider to be hurt in an accident. Uneven roadways and hazards in the road that would not make an impact on larger vehicles can pose a substantial threat to motorcycle riders. These include:
- Uneven surfaces;
- Railroad tracks;
- Gravel in the roadway;
- Sharp turns;
- Broken pavement; and
- Slick surfaces such as spilled oil, piles of wet leaves, and painted areas of asphalt.
Who should be held liable for a motorcycle accident depends on the circumstances of the accident. When an accident is the result of a vehicle malfunction, that vehicle’s manufacturer or seller may be held liable for the victim’s damages through a product liability claim. If an accident was the result of a poorly-maintained or designed roadway, the government agency responsible for maintaining that roadway may be liable, but special rules apply to bringing a lawsuit against a government agency.
Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
Through a personal injury claim, a victim can seek compensation for losses he or she suffered as a result of his or her injury. This can include medical expenses, such as hospitalization and doctor bills, prescription medication, and physical therapy as well as the need for assistive living aids and psychological counseling to work through the trauma of the accident. An accident victim also may seek compensation for lost wages and for future wages he or she cannot earn because of the injury.
Work with an Experienced New Mexico Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you could be facing substantial financial stress such as thousands of dollars of unexpected present and future medical bills and lost wages. You may be entitled to recover compensation through a personal injury claim. Contact our team of experienced motorcycle accident lawyers at Parnall Law Firm today to set up your free consultation in our office, during which we can examine your accident closely and help you determine the best way to proceed with your claim.