The joy of a physics-defying motorcycle ride can quickly turn to terror in the moments of a motorcycle accident. The sheer size and weight of an oncoming car that threatens to crush you can make you feel small and helpless – like an ant about to get squashed. This sensation of vulnerability is understandable since the likelihood of serious injury or death is much greater for a motorcycle rider who has no shielding for protection.
For anyone involved in a motorcycle accident in Birmingham, it is important to find the right legal help. A personal injury lawyer with intimate knowledge of motorcycle accidents and the law can give you high-quality representation.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported 4,668 motorcyclists died in crashes. Some accidents are caused through errors on the part of the motorcycle riders, other times part failure and manufacturer defects contribute to a collision.
All too often though, motorcycle accidents are caused by the carelessness of other drivers. According to data analysis at the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, 60% of motorists are at fault when they collide with motorcycles.
Some of the ways car driver negligence can hurt motorcyclists are:
- Distracted Driving: Drivers may collide with motorcycles because they are distracted, with their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 3,154 people were killed by distracted drivers. A texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into a crash than someone whose focus is solely on the road.
- Speeding: This continues to be a major contributor to fatal motorcycle accidents too. According to the NHTSA, Alabama had 237 speed-related fatalities in 2014. Approximately 11% of these fatalities involved motorcycles.
- T-bones: A car driver not paying attention can make a left turn at a light or into a parking lot at the wrong time. This can have deadly consequences for a motorcycle rider.
Whatever the reason, legal representation may be the only way to ensure motorcycle accident victims receive the fair compensation they deserve for their suffering.
6 Common Motorcycle Injuries
No matter how powerful the engine, a motorcycle frame is still relatively small and completely unprotected compared with a car’s. The human body can only withstand forces of around 35 mph without sustaining injury. Think about how fast the average speed limit – it’s often a lot higher than 35 mph. Given these factors, it’s easy to see why motorcycle accidents tend to cause severe injuries, such as:
- Traumatic Head Injury (TBI) – any violent impact to the skull can result in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI may range from a mild concussion accompanied by a momentary loss of vision, to a full loss of consciousness lasting several minutes or days.
Safety tip: wearing a helmet is the best way to protect your head from a life-altering brain injury. The NHTSA found that helmets saved the lives of some 231 motorcycle riders in Alabama alone over a 5-year period.
- Road Rash – when any skin comes into contact with the pavement, the result is painful. It’s also known as road rash, and it comes in varying degrees similar to burns. No matter the degree, all road rash wounds need to be properly cleaned or they could lead to infection.
- Soft Tissue Damage – even the best protective gear has one point of weakness – neck coverage. Soft tissue injuries of the neck, shoulders and upper back are frequently sustained by riders in motorcycle accidents.
Safety Tip: soft tissue injuries aren’t always evident immediately after a crash. Symptoms can sometimes take days to show. For this reason, it is strongly recommended you seek the help of a medical professional immediately after an accident.
- Broken Bones – shattered femurs, splintered shins and broken bones are some of the most painful accident injuries. Full recovery is slow and often requires multiple physical therapy sessions.
- Spinal Cord Injuries – quadriplegia and paraplegia are forms of paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries. These worst-case-scenario injuries can upend a person’s life and the costs of long-term care are considerable.
- Nerve and Muscle Damage – sprains, strains, tears and nerve damage are considered some of the more minor accident injuries. However, surgery is sometimes necessary to repair nerve and muscle damage.
How Can Motorcycle Accidents Be Avoided?
Even the most experienced and cautious motorcycle riders can experience an accident at least once in their lives. Ultimately the only person’s behavior we can control is our own, so the best way to avoid accidents is to make safety our top priority.
This means wearing proper riding gear every time you ride and always wearing your helmet. Obey the posted speed limit, and never ride after you’ve been drinking. Texting while riding a motorcycle may be practically impossible, but there are other ways a cyclist can get distracted. Increased awareness is key to riding safely on any road in Birmingham or elsewhere.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
We can’t stress enough that anytime you or a loved one is injured in a motorcycle accident, you should seek medical attention right away. Keep any records you receive from your doctor, as well as an injury log. Take photos of the scene, your bike, the other vehicle involved and your injury if possible.
Bonus Tip: Your injury log is the perfect place to record any and all information regarding your accident, including the time, date and location of the accident. Tracking how you feel from day to day will strengthen your injury claim.
While you should contact your insurance company as soon as you can, in many instances a motorcycle accident attorney can best guide you through the injury claims process. This is especially true if your injuries are extreme.
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The Birmingham motorcycle attorneys of Pittman, Dutton and Hellums, P.C. can help you recover damages from the proper parties. We have successfully represented clients in every county in Alabama.
If you or a loved one were involved in a motorcycle accident in Birmingham, please contact us today. We offer free case evaluations and contingency-based services, which means we don’t receive any fees unless we win you money.
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