Kentucky Motorcycle Accidents
Riding a motorcycle has its appeal, the exhilaration of the ride, enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, and a type of freedom that you can’t experience in a car. Although riding motorcycles is also a cheaper form of transportation than driving an automobile, there are more risks that you take when you get on your bike.
Because a motorcycle provides no protection from a crash, these accidents are more likely to be fatal. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcycle riders are more than 26 times more likely to die in a crash than a car’s occupants, and are five times more likely to be injured. More than 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or death.
Since the likelihood of injury and death is much higher in motorcycle accidents, it is more likely that accident victims will need to take legal action against the responsible party or parties. The Ron Aslam Law Office understands the importance of seeking financial compensation for a crash that you did not cause.
Common Types and Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to crashes and the subsequent injuries because motorcycles, being much smaller than a car, are usually in a driver’s blind spot or quickly overlooked, causing a limited visibility crash. Other times, a crash is caused by a car hitting a motorcycle from the rear due to misjudging the distance between the car and the motorcycle. Often, motorcycle accidents are due to the inattention or blatant ignorance of other drivers. Motorcycle accidents are also directly related to the training and experience of the motorcyclist. Inexperienced motorcycle operators are often responsible for accidents due to their lack of familiarity with the capability of the motorcycle and how to ride defensively.
The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) states that about half of Kentucky motorcycle crashes involve another car, and about 40 percent are caused by the car turning left in front of the cyclist. There are also single-bike accidents which occur when a cyclist hits something in the road or wipes out. Other causes for crashes include speeding, alcohol impairment, and distracted driving.
The costs of these crashes are staggering—both in terms of finances and with injuries. In 2015, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS HLDI) reported that in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, there were 87 motorcyclist deaths (11 percent of the total motor vehicle deaths that year). The Government Accountability Office stated that in 2012, 82,000 motorcyclists were injured in accidents, with 4,502 killed. The cost of these accidents is $16 billion a year, with each fatal crash costing $1.2 million, and each non-fatal crash costing anywhere from around $2,500 to $1.4 million—depending on the injuries sustained.
Common Types of Motorcycle Injuries
Depending on if a rider has protective gear (including a helmet) and the severity of the crash, the injuries can range from minor to life-threatening.
The CDC conducted a study of 1,222,000 people who were treated in the ER for non-fatal motorcycle crash injuries from 2001 to 2008. The most common injuries were on the feet or legs, accounting for 30 percent of all injuries. Head and neck injuries were the second most common, at 22 percent. Injuries sustained to the chest, back or shoulders were the third most common type of injuries, with injuries to the hands and arms and injuries to the pelvis and hips as the fourth and fifth most common types of non-fatal injuries, respectively.
The NHTSA studied fatal injuries for motorcyclists who died between 2000 and 2002. Fifty-one percent of those who died had multiple injuries and 27 percent had head injuries. If a head injury was the sole injury, it was most often a fatal injury. Only 19 percent of helmeted riders died from head injuries, compared to 36 percent non-helmet wearing riders. Helmeted riders died from injuries sustained on multiple areas of the body 57 percent of the time, compared to 44 percent of those not wearing a helmet.
The following is a list of specific injuries one can suffer from when involved in a motorcycle accident
- Bone fractures. Usually, this involves broken legs due to the bike falling on the rider, but can also include arm and wrist fractures from when a rider is trying to catch himself from falling.
- Road rash/skin abrasions. This happens when a cyclist is thrown from the motorcycle and slides on the road. This can range from first degree to third degree abrasions, and can also involve cuts and bruises.
- Brain injuries. Depending on whether a rider is wearing a helmet or not, these injuries can easily become life threatening which include: concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), skull fractures, and brain hemorrhages.
- Spinal cord injuries. This can include paralysis.
- Limb loss. This is possible if the rider gets trapped or pinned under a vehicle, or the limb is severely injured and needs to be amputated later.
Protect Yourself – Make Sure You’re Covered
In addition to always wearing appropriate protective gear when you’re riding your motorcycle, you also need to protect yourself with the proper motorcycle insurance policy. The consequences of a traumatic injury due to someone else’s negligence when you’re riding your motorcycle are bad enough; they can be even worse if you don’t have the proper coverage.
In Kentucky, drivers are only required to carry $25,000 in liability insurance on their cars. While some drivers may have more, many carry only state minimum limits and those are oftentimes not sufficient to fully compensate someone seriously injured. It is imperative to make sure that your motorcycle policy has underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) in case you are seriously injured by an underinsured driver. It is extremely important to note that under a recent opinion from the Kentucky Supreme Court, you may not be able to make a claim for UIM coverage under your insured automobiles if they are on a separate policy. Your UIM coverage should be specific to your motorcycle policy.
Sadly, even though car insurance is required by law, many people also drive without it. If you have the misfortune to be injured on a motorcycle due to the negligence of an uninsured driver, you may not have any source to recover your damages if you are not properly insured. Therefore, your motorcycle policy should also include uninsured motorist coverage (UM) to protect you against the negligence of uninsured drivers while you are riding your motorcycle.
Know your policy and know your coverage. Be sure you are prepared for the worst. You won’t regret it.
What You Can Recover After a Motorcycle Accident
Even though every motorcycle accident is different, most cyclists will endure some injuries, damage to their motorcycle, and the costs that come with the crash. Compensation is based on a variety of factors including the extent of damage to the motorcycle, the severity of injuries, and what insurance policies will cover. Damages include the following:
- Economic Damages. Money can compensate for these type of quantifiable damages:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses—both past and future
- Lost income—both past and future
- Non-Economic Damages. The following type of damages are less quantifiable than economic damages. This compensation may come from an insurance company trying to avoid a negative jury verdict.
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disfigurement
- Physical impairment
- Lowered quality of life
- Loss of companionship
If you have suffered injuries from a motorcycle accident, know that you do have the right to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. By seeking the expert legal advice of an experienced Kentucky motorcycle accident attorney, you will be making progress towards a better future for you and your family.
Ron Aslam Law Office Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, reaching out to an experienced Kentucky motorcycle accident injury attorney is one of the first steps you need to take. At the Ron Aslam Law Office, we help wrongful injury victims get the compensation that they deserve. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to see how we can help.