The Delaware State Police report that there was a traffic crash called in every 23 minutes in the state in 2014. There were 377 motorcycle crashes that same year and a total of 15 motorcycle accident-related deaths. This translates into a death rate for motorcyclists of 6.57 per 10,000 registrations, as compared to the rate of 1.44 for all registered vehicles. Obviously, Delaware motorcyclists face some unique and serious risks on the road. While many drivers exercise care and caution behind the wheel, there are those whose poor decisions and negligence put others at risk, especially those on motorcycles. In these situations, what can be done? Delaware law does allow motorcycle accident victims to hold those people responsible for the injuries and damage they cause.
If you are visiting our site today because you or someone you love has been hurt in a motorcycle accident, we encourage you to peruse all the information we have shared. We hope we can start to answer some of your questions and help you learn more about your rights in Delaware. If you need help right now or have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Take a moment to fill out our online contact form or call our convenient Delaware office nearest you to speak with a member of the experienced legal team at the Morris James Personal Injury Group.
How Are Motorcycle Accidents Different Than Other Vehicle Crashes?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes a motorcycle accident as a “violent event,” and the group states that more than 80 percent of all reported crashes result in the injury or death of the motorcyclist. Motorcycles by design lack the safety features of other vehicles—there are no seat belts, air bags, or doors to offer protection. Motorcycles are lighter, open to the elements, and less stable on two wheels than the other vehicles on the road.
While motorcycles are much easier to maneuver and can stop more quickly when necessary, the lack of safety features exposes drivers and passengers to greater dangers when involved in an accident. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to be killed in an accident than drivers or passengers of other types of vehicles. Even when an accident is not fatal, more injuries and more serious injuries are reported. Additionally, motorcyclists are much more likely to be involved in accidents with fixed objects, which themselves present unique dangers and serious consequences.
The stakes are simply higher for motorcyclists than for operators and passengers of other vehicles. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, you do have legal options in Delaware.
Common Causes of Delaware Motorcycle Crashes
There are many reasons that motorcycles are involved in accidents on the road. In some cases, bad weather, poorly maintained roads, or risky behaviors of the motorcyclist lead to these serious crashes. Many other times, however, the carelessness of other drivers causes the injury or death of a motorcyclist. A passenger car or truck driver’s failure to yield is one of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents. Time after time, those drivers claim they didn’t see the motorcycle approaching before they attempted to turn through an intersection or merge with flowing traffic. Whether those drivers were rushing or speeding or just made a bad decision in that moment, motorcyclists should not have to pay the price for another driver’s negligence.
Other common causes of motorcycle crashes include instances where other drivers are speeding, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, toss objects from the car (such as cigarettes), or stop suddenly. Additionally, motorcyclists are at risk for often overlooked open door accidents, which occur when a driver or passenger of a parked car opens the vehicle door suddenly and hits an oncoming motorcyclist. This amounts to a crash with a fixed object and can result in the motorcyclist being thrown from the bike and suffering serious injuries.
Common Injuries Suffered in Motorcycle Accidents
Those causes and many others can leave motorcycle operators and passengers facing serious injuries and mounting medical bills. Without the protections offered by other types of vehicles, they can experience a greater number and more severe injuries, including:
- Brain injury
- Broken bones
- Lost limbs
- Lacerations and abrasions from the road (commonly called road rash)
Motorcyclists are most at risk for lower-extremity injuries. An NHTSA report states that while these injuries are not often as fatal as upper-extremity injuries, they are more common and result in the need for acute medical care. These lower extremity injuries include broken bones, soft tissue injuries, dislocations, amputations, crush injuries, and more.
While motorcyclists are more at risk for all these kinds of injuries, it does not justify their occurrence. Many types of vehicles have a right to travel the road, and all drivers share responsibility for the safety and well-being of others. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, the experienced lawyers at the Morris James Personal Injury Group may be able to help. Fill out our online contact form for a prompt response from a member of our team and get started protecting your rights today.
Types of Compensation Available for Delaware Motorcycle Accident Victims
After a motorcycle accident, victims can face a scary and uncertain time. In addition to the stress and pain of medical treatment and recovery, they may also be concerned about growing medical bills and how the injury will affect their ability to earn income. Missed time at work can equate to lost wages and benefits. In some cases, the injuries are so severe, the victim may not be able to return to work at all or to return in the same capacity as before the accident. Even if the victim does not work outside the home, they may provide other important household services, such as childcare.
The experienced lawyers with the Morris James Personal Injury Group have helped other motorcycle accident victims obtain compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, lost benefits, future lost wages, property damage repair or replacement, pain and suffering, and more.
It is important to take timely action, however. Delaware law imposes a two-year statute of limitations for victims to file a personal injury claim. After two years from the date of the accident, victims may be unable to pursue compensation for their injuries.
Bias Can Affect a Motorcycle Lawsuit and Settlement
While our legal system is set up with the goal of being unbiased and completely fair, there is no avoiding the human factor. Even with the best intentions, the preconceived notions of the other lawyers, the judges, the jury, the witnesses, and others can affect the outcome of a case. This is especially relevant in cases involving motorcyclists. Though there is little scientific evidence, the experience of motorcycle accident lawyers suggests that motorcyclists are often perceived to be reckless and irresponsible on the road. This bias can have a negative impact on a case when those incorrect notions influence some of the key players. Police reports and witness statements can be affected. Often, those at an accident scene can assume the biker was at fault. When the motorcyclist is the person most severely injured, he may not be available to tell his side of the story immediately. This can result in skewed or even incorrect accounts from the police and those who witnessed the accident.
The bias can also result in lower settlement offers. Insurance companies are out to protect their client as much as possible. They want to pay out the smallest amount of money they possibly can and will use any advantage they can find. Adjusters may leverage the uncertainty of a jury and the preconceived notion of the public to get a victim to accept a lower settlement than he deserves. However, skilled and experienced motorcycle accident attorneys can help their clients fight this bias and demand the full, fair amount of compensation. The lawyers at the Morris James Personal Injury Group understand that this bias is wrong and unfair, and we’ve helped many motorcyclists obtain the compensation to which they are entitled.
Determining Fault in Delaware Can Be Difficult
One additional hurdle in motorcycle accident cases is Delaware’s rather strict stance on fault. Delaware is a modified comparative fault state. This means that in each case, the accident is evaluated and a number representing an amount of fault is assigned to each party. In some cases, the defendant is 100 percent to blame. However, there are circumstances in which it is determined that both parties share some of the responsibility for the accident. For example, if the motorcyclist was speeding 10 mph over the posted speed limit when a car driver failed to yield, the motorcyclist may shoulder some of the blame. In those cases, the settlement award could be reduced to equal the percentage of fault shared by the motorcyclist. If it is decided that the motorcyclist was more than 50 percent, he would not be entitled to any compensation.
Thus, it is very important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. The legal team at the Morris James Personal Injury Group helps victims build a thorough case to prove exactly how the defendant was at fault. We will gather evidence, interview witnesses, secure experts, and prepare for trial if necessary. Our team knows what it takes to be successful, and we will work hard to make that happen for you.
What to Do If You’ve Been Involved in a Delaware Motorcycle Accident
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident in Delaware, take care to protect your rights immediately. Hang onto your helmet and any other protective gear you were wearing at the time of the accident. Take as many photos as you can—at the scene of the accident, of your motorcycle, and of your physical injuries. If it’s possible, do not repair the damage to your motorcycle until after the case is resolved. Finally, call the experienced legal team at the Morris James Personal Injury Group.Motorcycle cases can quickly become complicated. Our skilled lawyers can help aid your recovery by taking care of the necessary details and allowing you or your loved one to focus on his or her physical health and treatment. Our team can fight the bias against motorcyclists by examining the exact science of how the accident occurred and resulted in the injuries. We have experience dealing with the insurance companies and preparing a comprehensive case to address Delaware’s rules regarding fault. Motorcyclists should be afforded all the protections and the rights shared by the drivers of other vehicles on the roads, and the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help ensure that your rights are protected. To get answers to your questions and get started with your case today, call our office nearest you or take a moment to fill out our online contact form for a prompt response.