Five facts you should know about motorcycle accidents

Riding a motorcycle is a popular hobby—more than 8.6 million motorcycles run on the road. However, accidents do take place, and motorcyclists can unfortunately suffer catastrophic injuries because motorcycles leave them so exposed. If you or a loved one has experienced this in Bellingham, you are most likely reading this because you need help.

Fact 1: Half of Motorcycle-Vehicle Collisions Take Place at Intersections

When approaching an intersection, always watch for vehicles that might pull out from a driveway or side street. Vehicles might turn in front of you, so watch for that as well. Intersections are particularly dangerous because parked vehicles, buildings, overhanging tree branches, or shrubbery may limit your vision. Because of these obstructions, you might never see a vehicle approaching you and pull out into the intersection, wrongfully believing it is clear.

You can protect yourself by remembering to slow down and double-check that no traffic is coming. Prepare to react quickly, if necessary, because other vehicles on the road might drive carelessly around motorcycles. You might not see them—and they might not see you.

If, through no fault of your own, a vehicle strikes you, you may receive compensation. Injured motorcyclists can receive reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and the loss of companionship from their spouse. You'll find more about that below, and in this post on what you should know about wrongful death claims.

Fact 2: Motorcycles Are 27 Times Deadlier Than Cars

Anyone can die in a motorcycle or car accident, so neither method of transportation is 100 percent safe. Furthermore, more people die in car accidents than motorcycle accidents—but that’s simply because more people ride in cars on a daily basis.

The federal government compares deaths per mile traveled and has found that the death rate of people riding motorcycles is more than 27 times that of people riding in other vehicles. This shouldn’t surprise you. After all, motorcycles don’t shield their riders as well as cars do their passengers, so they bear the full brunt of any collisions.

Fortunately, riders can reduce the danger of riding a motorcycle. For example, you can take a motorcycle safety training course. More than 90 percent of people involved in accidents have not taken any kind of safety training course. If you are a responsible motorcyclist, you may want to increase your odds and learn how to ride safely. Luckily we have a training program here in town that can train you.

Fact 3: About 50 Percent of All Fatal Single-Vehicle Crashes Involve Alcohol

Want to cut your chance of a motorcycle injury by half? Drive sober. This should decrease your chance of dying in a single-vehicle accident by 50%. That seems like a no-brainer, and is a choice every driver can make. What you can't choose is whether or not other drivers will decide to be sober. Still, if you are sober, you'll have quicker reflexes and can counter-steer or use other evasive manuevers to get out of harm's way a lot more readily.

See this from a personal injury law perspecctive as well. If you are in a motorcycle crash that wasn't entirely your fault, but you were driving while intoxicated, this can prevent you from receiving compensation for your injuries.

Fact 4: Wearing a Helmet Reduces Your Chances of Dying by 37 Percent

Washington state law requires motorcyclists to wear helmets, and for good reasons. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets are about 37 percent effective at preventing motorcycle deaths and a whopping 67 percent effective at preventing brain injuries. For this reason, careful drivers—even those older than 21—should always wear helmets whenever riding their bikes.

Some people feel an unfounded fear that a helmet will limit their vision. According to NHTSA, helmets reduce your peripheral vision by less than 3 percent and do not hinder your ability to hear. So the next time you head out for a motorcycle ride, remember to grab your helmet!

Fact 5: Washington motorcyclists are more likely to die in an accident than car drivers

While overall traffic crash fatalities continue to decrease in Washington, motorcyclist fatalities continue to rise.

In our state, motorcycles make up just 4 percent of the registered vehicles, but accounted for 17 percent of the fatalities and 18 percent of the serious injuries between 2012 and 2014.

If the unthinkable has happened to you and you've lost a loved one to a motorcycle crash, you may have financial compensation available to you. Below are a few ways survivors can collect funds in order to go on with their lives:

  • A spouse can receive compensation for loss of companionship.
  • Children may receive compensation for the loss of companionship, instruction, and guidance
  • Survivors can receive compensation for medical and funeral expenses
  • Survivors can also receive money to make up for the deceased’s loss of future earnings
  • Survivors may also recover compensation for the mental pain and anguish of losing a loved one

Because every situation is different, you should meet with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss what compensation is available to you.

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