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Motorcycle Accident/Crashes

Our law firm brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in the area of motorcycle crashes.  Not only do have we represented many people who were involved in motorcycle collisions we know from personal experience the hazards that exist on the roadways for motorcyclists.

A recent study conducted by University of South Florida's Center for Urban Transportation Research, analyzing ten years of data, found that 60 percent of the time motorists in other cars are at fault when there is a collision with a motorcycle. [1]

This recent study confirms the famous Hurt Report[2].  Some of the important findings from that report show:

*that in “multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle [non-motorcycle] violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.” (Hurt Report Page 417) 
* “The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, of did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.”  (Page 416.  Attorneys note: this problem is further compounded by the overwhelming use of cell phones which were not in use at the time the University of Southern California Traffic Safety Center published its report in 1981.)
*The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

The most recent statistics available show that per vehicle mile traveled in 2011, motorcyclists were over 30 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 5 times more likely to be injured. [3]

In 2011 65% of the motorcycle riders who died in Illinois had been drinking with a full 29% who were above the legal limit of 0.08 BAC. [3] 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011. The NHTSA estimates that if all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 703 lives could have been saved. [3] 

Approximately 4.9 million motorcycles were registered in the United States in 2001.  While these represent only 2% of all registered vehicles, motorcycles account for 7% to 12% of all motor vehicle-related fatalities.[4] Overall, they accounted for 11.3 billion person-miles of travel in 1998, averaging 2,640 miles per motorcycle (Federal Highway Administration. 1998 Highway Statistics, Washington DC: FHWA, 1999).[5]  Motorcycles are the most fuel-efficient class of highway vehicle, at 50 miles per gallon (FHWA 1999).[6] Since motorcycles are capable of high speeds and offer little or no occupant protection, they are also the most hazardous highway vehicles: they have the highest crash costs per person-mile (Miller et al. 1999).[7]

While only 20 percent of car crashes result in injury or death, that figure jumps to an astounding 80 percent for motorcycle crashes.[8]  About one-third of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes are a result of other motorists turning into the path of the motorcycle.[9] 

A recent report projects the eighth straight increase in motorcycle fatalities. In 2005, 4,315 motorcyclists died, a 7.7 percent increase.[10]  In 2004 it is estimated there were 76,000 persons injured in motorcycle incidents.[11]  It is estimated that medical bills in a non-fatal motorcycle collision on the average range from $10,000 to $30,000 with the average expense involving head injuries around $44,000.[12]  Some authors “estimate that total medical costs (not just acute) account for only about 6 percent of the total costs of motorcycle injuries. Work loss represents 29 percent of the total cost, while pain, suffering, and reduced quality of life represent 63 percent.”[13]  Another author “considered the productivity losses resulting from California motorcycle fatalities. About 80 percent of the motorcyclists who died were under 40 years of age, so the years of potential life lost were quite large. In 1991, 512 fatalities resulted in an estimated 24,435 years of potential life lost, or 3,824 years per 100,000 registered motorcycles. At a discount rate of 3 percent, the productivity losses came to $603 million.”[14]  

Rarely does a motorcyclist have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for their medical treatment not including long term care or assistance.  It is extremely important motorcyclists who are severely injured to get the assistance of a qualified attorney immediately.  Evidence may disappear or be lost.  Witnesses move and important information may never be retrieved.  When we take a serious injury case we immediately begin to secure and preserve the important evidence for future analysis.  Most jurors have their ideas about people who ride motorcycles and we will have to overcome those prejudices with hard evidence regarding all of the facts of the crash, tire marks, road debris, eye witness statements, cell phone records, physical condition of the bike and whether any of the persons involved were intoxicated.  Defendants may argue that your motorcycle was not in good mechanical working condition prior to the collision.  Without having the bike available for a forensic inspection their arguments may grab hold of jurors.  Commonly things such as whether the headlamp was lit at the time of the crash may be determined by a forensic examination of the lamp itself. 

If you or any of your family members or friends ride motorcycles please have them review the National Safety Council’s Motorcycle Safety Course.  The program is for motorcycle riders who aspire to maintain positive, safety conscious attitudes that result in enjoyable and responsible riding.  The life you save may be your own. 

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle crash that might be someone else’s fault you should contact our offices immediately for a free consultation.  We don’t charge unless our client recovers money from someone.  Call 815/229-7246 immediately for a free initial consultation.


[1] Sun Sentinel, Angela Streeter March 9 2013, Car drivers cause most crashes with motorcycles, study finds; Consumer Reports, April 2013, 10 motorcycle safety tips for new riders)

[2] MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT CAUSE FACTORS AND IDENTIFICATION OF COUNTERMEASURES, Traffic Safety Center University of Southern California, 1981

[3] (DOT HS 811 765)

[4] Project Number 05912, R.I.T. 175th Anniversary Motorcycle Customization and Customization Kit Documentation, Collier, Gagne, Howard, Johnson, Rank, Rounding, and Vana, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY

[5] Costs of Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Crashes: A Literature Review, NTHSA

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] Motorcycle Safety Program, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[9] The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Crash, NHTSA

[10] Transportation Secretary Mineta Calls Highway Fatalities National Tragedy,
Says All Americans Can Do More to Improve Road Safety

[11] NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2004 Data – Motorcycles DOT HS 809 908

[12] Costs of Injuries Resulting from Motorcycle Crashes: A Literature Review, NTHSA

[13] ibid

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