How Motorcycle Accidents Are Different Than Car Accidents

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How Motorcycle Accidents Are Different Than Car Accidents

Any motor vehicle accident can be devastating. However, while you can suffer similar losses in a motorcycle crash and a car accident, there are some key differences. Understanding how motorcycle accidents are different than car accidents can help you protect your legal rights and seek a fair settlement from the at-fault parties and their insurance companies.

Motorcycle Crashes Cause More Serious Injuries and Fatalities

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle riders are more likely than those in passenger vehicles to suffer catastrophic and fatal injuries. In fact, motorcyclists accounted for approximately 15% of all traffic fatalities in 2022.

Motorcycle accidents are more damaging for several reasons. Motorcycles don’t offer the same amount of protection from impact. While car and truck passengers have the protection of a frame and windows, a motorcyclist’s body bears the force of a collision. This can result in much more serious and deadly injuries.

Motorcycles are often overlooked by inattentive, careless, or intoxicated drivers who may strike them without slowing. Higher speeds in collision also result in more severe injuries overall, especially for motorcyclists.

Damages Are Usually Higher in a Motorcycle Collision

Damages in a motorcycle accident claim are often much higher because injuries are so much worse. For example, a car accident at a moderate speed may cause passengers in a car or truck accident to experience whiplash, while a similar accident at the same speed can cause permanent brain damage or spinal injury in a motorcyclist.

Since damage settlements are generally greater for worse injuries, motorcycle accidents typically result in larger payouts. Motorcycle accident damages may include:

  • Emergency treatment, critical care, and intensive care
  • Surgical intervention
  • Extended hospital stays
  • Inpatient and outpatient procedures
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Prosthetics and medical devices
  • Over-the-counter and prescription medications
  • In-home nursing care and domestic assistance
  • Mental healthcare for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Lost current and future income
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Short- and long-term disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium

Motorcycle Accidents Often Result in Wrongful Death Claims

If the motorcycle accident caused fatal injuries, the deceased person’s loved ones can also file a wrongful death lawsuit or survival action to recover damages. Wrongful death claims and survival actions allow the deceased person’s loved ones or personal representative to recover damages. A wrongful death claim seeks compensation on behalf of the decedent’s family and dependents, while a survival action recovers damages on behalf of the decedent’s estate.

Family members of a deceased motorcycle accident victim may have grounds to seek burial costs, funeral expenses, medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering. Loved ones may also request compensation for loss of consortium, loss of love and advice, and loss of companionship.

Wrongful death and survival actions differ by state, so families and personal representatives should speak with a wrongful death lawyer in the state where their loved one resided. A wrongful death attorney can help surviving family members navigate the complexities of the legal process and provide critical support during this difficult time.

Motorcycle Crashes May Not Be Covered by Personal Injury Protection

In no-fault states like Michigan, personal injury protection (PIP) coverage allows victims of motor vehicle accidents or their loved ones to recover medical bills, lost wages, and survivor benefits through an insurance claim.

For motorcyclists, this means they can recover compensation from the other driver’s PIP if they are in a collision with a motor vehicle, such as a passenger vehicle or truck. Motorcycle riders do not have PIP coverage for their bike since most insurance companies do not offer this coverage.

However, the motorcyclist cannot seek PIP benefits if their accident arose due to a collision with another motorcycle, object, or person. They may be able to seek benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP), and they can, of course, pursue a lawsuit through the other party’s insurance if their damages warrant this course of action.

Motorcycle Insurance Has Different Policy Limits and Coverages

Auto insurance coverage differs between cars and motorcycles. Coverage for both types of vehicles also varies by state. A major difference between motorcycle accident and car accident policies is passenger coverage. Most insurance policies cover the driver and passengers in a car or truck. Motorcycle insurance policies, on the other hand, often exclude passengers.

Motorcycles are less expensive to repair and replace than cars, and they are less likely to cause serious damage to another vehicle in an accident. As a result, motorcycle insurance premiums and coverage limits are often lower. Additionally, statutory minimum coverage requirements in many states are often lower than those for car insurance. This can make it less expensive to cover a motorcycle than a passenger vehicle in many states.

Motorcycle Accident Victims Often Face Unfair Biases

Motorcyclists are often portrayed as irresponsible risk takers. This bias can show when a motorcyclist tries to file an insurance claim or sue for damages through a personal injury lawsuit. An insurance adjuster, judge, or jury may be more inclined to believe a motorcyclist was fully or partly responsible for the accident that caused their injuries.

A motorcycle accident attorney is invaluable for such situations. They can conduct a thorough investigation and gather evidence to establish fault and counter biased thinking.

Even without bias, insurance adjusters are motivated to pay as little as possible in claim settlements. A motorcycle accident victim can benefit from having a knowledgeable and resourceful personal injury law firm on their side.

Determining Fault for a Motorcycle Accident Is Often More Complicated

A fundamental aspect of any accident claim is fault determination. It allows the victim to determine who to pursue for damages. While car and motorcycle accidents are often the result of another driver’s negligence, determining fault in a motorcycle accident can be complex.

Motorcycles must maintain a fine balance at high speeds. Debris in the road like sand, gravel, pebbles, and even grass, can result cause the bike’s tires to lose traction. The motorcyclist can quickly lose control on such surfaces, resulting in dangerous high-speed crashes.

When a biker hits a patch of gravel left by a landscaper, utility company, or construction worker, proving fault requires a thorough investigation. Photos, videos, and witness statements can help you establish fault. A skilled motorcycle accident lawyer can help gather the necessary evidence to establish fault, especially in complicated situations where the responsible party is not clear.

Not All Injury Lawyers Are Equipped to Handle Motorcycle Accident Claims

Although many personal injury lawyers handle motor vehicle accidents, not all have experience with motorcycle accident claims. Victims of motorcycle accidents and their families benefit from working with an attorney who knows how motorcycle claims differ with regard to insurance coverage, judgment bias, injury complexity, and legal procedures.

At Christensen Law, we are well-versed in Michigan laws, insurance requirements, and personal injury protection coverage limits for motorcycle accidents. We have extensive experience handling catastrophic injury claims for motorcycle accident victims. Our legal team will help you seek justice and fair compensation for even the most complex motorcycle collision claims. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation.