For a motorcyclist, there’s nothing like the feeling of hitting the open for a nice, long ride. But just as with any type of vehicle, riding a motorcycle comes with risks that riders should keep in mind.
About 8.3 million on-road motorcycles are registered in the United States. In 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists were killed, which accounted for 14% of all motor vehicle crash deaths and more than DOUBLE the number of motorcycle rider deaths in 1997, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). Furthermore, federal government data shows that in 2018, the number of deaths occurring on motorcycles per mile traveled was almost 27 times the number of deaths occurring in cars.
About one-quarter of all motorcycle accidents involve a single bike hitting a fixed object like a tree or colliding with the roadway. Meanwhile, about three-quarters of all motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle.
So how can you protect yourself as a rider, and what should you do if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident? We provided a few tips in the sections below.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
Always Wear an Approved Helmet
Before you head out, make sure you’re properly equipped to be out on your bike. It’s important to purchase a motorcycle helmet that meets DOT standards (or standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation), as this will help ensure that the helmet design has been thoroughly tested and can properly protect your head upon impact in a high-speed collision. One aspect of the DOT standards test involves dropping the helmet from different heights onto metal devices, or “anvils,” and measuring the impact absorption of the helmet and its inner lining.
The Snell Foundation provides another set of standards that are held in high regard within the industry. Snell tests are a little more comprehensive than the DOT standard tests because they also work in angular drops. These tests are designed to replicate a crash where the head of the motorcyclist hits the edge of a signpost or guardrail.
Your helmet needs to have a sticker stating it passed DOT testing. If the helmet also has Snell certification, that’s even better.
Furthermore, the helmet must fit correctly, meaning it fits your head and does not move around. The chin strap should also fit snug and not move. Remember that the top edge of the opening for your visor is going to sit below the forehead. It should line up with your eyebrows.
Dress to Protect Yourself
A short trip across pavement or gravel will tear apart your flesh. It’s a horrifying thought, but it’s the reason that proper attire is so critical. A leather jacket with protection on the elbows is one thing you should wear. Jeans or leather pants and leather boots rather than sneakers are equally important when you’re riding.
Wearing the appropriate motorcycle helmet and attire is important for better protecting yourself on the road – but even then, this does not necessarily mean that you’ll be able to avoid an accident. Sometimes accidents are completely out of your control, such as if another motorcyclist or driver acts negligently and hits you. Here are a few common ways that motorcycle accidents occur…
Common Types of Motorcycle Crashes
One common example of a motorcycle wreck occurs when a car is making a left-hand turn and doesn’t see you. The car pulls in front of you. Your options are to swerve, get ready for the motorcycle collision, or hit the brakes hard. If you hit the brakes, there is the chance that the sudden stop will cause you to flip.
Unsafe lane changes are another common cause of a Los Angeles motorcycle accident. The driver of a car is pulling into the lane and doesn’t notice you in the blind spot. It’s hard to avoid these motorcycle injury accidents. Staying as visible as possible is your only defense.
Finally, there are road hazards. Someone is doing some yard cleanup and blows all the leaves in their front yard into the road. You come around the corner, lose traction on the leaves, and crash. Gravel in the road, fallen tree branches, and grass clippings are other common road hazards.
If you find yourself injured in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to know what steps to take.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
Staying Safe and Gathering Information at the Accident Scene
If you’re not so badly injured that you can’t move and your motorcycle is operable, you should get your bike out of the road. If you can’t move your bike, you should at least get yourself off the road and out of the path of traffic. Witnesses and bystanders may offer to help, and you should allow them to do so.
As you wait on the side of the road, here are three things you should do:
- Get the name and insurance information of the other motorcyclist or driver.
- Gather the contact information of any witnesses of the accident.
- Call 911 to get law enforcement and paramedics to the scene of the crash. (You’ll want to get a copy of the report for your motorcycle accident claim.)
- Take photos of the accident scene, including your bike, accident debris, the general setting of the accident, and your injuries.
Getting Immediate Medical Care
Another important thing to remember is that you should ALWAYS seek immediate medical attention. If you suffered from motorcycle accident victim injuries such as broken bones, burn injuries, or a head injury, etc., you will definitely need to be seen by paramedics at the scene, and you may need to be transported to the emergency room in an ambulance.
Focus on getting you to the hospital quickly for tests and treatments. Broken bones need to be set. Internal bleeding must be stopped. You could need surgery or a CT scan. This is a priority. Let doctors do what’s necessary to get you on the road to recovery.
However, even if you’re alert and you feel “fine,” you should still go to the emergency room, urgent care, or your regular doctor’s office to get checked out as soon as possible. You may think you feel okay, but you could still have motorcycle accident victim injuries that you don’t immediately notice because you’re in shock and have adrenaline surging through your body. Furthermore, some injuries such as whiplash or a concussion, brain injury, spinal cord injury, or organ / tissue damage can be difficult to identify right away, as it may take several hours or days for symptoms to present themselves.
You should also keep follow-up appointments with your doctors and make sure they are aware of any new symptoms that develop. When you don’t get medical care in a timely fashion after an accident, insurance companies can try to use this against you to challenge your injury claim. Additionally, make sure to keep all your medical bills and records, as this will be important for proving your injuries and medical expenses in the future.
Making an Insurance Claim
Once you have received all the immediate medical care you need, you will need to call your motorcycle insurance company to file an accident claim. They may deal with the other driver’s motor vehicle insurance or you might have to make that call. This starts the insurance company’s investigation into the motorcycle accident case to determine what happened, who was at fault, how much it will cost to repair or replace your bike from the motorcycle wreck, and what your medical expenses, motorcycle repair costs, and other damages amount to.
But before you dive too deep into the claims process, you should definitely…
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney As Soon As Possible!
If someone else caused your motorcycle accident through an act of negligence, this means you’re likely entitled to compensation, so it’s important to know and protect your rights.
Insurance companies often try to take advantage of injured motorcyclists by unfairly:
- Blaming the accident victim
- Downplaying their injuries, or
- Not accounting for all the costs of their injuries and other damages.
As a result, it’s common for them to try to deny claims or offer a settlement that is far too low. This is why it’s so important to involve an experienced California motorcycle accident lawyer from the very beginning of your claim! As an injured rider, it’s best to have your attorney talk to the insurance company on your behalf and handle all the settlement negotiations.
At our law firm, Carpenter & Zuckerman, you get a free consultation and you don’t pay any legal fees unless we win your case! Let our attorneys look at your accident report from the motorcycle collision and see if the motorcycle accident settlement offer you’ve received is fair.
We have offices all over California, including in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Irvine, Garden Grove (Orange County), San Diego, and Bakersfield. We also have an office in Las Vegas.
Call one of our offices or fill out our online form further below for a free consultation.