Personal Injury

Motorcycle Accidents

In 2020, 176 motorcyclists died and 2,805 were injured in North Carolina motorcycle accidents. Even at similar speeds, these collisions tend to cause far more severe injuries than most automobile accidents. Victims can suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, damage to the internal organs, fractures and even death. Recovering from a motorcycle accident is draining physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. 

Motorcyclists deserve fair compensation from the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, insurance companies often seek the lowest possible payout. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Maginnis Howard are committed to getting you the best settlement or verdict.

What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

The first thing to do after a motorcycle accident is always to contact emergency services. Everyone involved should first address any injuries and be examined by a medical professional. If injuries are minor enough, the victim should collect contact information and as much evidence as possible. We recommend taking photos and videos of the crash and surrounding areas as this could be useful in court. If a victim has to be taken to the hospital or is incapable of gathering information, he or she should try to ask a family member to gather this information.

In the following hours, you’ll need to obtain a copy of the police report and continue to document the details of the accident. Finally, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to advocate on your behalf and get the best possible settlement.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

Personal injury cases can be fraught with complications. First and foremost, victims must battle the insurance companies whose interests often lie in their own bottom line. In cases involving a motorcycle accident, there can be even more hurdles when it comes to juries and harsh North Carolina codes.

Jury Bias

Insurers frequently treat motorcycle accidents with an added bias. Those who don’t ride may think the motorcyclists themself are participating in an inherently dangerous activity, and for that reason, are at least partially responsible for any accident. In cases where a personal injury suit goes to trial, a Judge may remind the jury to expel preconceived notions about motorcyclists. Nevertheless, bias of that nature is difficult to remove from a legal proceeding.

Our attorneys will show that you did everything you could to operate your motorcycle in a safe, prudent manner, including wearing a helmet and protective clothing, and that the real reason the accident occurred was the recklessness of the defendant.

Contributory Negligence

North Carolina has a harsh legal rule referred to as contributory negligence. This rule can be used as a complete bar to a personal injury recovery, including those on behalf of passengers. The at fault driver (or defendant) can try to argue the victim was injured due in part to his or her own negligence. Under contributory negligence, the defense can use any bit of evidence that proves the victim was at fault to release liability. In other words, if the victim of the crash is even 1% responsible for the accident, he or she may lose out of thousands of dollars. It can be difficult to overcome this law in court. For that reason, a personal injury attorney should assess the evidence and advocate on your behalf.

What Injuries Are Common in Motorcycle Accidents?

Whether or not a crash is fatal, injuries from a motorcycle accident can be life-altering. Common injuries include:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – Symptoms can be immediate or delayed but require immediate medical attention. Sudden trauma to the brain causes behavioral changes and death.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries – Damage to the spinal cord of any caliber can result in loss of sensation, chronic pain, or paralysis.
  • Fractures – The lack of protection surrounding the body means fractures are common among crash victims and survivors.
  • Internal Injuries – These injuries can be less obvious and, for that reason, all the more deadly. Examples include bleeding around the lungs and tears to the aorta, liver, spleen, kidneys and more.

How Much Can I Get for My Injuries?

There is no one size fits all settlement or verdict in a personal injury case. The amount a victim can recover is impacted by the details of crash, availability of insurance coverage, the extent of the injuries and more. In broad terms, a motorcycle accident victim can sue for compensatory damages (monetary compensation for your losses) of different types.

  • Medical Bills: Perhaps the most common form of damages, medical expenses are frequently a large financial strain on the victim. Medical damages will cover the cost of the immediate treatment. In some cases, an experienced personal Injury attorney can obtain future expenses for continuing and lifelong treatment.
  • Lost Wages: Accident victims who need time off to recover from their injuries entirely can sue for lost wages. For the more extreme cases, such as long term disability, or being forced to change careers entirely, you may be entitled to the loss of future income as a result of your injuries.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages that compensate victims for emotional distress. These are non-economic results of an accident that leave victims with long-lasting trauma.
  • Punitive Damages: A form of compensation awarded to the victim of personal injury assessed solely to punish the defendant. These damages are uncommon, as the victim must prove the offender’s intent or willful misconduct.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?

Some estimates indicate up to 75% of motorist/motorcycle accidents are the fault of the motorist. The most common causes of accidents both fatal and non-fatal:

  • Distracted Driving – Cars or motorcyclists who don’t give their full attention to the road reduce reaction time for unexpected events
  • Visibility – Passenger vehicles have a more difficult time seeing motorcyclists, especially if the driver is distracted
  • Right of Way Violation – Cars who do not yield properly to a motorcycle’s right of way can be much deadlier for the cyclist than for passenger vehicles
  • Speeding and Weaving – Motorcyclists operating at extremely dangerous speeds, weaving quickly between lanes, passing cars without warning

How Can Drivers Prevent Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcyclists can mitigate the risk of injury by following Traffic Safety guidelines such as:

  • Preventing Drunk Driving – Alcohol-impaired riders made up 42% of single-vehicle motorcycle fatalities in 2019.
  • Becoming Properly Licensed – 31% of fatalities involved unlicensed motorcyclists.
  • Wearing a Helmet – Use of a helmet is the single most effective tool for riders against TBI and other head injuries.
  • Avoiding lane-splitting – Even as a cyclist, your responsibility remains to respect the rules of the road. Therefore, it is illegal for riders to weave through lanes of traffic or change lanes without warning.

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found fatalities for motorcyclists were 29 times more likely than for passenger vehicle operators. For that reason, it’s important for all drivers to remain aware of their surroundings and especially conscious around motorcyclists.

How Do I Start a Civil Suit for My Injuries?

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence, an experienced attorney can help you file suit. Our firm’s lead personal injury attorney, T. Shawn Howard, has successfully litigated complex motorcycle accident cases. He has recovered millions for victims of negligent drivers of both private and corporate vehicles.

Our office provides free consultations for personal injury cases and charges only a contingency fee. This means, you don’t pay unless we win. To schedule a meeting with one of our personal injury attorneys, please call our office at (919) 526-0450 or submit an email request through our contact page. Our staff may request some documentation relevant to the case in order to better understand your situation.