Unique Risks Involved with Motorcycle Riding
Operating a motorcycle is generally more dangerous than driving or riding in a car because the vehicle is smaller, has two wheels, and does not protect the rider inside a metal container. Though these physical characteristics do not lead to an increased rate of accidents, there are risks for motorcycle riders that car drivers do not face.
- Motorcycles are less visible to other vehicles: The smaller profile of a motorcycle means that other motorists may not be aware of their presence on the road. A motorcycle may also be hidden by another car or object, putting it in another driver’s blind spot. This is less likely to happen with larger vehicles. Reduced visibility is especially a concern at intersections.
- Road conditions play a larger role in accidents: Objects that have minimal effect on passenger vehicles or trucks can have a major impact when a motorcyclist encounters them. Debris, rough road surfaces, wet asphalt, and even animals create hazards for a motorcycle.
- Motorcycles are less stable: Because of their two-wheel construction, a motorcycle is less balanced than a four-wheeled car. The lowered stability means that operations like braking, turning, and swerving are risky maneuvers, especially when an operator is attempting to avoid an unexpected hazard.
- Motorcycle riding requires skill: Driving a car is relatively easy as compared to operating a motorcycle. A rider must take into account the somewhat-unsteady, two-wheeled construction. Because of the higher level of skill involved, a special license and training is required to operate a motorcycle. Still, there is no substitute for practice.
Injuries Associated with Motorcycle Accidents
With these risks comes a higher incidence of injury to a motorcycle operator in the event of a collision, especially considering the lack of a barrier to protect the body and head.
- Head Injuries: The most common injury resulting from motorcycle accidents, head injuries are also the most severe. Traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, and brain bruising can cause serious medical conditions, including headaches, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, effects on motor skills, and cognitive problems.
- Your skull is effective at protecting your brain, but if it is cracked or damaged, the injuries can be critical, or even fatal. A helmet helps considerably, and Maryland law requires motorcyclists to wear one, but not all trauma can be prevented by this type of protective gear.
- Neck and Spine Trauma: When the spine is damaged in a motorcycle accident, the prognosis for recovery is often grim. The bones and tissues of the spine play a crucial role in carrying the brain’s messages to other parts of the body. Spinal injuries from a motorcycle crash can lead to permanent health conditions, such as quadriplegia or paraplegia.
- Road Rash: When a rider skids across pavement after a collision, he or she may suffer concrete scrapes on exposed skin. This road rash is more than a mere scratch or cut; it is an extremely painful abrasion that can actually lead to permanent issues, such as skin conditions, infections, and surface nerve damage.
- Injuries to Lower Extremities: When a motorcycle accident causes injuries to the legs, feet, knees, or ankles, there can be long-term effects. The impact of the collision can lead to shattered or fractured bones, torn ligaments, and severe bruising; landing on the ground after being projected from a motorcycle is a factor, as well. Temporary or permanent disabilities are common, and some victims are left unable to walk after the incident.
Statistics on Motorcycle Accidents in the US
Figures gathered from a number of sources and studies reveal just how serious motorcycle accidents can be.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than two-thirds of fatal motorcycle crashes are caused by drivers of other vehicles because they do not see the motorcycle rider in time to avoid an accident.
- The NHTSA also reports the medical bills incurred by a motorcyclist injured in a crash are, on average, $2 per mile traveled. For injuries related to other types of vehicle accidents, that amount is 20 cents per mile.
- When a motorcyclist is injured in an accident, the average total cost for treatment, including on-the-scene, emergency room care, surgery, and rehabilitation, is $211,000. Victims injured in other types of traffic accidents incur an average of $17,000 for medical treatment.
The statistics on motorcycle accidents are sobering, and injured victims face an uphill battle in the aftermath. Expenses for medical treatment, surgery, and recovery can run sky high considering the unique nature of injuries you may sustain in these types of collisions. Plus, the trauma to the lower extremities, which are common in motorcycle accidents, may leave you out of work for some time. The impact upon your life and relationships can be devastating. Fortunately, Maryland law does provide options to recover for these losses. A knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorney can assist you in pursing the responsible party for compensation, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. For more information on how our experienced lawyers can help, please contact the Baltimore office of Bob Katz. We can answer your questions or schedule a case assessment to review the details of your case.