There are few things as exhilarating as riding down the highway on two wheels. Motorcycles are fun and exciting, but they are inherently dangerous. Because of a motorcycle’s low profile and the lack of protection, it affords its riders, accidents involving motorcycles often result in life-altering injuries. If you were hurt in a motorcycle accident, you should contact our Fayetteville, AR motorcycle accident lawyers immediately. With decades of experience handling challenging and complicated cases, our office offers our clients professional and compassionate representation.
A devastating motorcycle crash often leaves an injured rider unsure of their options. While they are focused on recovering from their injuries, they are asked if they want to settle with an insurance company or file a lawsuit. The correct option is not always clear. Our office will allow you to concentrate on healing while we handle the insurance company and prepare your case for a potential trial. By allowing our office to evaluate your case, you will be in a much better position to make informed decisions.
Coping with the effects of a devastating motorcycle accident is physically demanding, emotionally trying, and economically straining. Our Arkansas motorcycle accident attorney can provide the legal assistance you need to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call (479) 316-0438 to learn more about your legal rights and options during a free and confidential consultation.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Arkansas
Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous to operate than any other vehicle on the road. Because of the size and the relatively small silhouette of a motorcycle, they are often difficult to see. Other motorists also tend to have a problem judging the speed of a motorcycle that is sharing the road. Additionally, a motorcyclist is provided very little protection by either their bike or their clothing, so any accident has the potential of causing catastrophic injuries. There are a variety of reasons why motorcycle crashes occur.
Opening Car Doors
A motorcycle accident does not require another motorist to be operating their vehicle. Many accidents occur when a careless driver or passenger opens their door before verifying that there is no oncoming traffic.
Reckless Lane Changes
As stated above, motorcycles present a much smaller profile on the road. When a distracted or careless driver changes lanes without checking their blind spots or rear-view mirrors, they could collide with a nearby motorcycle.
When speeding is a primary cause of an accident, the chances for devastating injuries increases. If a motorcyclist is hit by a speeding car, their injuries could be fatal. Speeding drivers have less time to react to motorcycles on the road.
One of the leading causes of rear-end collisions is tailgating. When another motorist does not allow adequate space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them, they might not be able to react to a sudden stop. When a car rear-ends another car, the result is usually structural damage to both vehicles. However, when a car or truck rear-ends a motorcycle, the injuries are often serious or deadly.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Drinking or drug use diminishes a motorist’s ability to make decisions or physically react to changing traffic conditions. If a motorcyclist is struck by a driver who is operating their vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the offending driver could face both civil and criminal penalties.
Inexperienced drivers are more likely to make errors or mistakes that endanger other motorists. Because of the lack of protection, a motorcyclist is especially vulnerable to mistakes made by novice drivers.
Left-Hand Turn Accidents
A quite common cause of motorcycle accidents is left-hand turns made by other drivers. In some cases, a motorist might not notice an oncoming motorcyclist or they could misjudge the speed of the bike, turning directly into the path of the motorcyclist. If the motorcyclist is unable to avoid a collision, the results could be devastating.
Not every motorcycle accident is the result of the carelessness of another driver. Dangerous road conditions could spell disaster for a motorcyclist. While a pothole could damage a car, the same pothole could be a deadly hazard to an unsuspecting motorcyclist.
Likewise, sometimes the motorcycle itself is at fault. If a motorcycle has defective brakes or substandard tires, the motorcyclist is placed at unreasonable risk. Furthermore, a motorcyclist relies on their safety equipment in case of an accident. A defective helmet could result in a preventable head or brain injury. If you have been injured because of a defect in your bike or equipment, the manufacturer could be held accountable.
Can I Sue for my Motorcycle Accident Injury in Arkansas?
Because motorcycles provide little to no protection, riders often suffer severe injuries when involved in an accident. Even riders who wear protective gear can sustain catastrophic or fatal injuries due to the impact of another vehicle or the road surface. Furthermore, crashes at low speeds still place motorcyclists at a greater risk than other motorists.
Any impact on the head during a motorcycle accident could result in a traumatic brain injury. Often, these injuries have long-lasting side effects, including sleep apnea, seizures, loss of memory, impaired thinking, and a wide variety of other issues. While a helmet could mitigate the damage, it does not provide absolute protection.
When a motorcyclist loses control of their bike or is struck by another vehicle, they are often thrown. Road rash occurs when a rider slides across a road surface or pavement. Depending on the thickness and layers of protection a rider is wearing, they could suffer a series of scrapes, cuts, and burns due to the friction and impact. In many cases, road rash is more than surface injuries. The victim suffers permanent skin irritations, infections, and nerve damage.
Fractures are common injuries in Arkansas motorcycle accidents. Motorcyclists do not have the same protection as people in cars and trucks. The forces the body undergoes when struck by a vehicle or the street are excessive and strong enough to break or shatter bone. Some common fractures include ribs, skull, arms, legs, collarbone, and in some of the worse cases, a broken back.
Spinal Cord Injuries
As stated above, the force of a motorcycle crash could result in a broken back. Spinal cord injuries are often devastating. Depending on the severity and location of the damage, a motorcyclist could be facing numbness to complete and permanent paralysis.
Muscle Injuries and Damage
Muscle damage is another common injury suffered by motorcyclists. Even if the impact is not enough to fracture a bone, it could cause severe damage to the underlying muscles. Damage to muscle tissue could result in soreness and impede mobility.
Steps to Take After an Arkansas Motorcycle Accident
If you are ever in a motorcycle accident or any other crash type, the first thing to do is focus on your health and welfare. However, if possible, there are several steps you could take that could help you later in a personal injury lawsuit or settlement negotiation.
Seek Medical Attention
After an accident, it is possible to be dazed, confused, and feeling a rush of adrenaline that could mask the full extent of your injuries. The first thing you should do is evaluate your injuries. If you are unable to move, you need to stay calm and wait for medical assistance. If possible, you should call 911. If you are in the roadway and able to move, you should move to a safe location away from traffic. Someone else involved in the accident may have called for help.
In some cases, a motorcyclist will not have an actual decision and will be taken from a crash site to a local emergency room for treatment. However, if you believe you have not suffered serious injuries, you still should see your doctor or be examined at an urgent care center within 24 to 48 hours after the accident. Many injuries, such as damage to your internal organs or muscle damage, are not immediately symptomatic. Any delay in seeking medical attention could be a significant danger to your welfare and health. Additionally, tying your injuries to your accident is crucial in a personal injury lawsuit or insurance settlement negotiation. If you hesitate in receiving treatment, you could jeopardize your chances of success down either avenue.
Everything that follows depends on the severity of your injuries. Nothing should be more important than tending to your medical care.
If possible, you should exchange information with anyone else involved in the accident. You should collect the name of any drivers, their contact information, insurance carrier and policy number, and the make and model of any vehicles in the crash. Additionally, you should gather the name and contact information of any witnesses. While this information might appear in a police report, sometimes, a witness will not stay until the police arrive.
Part of the job of an experienced Arkansas motorcycle accident attorney is collecting evidence to establish what occurred and who was at fault. However, some of the best evidence is available immediately following the accident. If you can, you should take photographs of the crash scene. Do not worry about taking too many. These pictures should include the position of all vehicles, details of the damage, the condition of the road, and any crash debris or debris that could have been on the road before the accident. Often, it is possible to reconstruct an accident through photographic evidence. Photos also help witnesses recall the incident.
You should also capture the surrounding area, including road signs, businesses, and other features. Critical evidence can sometimes come from the most unlikely sources. Also, do not forget to take pictures of your injuries. You should continue to document your injuries after the accident. It is not uncommon for a motorcyclist’s injuries to look worse over the following days.
It is important to remember that any other motorists involved in the accident are probably also collecting evidence. You should not apologize for the accident or make any statement to another driver or witness that could be considered accepting fault for the crash. You should also not engage in blaming other drivers. It is best to stay calm and relaxed as possible. If the police question you, you need to answer their questions honestly. However, stick to the facts and avoid offering opinions. Be sure to ask how you can obtain a copy of the report.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance
In nearly every case, you need to report the accident to your insurance company. You also might be contacted by another driver’s insurance provider. Remember, neither company is working for you. While you must report the incident, you should repeatedly stick to facts and offer no opinions, especially regarding fault or the severity of your injuries. Insurance adjusters will use any statements that you provide to limit or deny your claims. These statements could also be used against you if you file a personal injury claim. It is typically a good idea to speak with an experienced Arkansas motorcycle accident lawyer before talking with an insurance adjustor. Our office will gladly handle any communications and negotiations while you focus on your medical treatment.
Contact an Experienced Arkansas Attorney
After a motorcycle accident, you should retain legal counsel. An insurance company is not concerned with your wellbeing. It is not working in your best interests. Insurance companies have adjusters and attorneys who are looking to minimize its liability. You should have our Arkansas motorcycle accident lawyers fighting for your rights.
Determining Liability in an Arkansas Motorcycle Accident
Prevailing in any personal injury lawsuit arising from a motorcycle accident requires proving that another party’s negligence caused the crash. Our Arkansas motorcycle accident attorney will have to establish four elements for you to receive compensation for your injuries.
Legal Duty of Care
In any lawsuit arising out of negligence, the first element that must be proved is that a duty of care existed. Duty of care depends on the relationship between the parties. Fortunately, in a motorcycle accident, it is usually easy to demonstrate that a duty existed. Every motorist owes every other motorist, and motorcyclist, a duty to safely operate their vehicle, including obeying all traffic rules and regulations.
Breach of Duty
Establishing a duty of care existed is just part one of the equation. Next, our Arkansas motorcycle accident attorney will have to prove that the defendant’s conduct was a breach of the duty of care. For example, if our office can show through cellphone records that the defendant was texting while driving, then their conduct could constitute a breach of their duty. Likewise, if another driver tested above the legal alcohol limit, their behavior would be found to be negligent. In many cases, proving a breach is the most challenging part of a lawsuit.
Proving poor behavior is not enough to win a personal injury case. Our office will have to demonstrate that the defendant’s conduct caused the accident and your injuries. In some situations, this is not difficult. For example, when a motorcycle is struck by a car ignoring a red light, the conduct clearly caused the accident. However, when multiple parties are involved, determining how an accident happened could be challenging and require reconstructing the event.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit arising from a motorcycle accident, you are seeking monetary compensation for the damages you suffered. Damages is the legal term that describes the harm you experienced, including financial losses, physical injuries, and emotional distress. To recover through a personal injury lawsuit, you must have suffered actual damages. If your motorcycle was hit but you were not injured, you might not have the basis for a personal injury lawsuit.
Proving Fault in a Motorcycle Accident in Arkansas
There are many ways to prove the four necessary elements. What steps our Arkansas motorcycle accident attorney will take will often depend on the circumstances surrounding your accident and injury.
In many cases, the scene of the crash tells the story of what occurred. It is not uncommon to send an investigator to examine the site of the accident. By reviewing skid marks and other features, it might be possible to determine the chain of events that resulted in your accident. Other contributing factors to your accident could also be discovered, such as poorly maintained road signs or defective road conditions. It is also possible that local businesses have video evidence of the crash and it is crucial to have them preserve the footage before it is erased.
Thoroughly examining the vehicles involved in the accident could also provide important information and answers. While the damage location is essential in determining what happened during the accident, an investigation of your motorcycle might show a defect that contributed to the accident.
Eyewitnesses are also a valuable asset in piecing together an accident. You should not hesitate in contacting our Arkansas motorcycle accident attorney because essential evidence and witnesses might not be available months or years after the event. Furthermore, our office will want to question any witnesses as close to the time of the accident as possible. Evidence fades along with memories.
Our office will also work closely with your healthcare providers and medical professionals to understand the extent of your injuries. Severe injuries could have a more significant impact on your life. If you require multiple surgeries or years of physical therapy, you should be appropriately compensated.
How Arkansas Negligence Laws Will Affect Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
Arkansas follows the legal doctrine called modified comparative fault in personal injury cases arising from negligence. Under Arkansas law, the conduct of the injured individual could influence their potential compensation.
When our Arkansas motorcycle accident attorney is preparing your case, they are working to prove that another party was at fault for your injury. However, in addition to finding someone primarily at fault, it is possible that an injured plaintiff could be found to have contributed to the accident. For instance, a driver could be found primarily at fault for colliding with a motorcycle while making a left-hand turn. However, if the motorcyclist was determined to have been speeding at the time, their conduct could be held to have contributed to the crash.
In most cases, such as the above, the blame will be apportioned between the parties involved in the accident. Therefore, the driver making the left-hand turn could be found to be 70 percent responsible for the accident, while the motorcyclist is found to be 30 percent to blame. If this is the case, a compensation award of $100,000 would be reduced by $30,000 to reflect the motorcyclist’s responsibility.
Damages Available After Your Motorcycle Crash
Damages available in a personal injury lawsuit are typically split into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are the financial losses you experienced because of your injury. These types of losses are usually easy to understand and calculate. For example, an injured motorcyclist is entitled to recover for their medical expenses. It is important to understand that future medical costs are included in this calculation. If you require years of physical or occupational therapy, it should be included in the amount our Arkansas motorcycle attorney is seeking through your claim. While big-ticket items are apparent, you are also permitted to seek compensation for costs related to your medical care, such as medication, travel and parking expenses, and modifications to your home.
Another potential significant award is recovering for lost wages. Lost wages does not only include the time you missed because of the injury; it could include the time you will lose or the decreased earning capacity you will experience because of your injury. If you are unable to return to work because of the severity of your injury, you deserve to be compensated for your lost income.
Many people think about being paid for their pain and suffering when they think about a personal injury lawsuit. Pain and suffering are included in what is known as non-economic damages. These types of damages are different from economic ones as there is no easy way to quantify them. You can provide a receipt for medical care but not for the emotional distress you suffered after a devastating accident.
There is a significant amount of physical pain and mental anguish associated with a motorcycle injury. It is not uncommon for an injured person to be overcome by depression, anxiety, insomnia, or a fear of riding again. Additionally, the injury could further impact your life and relationship with your family and loved ones. If your injury is severe, you might not be able to physically play with your young children. You deserve to be compensated for these types of losses and emotional trauma. Our office will work closely with those providing medical and psychological care along with your family and friends to understand how the injury uniquely affected you.
Arkansas Motorcycle Accidents: Insurance Settlements vs. Personal Injury Lawsuits
One of the first questions you will have after a motorcycle accident is whether it is better to negotiate with an insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit. Motorcycle accidents present unique factors that differ from other automotive vehicle accidents. Our Arkansas motorcycle accident lawyers want to maximize your potential compensation. Depending on your situation, that might mean working with an insurance provider or filing a case in civil court.
Prejudice Against Motorcyclists
While personal bias should not play a determining factor in a personal injury case, many people are prejudiced against motorcycle riders. Juries are made up of ordinary citizens who are not immune from these prejudices. Because people often distrust motorcyclists, or believe they take unnecessary risks, injured riders are less likely to receive the same awards as someone who was injured in a passenger vehicle. This prejudice also comes into play when juries are assigning fault in a case. It is crucial to have an attorney who has years of experience handling motorcycle accident cases.
The Value of Your Case
One of the first steps our Arkansas motorcycle accident lawyers will take is to value your case. Valuing a case means critically assessing what a jury might award an injured rider in the case. It also requires factoring in what the defendant might be willing to pay. By weighing these two factors, our office will also determine what might be an acceptable offer to accept without taking the case to court.
There are two important elements when valuing a motorcycle accident case. The first element is the amount of damages the injured rider suffered, including medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. The more severe the injuries, the more significant the damages. The goal of any settlement agreement or lawsuit is to make the injured rider whole.
The second element is the legal strength of the case. The question our office will have to answer is, “given the evidence available, how likely is it that the jury will find the defendant liable?”
When you take a motorcycle accident case to trial, the jury will be tasked with determining the amount of compensation the injured rider deserves. While evidence will be provided to support your damages, it is difficult to predict exactly how a jury will interpret it.
Some damages are easier to predict than others. For example, an injured rider could produce medical bills and documentation of lost wages to a jury. The more concrete the number, the easier it is to estimate what a jury would award. However, a significant amount of the compensation awarded in a personal injury case is for intangible damages such as pain and suffering. Typically, our office will look to previous awards in similar motorcycle cases to estimate what an award could be.
Strength of Your Legal Case
The strength of your legal case is important when negotiating with an insurance company or determining if you want to take your case to court. If it is unlikely that the defendant would be found liable by a jury, the value of a motorcycle accident case drops substantially. An insurance company will also consider what a jury is likely to decide when calculating a settlement offer. In this case, it is often in the injured rider’s best interest to accept a settlement offer.
The legal strength of a case is not always readily apparent. In some situations, the initially available evidence might not appear strong enough to hold a defendant liable. However, through thorough investigation, including using experts such as an engineer or accident reconstructionist, a case’s strength could improve. Furthermore, when a lawsuit is filed, each party is permitted to participate in the discovery phase. During this part of the process, our office will request evidence from the defendant through depositions and interrogatories. Additional evidence could strengthen your case. Jury trials are unpredictable for defendants as well. If an insurance company believes going to trial will be costly, even if the evidence is not in your favor, it could increase its initial settlement offer.
Amount of Insurance Available
Whether an injured rider is filing a lawsuit or negotiating with an insurance company, the goal is the same, maximize their compensation. If the evidence is strongly in your favor, a jury could award you a substantial judgment. However, if the judgment exceeds the defendant’s insurance limits, you will probably be unable to collect the full amount. If a settlement offer is close to or equal to the available policy limit, taking a case to trial is often pointless.
Our Arkansas motorcycle accident lawyers will evaluate all aspects of your case. However, the ultimate decision on how to proceed rests in your hands. In many cases, the best course of action is to negotiate with an insurance provider while a personal injury case is prepared. If an insurance company believes you have no desire to pursue a case in court, any settlement offer will likely be lower than you deserve.
Call Our Arkansas Motorcycle Accident Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one was hurt in a motorcycle crash, Ken Kieklak could provide the legal representation you need. For decades, our Arkansas motorcycle accident attorneys have represented injured riders and their families. Our office and staff understand the frustration of dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident. We are dedicated to providing professional and passionate representation for individuals fighting for the compensation they deserve. You should not be responsible for the financial losses associated with an accident you did not cause. We will work to hold all liable parties accountable for the injuries they cause. To schedule a free consultation with our Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyers, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today at (479) 316-0438.