Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
Motorcycles are some of the most enjoyable vehicles available. Their acceleration, agility, and fuel savings are but a few of their positive qualities. However, motorcycles also have their drawbacks. As a smaller vehicle, they are less conspicuous, and thus they are more likely to be hit by another motorist. When motorcycles are involved in accidents, the injuries are often significantly more severe. In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) calculates that motorcyclists are 34 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury when compared to the occupant of a passenger vehicle. If you or a family member was injured in a devastating motorcycle accident, contact an experienced Bentonville motorcycle accident lawyer today.
If you have suffered a serious injury in a motorcycle accident, Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, can provide aggressive and strategic representation. Ken Kieklak possesses over 20 years of legal experience, and he would be honored to help you pursue compensation for your injuries. If your loved one has unfortunately been killed in a motorcycle accident, we can also provide experienced representation. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your claim, contact our Bentonville motorcycle accident lawyer at (479) 316-0438. You can also contact the firm online.
Bentonville Motorcycle Accident Statistics
The most recently available statistics available from the state of Arkansas’ website reveals that there was 1,441 motorcycle, ATV, and moped crashes in the state in 2011. While most of the crashes, fortunately, did not produce any deaths, 74 accidents did produce fatalities. Approximately 72% of those fatally injured were not wearing a helmet. Although the exact number of incidents for 2013 is unclear, the number of crashes reached a high of 1,913 in 2008. While motorcycle accidents hovered around 1,000 per year in the early 2000s, it increased over the course of the decade, with the number more commonly being around 1,500 accidents per year.
Why Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
The reasons that motorcycle accidents occur are extremely numerous. While in some accidents, one factor may be the sole cause, other accidents may be the result of multiple risk factors coming together. Common reasons for motorcycle accidents and collisions include:
- Traffic law violation – Violations of traffic regulations can increase the likelihood of an accident. Depending on the particular law violated, the driver may have committed negligence per se.
- Failed to see motorcycle – Accidents that are caused when a driver fails to see a person on a motorcycle. Motorcyclists are especially at risk for this type of injury.
- Bad weather – Poor weather conditions can reduce visibility and increase stopping distances. Both factors can increase the chances that you will be involved in an accident or collision in Arkansas.
- Distracted driver – The proliferation of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, and on-board entertainment systems now means that there are distractions abound for drivers. However, taking your eyes off the road for even an instant can result in tragic consequences, whether it is due to turning to discipline screaming kids in the back seat or while changing the radio station.
- Misjudgment – Sometimes, people make honest mistakes in their judgment. They may have thought that the vehicle was traveling more rapidly than it appeared to be. However, even honest mistakes can cause life-altering injuries.
- Alcohol – Consumption of alcohol reduces reaction times and impairs decision-making. Alcohol significantly increases the risk of a vehicular collision. According to NHTSA statistics, of those motorcyclists to be involved in a fatal accident, 27 percent had a BAC of .08 percent or above.
- Drowsy Driving – Some individuals may operate their vehicles on the road when they are severely fatigued. This is often true when a driver works in the transportation or trucking industry. Excessive hours at work can make a driver exhausted and could decrease their attentiveness behind the wheel, which could lead to an accident.
These reasons are only those typical to a motorcycle accident in Bentonville. Each and every accident is unique and must be analyzed independently to uncover the reasons behind it.
Common Injuries in a Bentonville Motorcycle Accident Case
Each and every motorcycle accident is caused by unique circumstances that produce their own consequences. While it is difficult to predict what injuries one may suffer, certain types of injuries are observed more frequently than others. Some injuries that are commonly reported or diagnosed after a Bentonville, AR motorcycle accident include:
- Whiplash – Whiplash is commonly reported by those in car, truck, SUV, and motorcycle accidents. Despite being fairly common, whiplash injuries can cause serious problems, including severe back and neck pain, dizziness, nausea, and confusion.
- Broken bones – Motorcyclists do not have the safe degree of protection that a driver or passenger of a vehicle has. As such, they can be thrown from the bike, or the motorcycle can topple onto them.
- Traumatic brain injuries — A TBI is one of the most worrisome injuries because the brain controls all functions and processes in the body. Damage to the brain can disrupt these systems or cause them to fail. Furthermore, brain injuries can impair cognitive skills, social skills, and your ability to function independently.
- Knee, ankle, or joint injuries – Being knocked off of a motorcycle in an accident or having the bike fall onto the rider can result in serious injuries to the body.
Proving Liability in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit in Bentonville, AR
Victims of a serious motorcycle accident in Bentonville, Arkansas should consider pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver that caused their injuries. Typically, a victim of a car accident will consider a lawsuit if the negligent driver’s insurance is not sufficient to cover their injuries and any damage to their vehicle. This often occurs when an at-fault driver is underinsured or when the driver has not secured insurance at all.
Personal injury lawsuits are often based on a theory of negligence. The plaintiff must show how the defendant acted negligently before they can recover damages for their injuries. Specifically, the plaintiff must prove the following four elements:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached their duty of care (e.g., operated their vehicle while intoxicated)
- The plaintiff sustained an injury or other losses due to the defendant’s breach
- The plaintiff suffered an injury that a court of law can compensate
Once a plaintiff has proven these elements, they can be awarded compensatory damages from the court. Compensatory damages will include payment for economic losses and noneconomic losses. For example, $10,000 worth of damage to a vehicle will fall under the category of economic losses. Alternatively, a victim’s emotional distress will fall under noneconomic losses. A plaintiff can receive damages for the following issues:
- Loss of wages and future wages
- Medical bills, costs of medication, rehabilitation expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
It is important to note that Arkansas uses the modified comparative fault rule when determining damages in a negligence claim. This rule permits the court to reduce a plaintiff’s damages if they shared any fault in the accident with the defendant. For example, if a plaintiff were found 10 percent responsible for the accident, they would lose 10 percent of their damages.
Arkansas also follows the 50 percent rule. Under this rule, a plaintiff that is equally negligent or is more negligent than the defendant will be barred from recovery. This means that a plaintiff can be up to 49.9 percent negligent and still recover in their case. However, once they are at least 50 percent negligent, they will be unable to receive compensation from the defendant.
Wrongful Death Claim
As mentioned, the potential for a life-threatening injury is increased when a person is operating a motorcycle on the road with motorists that fail exercise caution. If your loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident due to the actions of a negligent motorist, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
A decedent’s family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against an individual that caused the decedent’s death. Note, however, that a wrongful death lawsuit may only be filed by close family members of the decedent. For example, children or the spouse of the decedent would be able to file a claim. However, distant family members like aunts or uncles may be barred from filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations on Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The statute of limitations establishes how long a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit with the court. The type of lawsuit will determine the length of time a plaintiff will have to file their lawsuit. For example, a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit may have a different filing deadline in Arkansas.
In Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit is three years from the date of the injury. Fortunately, Arkansas also allows family members three years to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
If a lawsuit is not pursued within the given filing deadline, the court could bar the plaintiff from filing their lawsuit. This may occur if a defendant successfully moves to dismiss the case because the plaintiff violated the statute of limitations. When this happens, the plaintiff would be unable to pursue compensation for their injuries.
Arkansas’ At-Fault Insurance System
One of the most stressful parts of a motorcycle accident for a driver is trying to negotiate with the insurance companies. They may wish to settle for a small amount immediately, or they may attempt to pressure you into making an admission or statement of some kind. However, negotiating or interacting with an insurance company is almost always an essential step in the process following an accident.
When speaking with an insurance claim adjuster, you should remind yourself that they are representing the interests of the insurance company. As a result, the representative from the opposing insurance company may contact you and attempt to find any holes in your story. If you are concerned about speaking with an insurance claim adjuster, we can help alleviate your concerns.
The auto insurance regime in Arkansas is known as an at-fault system. What this means is the party that is declared to be at fault for the accident can be held financially liable for the injuries and other damages experienced. An experienced attorney can navigate the challenges presented throughout the litigation process.
Contact a Bentonville, Arkansas Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Unfortunately, the foregoing are but a few of the more common injuries a motorcyclist can sustain. If you have been in a motorcycle accident – even one that initially seems to be minor – seek medical attention to rule out any serious underlying injuries.
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, fights for Arkansans who are injured due to the recklessness or negligence of others. If you have suffered a serious motorcycle injury, contact Bentonville motorcycle accident injury attorney Ken Kieklak by calling (479) 251-7767 or contact us online.