Motorcycles are prized for their ability to transport riders at extremely high speeds while performing quick precision maneuvers. Unfortunately, the same qualities which make these vehicles so beloved can also make them extremely dangerous. Because these minimal, compact vehicles lack the sturdy walls, windows, and ceilings which help to contain passengers in other types of auto accidents, their riders and passengers are protected only by helmets, boots, and a few centimeters of tough leather.
For these reasons, accidents have a particularly high rate of severe and even fatal injury. The debilitating wounds and burns so often caused by crashes can take years or decades to recover from or the injuries may be permanent. Crash victims may require constant supervision and costly medical care that lasts long after the accident itself. Physical therapy and assistive devices are but a few of the costs you may incur.
If you or someone you love was hurt, it is completely unjust that you should be stuck with the financial burden caused by another motorist’s careless or negligent driving. You may be entitled to compensation for the damages against you. To start exploring your legal options in a confidential consultation, call the law offices of Fayetteville motorcycle accident lawyer Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Injury in Fayetteville?
The period after an accident is often incredibly chaotic and stressful. You are coming to terms with your injuries at the same time you are trying to manage the resulting expenses. On top of that, you are likely to become trapped in a frustrating and fruitless struggle against notoriously evasive insurance companies, while simultaneously trying to keep an eye on the accident investigation and determining issues of liability. It can quickly start to feel like a hopeless and overwhelming nightmare with nowhere to turn for help.
However, first thing first. If you are in a motorcycle accident, your first concern should be getting to a safe location. Typically, this means physically moving out of the travel lanes where the vehicles are traveling. However, be sure to do this safely. If your accident occurred on a highway, other vehicles are likely traveling at high rates of speed and can inflict serious injury or death if you are hit in a secondary accident. Once you are safe, you can call 9-1-1 for emergency assistance should you or any other involved party require medical treatment. And if you are hurt, don’t try to be a hero. Get checked out to rule out any internal injuries or internal bleeding that can later cause serious medical complications or death.
Why Most Motorcycle Accidents Occur in Fayetteville, AR
Motorcycle crashes can occur for many reasons, but some of the more common causes include:
- Traffic Violations – While drivers are supposed to keep careful watch over the actions of other motorists, we generally expect people to do what they are supposed to and follow the law. When people depart from expected actions and others must adjust, the risk of an accident increases. Likewise, committing traffic offenses may illustrate negligent, careless, or reckless driving.
- Distracted Driving – The proliferation of cell phones and smart devices means that there are more reasons than ever for people’s eyes to leave the roadway. Glancing away at a critical second can cause a collision.
- Excessive Speeding – Driving above the speed limit means that a driver’s margin for error is decreased. Driving at high speeds also often means that injuries are more severe when an accident occurs.
- Intoxicated Driving – Alcohol and drugs dull the senses and impair decision-making. Even a few drinks can have a noticeable impact on one’s ability to drive safely.
- Road Defects – Sometimes, a motorcycle accident is not caused by another driver. Road defects and potholes that are just nuisances to other motorists could be deadly hazards to motorcyclists. Additionally, debris left on the road could cause a motorcyclist to lose control of their bike, possibly crashing into another moving vehicle.
- Motorcycle Malfunction or Defect – Motorcycles are delicate machines that require all parts to function correctly to ensure the rider’s safety. If there is a defect in the bike, such as faulty brakes, then the motorcyclist is placed in a dangerous situation. Additionally, a motorcyclist relies on their protective gear to decrease an accident’s impact if it occurs. If a helmet is defective, a rider could suffer a traumatic head injury or brain damage.
These are but a few of the reasons why motorcycle accidents occur. Motorcycle accidents are also often attributed to the smaller profile of the bike and its propensity to be blocked from view by larger vehicles. This phenomenon makes left-hand turns on a motorcycle particularly dangerous.
Motorcycle Crash Statistics
Unfortunately, most motorcycle accidents do result in at least some form of injury. Drivers and passengers in car accidents have numerous forms of protection. These include heavy bumpers help to absorb impact, the deployment of airbags to cushion blows and strong structural supports help maintain the integrity of the vehicle’s frame.
Motorcycle riders have virtually none of those protections. Additionally, the state of Arkansas repealed its helmet laws in 1997, leading to a 21% rise in fatalities as reported by the Governors Highway Safety Association. To exacerbate matters further, cycles are frequently hit by other vehicles simply because they present a smaller profile, and view of the rider and motorcycle can be easily obstructed or difficult to see.
Combined, these factors are often a recipe for disaster.
As you can see, the total crash number and total injury number are alarmingly close. By comparison, a total of 2,415 car crashes in Fayetteville yielded 340 crashes with an injury. This means that about 14% of car crashes lead to injury, versus 85% of motorcycle crashes.
Compiled statistics were last available for 2013 and accident rates and fatalities remained at similar levels. In 2013, there were 1,411 producing 1,043 non-fatal injuries. Tragically, there were 74 motorcycles fatalities in the state and the lack of helmet use was closely associated with fatal crashes. While 19 deaths occurred when riders were wearing a helmet, 53 fatalities were recorded for riders who did not wear a helmet.
Dangerous Roads and Highways for Fayetteville Motorcyclists
While Fayetteville is fortunate to have access to an array of interstates, highways, and local roads an unfortunate fact regarding high-speed travel is that serious injuries leading to death do occur. The Arkansas State Police make a listing of the fatal crashes that occur in the state available to the general public. Two fatal accidents occurred on Highway 16 to the west of Fayetteville in February 2015. In January 2015, a deadly accident was reported on Round Mountain road. A fatal accident was reported on Wilson Hollow Road to the south of State Highway 156 near Fayetteville.
Additionally, there are a number of other roads in the area where fatal accidents are more likely than average. For instance, US 49 is a highly traveled road where commercial trucks are frequently present. Large vehicles like 18-wheelers and freight trucks present a high risk of severe injury when a crash occurs. Other major roads in the area where deadly accidents can occur due to high speeds of travel include US 62, US 71, the Fullbright Expressway, and route 112.
Who is Liable for My Expenses After a Motorcycle Accident?
Arkansas operates under an “at-fault” insurance system, as opposed to states which follow the “no-fault” system. As the name suggests, the at-fault system means that the motorist who caused the accident can be held financially liable for any resulting damages to property or another human being. Typically, the claim for compensation will proceed through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy. However, if the other driver is uninsured or under-insured, complications can arise.
Determining Liability After a Fayetteville Motorcycle Accident
In any personal injury lawsuit based on negligence, including one after a motorcycle accident, the plaintiff must establish four elements. Our Fayetteville motorcycle accident injury attorney will have to show a duty of care, a breach of duty, causation, and actual damages.
Duty of Care
Duty of care will depend on the relationship of the parties involved in a lawsuit. For example, a doctor will owe their patient a different duty of care than a landlord owes their tenant. However, duty of care is typically not difficult to prove in a motorcycle accident case. Every driver in Fayetteville owes every other driver a duty to safely operate their vehicle, keeping others from unreasonable harm. For example, motorists must adhere to traffic regulations and ensure that their car is roadworthy.
Breach of Duty
After establishing that a duty of care exists, our Fayetteville motorcycle accident injury lawyer will have to prove that the defendant breached that duty. In some cases, this is not challenging. For example, a person driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is breaching their duty. However, often whether a breach occurred is not as apparent. A question the court will ask is, “what would a reasonable person do under similar circumstances?” If there is a severe thunderstorm raging, then traveling at the posted speed limit might not be what a reasonable person would do because of the weather conditions and poor visibility. Our office will look at the facts of your case to help establish a breach of duty.
Poor decisions and reckless conduct do not always result in an accident. Prevailing in a personal injury lawsuit requires proving that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the accident and your injuries. If a driver rear-ends a stopped motorcycle, it is usually not difficult to prove that the conduct caused the injury. However, the cause of every accident is not always clear. When several vehicles are involved or if there are multiple possible defendants, determining what caused an accident might require a thorough and detailed investigation.
Finally, a plaintiff must have suffered actual damages in a motorcycle accident. Damages is a legal term that encompasses the financial losses and the pain and suffering associated with an injury or accident. If you were in a motorcycle accident and not hurt at all, you likely do not have a viable personal injury case. Unfortunately, most motorcycle accidents result in some form of injury, often severe. If you required any medical attention, missed work, or suffered emotional distress because of the accident, you could have provable damages.
Available Damages for a Motorcycle Accident in Fayetteville
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident in Fayetteville, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. There are two types of damages available in a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence.
Most people who are injured in a motorcycle accident incur financial losses. Medical treatment costs money. If you were transported to a hospital in an ambulance, there will be a charge. While insurance may cover some of this, it will not cover everything, such as co-pays or deductibles. Additionally, you might require an extended hospital stay, surgery, or physical therapy. These expenses are considered economic damages. You are entitled to recover any financial losses incurred because of your injury.
Another typical economic damage is lost wages. If you were injured and unable to work, you might not have the available vacation or sick time to cover the missed days. If your recovery takes months or years, your income could be substantially decreased. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you could recover your lost wages. Furthermore, if you are unable to work, or work at the same capacity, you are permitted to seek compensation for your diminished earning capacity.
Non-economic damages are different. These types of damages are not easy to calculate or quantify. Sometimes referred to as pain and suffering, non-economic damages include the intangible harm people experience after an accident or because of an injury.
For example, an injured motorcyclist could seek compensation for the pain they suffered because of their injury. Because every person is unique, the level of pain you experience might differ from that of another. Emotional distress and mental anguish are also included under the category of non-economic damages. For example, you could receive monetary compensation for your anxiety, insomnia, or depression.
A severe injury could not only impact your ability to work; it could significantly impact your ability to enjoy life. If you suffered a serious injury, you might not be able to ride again. You deserve to be compensated for this loss or any other adverse effect the injury has on your quality of life.
Calculating economic damages is relatively easy. Our Fayetteville motorcycle accident attorney will gather bills and receipts to figure out your financial losses. Putting a price on your quality of life or your level of anxiety is much more challenging. Our Fayetteville motorcycle accident will often work closely with your healthcare providers, psychological experts, and other individuals to put an adequate dollar amount on the suffering you endured.
Am I Required to Have Motorcycle Insurance in Case of an Accident?
Arkansas has a compulsory liability insurance law. This means that motorcycle riders and all drivers in Fayetteville and throughout Arkansas are required to purchase a liability policy that meets state minimum standards. In the state, the same minimum levels of coverage apply regardless of whether you drive a motorcycle, car, truck, or van. All motorists must purchase $25,000 of liability coverage per person for bodily injury. The policy must also include $50,000 of liability coverage per accident for 2 or more people. Finally, the property must also cover a minimum of $25,000 of damage to property. However, when serious injuries occur or a vehicle is totaled, these coverage limits can be quickly surpassed. It is typically a good idea to purchase coverage that is greater than the minimums.
Furthermore, state law also requires insurers to offer policies for coverage of accidents with uninsured drivers and under-insured drivers. Coverage of this type can be important because even though you can sue a driver for damages beyond what his or her policy covers, the individual needs to have income or assets to make a recovery. If the at-fault driver lacks these things, you may have minimal or no recourse to recover compensation for your serious injuries.
Contact Our Experienced Fayetteville, AR Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you or one of your loved ones was hurt in a motorcycle accident in Fayetteville, you may be entitled to compensation. To schedule your confidential case evaluation with an experienced attorney, call Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law at (479) 316-0438, or contact us online. You have a limited time to file a claim after an accident, so don’t wait until it’s too late — call us today to see how we can help.