Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
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) 251-7767.
What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Injury?
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 Do Motorcycle Crashes Occur in Fayetteville?
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.
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.
85% of Motorcycle Crashes Cause an Injury
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.
How Many Motorcycle Accidents Occur in Arkansas?
According to the annual Traffic Crash Statistics Report compiled by the Arkansas State Police, in 2011 alone the state experienced:
- 1,441 total crashes.
- 1,227 crashes with an injury.
- 74 fatal crashes (with 75 fatalities).
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.
What Are Common Motorcycle Injuries?
Injuries are disturbingly common in crashes involving cycles. Some of the more common injuries include or lead to:
- Severe Skin Abrasion (“Road Rash”)
- Neck Injuries (“Whiplash”)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Permanent Paralysis
- Severe Burns
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
- Multiple Broken Bones
- Facial Disfigurement
- Extensive Scarring
- Damage to Internal Organs
- Severe Internal Bleeding
- Chronic Pain
- Persistent Infections
Some of these injuries are completely life-altering. Burns are notorious for requiring months or years of painful skin graft procedures. An injury to the neck or spinal cord can cause permanent or temporary paralysis, including paraplegia and tetraplegia (quadriplegia). A blow to the head can lead to permanent brain damage, and victims may require around-the-clock care and supervision.
These accidents and injuries don’t only harm the person who is directly involved: they place years of terrible financial and emotional strain on the entire family.
On What Roads and Highways Near Fayetteville Do Fatal Crashes Occur?
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 if I Have a Motorcycle Crash in Fayetteville, Arkansas?
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.
Am I Required to Have Motorcycle Insurance?
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 an Experienced Motorcycle Lawyer if You Were Injured in a Crash
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 Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law at (479) 251-7767, 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.