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Motorcycle vs Car Accidents. What’s the Difference?

April 08, 2020

by Donaldson & Weston

motorcycle and car accidents

There is a difference between motorcycle and car accidents. You might think the same considerations for a car accident apply to a motorcycle accident. In fact, they can differ in various cases. Motorcyclists pose a greater risk when involved in accidents and injuries. Considering the risk stems from different issues than car accidents, hiring a personal injury attorney can assure the highest compensation in return. 

The risk can be caused by many different issues and usually the motorcyclist is not at fault. More often than not, resulting from other drivers' inability to pay attention or even dangerous road conditions.

Common Types of Motorcycle Accidents

Drunk Driving - This isn’t solely a motorcycle accident issue. This issue affects all drivers. Despite the deep understanding and awareness that drunk driving can cause, people still make the decision to drive drunk. For a Motorcyclist, this can be detrimental. Without a driver or passenger side door, or precautions like airbags, these collisions leave the person fully exposed to the elements. This can make the damages of a motorcycle accident more serious. 

Single-Motorcycle Accident - Aside from the dangers of other drivers and their negligent decisions on the road, a motorcycle is exposed to the conditions of the weather and roads. They can be prone to tipping, sliding, skidding, etc. Even conditions that are not so obvious that may cause an accident. 

Left-Turn Collisions - Often deadly, these accidents are extremely dangerous. When other vehicles cross through traffic or merge into your lane, and a lack of being aware of you could cause a collision causing serious injuries. 

Rear-End Accidents - Much like car accidents, when you are hit behind from a vehicle you could suffer serious injuries. You may be entitled to compensation and claims for damages and injuries. 

Stereotypes

Although some of the motorcycle and car accidents share similar statistics, it may be difficult to claim fair compensation for all costs and damages. From financial compensation to medical costs.

There are commonly assumed stereotypes for motorcyclists that can play a disadvantage for the victim. Among many non-motorcyclists, it is believed that these riders are reckless in their decision making and act criminal. Because of these stereotypes, juries tend to not favor motorcycle riders in a court case. Similarly, insurance companies sometimes payout less compensation to motorcycle drivers compared to car drivers. It is imperative you consult a lawyer for maximum compensation for damages and costs. 

How Do You Know if You Were at Fault

In order to go to the next step in your case, a personal injury lawyer will need to determine who was liable for the accident. 

  • Were you being cautious?
  • Who can attest to the negligent driver?
  • Was a report filed?
  • Could it have been avoided?
  • How was the weather?
  • What time of day was it?

What about the right to compensation?

Based on Florida Law, being able to show that your injuries were a direct result caused by a reckless driver or actions of someone, means you can seek restitution. Negligent acts that are considered a liability can include anything along the lines of:

  • Speeding
  • Texting while driving
  • Distracted driving aside from texting
  • Failure of vehicle safety
  • Failure to follow traffic signs, signals, and / laws

A basis of damages are not restricted to the list above. Grounds for seeking compensation would be considered if another motorist acted in a way that could be considered reckless or negligent. As of Florida law, comparative negligence laws still mean you could be entitled in a claim for compensation. 

In addition to determining liability for the accident, the damages will have to be assessed through a series of questions:

  • Can you still work at your current job?
  • Did you miss any time from work?
  • Have you fully recovered or are you still undergoing treatment?
  • How much medical expenses have you acquired up to date?
  • What was the extent of your injuries?
  • Are you dealing with mental and/or physical pain and suffering?
  • What kind of damages were done to your personal property?

All these questions help the attorney assess an estimated value of your case in motorcycle and car accidents. How are damages valued? There are two categories that separate types of damages and how they are calculated. 

Non-economic damages: These are damages that cannot be easily calculated. There are no guidelines on how to weigh the value of emotional damages, or pain and suffering.
Special damages: Damages that can be easily calculated. These can range from lost time at work, property damages, medical expenses, etc. Damages that have more of a precise number and guideline. Simple enough to total up in a precise number. 

Motorcycle and car accidents can vary in damages. Motorcyclists can suffer unique definitions of pain and suffering. Being thrown from your motorcycle or skidding down the road by the yard, or hitting a tree have to be considered differently than most car accident damages.

Without a professional personal injury lawyer, knowing what your claim is worth would be hard to assess based on the laws in place. Especially laws in Florida, which differ with a lot of states comparatively. The factors most likely are:

  • Potential Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of salary 
  • Supplies such as medications
  • Property damage
  • Current medical bills
  • Potential lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Determining what is a fair settlement using all the factors above should be left up to your attorney. They will determine a figure and fight to cover all your expenses and let you continue your life as normal.

How Do You Prove Fault?

Proving you were injured in court and to a jury will be the main consideration for determining fault. Hard evidence to back up recklessness and negligence will be most effective. Including but not limited to:

  • Records and phone histories
  • Camera Footage
  • Driving records
  • Reports such as witness statements and accident reports

Although, a lot of steps, a personal injury lawyer would need to consider to fight for what you deserve. 

Both car motorcycle and car accidents have a lot of similarities when it comes to considering damages and value for compensation. However, Motorcycle accidents can be more complicated in deciphering a claim and the details. 

As we know, cars are big pieces of steel that surround you, which is very different from a motorcyclist who is entirely exposed. They are exposed to other drivers, the weather elements, and conditions of the road more freely than being in a car. That alone, makes more aspects complicated and definitely more dangerous. In addition to the mechanics of these considerations, there is also a level of complication when it comes to the bias a jury may have about a motorcyclist and their motorcycle. 

What Some People Think Vs. The Truth

Point blank, some people believe that motorcycles simply don’t belong on the road. For people who are not aware of or don’t come in contact with a lot of motorcyclists. The character of a motorcyclist could be misjudged based on stereotypes. Along with the loud reputations of blaring Harley Davidsons, they’re seen as rowdy riders who wear leather and denim. This is a difficult connotation to fight in court. 

A lot of these stereotypes are unfair. Not all motorcyclists are loud outlaws or gang members riding the streets committing criminal acts. It is not accurate but unfortunately this opinion could be a significant disadvantage to a plaintiff. 

Sometimes it has nothing to do with reputation but that a jury believes only cars should be permitted on the streets. They believe you have no right on the road as a motorcyclist, and understand the risks you are deciding to take when choosing that mode of transportation.

All of these ideals, right or wrong, could be considered when a jury decides if you have any right to be compensated for your injuries. Fortunately, a personal injury lawyer can help you plan strategies to overcome some of these stereotypes.

Motorcycle versus Car Accident

Aside from the obvious, driving a car versus a motorcycle is very different. Not everyone understands how to ride a motorcycle properly. The reaction time and maneuvers are very different. Something as simple as turning a corner means different kinds of skills needed to acquire. You have to be far more aware of the road and other drivers. Also, remember you are on two wheels not four.

For someone who is just learning how to ride or hasn’t had experience in riding, this can work against you. Jurors have to be taught motorcycle driving safety and that can take attention away from the issues and injuries presented. 

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “a total of 4,985 motorcyclists died in crashes in 2018. They also accounted for 14 percent of all motor vehicle crash deaths. Which was more than double the number of motorcyclist deaths in 1997.”

Unique to car risks, motorcycle risks can be:

  • Less Protection. Aside from being surrounded by an entire car, they also lack safety features like airbags and seatbelts. Protective clothing and a helmet can only prohibit so much during a high risk car accident. An array of accidents can cause serious injuries or even death.
  • Skills. Inexperienced riders are more likely to be involved in an accident. It requires more skills and awareness than being in a car.
  • Less Visibility. In comparison to a car, motorcycles are less than half in size. Which can cause it to be difficult to see when they’re on the road. They can hide in your blind spot or even larger objects and vehicles.
  • Sport or Super-Sport Bikes. Having a high performance bike, it's more tempting to speed or accelerate too quickly which can create unsafe driving habits or practices on the road. 
  • Perception. Although not always true, perceptions of riders may cause non-motorcyclists to believe they are reckless in behavior and risky in decisions. There are special aspects of riding a bike like which speeds are needed to maintain balance of the bike. 
  • Stopping Distances. Because a motorcycle is smaller in size and length, they can stop a lot quicker than regular sized vehicles. Making it easier to rear-end a motorcyclist if a passenger vehicle is not driving at a safe distance behind the motorcycle.  
  • Insurance Settlement. Insurance companies are likely to fight against a settlement with a claim by a motorcycle rider. A lot of these claims could be for more money than other accidents. In addition, the bias jurors will help insurance companies fight to pay less.

Injuries are Likely Worse

Contrary to popular belief. The leather most motorcyclists wear is to protect them from road rash, if they so happen to fall from their bike. Helmets protect their head from trauma or other severe injuries, but none of it does much in the way of protecting against concussions and fractures. 

Motorcycles don’t come with seatbelts or harnesses. The likelihood of being thrown from your bike is pretty high. Being thrown can mean ruptured organs, broken bones, or trauma to any other part of the body. 

Juries don’t always understand that injuries which seem more extensive are not always because of irresponsibility but are just that more common of motorcycle accidents. 

Insurance Companies Always Shoot For Less in Motorcycle and Car Accidents

Insurance companies are always looking to pay out the least in any settlement and as soon as possible. A good lawyer will fight to protect your rights and in some states like Florida, will fight to award you partial compensation if you are less than 50% at fault. 

Similarities

There are various differences between motorcycle and car accidents. But, one thing that remains the same are the steps you can take to ensure you set yourself up to receive maximum compensation for your losses.

  • If you can, tend to your injuries. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. This assures you have connection from your injuries to the accident. This makes it easier to prove your medical problems and costs are related.
  • Call a personal injury lawyer for representation. Avoid speaking to the other side without solid advice, The words you say could be held against you and make it hard for you to get compensations that are fair. 
  • Honesty. Don’t hold back any details. Make sure you’re honest with your attorney in order to get what you deserve.
  • Don't wait. The longer you wait the harder some details of the claim can be to prove. Gathering evidence, witness statements and medical documents can get lost over time. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible will ensure your best chances at a fair settlement and keeps you from going over your Statute of Limitations. 

Expect to be treated differently if you were involved in a motorcycle accident. Between the unfair stereotypes, extent of your injuries, and lowball insurance companies. Fortunately a good personal injury lawyer can help get a fair settlement on a claim and resolve your case and even defend your rights in court for motorcycle and car accidents. For a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer in Stuart, call 772-266-5555 or send us an email.