Since 2015 there have been more than 150 motorcyclist fatalities on Pennsylvania roads every year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Additionally, about 3000 bikers suffer injuries in motorcycle accidents annually, many of those serious.
These wrecks could be caused by the negligence of another motorist, the manufacturer of the bike or its parts, or a government entity responsible for signage and road maintenance. If you were hurt in a motorcycle crash, you might be able to bring an action seeking money damages with the help of a well-practiced attorney. Consulting with a Bucks County motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your wreck could help you reach a positive resolution to your case.
Proving Liability in Motorbike Wreck Cases
In Pennsylvania, a post-accident investigation will focus on allocating responsibility for the collision. The law holds each party accountable for their part in the wreck. If it is determined that an injured motorcyclist is more than 50 percent responsible for a wreck, they cannot collect damages from any other responsible party. However, if a biker is less than 50 percent responsible for their accident, they can seek damages from other responsible parties who were negligent.
Failing to abide by relevant traffic laws, driving while distracted or impaired, and poor vehicle maintenance could all be examples of driver negligence that could lead to liability for damages. A manufacturer might be liable if a vehicle or the motorcycle involved in the crash was defective. Furthermore, if a poorly maintained or improperly marked road contributed to the motorcycle accident in Bucks County, an experienced lawyer could hold the city or state accountable.
How Could a Motorcyclist’s Compliance with Applicable Law Affect the Outcome of a Case?
Complying with all applicable laws reduces the possibility that the motorcyclist will be held primarily responsible for the accident that caused their injuries. If a motorcyclist is not in compliance with the law, some of the blame for the accident could attach to them. How much responsibility will depend on an analysis of all the circumstances surrounding the crash.
Pennsylvania requires bikers to have motorcycle licenses and to carry liability insurance. 75 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute §3525 requires bikers under the age of 21 to wear helmets, as well as riders who have had a motorcycle license for less than two years, regardless of age. All motorcyclists must wear protective, shatterproof eyewear.
If a motorcyclist is partially, but not primarily, responsible for the accident that caused their injuries they could still potentially collect damages from the negligent defendant. However, the damage award will be reduced by a percentage that reflects their degree of fault. A skilled local attorney could present the facts showing that a biker’s negligence was insignificant compared to the negligence of others involved in the motorcycle wreck.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Wrecks
While bikers are responsible for riding safely and taking steps to keep themselves safe, even the most conscientious rider can end up in an accident. Motorcyclists cannot control what other motorists do, and when dangerous situations arise, they may not be able to take evasive action to prevent collisions.
Any of the following scenarios can create circumstances leading to such accidents:
- Dangerous lane changes, where other drivers do not look before moving
- Opening vehicle doors into traffic lanes
- Speeding and other reckless driving behaviors
- Driving while intoxicated
- Right of way errors, such as making illegal left turns in front of motorcycles
Attorneys in the area familiar with motorcycle accidents can effectively present these facts to insurers, judges, and jurors to demonstrate how the defendant caused the claimant’s injuries.
Why are Motorcycle Crashes so Serious?
Other than their helmets, bikers have little protection if involved in an accident. This lack of protection combined with the size, weight, and speed of other vehicles traveling on Pennsylvania roads places motorcycle riders at significant risk. Identifying all potential injuries is impossible, but frequently suffered ailments include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, internal bleeding, organ damage, broken bones, amputations, paralysis, and road rash.
Often, the harm sustained is permanent and drastically alters a motorcyclist’s and their families’ lives. They may need to stop working and require help to perform daily tasks, such as general hygiene, dressing, eating, etc. In some cases, family members take on these roles, but to do so, they may have to quit their jobs. Whether a relative leaves their employment or hires an aide, these situations can impose significant financial burdens. With the assistance of a skilled Bucks County attorney, injured motorcyclists may establish the basis for their damages claims.
Recoverable Damages in Bucks County
Pennsylvania recognizes a person’s right to recover for harm done to their person, under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5101. Those involved in motorcycle wrecks generally seek two types of damages – economic and non-economic. These compensatory damages intend to make a person whole after enduring harm in an accident. Generally, Pennsylvania does not place an upper limit on the amount an individual may receive for their suffering.
Economic damages repay a person for current and future out-of-pocket expenses, bills, and other monetary losses stemming from the accident. For example, medical treatments, therapy sessions, lost wages, and repair or replacement of the motorcycle.
Non-economic damages cover the harm that is not as easily calculated. These injuries are more subjective, but they are just as real. The list of non-economic harms includes emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of companionship, disfigurement, inconvenience, interference with the enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.
Calculating damages, especially non-economic damages, can be tricky. Those hurt in motorcycle accidents do not want to receive less than what they might be entitled to because they fail to ask for it. By working with experienced legal counsel knowledgeable in building a case for damages, claimants may secure a just recovery.
Speak with a Bucks County Motorcycle Accident Attorney
It is highly advisable to contact a Bucks County motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible after a wreck. Injured people have only a limited time to seek damages, and if a government entity is a potential defendant, a claimant must notify them within just a few months of their injury. Call our office today to schedule your free case consultation.