I don’t know about you, but I’m itching for all this Kansas City rain to stop so I can start riding regularly again. The wind in my face. The open road. The sense of freedom and release. For those of us who ride motorcycles, there is little else that compares to the experience. Unfortunately, there are also many risks associated with cruising the open roads on our favorite 2-wheeler, that don’t exist within the confines of the standard automobile. If you have never suffered an injury while riding, here are some tips to keep you safe and shiny-side up. If you have recently been in a motorcycle accident, jump down and read about some specific information you need to be aware of when pursuing a recovery for your injuries and damages.
Tips to stay safe and shiny-side up
- Always wear a helmet. The statistics overwhelmingly show that wearing a helmet not only can save your life, but can protect you from suffering other serious and crippling consequences like a traumatic brain injury. If you don’t like the feeling of “missing out on the wind and elements,” then buy a half-helmet or even a shorty. But whatever you choose, please just choose to protect your dome with a properly fitted and DOT-approved helmet.
- Keep close tabs on your tires’ air pressure. Motorcycles tires, unlike car tires, are specifically designed and engineered to flex and roll, especially on the edges and up into the side walls. This is what allows the bike to “lean” into turns while still maintaining the proper center of gravity to stay upright. While car tires can operate more or less OK when slightly over or under inflated because they maintain constant and full contact with the road surface, over or under inflated tires on your bike can cause the bike to either not flex enough to allow a bike to lean and turn sharply, or flex too much and thus lose all traction. So, check your air pressure at least weekly and keep it at the manufacturer recommended levels.
- Keep your gas tank full and your chain or belt properly lubed and maintained. A broken chain or belt can lead to catastrophic consequences. As for an empty gas tank, well, let’s just say we’ve all been the “I felt so cool riding and now feel like a loser walking” person at least once in our life. Let’s try to never go there again.
- Drive as though you’re invisible to others because, to most cars and trucks on the road, you are. If you always assume the worst can happen, you’ll be ready to have the best ride. Enough said.
Issues you’ll face in an insurance claim or lawsuit for injuries from a motorcycle accident
If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, you’ve likely already faced one of our greatest fears as riders: an unpleasant encounter with a car or truck. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motorcyclists are far more likely to be killed or injured in a traffic accident than passenger car occupants. If you wonder why, see safety tip number 4 above.
Unfortunately, in a large majority of cases the injured rider will have insult added to their injuries when they are blamed, at least in part if not in full, for the accident and for causing their own injuries, even when they weren’t at fault at all. As wrong as this may be, many people still cling to old stereotypes about motorcyclists living and riding recklessly. In addition, many defense attorneys representing the at-fault auto driver know about the bias against bikers, and will do all they can to exploit the stereotypes in front of jurors to try and sway the jurors to not be as sympathetic or generous to a motorcyclist as they would be to any other victim of an auto accident. Similarly, and equally deplorable, is the tendency of a jury to not value the loss of quality of life for a biker as high as they would for an auto driver.
These are just a few of many reasons why obtaining a fair settlement or jury verdict for motorcycle accident victims can be more difficult, and why it is all the more important to hire a high quality personal injury attorney that has experience with motorcycles, not only as a rider but in representing riders in personal injury insurance claims and lawsuits. An experienced motorcycle injury attorney knows how to fight fire with facts. It’s imperative to gather as much documentation and information as possible, including photographs and diagrams of the accident scene, credible witness statements, thorough medical records, testimony from the victim’s friends and family members, and evidence of fact-based claims for non-medical damages such as lost wages, out of pocket expenses, and other economic damages for care, support and maintenance. The defendant’s attorney will challenge and try to downplay these facts, while subtly introducing lifestyle issues in order to minimize your compensation. But your attorney can overcome these draconian efforts if they are familiar with these tactics and understand how to effectively counter them throughout settlement discussions and even on to trial.