Boston Car-Motorcycle Collisions
Riding a motorcycle can be a lot of fun. Many people enjoy the feeling of freedom and excitement of being out in the open when on the road and feeling the wind whip past them. Some choose to ride larger motorcycles in the classic Harley-Davidson style, while others prefer to ride faster, sleeker sports bikes, such as those manufactured by Yamaha or Honda.
Regardless of the type of motorcycle you choose to ride, there is no question that riding a motorcycle can be a lot more dangerous than driving a car, as our Boston motorcycle accident attorneys at the Attorney Injury Group have seen on many occasions. Most people have been in at least one car accident at some point in their lives. In most cases, we are talking about minor fender benders. However, car accidents involving very serious personal injury or even death are a common occurrence in Massachusetts.
Motorcycle accidents tend to be more serious for the simple fact that riders are much more vulnerable to serious injury and death than those in a car. In fact, what might otherwise be a minor accident for someone in a passenger car could result in a trip to the emergency room for a motorcycle operator. The reason for this is because that openness that makes riding a motorcycle fun and exciting also makes it very dangerous if you are involved in a Boston motorcycle accident involving a car.
Why are motorcycle accidents so serious?
According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are several reasons car accidents involving motorcycles are often so serious.
Some reasons include:
- Motorcycles are not considered crashworthy vehicles
- Cars possess much greater weight and bulk than motorcycles
- Motorcycles are more difficult to see than cars
As a result of these distinctions, NHTSA research shows that more than 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents that are reported in the U.S. each year result in the serious personal injury or death of the motorcycle rider. These numbers are far greater than they are in the case of a traditional Boston car accident.
Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents:
According to the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), injures involving motorcycle riders are often found in the following areas, listed from most frequent to least frequent:
- Lower Extremity
- Upper Extremity
- Face and Neck
In each case, the motorcycle accident victim was admitted to a hospital with serious to life-threatening, and sometimes fatal, injuries.
Is the victim at fault if a motorcycle is inherently dangerous?
Many motorcycle accident defendants who were operating a car or truck at the time of the crash might be tempted to argue they are not at fault, because the plaintiff was operating a motorcycle, which is inherently more dangerous. However, this defense will typically not be successful, and there are a few good reasons for that.
This first thing to keep in mind is that it is legal to ride a motorcycle on the roads and streets of the Commonwealth, as long as that motorcycle is street legal. This means that it must have all required components and must pass a motor vehicle inspection. There is also a requirement that the motorcycle rider must be wearing a helmet, but we will discuss that below.
In our legal system, a defendant must “take the plaintiff in the condition he finds him.” This phrase, which was handed down for British cases involving the Queen’s Bench, essentially says that a plaintiff will not be blamed for being in a more vulnerable condition, as long as he or she was acting reasonably. While this is often seen when dealing with a defendant who has a medical condition that makes them suffer damage that would be expected, it could be applied here as well. Another name for this is the “eggshell skull” doctrine, which alludes to a person having a skull as thin as an eggshell.
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and how does it relate to Boston motorcycle accidents?
When you own a motor vehicle, whether it is a car, pickup truck, or a motorcycle, the law requires you to purchase liability insurance. This is insurance that will cover the loss to accident victims in the event of an accident that was your fault. There is also a type of coverage known as personal injury protection (PIP). PIP coverage was started because legislators were trying to shift the way in which insurance was sold to prevent insurers from taking advantage of customers, as they had been doing in many cases.
While this was not fully effective and caused a lot of national carriers to refuse to write policies in the Commonwealth for many years, there is still a PIP requirement. This means, when you get your car insured, the company must provide you with PIP coverage, unless you specifically waive this coverage, which most people do not do.
If you are injured in an accident, while you are waiting for the defendant’s driver to pay your damages, you can receive PIP coverage payouts from your own car insurance company to cover personal injuries up the amount of $8,000. However, in the case of motorcycles, due to the increased likelihood that a rider will be injured, insurance companies in Massachusetts are NOT required to provide PIP coverage to policy holders. In other words, if you own a motorcycle and are injured, you will not be able to file a claim under a PIP policy, because you will not likely have this type of coverage on your insurance policy binder. However, car insurance policies are often extremely complex, and the contracts tend to use a lot of industry jargon. For this reason, the best thing you can do is to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your rights.
One final thing to keep in mind is that, while the motorcycle accident is often the fault of a driver of a car and not the motorcycle operator’s fault, there are, of course cases, where the motorcycle operator is at fault. In these cases, if there was a passenger on the motorcycle, and that passenger was injured, the passenger may be able to file a claim against the operator, so they can work to obtain and full and appropriate financial recovery for their losses.
Contact the Attorney Injury Group today for a free and confidential consultation.