Over the last hundred years, automotive engineering and design have advanced by leaps and bounds. Yet today’s motorcycles are not much more advanced than the one Lawrence of Arabia rode during a fatal 1935 motorcycle wreck in England. Other than protective headgear, which isn’t mandatory for most Ohio riders and may not prevent serious injury (more on that below), riders are completely exposed to the full force of an oncoming car or truck during a collision.
Motorcycle design has not changed much, and neither have the injuries that these riders sustain. These wounds include head injuries, broken bones, and severe internal injuries. More on these things below as well.
The experienced Batavia, OH, motorcycle accident lawyers at Kruger & Hodges have not handled motorcycle crash claims since 1935. But our legal team has successfully resolved thousands of these cases over the years, obtaining millions of dollars in damages in the process. Because of our experience, we are familiar with all local court rules in different Ohio jurisdictions. This familiarity includes the unwritten rules. We do not have one eye on a rulebook and one eye on your case. Our clients get 100% of our energy and devotion.
What Causes Motorcycle Wrecks?
Many large media outlets, like the New York Times, normally do not refer to motorcycle wrecks as “accidents.” This word implies no one was responsible for an unavoidable event.
Usually, neither of these things is true. Instead, driver error causes over 98% of motorcycle wrecks in Ohio. This driver error is usually:
Operator Impairment: Alcohol, which adversely affects judgment ability and motor skills, is the most common kind of driver impairment. Fatigue, another common driver impairment, has similar effects on the body and brain. Other kinds of driver impairment include drugs, a medical condition, and distraction.
Aggressive Driving: Speeding is the most common and most dangerous kind of aggressive driving. Excessive speed is a factor in about a third of the fatal motorcycle crashes in Ohio. Speed increases the risk of a wreck as well as the force in a collision. Other kinds of aggressive driving are almost as hazardous. Examples include tailgating, running a stop light, and illegal turning.
For motorcycle crashes, driver inattention is usually the common denominator. Either because of impairment or aggression, many motorists do not look out for motorcycles.
Left-turn wrecks are a good example. Motorists waiting to make unprotected left turns against traffic often do not see oncoming motorcycles. Instead, they think they see a break in traffic and quickly accelerate into a turn. Therefore, they strike the motorcycle at almost full speed.
Granted, it Is hard for many drivers to see small motorcycles amidst a sea of large SUVs, pickups, and other such vehicles. However, that difficulty is not an excuse for negligence. If anything, this difficulty creates a responsibility to be especially alert and slow down.
Motorcycle Crash Injuries
As mentioned, motorcycles have not changed much over the past century, and motorcycle injuries are largely the same as well. These injuries include:
Road Rash: This injury normally is not serious or life-threatening. However, it is very painful, and time is the only cure. Until the injury heals on its own, it is usually completely debilitating. Many road rash victims can barely make it from their hospital beds to their bathrooms.
Head Injury: One reason motorcycle helmets don’t prevent head injuries is that they do not address motion-related head injuries. When riders collide with vehicles, the force of the impact throws them off their bikes. When they land, their brains slam against the insides of their skulls. The resulting bleeding and swelling usually cause a permanent injury.
Biker’s Arm: Falling off a bike can also cause this common nerve injury. Victims naturally extend their arms to break their falls. When they do so, the impact often snaps the nerves in the brachial plexus bundle under the arm. These nerve injuries, which are permanent, usually cause partial paralysis, especially in the face and neck.
Internal Injuries: All this force also causes internal organs to grind and bump against one another. As a result, they often burst and bleed uncontrollably. Emergency responders are so concerned with visible injuries, like broken bones and head injuries, that they overlook internal bleeding. So, by the time these victims reach doctors, they are already on the edge of hypovolemic shock.
Because of the severity of these injuries, the average injury-related medical bill exceeds $40,000. Furthermore, these injuries are specialized. Well-meaning general practitioners and ER doctors often are not qualified to diagnose and treat them.
A Batavia motorcycle accident lawyer from Kruger & Hodges can address both needs. We connect victims with medical professionals who focus on collision-related injuries and who, in most cases, charge nothing upfront for their services.
Compensation is available if a victim/plaintiff proves negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not.
Liability claims start with evidence, which is usually a combination of the police accident report, medical bills, and witness statements. This evidence, by itself, often is not enough to obtain maximum compensation. Medical bills are a good example.
Frequently, these documents only contain clinical information, like diagnosis, treatment, and cost records. That is a good start, but only a good start. The victim’s pain level is critical to a determination of noneconomic losses. Furthermore, in Ohio, medical bills usually are not presumptively reasonable. The court must only compensate victims for reasonable medical bills.
So, a Batavia, OH, motorcycle accident lawyer often partners with a non-treating physician to fill in these gaps. This doctor reviews the medical records and opines about the victim’s pain level and otherwise fills in the medical gaps. Furthermore, the doctor testifies that the services performed were medically necessary.
With this foundation in place, the Kruger & Hodges legal team usually constructs an ordinary negligence claim. These claims have basically four components:
Duty: The duty of reasonable care is based on the story of the Good Samaritan. This man went out of his way to help an injured traveler. Likewise, drivers must go out of their way to avoid accidents.
Breach: A breach of duty is a lack of care. Most driving mistakes, but not all of them, result from a lack of care. Alcohol impairment is a good example. If Tony has a sip of wine during a religious ceremony, he is technically impaired. Alcohol impairment begins with the first sip of alcohol. But most jurors would excuse Tony’s conduct.
Cause: A Batavia, OH, motorcycle accident lawyer must establish factual and legal cause. Usually, the factual cause is the substantial cause. Bad weather might contribute to a crash, but driver error substantially causes it. Furthermore, the injury must be foreseeable (possible) from the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) viewpoint. A medical mistake during hospital care is not a foreseeable injury.
Damages: Usually, a physical or property damage injury, no matter how slight, also makes victims eligible for compensation for their noneconomic losses In some cases, a near-miss crash might be actionable under a theory like negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Negligence per se is the violation of a safety law, such as the failure to maintain a proper lookout. As mentioned, this failure often causes motorcycle wrecks. However, the negligence per se doctrine is rarely available in these wrecks. For various reasons, most emergency responders do not cite tortfeasors in these situations.
Defective products, usually defective tires, cause a few motorcycle wrecks as well. Different rules apply in these strict liability matters.
Only limited defenses, such as unforeseeable misuse, are available in strict liability matters. Unforeseeable misuse is usually something like riding a jetski in a swimming pool. However, a number of formal and informal defenses are available in motorcycle crash negligence claims. Our legal team knows how to anticipate and overcome these defenses.
The comparative fault might be the most common insurance company defense in a vehicle collision claim. This doctrine basically shifts blame from the tortfeasor to the victim.
The aforementioned left-turn crash is a good example. The insurance company might argue that the motorcycle rider should have seen the driver turning unsafely and adjusted appropriately. After all, motorcycle riders, like vehicle operators, have a duty of reasonable care, as outlined above.
However, two-wheel vehicles are much more unstable than four-wheel vehicles. Sudden lane changes and other emergency moves often lead to a loss of control crash which, in most cases, is worse than the one that might have been prevented.
We say “might have been prevented” because, in many cases, these wrecks happen so quickly that the rider simply has no time to adjust.
After listening to all these arguments, the jury must divide fault on a percentage basis, such as 60-40 or 50-50. Ohio is a modified comparative fault state with a 51% bar. Victims are entitled to proportionate compensation if they were less than 49% responsible for the wreck.
As mentioned, motorcycle helmets are usually optional in Ohio. However, the failure to wear a helmet could be an informal defense. Everyone has a duty of care to watch out for their own safety. The insurance company might argue that the failure to wear a helmet is like the failure to wear a seat belt.
However, as mentioned, motorcycle helmets do not prevent all head injuries. In fact, some doctors have questioned the value of motorcycle helmets. They are not completely protective and often give riders a false sense of security.
An informal defense is not, strictly speaking, a legal defense. However, unless an attorney refutes it, the jury could use an informal defense to reduce or deny compensation to the victim.
Work With a Diligent Batavia Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Batavia motorcycle accident lawyer, contact Kruger & Hodges, Attorneys at Law, by going online or calling 513-894-3333. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.