Hamilton, OH Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Motorcycle accidents can occur suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving motorcyclists with life-altering injuries and other complications. In addition to physical injuries and large medical bills, motorcycle accident victims often find themselves unable to immediately return to work. For these reasons, accident victims should not hesitate to speak with Kruger & Hodges’ skilled motorcycle accident lawyers in Hamilton, Middletown and Eaton, OH who will fight to make sure that they receive adequate compensation from the parties responsible for their injuries.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
Motorcycle accidents occur at an alarming rate. The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports that there were 200 motorcycle fatalities in 2016.
While many people are quick to blame motorcyclists for many of these accidents, the truth is that riders are not wild and reckless merely because they choose to travel by bike. In the majority of cases, motorcycle accidents in Ohio are the fault of the motor vehicle operators involved.
Each year, the Ohio State Highway Patrol provides details about the number of motorcycle accidents in the state. Most recently, the department reports that 3,826 motorcycle accidents occurred in 2017, resulting in 157 deaths. These accidents most commonly impacted individuals between 51 and 55 years old, while individuals between 21 to 25 experienced the highest number of fatalities while riding motorcycles.
Ohio Motorcycle Laws
There are some important issues to understand when it comes to following Ohio’s motorcycle laws. Some important regulations that motorcyclists must remember to follow include:
- All motorcycles must have at least one headlight, at least one tail light and brake light, a white license plate, a horn that can be heard from at least 200 feet, at least one rearview mirror positioned so the rider has a clear view of the road, handlebars that do not raise higher than the shoulders of the operator when seated on the motorcycle’s saddle, and functioning turn signals.
- Motorcyclists are prohibited from riding more than two side by side motorcycles when traveling in a single lane.
- Motorcyclists must wear safety glasses. This way, your eyes remain protected from debris that flies off the road suddenly during a motorcycle ride.
- Ohio law does not prohibit lane splitting. The concept of splitting refers to sharing a lane with another vehicle. The state, however, does require that motorcyclists exercise due care when passing vehicles.
The Difference Between Motorcycle Operators and Passengers: Motorcycle passengers are rarely at fault in an accident, which is why they are almost always in a better position to obtain compensation. Passengers can often obtain compensation from either the operator of a motorcycle, the other vehicle driver involved in the accident, or both. Whether you are injured or impacted as an operator or a passenger in a motorcycle accident, however, it is critical to understand that you have rights. This includes the right to pursue compensation.
Motorcycles versus Mopeds: Mopeds were once viewed as an ancestor of motorcycles, but these vehicles have since made a significant comeback. Not only are there national moped clubs, there are also moped clubs throughout Ohio. While some mopeds come with the same un-exposed dangers as motorcycles, they also offer less acceleration, braking, and handling features than motorcycles.
Ohio law defines mopeds as any vehicle with two tandem wheels or one wheel in the front and two in the rear, capable of being pedaled, equipped with helper motors of no greater than 50 cubic centimeters of piston displacement, producing no more than one brake horsepower, and being incapable of propelling a rider more than 20 miles an hour on a level surface. If mopeds do not meet this criteria, the vehicles are classified as motorcycles and a rider must have a valid motorcycle license to use.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Hamilton
One of the reasons why motorcycle accidents tend to be much more severe than automobile accidents is that motorcycles lack a vehicle’s hard exterior, which serves to soften impact and protect vehicle occupants when collisions occur.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Cars that turn suddenly in front of motorcyclists. The most common type of motorcycle accidents are caused when drivers either fail to see motorcyclists or misjudge the distance between them and pull out suddenly in front of motorcycles.
- Adverse road conditions. A motorcycle rider is at risk when he or she encounters a sudden change in weather conditions. In addition to this, leaves, grass, gravel, sand, or any other type of debris or hazard in the road can cause a rider to lose control of his or her motorcycle.
- Taking a curve too quickly. Many motorcycle accidents happen when riders attempt to take curves in the road too quickly and end up losing control of their vehicles.
- Cars that change lanes. A common theme in motorcycle accidents is that motorcyclists cannot be easily spotted by motor vehicle drivers. When motor vehicle drivers attempt to change lanes and nearby motorcyclists are in blind spots, accidents result.
- Cars strike motorcyclists from behind. If you come to a sudden stop while riding a motorcycle, there is no guarantee that the driver behind you will readily spot you and come to a stop in time. While these accidents commonly result in non-severe injuries or minor property damage when they occur between two passenger vehicles, they have the potential to kill or seriously injure motorcyclists.
- Distracted driving. Particularly common when a group of friends are riding bikes together, distracted driving accidents can occur if a motorcyclist’s attention is diverted from the road for only a few seconds. To reduce the risk of these accidents, it is vital that motorcyclists take all necessary precautions and eliminate any distractions while on the road.
- Sudden obstacles. When animals like deer dart out into the road and cause a motorcyclist to stop suddenly, it is common for the motorcyclist to be ejected from the bike. When riders are not wearing helmets, these accidents can result in life-changing complications.
- Dooring accidents. While it might not seem like a big deal, motor vehicle passengers and drivers who open their car doors suddenly create obstacles that motorcyclists are unable to avoid.
- Slippery conditions. Whether it is rain or snow, conditions that make the road slippery can lead to deadly accidents. Motorcycle riders should keep their tires properly inflated and slow down significantly when encountering slick and slippery road surfaces.
- While many people who enjoy riding motorcycles also enjoy hanging out at the local bar or pub, combining alcohol or any type of drug with the operation of a motorcycle can lead to deadly accidents. Statistics reveal that alcohol is a contributing factor in approximately 50% of all motorcycle accidents. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver, call our motorcycle accident lawyers in Hamilton, OH.
Common Injuries Incurred in Motorcycle Accidents
Many different injuries can result from Ohio motorcycle accidents, but some of the most common injuries incurred by motorcyclists include:
- Broken bones in the arms, face, hands, or legs, which commonly occur because motorcyclists lack adequate protection.
- Road rash, which occurs when a motorcyclist slides across pavement.
- Spinal cord damage, which often occurs when riders are ejected from their bikes and can leave a person partially or entirely paralyzed
- Traumatic brain injuries, which frequently occur because motorcyclists fail to wear adequate head protection when collisions occur.
- Muscle damage is a common occurrence after motorcycle accidents. One of the best steps that motorcyclists can take to avoid muscle damage is to wear protective gear including knee and elbow pads.
- Surprisingly, eardrums are commonly injured in motorcycle accidents. By wearing earplugs, motorcyclists can protect themselves from potential eardrum injuries caused by direct exposure to high winds and loud noises.
- Leg injuries, especially those to the knees and feet, are commonly overlooked when it comes to motorcyclists. When these injuries occur, motorcyclists can find themselves facing physical disabilities that can create substantial mobility issues.
- Neck injuries are a common occurrence due to motorcycle accidents. These injuries can be mild or temporary in nature, but they can also be debilitating. In the worst cases, these injuries can lead to permanent paralysis. Death is also possible when neck injuries are involved.
Your Hamilton, OH Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Can Help Address Insurance Company Issues
Insurance companies are dedicated to paying out as little as possible to victims after accidents occur. Before negotiating matters with the responsible party’s insurance company, it is a wise idea to speak with our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers in Hamilton, Ohio for guidance.
Our knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyers in Hamilton will be able to determine if the amount being offered by the insurance company is fair and adequately compensates the victim for the injuries that occurred due to the accident. Taking just any offer that is made by an insurance company can result in a victim accepting an amount that is less than adequate to cover basic medical expenses.
Some of the steps that you can follow after a motorcycle accident to make sure that you have the strongest case possible include:
- Obtaining prompt medical treatment. Motorcycle accidents are often very serious, which is why it is critical to obtain medical treatment as soon as possible. Receiving prompt medical care after a motorcycle accident helps to create a record of the injury and establishes that your injuries were directly caused by the motorcycle accident.
- Contact law enforcement. You might not think that your motorcycle accident is serious, but you should still call law enforcement to the scene. This way a police report will be made, which can later be used as evidence in an insurance claim or in a court of law to establish exactly how the accident occurred.
- Avoid repairing your motorcycle. Avoid repairing your motorcycle until you receive compensation from the party responsible for the accident. Damaged motorcycles can often be used as persuasive evidence of exactly how the accident occurred and how extensive your resulting damages are.
- Take pictures. If you are able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to the motorcycle, the other vehicles involved, and the surrounding road, traffic, and weather conditions. These photographs can help establish exactly how the accident occurred and who was at fault.
- Speak with witnesses. If anyone saw the motorcycle accident occur, you should ask for their names and contact information. Witness testimony can provide strong evidence concerning how a motorcycle accident occurred.
How Ohio’s Motor Vehicle Insurance Requirements Can Impact Your Claim Ohio is classified as an “at fault” state, which means that a person can file an insurance claim under their own insurance policy if they have the appropriate damages from a responsible party. The minimum requirements under Ohio law include:
- The bodily injuries in an accident are $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for accidents
- The property damage must be $25,000 for each accident
Safety Tips to Avoid Motorcycle Accidents
While motorcycle accidents are often serious in nature, there are fortunately a number of steps that motorcyclists can take to avoid the risk of ending up in one. Some of these steps include:
- Avoid blind zones. We have already discussed just how dangerous dooring accidents can be. There are also a number of situations in which a motorcyclist can end up in a motor vehicle driver’s blind spot. Motorcyclists should strive to avoid blind spots as much as possible, especially those of large semi trucks.
- Maintain your motorcycle. Before taking your motorcycle out on the road, you should make sure that it has been adequately maintained and that all parts are in good working condition. Routinely check your tires, brakes, lights, and exhaust system. It is particularly important to inspect your vehicle before taking it out in the rain or snow.
- Get professional training. Motorcycle riders who are self-taught or instructed on how to ride by friends can end up lacking some important motorcycle skills. If you need additional training, you should not hesitate to attend additional safety classes.
- Avoid lane sharing. Motor vehicle drivers do not anticipate sharing a lane with other vehicles. Consequently, while drivers tend to look for cars in other lanes, they often do not notice motorcycles sharing lanes with them.
- Understand (and stay within) your skill level. Riding a motorcycle is not the most ideal time to test your skill level. Instead, the best way to remain safe while operating a motorcycle is to appreciate your skill level and always remain within it.
- Remain cautious. A large number of motorcycle accidents are the result of errors made by motor vehicle drivers rather than the motorcyclists themselves. It is critical for motorcyclists to remain on the lookout and to never assume that any other drivers on the road can easily see them.
- Ride at a reasonable speed. As previously mentioned, speeding is the cause of a large number of accidents. Motorcyclists should make sure to stay in control of their vehicles by maintaining a reasonable speed. Ride with the highest level of caution while traveling on ice or in the rain. Posted speed limits only apply when the conditions for riding are optimal; if it is raining, slow down.
- Wear safety gear. Safety gear helps to make riding a motorcycle much less dangerous because it protects your body from injuries. Wearing brightly colored clothing also increases your visibility while on the road. Consider wearing a reflective vest, particularly if you do a lot of nighttime driving.
- Use a helmet. In addition to your safety gear, always wear a helmet. Always. Wearing a helmet greatly reduces the risk of serious head trauma during many motorcycle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that for every 100 motorcyclists who die in an accident, 37 would have survived if they had been wearing a helmet.
How Helmet Usage Impacts Hamilton, OH Motorcycle Accident Liability
In Ohio, a person must wear a helmet if he or she is 17 years of age or younger. This means that people older than 17 are not required to wear a helmet. Remember, however, that failure to wear a helmet can end up playing a substantial role when it comes to the liability involved with your lawsuit. Ohio follows a form of comparative negligence law. This means that if you are more than 50% liable for an accident, you are unable to collect damages from the other party. If you are 5% responsible for an accident, for example, the amount of compensation you ultimately recover is reduced by this amount. Insurance carriers sometimes argue that a person’s failure to wear a helmet is a sign of comparative negligence.
The Value of Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
The quickest answer to understanding the average value or amount of a motorcycle accident claim is to understand that there is no set dollar amount for accidents of this kind. Instead, each motorcycle accident is unique. This is because the details surrounding each motorcycle accident vary drastically. One of the best ways to assess and fight for the maximum value of your motorcycle accident case is to retain the assistance of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
Speak with our Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Hamilton
If you or a loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident, an experienced motorcycle crash attorney can analyze the facts of your case to help determine the amount of compensation that you deserve. Speak with the Hamilton, OH motorcycle accident lawyers at Kruger & Hodges today to schedule an initial free consultation. From start to finish, our firm will remain committed to making sure that you obtain the compensation you deserve.