Were you or a loved one seriously injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by the negligence of another? If so, Bill Easterly & Associates is prepared to assist you. With more than 25 years of combined experience, our team of Nashville motorcycle accident injury lawyers works to restore justice on behalf of individuals who have been wrongfully injured.
Motorcycles offer riders a completely different type of driving experience. Not only do they give riders a sense of freedom out on the road, they are also becoming a popular and economical way to get around town. Whether riders choose to take to two wheels for recreational or economic reasons, they can all end up encountering one of the most dangerous hazards on the road, negligent drivers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2017, 5,172 motorcyclists were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. Victims who survive a serious motorcycle accident often find themselves with life-changing injuries and a mountain of medical bills.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, you are quickly finding out just how challenging the recovery period can be. Serious medical issues may be keeping you away from your job, and missing paychecks can mean less money for bills. Many riders feel forced into accepting an insurance settlement. Even if it isn’t enough, at least it’s something, right? Wrong.
At Bill Easterly & Associates, we help clients get the compensation that they need, not what an insurance company is willing to part with. To explore your legal options and find out how the experienced attorneys at Bill Easterly & Associates can help you get what you deserve, call us at (615) 244-2222 to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Types of Motorcycle Accidents and Determining Liability
As motorcycles offer significantly less protection than passenger vehicles do, motorcyclists are much more likely to suffer serious motorcycle injuries in an accident. Since motorcycles have a slim profile, it is not uncommon for the driver of a car or truck to not see a motorcycle, which makes common driver negligence significantly more hazardous to motorcyclists. Thus, it is the responsibility of all motorists on the road to remain alert and focused. If a negligent driver causes an accident with a motorcycle, they will likely be liable for any resulting injuries.
Of all motorcycle accidents, about 42 percent are caused by cars making negligent left turns. These accidents typically occur when a motorcycle is traveling through the intersection, passing the car, or trying to overtake the car, and the driver of the car is not paying attention or does not see them. Unless a motorcyclist was driving illegally, the car making a left-hand turn will almost always be liable for the accident.
Some of the more common causes of motorcycle accidents also include:
- Left-turn crashes
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Lane splitting
- Lane changes
- Car doors
- Construction hazards
- Head-on collisions
Potential Dangers of the Road for Motorcyclists
Compared to automobiles, motorcycles are more sensitive to certain road hazards. If a motorcyclist is injured due to a road obstruction, liability belongs to whatever party is responsible for that road’s maintenance or the company causing the danger to the roadway. Whether private or public, liability can lie with city, county or state agencies that govern the area, and also include the company of a truck whose cargo falls into the road.
Common road hazards for motorcyclists include:
- Uneven pavement
- Snow and ice
- Uneven lanes
- Slick surfaces
Whatever the cause of your motorcycle accident injury, you deserve effective legal counsel. At Bill Easterly & Associates, we proudly advocate on behalf of innocently injured victims who otherwise cannot represent themselves. We are dedicated to helping our clients receive the just compensation they are entitled to through aggressive personal injury lawsuits.
Injuries That Can Result From a Motorcycle Accident
When a car and motorcycle are involved in an accident, it is the motorcyclist that is going to sustain the bulk of the impact, and the bulk of the injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that motorcycle fatalities occur nearly 28 times more frequently than passenger car fatalities.
The numbers also indicate that Tennessee is one of the top ten states in the nation when it comes to the number of fatal motorcycle accidents that take place on our roads. For riders who survive an impact with another vehicle, they may have to face medical struggles that could end up impacting them for the rest of their lives.
Some of the common injuries that can result from a motorcycle crash include:
- Head Injuries and Traumatic Brain Injury. Being thrown from a motorcycle can cause a concussion or more serious TBI. A serious traumatic injury is among the most severe injuries and can require months of physical therapy or leave a motorcyclist disabled and facing the expenses of adapting to a new life. Riding without a helmet is illegal in Tennessee and leaves a motorcyclist unprotected against serious head injuries including a broken jaw, lost teeth, eye injuries and disfiguring facial injuries.
- Broken Bones. The sudden impact of being ejected from a motorcycle, or having a big bike fall on top of you, can cause fractures. Understandably, motorcyclists will extend their arms to try to break their fall and sustain broken bones in their arms or hands. Serious fractures such as broken elbows may require surgery to repair.
- Leg and Lower-Extremity Injuries. Injuries to the leg and pelvis are among the most common motorcycle accident injuries. Long-bone fractures of the tibia, fibula and femur, and hip dislocation are the most common types of lower extremity injury suffered in motorcycle crashes.
- Chest Injuries. Being throw from a motorcycle or struck by another vehicle can cause broken ribs, a broken collar bone, a punctured lung or other serious injuries. The violent impact of a motorcycle collision can cause damage to internal organs such as rupturing the diaphragm, the muscle that propels the lungs.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. An impact to the neck or spine that fractures or dislocates one or more vertebrae or disks can cause a spinal cord injury, leading to nerve damage and paralysis. A spinal cord injury survivor will need to explore all available sources of financial compensation to adapt to a new lifestyle.
Regaining your health after a serious motorcycle accident may involve an extensive recovery and months of physical therapy. It is not uncommon to have thousands of dollars in medical bills. The at-fault driver and his or her insurance company should pay for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other expenses.
10 Steps You Should Take After a Motorcycle Crash
While each motorcycle accident has unique factors that must be evaluated, there are general steps that a downed rider should take after an accident. They include:
- Call 911 – Summon police to the scene of the accident and give them your location. Make a quick assessment of whether anyone is injured and, if so, request an ambulance. Determine how many people may require an ambulance.
- Exchange Information – While you are waiting for the police to arrive, exchange driver’s license and insurance information with the other motorist. If the other driver is hostile or refuses to share information, wait for the police to arrive to collect the other driver’s license and insurance information.
- Refuse Any Suggestion to Not Report the Accident – An at-fault driver may be worried about his or her insurance rates going up and want to avoid reporting the accident. It is important not to let another motorist talk you out of reporting the accident to police. The at-fault motorist may promise to pay your medical bills out of pocket and pay to repair your motorcycle to avoid reporting the accident to an insurance company. But without a police accident report, you will have a hard time proving the other driver caused the accident and you will have little leverage to make the at-fault driver pay your damages. A police accident report creates an official record of the motorcycle accident and can be essential to making a strong insurance claim.
- Keep Your Cool – Emotions can run high in the aftermath of a collision. It is important to keep your composure and avoid getting into an argument or an angry exchange with others at the scene. It is common for a motorist who failed to see a motorcyclist to try to shift the blame and accuse the motorcyclist of speeding. Do not get into a debate or discuss what happened with the other motorist. Give the investigating police officer an account of what occurred and let the police officer reconstruct how the accident unfolded.
- Avoid Discussing Your Injuries – Do not discuss with other motorists how the accident occurred or try to reassure the others that you were not seriously injured. The truth is that you may be injured and not realize it in the moments after an accident. The rush of adrenaline after an accident may mask your injuries. Your comments and reassurances, while well intentioned, may be used against you later by an insurance company to undermine your claim. In fact, you may feel fine a few minutes after the accident, but feel very sore the next day. It is best to remain silent and seek a professional medical assessment.
- Identify Witnesses – If you are able, use your time while you are waiting for police to arrive to identify witnesses and document the accident scene. Collect the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident before they leave or have someone else get their names and phones numbers for you, if you are unable to do so yourself. Eyewitnesses can offer an independent description of how the accident occurred and verify your description of what happened. Witnesses will be much harder to track down after they drive off if you fail to get their contact information.
- Snap Photos of the Motorcycle Accident – Use your phone’s camera to take photographs showing the position of the vehicles, damage to your motorcycle and other vehicles, the extent of your injuries and those of your passengers, skid marks and debris on the roadway, the position of traffic signals in relation to the accident and any shrubbery or trees that may be blocking the view of drivers approaching an intersection. Take a photo of the license plate of the other vehicles involved in the accident. Take as many photographs as possible.
- Seek Medical Care – If you do not require emergency medical treatment at the scene of the motorcycle accident, visit a doctor promptly for an evaluation and inform the doctor that you have been in a crash. A doctor’s report provides an independent evaluation of your injuries and will show that your injuries were caused by the motorcycle accident. It can provide important evidence to support your claim for compensation for your injuries.
- Notify Your Insurance Company – Report the accident to your insurance company promptly. If a representative of the insurance company for the at-fault motorist contacts you, politely decline to give a recorded statement or speak to them. You are under no obligation to speak with the insurance company of the at-fault driver and doing so may harm your chances to receive compensation if you say the wrong thing. The insurance company representative may seem friendly and concerned about your health, but their goal is to minimize the amount of money the insurance company pays out. The insurance adjuster may twist whatever you tell them to deny or minimize your injury claim. It is best to have a qualified attorney deal with the insurance company.
- Contact an Experienced Lawyer – Contact a Nashville lawyer who has experience handling motorcycle accidents and who will advocate for your interests and deal with the insurance companies and paperwork. You do not need the additional stress when trying to recover from serious injuries. Recovering your health should be your priority.
Tennessee Motorcycle Laws
The state of Tennessee has several motorcycle laws in place that aim to make operating a motorcycle a safe option. To begin, the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security has a wealth of information on how individuals may go about earning their Class M motorcycle operator license. Tennessee requires all riders to have a valid class M license in order to operate a motorcycle. Having a valid Tennessee driver’s license does not automatically make you qualified to legally operate a motorcycle unless the motorized bike is 50cc or less.
The state also has a law that requires all riders and their passengers to wear a properly certified safety helmet at all times. Motorcyclists must also have eye protection, unless their motorcycle has a windshield, and the use of daytime headlights is required. Motorcyclists are also expected to follow all the same traffic laws that passenger cars must follow. Lane-splitting or driving between rows of stopped or slowed cars is illegal in the state.
It is also significant to note that any vehicle that is involved in a serious accident must report that accident to the Commissioner of Safety within 20 days. A serious accident is one where any person was injured or killed, or the property damage from the accident is in excess of $1,500. This reporting is mandatory under Tennessee Code 55-12-104, and it does include motorcyclists, not just passenger vehicles.
These measures are meant to try and increase the safety and visibility of motorcycle riders on Tennessee roads, which are notoriously dangerous for riders. Reports highlight the fact Tennessee can be a dangerous place to ride, with the state faring badly in motorcycle fatality rates.
Contact an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today
Unfortunately for motorcyclists, there is still a popular misconception that many motorcyclists are reckless. Most motorcyclists are responsible citizens that just happen to like to travel on two-wheels instead of four. However, this daredevil image can color the perception of insurance adjusters working on your claim. They may try to place more of the blame on your shoulders, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. That type of attitude and manipulative tactic means that you could be getting less money than what you really deserve.
Don’t fall prey to the tactics of insurance adjusters whose job it is to keep insurance companies in the black. Trust the experienced legal team at Bill Easterly & Associates to aggressively fight to protect your rights and negotiate a fair compensation package that covers your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Do not wait to pursue justice; call (615) 244-2222 and contact our firm in Nashville today!