People have different opinions about motorcycles and motorcycle riders. When you see advertisements for motorcycles on television, you see (but don’t hear) clean, colorful motorcycles gliding peacefully (well-below the speed limit) through picturesque landscapes, offering the freedom of the open road to clean-cut, smiling, professional-looking riders clad in full protective gear. And for many motorcycle riders, this is why (and how) they ride.
However, many people who are not interested in motorcycle riding have a different view of what motorcycle riding is really like. For many people, their only experience with motorcycles is seeing (and hearing) loud, dirty, oil-dripping machines swerving recklessly in-and-out of traffic at excessive speeds, on congested highways, with angry, anti-social risk-takers, wearing no helmets, flouting the rules of the road and the safety of themselves and other drivers.
If you are ever in a motorcycle accident, it is often the case that police, insurance adjusters, judges, and juries adopt this latter view of motorcycle riders. Unfortunately, many people take their negative attitudes about motorcycles with them when they drive on the road and, as a result, when they are involved in an accident with a motorcycle rider, their bias against motorcycles and motorcycle riders takes over.
If you are involved in a motorcycle crash, you must treat your accident differently than you would treat a car accident. You must overcome the implicit bias that people have toward motorcycle riders in order to assert a successful claim for damages caused by another driver. The best way to do this is to hire a personal injury lawyer who knows and understands motorcycle accidents and the implicit bias that is part of any motorcycle crash litigation.
The motorcycle accident lawyers at Foster Wallace will help you overcome this bias and recover fair compensation for injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash.
Motorcycles Can Be Dangerous But So Can Motorcycle Bias
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,172 motorcyclists died in motorcycle crashes in 2017. There is no debate that motorcycle crashes are inherently dangerous, simply because of the lack of protection surrounding the motorcycle rider. According to NHTSA statistics, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash. This startling statistic has more to do with the severity of the injuries that can result from motorcycle crashes than the dangerousness of motorcycle riding, itself.
What then are the factors that contribute to the cause of motorcycle accidents and the likelihood that motorcycle accident victims are going to confront motorcycle bias in their claims for relief?
Different Types of Motorcycle Bias
There is no question that motorcycle riders are likely going to suffer more severe injuries and fatalities than passenger car drivers when in an accident. But that does not mean that the two victims should be compensated differently for the same injuries when the other party was the cause of the accident. The only reason for differences in compensation is implicit motorcycle bias.
Here are several biases that many people have against motorcycles and motorcycle riders that make it difficult for a motorcycle crash victim to be fairly compensated for their injuries.
Motorcycles are inherently dangerous.
There are many people who adopt a negative perception of motorcycle riders that can impact a fair compensation for a motorcycle crash victim’s injuries. These include:
- Other drivers
- Police officers
- Insurance adjusters
- Jury members
One of the main biases against motorcycle riders is that motorcycles are inherently dangerous. People who believe this naturally assume that in an accident involving a motorcycle, it must have been the motorcycle rider who was at fault—because motorcycles are dangerous. But this obviously makes no sense.
The only thing that is inherently dangerous about riding a motorcycle is crashing, just as it is inherently dangerous to drive a passenger vehicle—because it could crash into another vehicle. The dangerousness, of course, lies in the recklessness with which each of these vehicles are driven. Someone driving a car recklessly is more dangerous than someone riding a motorcycle carefully and appropriately.
It is the recklessness of the driver and the likelihood of causing an accident that is inherently dangerous—not the motorcycle, itself, or the motorcycle rider.
Motorcycles are difficult to see.
Many people feel that because motorcycles typically are smaller than passenger vehicles, they are more difficult to see and, therefore, must be the cause of accidents. However, this logic also makes no sense. Motorcycles are not invisible. They appear as objects in a rear- or side-view mirror just as other passenger vehicles do, including small ones. If a driver changes lanes and causes an accident because they did not see the motorcycle in their mirror, then it is just as likely that they did not properly look before changing lanes.
A driver changing lanes should see a motorcycle just as they should see any other small car on the road. The failure of motorists to see and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the main cause of motorcycle accidents. It is the driver’s responsibility not to change lanes until it is safe to do so.
In multiple vehicle accidents, approximately 66% of the accidents are caused by the other vehicle violating the motorcycle's right-of-way. The most typical accident that involves the failure to see a motorcycle is when a motorcycle approaches a vehicle front-on and the vehicle turns left in front of the motorcycle, violating the motorcyclist’s right-of-way. This is why motorcyclists should always use front lamps, even during the daylight hours.
Motorcycles are too loud.
Often you may hear people complain of how loud motorcycles sound. However, the loudness of a motorcycle is essentially a safety device. If a driver of a passenger vehicle does not see a motorcycle, it is more likely that they will hear the motorcycle around them if the motorcycle is loud.
Motorcycle riders drive too fast.
The bias against motorcyclists often stems from people who experience those few motorcyclists on the road who ride specific motorcycles designed for excessive speed. However, most motorcycle riders do not ride this way. Most motorcycle crashes involve motorcyclists traveling at a much lower rate of speed. The average speed of a motorcycle before being involved in an accident is 29.8 mph and 21.5 mph at the moment of impact. Accidents in which the motorcycle is traveling 85 miles per hour occurs in 1 out of 1,000 motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle riders are reckless.
Most motorcycle riders are not reckless riders. Most riders who are in accidents are younger, inexperienced riders. More than 50% of all motorcycle accidents involve riders with less than 5 months of riding experience. Also, 92% of motorcycle riders in accidents had no official training on safe motorcycle riding; most were self-taught. However, motorcycle training has been shown to lead to fewer accidents and less severe injuries in motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle riders assume the risk.
No careful motorcycle rider assumes that they are going to be involved in an accident. They assume that other drivers on the road are also going to be careful and not drive recklessly or negligently. Only reckless motorcycle riders assume the risk of being in an accident, as do reckless car drivers. There is a distinct difference between a reckless motorcyclist and a careful motorcyclist. No one should assume that because there was a motorcycle involved in an accident, the motorcycle rider was reckless and assumed that risk.
What Is the Risk of Injury If You Are Involved in a Motorcycle Accident?
The only risk that careful motorcycle riders take is the risk of injury if they are involved in an accident. Drivers of passenger vehicles take that risk as well. However, the risk of injury when struck by another vehicle is greater for motorcyclists. If you are on a motorcycle and are involved in a multiple vehicle collision, there is a 98% chance that you are going to be injured and a 45% chance that your injuries are going to be serious. But these injuries have nothing to do with the cause of the accident.
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, you will face the added hurdle of overcoming the implicit bias that others may have against you because you ride a motorcycle. This can significantly impact your ability to recover damages.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a Kansas City motorcycle accident you should speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.