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MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Motorcycle Accident FAQ

Which motorcycle brake is the most effective?

The front brake is the most effective, giving between 60 & 80% of the bike’s stopping power in hard stops, depending upon surface conditions. This is because most of the weight of the bike and rider transfers forward onto the front wheel when the brakes are applied. A common example of weight transfer is when you trip on a gutter – your feet stop but momentum keeps the top of you going and you fall flat on your face. The weight transfer that takes place under braking on a motorcycle pushes the front wheel onto the ground and makes it grip very well.

Is the rear wheel likely to skid if you apply the brakes hard?

With most of the weight being on the front wheel, the rear wheel tends to be light under braking and will therefore lock up and skid very easily.

Is the front wheel likely to skid if you apply the front brake hard?

No. The front wheel is likely to skid uncontrollably and bring you down only if you jam the front brake on hard. If you apply the front brake in a staged (progressive) process, the front wheel may skid but that skid is normally quite controllable.

How do you control a rear wheel skid?

Control of a rear wheel skid is easy. Just keep your eyes up to the horizon and look where you want to go (not necessarily where you are actually going) and the bike will skid in a controllable manner with a minimum of fishtailing. Basic and advanced braking techniques are best learnt under controlled conditions rather than when a truck pulls out on you! Your local motorcycle school will run a fun braking exercise session for you and some mates if you care to call the school and arrange it.

Is braking a natural skill?

Braking, as with any riding skill, is a learned skill, not a natural one. This means you must practice the correct braking skills enough to make them an instinctive reaction before you can be sure that you will do the right things in an emergency. Overseas research has shown that, because of panic overpowering the rider’s conscious reactions, nearly a third of all riders do absolutely nothing in an accident situation: they don’t even apply the brakes!
If, however, your high level braking skills are so well learnt that they are instinctive, you will do it right, no matter what the situation. However, this requires you to do a lot of high level braking skill practice, the skills will not come with normal everyday riding.

Is there a special braking technique that ensures that a rider will get the best out of a motorcycle’s brakes?

Yes. The process is called stage braking and it involves the rider applying the motorcycle’s brakes in a staged process. This gives the rider predictable, progressive braking.

In an emergency do we concentrate on using staged braking on both front and back brakes?

Research has shown that the average rider can only properly concentrate on the use of one brake in an emergency so, unless you think you’re road motorcycling’s equivalent of a top motorcycle racer, we would suggest that you concentrate on getting the best out of one brake. Of the front and rear brake on a motorcycle, the one to concentrate on in an emergency is the front brake because if you get that one wrong, lock it up and don’t correct that problem then you’re going to crash. According to the American Motorcycle Safety Foundation, if you try to get the best out of both brakes in an emergency, you will get the best out of neither. The MSF says you can’t concentrate fully on both brakes at one time.

Is a bald tire a liability when braking?

A treadless tire will quite adequately handle braking stresses on a perfect road surface. The trouble is that perfect road surfaces are more than rare – they’re virtually extinct. Tire tread acts like a broom, sweeping debris, dirt, gravel and water etc off the road surface in order that the tire can grip the road.

Who can sue for a motorcycle accident injury and death case?

Either the motorcycle operator, spouse or passenger may bring a claim.

Who can be held responsible for injuries or death to motorcycle operators and passengers??

Anyone who was at fault in contributing to causing a crash. In motorcycle cases involving injury, typically it is the driver of a car or truck that is found to be at fault. If a motorcycle operator is at fault, he can be responsible for the injuries caused to his passenger.

Is an investigation of my motorcycle accident case important??

A prompt investigation is essential. This is because the insurance company will always attempt to prove that the motorcyclist was to some extent at fault in order to diminish the value of the motorcyclist’s claim.

Who can sue for a motorcycle accident injury and death case??

Either the motorcycle operator, spouse or passenger may bring a claim.

Is insurance coverage an important issue?

Insurance is very important because without insurance coverage there is rarely a source of money to go after to collect on an injured party’s claim. You should maintain very large uninsured/underinsured policy on your motorcycle and your other automobiles.

How long do I have after my accident to file my motorcycle injury case??

In Alabama an injury case must be in suit within two years of the occurrence of the crash. If the crash resulted in a death, either the motorcycle operator, spouse, estate or passenger may bring a claim. All states have different rules.

Is it important to retain an attorney for my motorcycle accident case?

It is important to have an attorney in a motorcycle injury case in order to make sure that you are treated fairly by the insurance company. An attorney can take responsibility for a complete investigation of the crash and also can make sure that the injuries you suffer are adequately documented so as to insure that you will receive adequate compensation.

What should I do if I am involved in an accident on my motorcycle?

Do not talk to any insurance adjuster without first talking to an attorney. If you are unable to immediately meet with an attorney, it is important that you do not admit any fault or sign anything (i.e. any forms from an insurer) in order to preserve your rights. If possible, you should take photos of any injuries or damage to your motorcycle. Keep copies of any medical records or bills, and make records of any related expenses.

I was injured in a motorcycle accident, but I wasn’t wearing a helmet. Can I still recover damages from the other driver??

The fact that you were injured while not wearing a helmet does not affect your rights to file a claim against an at-fault driver.

If I get into an accident on my motorcycle, should I get a lawyer to help me??

It is important to have an attorney in a motorcycle injury case in order to make sure that you are treated fairly by the insurance company. An attorney can take responsibility for a complete investigation of the crash and also can make sure that the injuries you suffer are adequately documented so as to insure that you will receive adequate compensation.

What can I do if a defective roadway or unmaintained roadway caused a motorcycle accident?

A small percentage of motorcycle accidents are caused by roadway defects, such as potholes or uneven paving. Roads, by law, are required to be safely designed and maintained. Road defects that cause serious accidents can include curves that are too tight, unevenly paved roads, missing signage, lack of maintenance or poor urban planning. We have successfully brought claims against the state of Alabama and other entities liable for accidents caused by improperly maintained or designed roadways. We retain a host of investigators and experts, including design experts, surveyors, illumination and warning experts to determine liability for a motorcycle accident.

Who can be held responsible for injuries or death to motorcycle operators and passengers?

Anyone who was at fault in contributing to causing a crash. In motorcycle cases involving injury, typically it is the driver of a car or truck that is found to be at fault. If a motorcycle operator is at fault, he can be responsible for the injuries caused to his passenger. Manufacturers and government entities can also be at fault.

Is an investigation of my motorcycle accident case important?

Yes. The insurance companies are not on your side. A prompt investigation is essential. The insurance company will always attempt to prove that the motorcyclist was to some extent at fault in order to diminish the value of the claim.

Are experts needed in motorcycle accident cases?

Yes. Expert witnesses are very important in motorcycle accident cases. They can express opinions as to speed of the vehicles involved, and actions, which either driver could have taken to avoid the collision.

What is the main cause of death in motorcycle accidents?

Head and brain injuries seem to be the most common cause of death in fatal accidents. Not all head injuries are fatal, however. Tens of thousands more people suffer head injuries in motorcycle accidents each year, many very seriously. We have represented motorcycle accident victims with all kinds of serious injuries, including amputation injuries, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, multiple bone fractures, and other catastrophic injuries.

Does wearing a helmet really make that much of a difference?

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is estimated that helmet usage lowers the fatality rate in motorcycle accidents by approximately 30 percent.

Who can bring a lawsuit in a motorcycle accident, an operator, a passenger, or both?

Both.

What damages can I recover in a motorcycle accident?

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or if you have lost a loved one in a deadly crash, you may be entitled to compensation for damages including:

  • Lost income
  • Future lost income
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Existing medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Rehabilitation and therapy
  • Special equipment to accommodate disabilities
  • Physical and/or mental impairment
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium
  • Wrongful death

I was in a motorcycle accident where car turned left in front of me. Who is at fault?

A car making a left turn is almost always liable for a collision with a vehicle coming straight in the other direction. Exceptions to this near-automatic rule can apply if the vehicle going straight was going well over the speed limit, ran a red light, or was otherwise contributorily negligent.

How long will it take to get a fair and reasonable settlement offer?

In Alabama a motorcycle accident case can settle in weeks, months, or even years in some instances. You normally get paid after you have healed from your motorcycle accident injuries and have been released by the doctor. You do not want to settle before you are released from your doctor. This is the best way you can be assured of receiving full value for your injuries. We will make an offer as soon as we have all of your records and bills. We will move your motorcycle accident case along as quickly as possible.

What do I do if the other individual is at fault and they are uninsured or leaves the scene?

The best thing is to file with your insurance under the underinsured/uninsured portion of your policy. You can also file suit against the individual.

Will my health insurance coverage or paid sick leave from work limit my recovery for my motorcycle accident?

If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, whether you paid for medical care out of your own pocket or your health insurance covered it is not relevant; neither is whether your lost time at work was covered by sick leave or vacation pay. Keep in mind some hospitals will not bill your health insurance if the accident was caused by someone else. Your own health insurance carrier may require that you reimburse it, out of your settlement or award, for some or all of the amounts it has paid to treat your injuries.

Why do I need an attorney experienced with motorcycle accidents??

An attorney who rides understands that motorcyclists face unique risks that other automobile drivers do not consider, from slick surfaces to manhole covers, potholes, puddles and railroad tracks. A lawyer unfamiliar with motorcycle accidents may not be able to help you recover the maximum compensation for your accident. Randy Ferguson has a unique understanding of the challenges that motorcyclists face sharing the road with automobiles. We have helped hundreds of people injured in motorcycle accidents receive the compensation they deserve.

What should I do if a member of my family was killed in a motorcycle accident that was not their fault??

Although only two percent of registered vehicles are motorcycles, more than eight percent of fatal traffic accidents involve motorcycles. This means that, based on miles traveled, motorcyclists are 32 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a passenger or driver of a car. The loss of a loved one in any accident is devastating. Although no monetary recovery could ever replace a loved one’s life, a wrongful death claim can bring a family compensation for loss of income and support, final medical bills, funeral expenses, and damages for pain and suffering. Depending on the circumstances of an accident, in cases where a loved one died in a fatal motorcycle accident, surviving family members may be entitled to bring a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for an accident.