Motorcycle accidents occur less frequently than other types of accidents on our roads in Texas and elsewhere. However, when they do happen, the costs can be significantly higher than auto accidents, according to a recently released study out of Canada. You may actually be shocked at the difference in costs.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal published the study in November. The researchers studied data of adults who went to the hospital after car and motorcycle crashes over a seven-year period in Ontario, which is the largest province in Canada. They concluded that, when compared to car accidents, motorcycle accidents:
- Cause three times the number of injuries
- Kill five times as many people
- Result in six times the medical costs.
The costs could actually be much higher than what the study found. The study looked at only hospital-related costs such as emergency treatment, surgery and hospitalization. The study’s author, Daniel Pincus, noted that the study did not factor in the costs of outpatient rehabilitation that many motorcycle accident victims need for injuries such as traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage.
“[W]e hope that estimating the medical costs of care for motorcycle crashes may provide an additional incentive to improve safety,” Pincus said, according to Science Daily. He added that the study’s conclusions can apply “beyond Canada to the rest of the developed world.”
Why Are Motorcycle Crashes So Expensive?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about $44 billion is lost each year due to work loss and medical expenses caused by car crashes. In Texas alone, this figure is $4.89 billion. Motorcycle crashes account for a staggering $665 million of that number, according to the CDC.
Here are a few of the factors that make motorcycle wrecks so costly:
Motorcycle Accident Helmet Use
Several years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a report which found that roughly 1,200 lives could be saved each year if people wore helmets when they rode motorcycles. The research indicated that wearing a helmet actually increases a person’s chance of survival in a motorcycle crash by as much as 37 percent.
Texas is among the many states that do not require adult riders to wear helmets. So, the decision to wear a helmet when riding is entirely a personal one. It carries no legal ramifications. You won’t get a ticket.
However, as the Canadian study indicates, motorcycle riders in Texas should consider the significant risk to their lives and the overall costs if they should ever get into an accident while helmet-free. As TxDOT reports, 496 motorcycle operators and passengers died in crashes on state roads in 2016. More than half of those people, or 53 percent, did not wear helmets at the time of the crash.
Even if a rider does not die in a crash from head or neck trauma, the rider may suffer life-altering injuries that devastate their finances.
Causes of Motorcycle Crashes
Two wheels offer less traction and stability than four wheels. So, when weather conditions are adverse, automobiles are more likely than motorcycles to stay on the road and under the operator’s control. When a motorcyclist rides in rain or snow, the motorcyclist can easily skid out. Additionally, the motorcyclist can face visibility problems.
Texas weather can change in a matter of seconds, leaving even the most experienced riders stranded or at high risk of a crash. However, the savvy rider should have an emergency kit ready and be wise enough to stop and let the weather pass before he or she tries to ride again.
The Insurance Journal reports that the most dangerous time for a rider to be on the road is in his or her first year of riding. Most motorcycle riders at this stage have not yet developed comfort with handling the bike. They also may not know how to react when they encounter risky road or traffic conditions. The risk increases with the size and engine rating of the motorcycle. In other words, young, inexperienced riders with engines in excess of 800cc face the highest risk of injury. Of course, experienced riders face risks, too. Overconfidence can easily lead to bad choices.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that 27 percent of motorcycle riders who died in wrecks in 2015 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Additionally, motorcycle riders and passengers who died in crashes that occurred at night – or the hours between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. – were nearly three times as likely to have a BAC of 0.08 or higher than those who died in wrecks that occurred during the day. According to the III, impaired motorcycle riders also are less likely to wear helmets than others.
Distracted Driving and Riding
Of course, like all types of crashes, distracted driving is to blame for a high number of motorcycle accidents. Drivers who use cell phones while driving may not have time to react to a motorcycle that they encounter on the road. However, riders also must be careful about distractions. It is not uncommon to see riders attempting to read their cell phones or make phone calls with a free hand while trying to use the other hand to steer. This is absolutely reckless behavior for a motorcyclist. Still, it happens every day.
An often overlooked cause of serious injury for riders is improper gear. In summer months, you may see riders in shorts, tank tops, sandals or flip-flops. While comfortable, no doubt, this lack of proper safety gear only serves to elevate the rider’s risk of serious injury or death.
Motorcycle riders should always wear the right gear. This means solid, closed-toe shoes or boots, full-length pants (preferably made of denim, leather or other rugged material), and a jacket that is made of a non-synthetic material so it will not melt at high temperatures.
Most Common Motorcycle Crash Injuries
If a negligent car driver collides with your motorcycle, chances are pretty good that you will have serious physical injuries. This is true even if you took all the right precautions such as wearing a helmet and other safety gear.
Riders commonly suffer:
- Head and brain injuries
- Eye injuries (loss of vision)
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Dislocated bones and joints
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Torn ligaments and tendons
- Amputated toes, fingers or extremities
- Crushing injuries
- Permanent scarring.
As an injured motorcyclist, you have the right to seek maximum compensation for all of your losses, including:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost income from work
- The diminishment of your ability to earn wages in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage such as the need to repair or replace your bike.
You also have a right to have your own attorney negotiate with the insurance company. You do not have to deal with adjusters and medical debt collectors by yourself. You should put an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer on your side to handle these matters.
Why Hire a Texas Motorcycle Accident Attorney?
Serious injuries can require years of medical attention and astronomical costs. Insurance adjusters often will offer to pay for your motorcycle repair and/or medical bills if you agree to settle fast. Once you sign the papers, you get a small check and end up stuck with high medical bills that you did not anticipate. Also, you may not even know about large health insurance liens or Medicare liens that you will need to resolve.
You owe it to yourself to contact a motorcycle attorney who understands motorcycle collisions before you ever speak with an insurance adjuster and accept a settlement. One phone call can answer a lot of your questions and help you to map out an effective strategy.
The attorney will know how to investigate your accident, collect and review your medical records and identify all sources of compensation. The attorney also will know how to deal with the insurance companies and pursue a settlement that provides the maximum amount for you.
Get Legal Help From a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer After a Texas Motorcycle Crash
At Tate Law Offices, P.C., we believe that the stakes are too high to move on without an attorney after a motorcycle crash. We believe that motorcycle accident victims and their families deserve to work with a legal team that will be passionate about protecting their rights and about pursuing maximum compensation for them.
You have rights. Don’t let the insurance company sell you short. Allow us to put our decades of legal experience to work for you. Contact us today and receive a free and confidential consultation about your case through our offices in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston. We won’t charge you anything for our legal services unless we secure a settlement or judgment that benefits you.