Motorcycle crashes are different from car accidents in many ways. In particular, head and brain injuries frequently occur in motorcycle wrecks. These injuries can have a devastating effect on the injured motorcyclists and their families.
A few years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analyzed data involving motorcycle crash victims who had been treated for trauma over a 10-year period. The NHTSA found that the most common motorcycle injuries were:
- Lower extremity injuries (47 percent of all victims)
- Upper extremity injuries (40 percent)
- Head injuries (35 percent).
Additionally, deaths most frequently occurred when the motorcycle sustained initial impact to the front (67 percent of all deaths) or when a motorcyclists needed to lay it down in order to avoid a collision (10 percent).
Why Are Head and Brain Injuries So Common in Motorcycle Crashes?
The NHTSA reports that 5,286 people died in motorcycle accidents in 2016, marking a 5.1 percent increase from the previous year and the highest total number of motorcycle accident fatalities since 2008. Factors that make these crashes so dangerous – especially in terms of head and brain injuries – include:
- No structural protection – Unlike a car, a motorcycle has no structure to absorb the force of impact. A motorcyclist suffers a direct blow in a collision with an object or other vehicle.
- Ejections – While people can also be ejected from cars, it is far less likely, especially with the use of seat belts. Motorcyclists don’t have seat belts. Simply put: Nothing prevents a motorcyclist from being thrown from the bike in a crash.
- Trapped legs and arms – A motorcycle may slide for hundreds of feet before it comes to a stop. During the slide, the motorcycle rider’s legs and arms can get trapped in the bike, or the rider may strike other vehicles or stationary objects.
- Face and head exposure – A motorcyclist can suffer serious head injuries if the motorcyclist hits his or her head while traveling at a high speed. Some helmets lack face protection, too. So, sharp objects, metal and glass can fly in and cause eye damage and long-term vision problems.
- Lack of restraints – Without a seat belt or some other form of restraint, a rider does not have a way to stop his or her momentum upon impact.
Motorcyclists who choose to ride without helmets are at a greater risk of injury or death. A study published in the journal, Injury Epidemiology, concluded that fewer injuries occur when riders use helmets. Additionally, the study found that states with strict universal helmet laws tend to see fewer traumatic brain injuries or deaths among riders.
According to the NHTSA, helmets reduce motorcycle operators’ risk of death in a crash by 37 percent and cut down on passengers’ risk of death by 41 percent. The NHTSA estimates that about 715 deaths could be prevented each year if all operators and passengers wore helmets.
Colorado law requires riders and passengers under the age of 18 to wear helmets. Adults can ride helmet-free if they choose. Still, regardless of the law, our law firm encourages anyone on a motorcycle to wear helmets when they hit the road.
Does Wearing a Helmet Affect Your Motorcycle Accident Claim?
You have the right as an adult to ride a motorcycle without a helmet in Colorado. Still, if you file an accident claim with an insurance company, the company may try to argue that your failure to wear a helmet made your injuries worse and, in that sense, you are at least partly to blame for your injuries. You will benefit from working with an attorney who will aggressively challenge attempts to shift blame to you and who will fight for all compensation you are due after a motorcycle crash.
What Should You Do After a Motorcycle Accident?
You should take these steps after a motorcycle accident in order to protect your health and your legal rights:
- Get medical attention – Don’t delay getting medical care. Many serious injuries may not show symptoms right away. Still, if you wait too long to see a doctor, an insurance company may try to claim you were not hurt in the motorcycle accident.
- Get legal help – Having a lawyer on your side from the beginning greatly improves your chance of successfully pursuing a claim. A lawyer will help you to avoid making a critical mistake early in your case.
- Report the accident to your own insurance company – Most insurance policies require you to report all accidents – even if you were not at fault. Plus, you may have optional benefits that can help you such as medical payments or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage.
- Don’t talk with the other driver’s insurance company – Insurance adjusters are trained to get you to talk. They want you to admit some minor detail that they can use against you. The may also try to get you to sign things you should not sign. Just give the insurance company your lawyer’s number.
- Get a copy of your accident report – As soon as possible, call the police department that investigated the crash and find out how to get a copy of your crash report. Your attorney will need this report as part of the investigation of your motorcycle crash. For instance, if your motorcycle accident occurred in Fort Collins, you could contact the Fort Collins Police Department or, perhaps, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. You can also request a report through the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles.
- Keep all of your documents – Don’t throw away anything that is related to your motorcycle accident – even if you think it is not important. Medical bills, motorcycle repair receipts, insurance company e-mails or letters are all examples of documents that you want to keep. When in doubt, ask your attorney.
- Don’t discuss your crash or legal case on social media until your case is resolved – Social media use can create trouble for you. No matter how private you think your posts are, the insurance company may access them and try to use them to deny or minimize your claim.
Get Help from an Experienced Fort Collins Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Attorney Steve Ray is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who has practiced law for more than 40 years and tried cases throughout Colorado. Before you think about settling your case, contact Steve Ray Law, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation. Steve will protect your rights and pursue the maximum amount of compensation for you.