Contact an experienced Columbus motorcycle accident lawyer at Babin Law if you've been injured. You may be entitled to compensation. There are no upfront costs and there are no fees unless you win your case.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), there were nearly 4,000 reported motorcycle-related crashes in the state for the year 2020. Out of the total number of motorcycle crashes, 205 were fatal, with a total of 214 deaths. Motorcycle accidents are considered a huge problem in the state, and the government has even created a 5-year plan that will hopefully make Ohio safer for motorcyclists.
If you are a motorcycle rider, getting involved in an accident is a genuine risk. This is why, as a motorcycle owner, you need to arm yourself with adequate legal knowledge so you know what to do in case of an accident. As motorcycle accident lawyers, we've seen our fair share of clients who found themselves at a disadvantage following an accident, simply because they did not know their rights. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accident, it's best if you hire a motorcycle accident attorney for your well-being.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
According to the data gathered by the OSHP from motorcycle crash reports throughout the years, here are the most common causes of motorcycle crashes:
- Negligent drivers - Negligent drivers are simply drivers who do not care about their fellow motorists. They do not intentionally wish harm on you, but are also not considerate. Motorcycle riders are at a higher risk of being ignored and disrespected on the road by negligent drivers simply because they are the smaller vehicle.
- Distracted driving - A distracted driver can get into accidents because they are too busy chatting on their phones, talking to their passengers or their minds are simply elsewhere so they can't focus on driving.
- Drunk driving - drivers who are under the influence of alcohol usually have impaired judgment. They aren't focused and their vision is somewhat blurry. Drunk drivers are prone to risky driving behaviors such as speeding, making sudden turns, hard braking and abrupt lane changes.
- Speeding - The faster a vehicle is going, the more difficult it is to control the vehicle, especially when something unexpected happens. If a vehicle is traveling at high speeds and suddenly, a motorcycle appears out of nowhere, the vehicle driver doesn't have enough time to slow down to avoid hitting the motorcycle, even if they slam on the brakes.
- Rough road conditions - While road defects such as potholes and cracks do not pose any serious threats to larger vehicles, motorcyclists can lose control over their bikes and injure themselves.
- Harsh weather conditions - Riding your motorcycle in the rain, snow and fog can increase your chances of getting into an accident. A lot of accidents happen due to a lack of visibility or slippery roads.
Typical Motorcycle Accident Injuries
According to hospitals in Ohio, motorcycle accident victims usually present to the emergency room with the following injuries:
- Road rash - In cases of minor injuries, the motorcycle rider may be lucky enough to get out of the accident with only minor scratches known as road rash. This type of injury is caused by friction between the skin and a rough surface, such as asphalt or concrete.
- Broken bones - Motorcycles offer its rider less protection compared to a typical vehicle, so it's common to see riders getting thrown off their motorcycles during an accident. The fall may cause the bones to fracture or break.
- Traumatic brain injury - Some falls are more serious than others. If the rider falls headfirst against a solid surface, they may suffer from internal brain bleeding, which can have long-term effects on the victim.
- Spinal cord injuries - Injuries in the neck and spinal cord can happen if the motorcyclist's neck or back are hit upon collision, or if they hit these body parts against a solid surface when they fall. Serious neck and spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis.
Motorcycle Accident Laws in Ohio
If you are the victim of a motorcycle accident, it's important to know the laws relevant to motorcycle accidents if you are planning on submitting a personal injury claim. These laws may affect the outcome of your claim and how much compensation you will get in the end.
The Contributory Fault Law
Ohio is a fault state, meaning the state will legally obligate the person at fault for the accident to pay for damages. If you are the victim of a motorcycle-related accident, you can sue for damages even if are partly responsible for the accident. The law dictates that as long as your contribution to the accident is less than the other parties involved, you can seek compensation. However, if the court finds that you are largely responsible for the accident, your claim will be dismissed.
Ohio Helmet Laws
In Ohio, all motorcycle drivers under the age of 18 must wear helmets. Additionally, anyone holding a Motorcycle Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card, or a novice license should wear helmets when driving a motorcycle. Passengers, regardless of age or license status, must wear helmets if they are riding with someone who is under 18, or has a temporary or novice license.
Statute of Limitations
In the state of Ohio, all personal injury lawsuits (which includes motorcycle accidents) have a statute of limitation of up to 2 years from the date of the accident.
Who is at Fault?
Because Ohio is a fault state, the first order of business after an accident occurs is to find the party accountable for the said incident. If you can prove that the other party is the party responsible for the accident, you can file a motorcycle accident claim to offset your medical bills and motorcycle repair costs.
Before anything, you and your lawyer may sit down and analyze if you may have contributed to the accident in any way. Because of how state laws work, the other party's insurance company will surely pass the blame to you and make you responsible for the accident. Your lawyer may ask you if you were distracted prior to the accident and if you were driving within the speed limit.
Motorcycle accidents are not as linear as people think. Usually, it does involve 2 parties, usually one vehicle owner and one motorcycle rider. But accidents can involve several parties, and each party may have contributed to the accident in their own ways.
- Other motorists - Usually, motorcycle-related accidents involve the motorcycle rider and other motorists. It's more common for the other party to be owners of larger vehicles as opposed to another motorcycle. Finding out who is at fault will usually involve reading the police report, interviewing witnesses and checking traffic cams.
- The local government - There have been cases where motorcycle riders decided to sue the municipality following an accident. It's the city's responsibility to maintain all roads and keep the streets safe for motorcyclists. If road defects like potholes were the reason why you got into an accident, suing the municipality is an option for you.
- Motorcycle manufacturers - Manufacturers of motorcycles have to implement strict rules to ensure that all motorcycles made from their factories are safe and road-worthy. If there are product defects, manufacturers are obligated to report the defect and recall all affected products. If a motorcyclist dies due to an unreported motorcycle defect, the manufacturer can be held liable for their death.
What Damages Can You Receive As A Victim of a Motorcycle Accident?
If the court finds merit in your personal injury claim you are entitled to damages, which will be taken out against the liable party's insurance policy. Here are just some of the damages that can be awarded to you following a successful lawsuit:
- Medical care - This includes all present and perceived future medical costs related to your injury, including hospitalization charges, prescription meds, laboratory tests, future check-ups, mobility aids, and more.
- Loss of income - Any present and future earnings lost because of the injury.
- Loss of Quality of Life - If your injury results in permanent damage or disability, you can sue for loss of quality of life, or loss of enjoyment. This provides financial compensation for victims because the accident has debilitated them in a way that they cannot enjoy the same quality of life as before the accident
- Pain and suffering - this refers to the emotional trauma experienced by the victim after the accident and while recuperating.
- Wrongful death - Wrongful death claims are initiated by the family of the victim if the victim dies as a result of the accident.
- Punitive damages - This is awarded to the victim once it is proven that the liable party intentionally wanted to harm or kill the victim.
Do You Need a Columbus Motorcycle Accident Lawyer?
In some cases, it is possible to resolve a motorcycle accident amicably, especially if there's minimal damage and injury. However, does this mean that you don't need a lawyer by your side? Should you simply leave it up to your insurance company to handle things on your end?
Sadly, it's hard to find someone who is on your side following an accident, especially if you're planning to make a motorcycle accident claim. The other party will always try to minimize their responsibility in the accident, and their insurance company will most likely try to shift the blame on you. You need an experienced lawyer by your side to make sure that the other parties don't take advantage of you.
We have assisted many victims of motorcycle accidents, who were not aware that they were being taken advantage of during negotiations. Not only is it important to know your rights as a victim, but it's also equally important that you get professional legal assistance to ensure that you get the fair compensation you truly deserve.