Motorcycle riders have as much right to use the roads of Ohio as car drivers. However, our state has the unfortunate reputation of having one of the highest rates of motorcycle accidents across the US. This means that year after year, motorcyclists are injured or lose their lives in traffic accidents. As personal injury attorneys, our mission at Babin Law, LLC is to help victims of motorcycle accident injuries recover economic and non-economic damages from the responsible party.
In this article, we want to highlight the seriousness of the situation. Over the years, our motorcycle accident lawyers have handled too many cases involving motorcyclist deaths, as well as severe injuries with long-lasting effects. In order to draw attention to this issue, we looked over reports and data collected and published by various organizations and authorities in recent years. In this article, we will summarize the most relevant motorcycle accident statistics and offer our insights on what accident victims should do.
Ohio's Bleak Records for Motorcycle Fatalities and Accident Victims
Looking over the data below, being a motorcycle rider in Ohio can be very dangerous. According to a report published by the Ohio Highway Safety Office, in 2018 there were 3,317 motor vehicle crashes involving motorcyclists. Over 77% of them were fatal motorcycle accidents or caused at least one victim suffering injuries of various degrees.
In two-thirds of these crashes, the motorcycle rider was the at-fault party. Also, motorcyclists under the influence of alcohol were responsible for 9% of these crashes, more than double the percentage of car drivers (4%).
Also, over the last few years, hundreds of people lost their lives in fatal motorcycle crashes according to statistical data published by the Ohio State Highway Patrol:
- 200 in 2016
- 157 in 2017
- 144 in 2018
- 166 in 2019
- 212 in 2020.
As the numbers above show, last year holds the negative record for the last five years, with a dramatic increase after two years of slow decrease in fatal injuries caused by motorcycle crashes. Sadly, some of these deaths may have been prevented if the motorcyclists had worn a helmet. The same report published by Ohio Highway Patrol indicates that, out of the 212 motorcycle fatalities, only 53 of them were wearing a helmet.
Unfortunately, motorcycle riding without a helmet is a worrying trend across the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that helmet use rate has decreased over the years from 79.7% in 2019 to 65% in 2020.
Ohio Helmet Laws
Motorcycle accident deaths can be prevented by wearing a helmet. This is true both for riders and for motorcycle passengers. Unfortunately, Ohio laws on helmet use are not as strict as in other US states. According to Ohio Revised Codes 4511.53, the helmet is mandatory for:
- anyone under the age of 18, either rider or passenger on a motorcycle
- novice riders who hold a temporary entry-level motorcycle training permit
- passengers on motorcycles driven by novice riders.
For all other categories or motorcycle users, safety gear is optional, with the exception of protective eyewear. However, as the number of motorcycle accident numbers indicates, head protection should be the norm for anyone. As the Rider's Guide published by the Motorcycle Ohio Rider Enhancement (MORE) program states, 75% of accidents result in motorcycle accident victims, compared to only 25% for car occupants.
Common Motorcycle Accident Causes
Let us now look at the main causes leading to motorcycle accidents causing death or critical injuries. Our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers have encountered sufficient situations that, coupled with data available from authorities, allow us to conclude that these unfortunate situations occur due to:
Lack of Training and Safety Gear
Wearing a helmet face shield and protective clothing can save lives. The impact of the unprotected head against the road is terrible and can cause fatal injuries. A DOT-approved helmet can absorb the shock and protect the rider's head from this type of traumatic injury.
Also, inexperienced riders, who have obtained their motorcycle license recently, are more likely to be involved in collisions with an object or with a car or commercial vehicle.
Drinking and Riding
Roughly 43% of fatal motorcycle accidents involve alcohol. Drinking and riding is not fun and exhilarating. Instead, it can land the person in hospital for a very long time, requiring expensive and long-term medical care, or the DUI rider and their passenger may lose their lives.
In many cases when motorcyclists are hit by cars, it is due to the fact that they were in the car driver's blind spot. Experienced motorcycle riders know how to make themselves visible on the road and avoid dangerous situations. However, crashes caused by blind spots are a common occurrence on the roads of Ohio.
Making a Turn/Changing Lanes in Front of a Motorcyclist
Sharing the road is important and should be a priority for everyone: passenger car drivers, commercial drives, bicyclists and motorcyclists. Unfortunately, many motor vehicle accident fatalities occur because car drivers change the lane or make a turn in front of a motorcyclist, without signaling or maintaining a safe distance.
Types of Injuries Suffered by Motorcycle Accident Victims
As we explained above, a motorcycle crash can have terrible consequences for everyone involved. Victims may suffer from:
- broken bones
- road rash
- spine injury
- traumatic brain injury
- internal organ damage
- loss of limb.
All victims should request immediate medical attention and accept the ambulance ride to the hospital. All the expenses incurred during the medical treatment, as well as other financial losses can be recovered by filing a claim against the responsible party's insurance company or by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
However, it is crucial for any injury victim to establish a medical record trail that proves that their injuries were caused by the accident, and not in a separate incident.
What to Do If You Were Involved in a Motorcycle Crash
After a bad crash, you are in pain, confused, and worried about the extent of your injuries. After all, even common motorcycle accident injuries means going to the hospital for tests and specialized treatment, even surgery. The last thing on your mind at this moment is who will pay for all these unexpected costs.
The law is clear on this matter: drunk or distracted drivers and any other at-fault party should pay the financial compensation that covers your economic and non-economic damages. However, you need to prove that the person was more than half at fault for the accident, according to the contributory fault doctrine applicable in personal injury cases in the state of Ohio.
Thus, you need to stay calm and act in your best interests. This means:
Document the Accident Scene
Before the ambulance arrives, you should take photos, videos and notes of the accident scene, including your injuries and the damages to your motorcycle. if the other party is a car driver, you should obtain his contact data and insurance details (although, according to the Insurance Information Institute, around 13% of Ohio motorists are uninsured drivers).
At the same time, look for any eyewitnesses and ask for their contact details, as well as their willingness to give a statement to your motorcycle accident attorney.
Do Not Negotiate with the Insurance Company Representative
Unfortunately, there is still a strong bias against motorcyclists across the US, these being perceived as reckless and accident-prone. This is reflected in the way insurance adjusters treat motorcycle accident victims. They will tell you that you do not have a case because you were more than half at fault for the crash.
Our recommendation is to refuse to talk to the insurance adjuster and make absolutely no statements. Anything you say can be used to hurt your case at a later date.
Contact Experienced Motorcycle Accident Attorneys
A skilled attorney can be a strong ally in the upcoming legal battle. Personal injury attorneys know how to file and negotiate your motorcycle accident claim or to represent you in court in a personal injury lawsuit. If you're going to retain legal representation you should do it as soon as possible, because you only have two years after the date of the accident to file a claim or a lawsuit.
At Babin Law, LLC, we are ready to analyze your case, explain your legal options, and want to help you win the fair compensation you deserve. Also, we work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not have to pay any upfront fees. We get paid only after we win your case, out of the settlement amounts we negotiate or win in court.
If you or one of your loved ones was injured in a motorcycle crash, call us now to schedule a free case review: 614-412-0877!