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  • Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

    Motorcycling is a passion.  Riding a motorcycle can give one a great sense of freedom. It also creates opportunities for riders to connect with their surroundings and interact with others who like to ride. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there are more than 8 million registered motorcycles in the United States.

    Although safe riding practices help, it is also a well-established fact that riding a motorcycle exposes the rider to greater risks. Motorcycle riders are more likely to suffer serious injury in an accident than drivers of cars or trucks. If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, reach out to a qualified lawyer who can help protect your rights and advocate on your behalf.

    motorcycle accidentsWhy Are Motorcycle Riders More Likely to Suffer Serious Injuries?

    Motorcycle riders are more likely to suffer serious injuries in an accident because they share the road with cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles that overwhelm them in size and weight. When an accident happens, the motorcyclist absorbs the bulk of the impact with the other vehicle or the roadway because they do not have the benefits of the steel vehicle body, airbags, or seat belts that motor vehicles provide. As a result, motorcycle riders are 35 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries in an accident than those in passenger vehicles.

    The facts concerning motorcycle accidents are sobering. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports more than 3,000 motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania each year, with approximately 200 fatalities and thousands of serious injuries. A study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that about 80 percent of all reported motorcycle accidents result in injury or death, compared with 20 percent of accidents involving cars or trucks.

    What Types of Injuries Are Common in Motorcycle Accidents?

    On average, 20 percent of all motorcycle accidents result in head or neck injuries, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

    Other types of injuries common in motorcycle accidents include but are not limited to the following:

    • Broken bones, including limb fractures and broken ribs.
    • Burns, including road rash.
    • Cuts and lacerations.
    • Internal organ damage.
    • Knee dislocations.
    • Shoulder injuries.
    • Spinal cord injuries.
    • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

    Road rash is a type of burn that happens when a motorcycle rider is dragged across the road. Treatment may require painful skin grafts, and permanent scarring may result.

    Furthermore, analysis published by the PennDOT shows that head and neck injuries account for a majority of serious and fatal injuries to motorcyclists. With few exceptions, riders who wear an approved helmet can reduce the impact of most head and neck injuries.

    How Do Motorcycle Accidents Happen?

    According to the PennDOT, more than 50 percent of motorcycle accident involving cars happen when automobiles enter a motorcycle’s right-of-way. This includes but is not limited to the following:

    • Cars turning left as a motorcycle approaches head on.
    • Cars turning left from the lane to the right of the motorcycle.
    • Cars changing lanes carelessly.
    • Cars on side streets that pull into a motorcycle’s lane.

    More than 40 percent of motorcycle accidents involving cars happen when the car is making a left-hand turn.

    Head-on collisions with another car are the most dangerous type of motorcycle accident. According to the NHTSA, more than 50 percent of motorcycles involved in fatal accidents included another moving vehicle. In most of these fatal accidents, the car struck the motorcycle head on.

    There are many other ways in which motorcycle accidents happen involving cars, including the following:

    • Motorcycles passing parked cars: Motorcycles lose control and may be thrown off their bikes when drivers open car doors, get out of the car, or step out from between cars into their path.
    • Drivers making U-turns: Cars that execute sudden U-turns may block a motorcyclist’s path, leaving them with nowhere to go to avoid a crash.
    • Drivers do not see motorcycles: Motorists often say they never saw the motorcycle that they hit.
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    Motorcycle accidents that do not involve cars may happen for a number of reasons, including uneven or slippery surfaces such as broken pavement, potholes, ice, or wet leaves, railroad tracks or gratings, and flying objects. Motorcyclists may be struck by rocks kicked up by car or truck tires. Mechanical problems such as a flat tire can also cause an accident. Most accidents happen on trips less than five miles long just a few minutes after starting out.

    Who May Be Liable for Causing a Motorcycle Accident?

    A number of studies indicate than more than one-half of all motorcycle accidents are caused by car or truck drivers who claim they did not see the motorcycle. Most of these accidents happen at intersections.

    Motorists who may be liable to causing motorcycle accidents include but are not limited to the following:

    • Car and truck drivers who claim they did not see the motorcycle.
    • Speeding drivers.
    • Drivers under the influence.
    • Drivers who failed to yield or stop at a stop sign or traffic light.
    • Motorists texting or talking on the phone.

    Even when a car or truck driver may have been speeding, texting, or driving under the influence, jurors are often prejudiced against motorcycle riders. That is why is it very important for any motorcycle rider who has been injured in an accident to contact a qualified lawyer.

    Motorcycle HelmetsWhat Types of Laws Apply to Motorcycle Riders?

    Motorcyclists are required to follow all of the rules of the road that any other vehicle must follow.  Likewise, other vehicles on the roadway must treat a motorcyclist the same as any other vehicle.

    The two main types of laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that are specific to motorcycle riders include:

    • Laws regarding licensing, registration, and insurance.
    • Laws that spell out requirements for what motorcycle riders must wear.

    In both states, motorcycles must be titled, registered, and insured. To operate a motorcycle in Pennsylvania, riders must first pass a basic motorcycle knowledge test and a vision test, and then apply for a Class M learner’s permit, which is valid for one year. To get a permanent Class M license, riders must pass a skills test or complete the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program.

    Residents operating a motorcycle in New Jersey must have a motorcycle endorsement on their existing driver license or a separate motorcycle license. Completing the New Jersey Basic Rider Course enables a licensed driver to obtain a motorcycle endorsement.

    In New Jersey, all motorcycle riders are required to wear a securely fitted helmet that is approved by the DOT. In Pennsylvania, however, helmets are required only for motorcycle riders who are under 21 years old or have less than two years of riding experience or have not completed a PennDOT or motorcycle safety course.

    If riders wear helmets in Pennsylvania, the helmets must meet the standards approved by the DOT. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey require motorcyclists to wear eye protection and protective clothing.

    Helmet wearers are three times more likely to survive head injuries from a motorcycle crash than non-helmet wearers.

    Is Motorcycle Lane Splitting Legal?

    Lane splitting is when a motorcycle drives in between two lanes of cars. Motorcycle lane splitting has been declared legal only in the state of California. However, during traffic jams or emergencies, motorcyclists are not always cited for lane splitting in other states.

    In Pennsylvania, the state’s Motorcycle Operator Manual says that a motorcycle requires an entire lane to operate safely. It further states that motorcycles should not drive between lanes, although they may share a lane as long as it is safe to do so.

    There is no law in New Jersey that explicitly outlaws lane splitting. However, motorcyclists who go in between two lanes of cars can be ticketed for a failure to keep right.

    Motorcycle Safety TipsMotorcycles and Alcohol Do Not Mix

    Operating a motorcycle takes a great deal of skill, including coordination, balance, and the ability to judge distances. Although having one or two drinks might not put a motorcyclist over the legal limit, even a small amount of alcohol can rob a rider of the critical skills needed to operate a bike. Studies indicate that riders’ judgments can be impaired with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01 to 0.04 percent.

    Another risk of drinking alcohol is that it tends to make an individual over-confident. Studies have found that motorcycle riders who have been drinking are much less likely to wear a helmet.

    Riding a motorcycle is not simple. Riders must split their attention between assessing traffic situations, operating the bike, balancing turns, and staying on course. At the same time, they need to be aware of motorists who might not see them approaching. Alcohol makes it more difficult to perform these tasks in real time.

    However, for many, riding a motorcycle is a recreational activity. Some riders will bar hop or go to events where alcohol is served. The truth is, during these activities, motorcyclists may be putting themselves at risk. According to statistics, nights and weekends are the times when most motorcycle accidents happen that involve alcohol.

    What Should I Do if I am in a Motorcycle Accident?

    If you get into a motorcycle accident, your first priority is to get out of the way of traffic and move to a safe area if possible. Do not remove your protective clothing. Call 911 to report the accident and seek medical attention on the scene, even if you believe your injuries are not serious.

    If you or someone else is seriously injured, or the accident may be someone else’s fault, contact an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. It is important for you to understand your rights and find out if you have a valid personal injury claim against another party who may be at fault. If a representative from an insurance company contacts you and offers a quick settlement, do not speak to them or provide a statement before contacting a lawyer.

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    Our lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have helped numerous motorcycle riders over the years. Many motorcycle accidents are life-altering and financially devastating. One of our lawyers can help you calculate the true cost of your injuries after a serious motorcycle accident.

    Philadelphia Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Those Severely Injured in Motorcycle Accidents

    If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, reach out to one of our Philadelphia motorcycle accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. Our experienced legal team will protect your rights. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.