Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident News
Motorcycle fatalities climbed from the late 1990s to 2008, when there were 5,312 deaths. In 2009, that number went down, to 4,462, a 16% decline. This is notwithstanding an increase in usage. While still too high, the significant decline is encouraging.
There is more good news for motorcycle owners in Massachusetts as the season comes to a close. Fifteen Massachusetts motor vehicle insurance companies have agreed to return overcharged premiums to motorcycle owners. The refunds, which include $5 million from
Travelers Insurance Company, and $35 million from other companies, are based on overcharges on the collision and comprehensive sections of the insurance policies. In essence, the insurance industry overvalued motorcycles. Motorcycle accident lawyer Neil Burns reported that many motorcycle owners, especially those who own Harley Davidson bikes, should have received their checks already.
The refunds are a culmination of work by Attorney General Martha Coakley. Apparently, one Harley Davidson owner complained that his bike was overvalued: a 1999 Road King. The consumer complained and the Attorney General’s office found that the initial complainant was overcharged $1,500 from 2003 to 2008, based on a $20,000 valuation of the motorcycle.
We first reported this on February 19, 2010, when Safety Insurance Group agreed to pay $7.4 million for Massachusetts motorcycle accident insurance overcharges. To date that was the largest settlement. However other companies have given refunds in settling with the Attorney General as well: Arbella Mutual Insurance paid $6.3 million, Plymouth Rock paid $3.99 million, Metropolitan Property and Casualty paid $3.65 million, Liberty Mutual Insurance paid $3.1 million, USAA paid $2.7 million, Hanover paid $2.5 million, OneBeacon paid $2.1 million, and a host of companies paid somewhat less than one million dollars in refunds.
Consumers who want to see if they are entitled to a refund can go to the Attorney General’s website, www.motorcycle.ago.state.ma.us Other motorcycle news includes the top five brands of motorcycles stolen: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and unknowns. The top five states for motorcycle thefts are: California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Indiana.
A word of caution: Supersports motorcycles have a death rate of 22.5 driver deaths per 10,000 registered bikes; regular motorcycles are half that rate, at 10.7 deaths per 10,000 registered bikes. Supersports bikes are those that are built on racing platforms but are street modified. They car reach speeds close to 200 miles per hour and are lightweight. They are popular with younger riders.
Of course, no motorcycle new article by a Massachusetts accident lawyer could be complete without an update on helmets. Our friends in New Hampshire enjoy a “live free or die” approach to helmet laws. Along with Illinois and Iowa, there are no helmet laws in New Hampshire. The statistics show that helmet use declines form 99% to 50% when the laws are taken away. But, when used they save lives: 1,483 lives were saved in 2009, according to the National Highway Safety Transportation Authority. 732 lives were lost in 2009 because of failure to wear helmets.
Finally, a few obvious tips. Don’t speed: 35% of motorcycle fatalities were as a result of speeding. Get a license: 25% of motorcycle fatalities involved riders who were riding without a valid license. Don’t drink: 39% of motorcycle fatalities involved riders who were over the 0.08% acceptable blood alcohol level. All of these numbers are significantly above the same numbers for cars and trucks.