Motorcycle and truck accidents happen every day and occasionally both are involved in the same collision. Because motorcycle riders have little protection in any kind of collision, the consequences can be catastrophic or fatal.
In a recent motorcycle accident near Elgin, Illinois, a 25-year old man was killed when a semi-tractor trailer made a left turn in front of his bike. The family of the motorcycle driver has filed a wrongful death action against the truck driver alleging that the driver failed to yield by making a turn when it was unsafe to do so, failed to maintain control of his truck, failed to maintain a proper lookout and was proceeding too fast for the traffic conditions.
The truck driver has alleged that the motorcyclist flashed his lights at the driver, signaling that it was alright for the trucker to make the left turn. This was an assertion that the rider’s attorney termed as absurd especially considering that the rider continued into the intersection without slowing and that motorcyclist do not usually signal in that manner. On the other hand, witnesses have said that the rider had passed some cars illegally on the shoulder before entering the intersection and had been speeding although it was not clear that this was relevant to the conduct of the truck driver.
The truck driver was cited for making an unsafe left turn.
Dangers of Motorcycle Riding
This accident highlights the dangers that motorcycle riders face each day on the road. It is unlikely the truck driver in the above incident would have made his left turn had the approaching vehicle been a passenger car. It is difficult to judge the distance and speed of a motorcycle if the truck driver had even seen the bike approaching. Most motorcycle accidents occur at intersections for these very reasons.
Here are other factors that can cause a motorcycle accident:
- Failure to see a motorcycle changing lanes or entering a lane
- Failure to yield
- Not leaving sufficient room between vehicle and motorcycle
- Cutting off a motorcycle
- Driving under the influence
- Distracted driving
- A defective part that was unreasonably dangerous
- Improper maintenance by a dealer or other motorcycle maintenance company on the motorcycle
- Defective roadway–signage, lines or stripes, curves, construction, road defects and poor road maintenance
Of course the injuries a surviving motorcycle accident victim sustains can be extremely serious:
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Broken limbs
Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer if you or a loved one was injured or killed in an accident. Only an experienced motorcycle lawyer can look for factors that are not obvious or for other parties that may have played a role in causing the accident.
Truck Driver and Company Liability
Truck drivers and trucking companies are commercial carriers and have a higher duty of care to other motorists and pedestrians than ordinary motorists. Truck drivers must be trained, undergo drug tests and pass background checks and medical examinations. They are required to keep logs of their trips and loads and are restricted in the number of hours they can drive each day and week.
Trucking companies usually have large insurance liability limits but can be subject to judgments in excess of their insurance. For these reasons, insurers and the companies will go to great lengths to minimize their liability or find fault with whomever is suing them in an accident.
Trucks are involved in serious accidents every day since a truck can weigh between 10,000 and 80,000 pounds when fully loaded as compared to an ordinary passenger car that is about 5,000 pounds. Of course, motorcycles weigh far less.
Any number of factors can cause a truck accident:
- Driver inattention
- Distracted driving
- Intoxication or under the influence of drugs
- Improperly loaded truck
- Mechanical failure–steering ,braking or engine malfunction
- Negligent maintenance–worn or improper tires or mirrors
- Non-compliance with regulations
- Driver inexperience or incompetence
- Negligent hiring and training practices
In an accident, the trucking company and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will both conduct investigations as will your own motorcycle lawyer’s investigators. If you were injured in a truck accident, promptly retain an attorney to avoid being pressured by the trucking company’s insurer or investigators to conclude a quick settlement.
Motorcycle Accident Claims
Unlike other motor vehicle accident claims in Massachusetts, you are not entitled to PIP or personal injury protection benefits if you were a motorcyclist injured in an accident. PIP benefits pay medical and wage loss claims to a certain amount regardless of fault. However, you are not limited to crossing a threshold limit before you can bring an action for compensation based on negligence and/or product liability if applicable.
Also, be aware that motorcycle accident claims are often looked upon with suspicion by claims adjusters and defense attorneys who automatically assume the rider was speeding or engaged in reckless conduct such as passing on the right as indicated above. It is essential that you have an experienced motorcycle lawyer representing you to gather the facts, contact the witnesses and focus your claim.
If a truck driver was at fault based on any of the above factors and you or a loved one sustained serious injuries, your damages may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Lost earning capacity
- Permanent disfigurement
- Diminished enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
If a death claim, it is brought by the administrator of the decedent’s estate for the benefit of the decedent’s immediate family. Damages can include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of income during the working life of the decedent
- Pain and suffering but only if the decedent was observed to have consciously suffered before succumbing
- Final medical bills if applicable
- Loss of the love, companionship, comfort, guidance and counsel the decedent would have provided family members
- Punitive damages if the defendant exhibited gross negligence or malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct
Consult with motorcycle accident lawyer Neil Burns, a Boston personal injury attorney who has obtained millions of dollars for his injured clients over his 30-years of practice if you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle or truck accident. His experience, knowledge and skills obtained in handling thousands of cases can get you the compensation your case deserves. Call us today if you or someone you love has been injured at: (617) 227-7423