Massachusetts Motorcycle Deaths on the Increase

Anyone who has ever ridden a motorcycle is aware not only of the joys of riding but of the risks as well. Despite public service campaigns alerting motorists to be aware of motorcyclists and to respect their presence on the road, fatalities caused by other motorists continue to occur. A troubling statistic is that in Massachusetts, we have experienced an increase in the number of riders and passengers killed in motorcycle accidents over the past year. 

Although this is only September, we have had 37 motorcycle fatalities, an increase of 31% over the past 5 years. A majority of the accidents, or around 2/3, are the fault of motorists who likely failed to see the motorcycle in the moments before impact or who was traveling too close when the rider was forced to take some kind of evasive action such as to avoid a pothole or obstacle in the roadway.

Riding a motorcycle can be hazardous to your health. About 80% of motorcyclists and their passengers sustain injuries in any kind of accident. But 90% of crashes where alcohol or drugs are involved result in injury or death as compared to just 33% for passenger car drivers and passengers. 

Although only 3% of motorcycles comprise all traffic in the U.S., they account for 14% of traffic fatalities. Head injuries are the major cause of death for riders. 

Factors in Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle riders generally have a poor reputation for reckless operation of their bikes, an assumption that is unfounded since most riders tend to be more aware of the risks in riding and taking steps to avoid encounters with passenger vehicles. In most accidents involving other vehicles, the factors that led to the accident include:

  • Car turning left in front of approaching motorcycle 
  • Car emerging from a driveway into the path of a motorcycle
  • Not seeing a motorcycle in driver’s blind spot
  • Moving into another lane of traffic already occupied by a motorcycle 
  • Driving too close to a motorcyclist who had to take emergency action to avoid a hazard
  • Motorist’s line of sight obstructed by a truck, SUV, or van 

Motorcycle riders can also help prevent collisions and serious injuries by doing the following:

  • Always wear a full face helmet
  • Wear pants, boots, and gloves 
  • Wear bright clothing or a reflective vest to increase your visibility
  • Be sure your headlights are always on
  • Check tire pressure, oil, gas, and brakes on a regular basis 
  • Avoid riding in a passenger car’s blind spot
  • Do not lane split—only California allows this practice 
  • Do not share a lane with a car
  • At an intersection, assume that motorists do not see you
  • Be on the lookout in suburban areas for cars exiting driveways and lots 
  • Never assume all cars will obey traffic lights—look both ways before proceeding
  • Avoid riding in windy, snowy, or rainy conditions 

Motorcycle Accident Injury Claims 

Regardless of statistics that clearly indicate that motorists are largely to blame for accidents and fatalities involving riders, insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will instinctively blame the rider for speeding, reckless operation, or violating some other traffic law. Since many accidents are not witnessed by anyone other than the involved parties, a resourceful motorcycle accident attorney has to find evidence to support a client’s claim.

The police or traffic accident report is usually unbiased, though not always, and can provide details such as weather, road conditions, the presence of skid marks, debris on the roadway, obstructions, and the parties’ version of events. If one version is consistent with the physical evidence, the investigating officer will make a conclusion about liability. If there are injuries, the officer can note his/her observations of the injured party, time when an ambulance arrived, and other details. 

Your motorcycle accident attorney can use these details to bolster your case as far as fault, but if the report concludes that you were at fault, your attorney will have to do further investigation by usually retaining an expert in accident reconstruction involving motorcycles. The expert can view skidmarks, examine the bike, location of the vehicles and property damage, see what the road conditions were like, and see if the defendant’s version holds up to scrutiny. Photographs of the accident scene can sometimes show clues that were missed or not understood by the investigating officer. 

Also, witnesses can provide either direct accounts or at least what they heard before impact or saw in the aftermath that might show that the motorist moved his car after impact so that it is consistent with his version of events, or that he failed to honk despite his assertion that he did. Also, a witness could say that the traffic light was green for you in the seconds after the accident, making it more likely that you entered on a green light and the driver did not. 

Occasionally, surveillance footage from traffic poles or businesses in the area might have captured the accident on film, so the investigator needs to canvass the area for that possibility. Some vehicles also carry cameras on the dashboard. 

Damages in Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Fatalities 

Many motorcycle accident claims involve very serious and permanent injuries. It is essential that you retain a veteran and highly experienced motorcycle accident attorney who has handled these types of claims involving substantial injuries and damages. 

Damages in a typical claim include:

  • Past and future income losses
  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Permanent disability and disfigurement 
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

In a fatality, the executor for the decedent’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of the immediate family members. Damages are:

  • Medical expenses incurred before decedent succumbed to injuries
  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • Loss of income to dependents (spouse, children, parents)
  • Pain and suffering if decedent visibly suffered before death
  • Loss of the decedent’s love, counsel, and guidance 
  • Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent, reckless, and exhibited a wanton indifference to life or safety

Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain 

Motorcycle accidents are handled differently than other motor vehicle accidents. To ensure that all possible factors leading to the accident are investigated, and all potential parties held accountable, retain a motorcycle accident attorney from Burns and Jain. Our office has obtained millions of dollars in compensation for our injured clients and their families over the years. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for an in-depth consultation about your injury accident claim.

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