Bucks County Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Motorcycle accidents unfortunately often lead to serious or catastrophic injuries. Unlike accidents experienced by a passenger in a car, a motorcyclist lacks protection from the forces and impacts involved. The motorcyclist lacks not only a protective glass and steel frame, but also many other vehicle safety features like a seatbelt, airbags, and crumple zones. The lack of a seatbelt also means that motorcyclists in an accident are often thrown from their bike thereby suffering additional injuries and traumas.
Because of the seriousness of most motorcycle injuries, accident victims often face mounting medical bills while missing significant time at work. This, coupled with the emotional distress associated with a severe injury, could lead to a financial crisis and depression. If another party caused the crash, they should be held liable for your losses.
For more than three decades, the experienced and dedicated attorneys of the Reiff Law Firm have worked to protect motorcycle riders and their families. If we represent you, we handle everything including the police, the insurance company, the other party, and any third parties that may be involved. To discuss your accident and legal options, call (215) 709-6940.
Motorcycle Accidents in Bucks County Are Often the Fault of the Auto Driver
When the weather gets warm in Bucks County, more motorcyclists will be out on the scenic roads and byways. Other drivers have an obligation to be aware of the motorcycles on the road and avoid crashing into them by mistake. When a car or truck hits a motorcycle, the rider will almost always suffer the lion’s share of the injuries.
Motorcyclists have an unfair reputation for being reckless. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when an accident occurs between a motorcycle and another vehicle, it is usually because the driver failed to yield the right of way to the cyclist. When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident, they should contact an experienced Bucks County attorney to discuss their rights and determine whether they could hold a negligent party liable for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
There are a variety of reasons why drivers fail to yield to motorcyclists. In many cases, it is simply because a motorcycle is more difficult to see. However, this is not an excuse. Drivers must be aware of the surroundings and the traffic around them. Unfortunately, many people drive while distracted. Because of a motorcycle’s small profile, the slightest distraction could prove catastrophic or deadly.
Proving Negligence Following a Bucks County Motorcycle Crash
Drivers have an obligation to be aware of motorcyclists on the road. When a driver’s conduct results in an accident, it could constitute negligence. In a personal injury claim, negligence occurs when someone does not act how a reasonable person would under the same circumstances, resulting in an injury. For example, a reasonable person would not drive home after drinking two bottles of wine because they realize they are impaired.
A mistake, or even intentional behavior, does not always equal negligence. If an injured motorcycle accident victim wants to be compensated for their losses, their attorney will have to prove four distinct elements.
Duty of Care
If you are in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, proving a duty of care existed is relatively easy. As stated above, every driver has an obligation to be aware of cyclists. This duty extends to all other drivers and requires anyone operating a vehicle to follow all traffic laws.
Violation of the Duty of Care
Violating the duty of care is the crux of the four elements. Our Bucks County motorcycle accident lawyers will have to demonstrate that the driver did not behave in a reasonable manner. For instance, they could have been speeding, texting, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Violating a duty of care and causing an accident is not enough to establish negligence. The injury must also be a direct result of the conduct. If a drunk driver hit your bike and you fractured your leg, proving causation is not difficult.
To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, you must have been injured. Therefore, you will have to prove that your suffered damages. Damages are the losses you experienced because of an injury. While these are usually physical, they could also be emotional and strictly economical.
To prove these four elements, a pragmatic motorcycle attorney will turn to medical records, police reports, eyewitnesses, expert opinions, photographs, and other evidence to establish all four elements.
What if You Were Not Wearing a Helmet and Where in a Bucks County Motorcycle Accident?
Under Pennsylvania law, a motorcyclist must wear protective headgear unless they are over the age of 21 and have been operating a motorcycle for at least two years. The two-year requirement is waived if you complete an approved Pennsylvania Department of Transportation motorcycle safety program. If you were not legally required to wear a helmet, then your failure to wear one should not affect your personal injury claim.
However, if you were required to wear a helmet and were in an accident, it could negatively impact your personal injury case. The type of injury will be the controlling factor. For instance, if you suffered a fractured arm and wrist, then not wearing a helmet would probably not adversely affect the outcome of your case. However, if you sustained a head injury that could have been prevented or lessened by wearing protective headgear, a court could determine that you contributed to your injuries.
If you are found to have contributed to your injuries, your compensation would be reduced by the percentage of fault under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence doctrine. To illustrate this point, suppose a driver changes lanes without checking their blind spot and hits your bike. In the ensuing crash, you suffer head and neck injuries. The jury determines that the severity of your injuries was increased because you failed to wear a required helmet. The jury awards you $100,000 in damages but also assigns you 30% of the blame. Your compensation will be reduced to $70,000. If you were found to have been 51% at fault, then you would not have been awarded any damages. Insurance companies and defense attorneys will often attempt to blame a motorcyclist after an accident.
Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitation for Motorcycle Accidents
You do not have an unlimited amount of time to file a personal injury claim after a motorcycle accident. In Pennsylvania, an injured accident victim must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of the crash. Because of this limitation, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to drag the settlement process out beyond the stated deadline.
If you were in a motorcycle accident, you should not delay in contacting an attorney. Even if you end up settling with an insurance company, having an attorney evaluate your claim and the strength of your legal case will help you maximize your compensation. Part of this process requires gathering evidence to support your claim. If you hesitate in retaining competent legal representation, critical evidence could be lost.
Types of Injuries Common in Motorcycle Accidents
Every accident is different and therefore produces injuries of different types and of varying severity. Further, some collisions may result in causing a single condition, but most accidents result in some combination of injuries. Common motorcycle accident injuries include:
- Whiplash – Whiplash injuries are perhaps the most common of all injuries caused by vehicular accidents. Regardless of whether you were in a car, truck, bus, or motorcycle accident whiplash injuries are common. Whiplash occurs when there is an extremely rapid acceleration or deceleration. These extreme forces can cause shearing of muscle and never tissue in the brain resulting in headaches, confusion, neck pain, back pain, and trouble with focus.
- Burns – Due to the inherent nature of a motorcycle, burn injuries are much more common than in other vehicular accidents. Riders may suffer friction burns from the road or burn themselves on the bike’s exposed exhaust components during a crash.
- Fractured or broken bones– Motorcycle riders are also more likely to suffer fractured or broken bones. These injuries can be simple or compound. A simple fracture occurs when there is a break in the bone but the skin is not punctured. A compound fracture occurs when there is a break in the skin that allows air and foreign contaminates into the fracture site
- Traumatic Brain Injury – Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most troubling types of injury because damage to the brain can cause changes in personality and impair your ability to function independently. Brain injuries can cause problems in nearly any conceivable sphere of your life. They can impact cognitive skills, communication skills, social abilities, focus, and cause emotional disturbances.
These injuries represent only a few of the conditions that can be caused or aggravated by a motorcycle accident. However, the most important thing to remember after an accident is to seek treatment. Following an accident, many people try to forego treatment due to pride or they simply have not yet realized the extent of their injuries of pain. Allowing a medical professional to perform diagnostic tests can rule out the presence of any life-threatening conditions following a severe trauma. Further medial attention can identify any areas where you may need assistance or therapy. Undergoing corrective therapies early improves your chances of a full recovery and can sometimes help minimize the amount of pain and suffering you experience.
Our Bucks County Motorcycle Attorneys Can Help
Suffering a serious or catastrophic injury can throw your life and plans into complete disarray. However, working with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can be the first step in putting the pieces back together and making you whole. For a free and confidential accident consultation, call the Reiff Law Firm today at (215) 709-6940 or contact us online.