There is something about riding a motorcycle through the countryside, with the wind in your face, that is exhilarating. Motorcyclists say the ride feels like freedom, and they might have a point. On the other hand, freedom comes with a price, even when you are just talking about riding a motorcycle. While deaths from motorcycle accidents are declining, dropping 5% from 2017 to just under 5,000 deaths in 2018, riding a motorcycle is a highly hazardous activity, particularly compared to riding in a passenger vehicle. Riders on a motorcycle – drivers and passengers – are approximately 28 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than are the occupants of passenger vehicles per passenger miles driven. Only 3% of the registered motor vehicles in the U.S. – of all kinds – are motorcycles. Motorcycles account for only about .6% of vehicle miles traveled each year, and yet motorcycle riders and their passengers total about 14% of all road deaths annually.
Motorcycle Accidents are Far More Likely to End in Injuries
Federal statistics indicate that more than 80% of traffic accidents involving motorcycles lead to either the motorcycle’s driver, passenger, or both dying or being injured. In many ways, it is not a surprising statistic. There are no “minor” accidents for a motorcyclist. With only two wheels and no protective steel body around them, a traffic accident for motorcyclists virtually guarantees two things – the bike will end up sliding along the ground on its side and the motorcyclist will either be sliding along half under the bike or sliding along the ground without the bike. If the cyclist is lucky, there will not be a trip through the air before the sliding starts, and the slide will not end with a sudden impact into a stationary object. Needless to say, motorcyclists can be severely injured in an accident that leaves passenger vehicle occupants unscathed.
Among the most common injuries suffered by motorcyclists are traumatic brain injuries, even if the rider is wearing a helmet. Head injuries are the top cause of motorcyclist deaths, but ranks only third among top non-fatal injuries for motorcyclists, which are:
- Lower-extremity injuries
- Upper-extremity injuries
- Head injuries.
Such injuries can be quite serious with debilitating, long-lasting consequences. Rehab, therapy, and the potential need for long-term care – particularly in the case of TBIs – are among the many costs that can result from motorcycle accident injuries.
Unfortunately, federal statistics show that many motorcycle accidents are the fault of another driver. Motorcycles are less easily noticed than cars and trucks, and motorists often overlook them. Perhaps that explains why nearly half of all traffic accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle happen at road intersections where the passenger vehicle turned left in front of or into a motorcycle that was going straight, overtaking, or passing other vehicles. Motorcyclists injured in accidents with another vehicle have up to two years to make a claim against another party for their injuries under Georgia’s statute of limitations. Given problems that arise with evidence the longer you wait, it generally is wise to file any insurance or other injury claims much sooner than that.