Get Answers to Common Motorcycle Accident Questions
The victims of motorcycle accidents share many common questions, but it can be difficult to find needed information that isn’t filled with confusing legal jargon. Get clear answers from our experienced local lawyers by browsing our frequently asked questions below, or set up a free case review to ask your questions in person by contacting our Nashville accident attorneys directly at 877-959-8847.
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How can I prove that a driver caused my motorcycle crash?
Motorcycle accidents where the driver walks away without injury can be devastating for a rider. Without the protection of airbags and steel roll cages, a sudden collision can severely injure a motorcyclist and cause months of expensive and painful recovery. In order to hold the driver accountable for his losses, a motorcyclist will have to provide concrete proof of the driver’s negligence.
Your Attorney Can Connect a Driver’s Behavior to the Motorcycle Crash
In addition to collecting and preserving physical evidence after a motorcycle crash, you can help your crash case by detailing the other driver’s actions to your attorney. As you recover from your injuries, your legal team can examine statements made by the driver and witnesses, as well as look for other ways to prove that the driver was at fault.
For instance, an attorney can gather evidence against a driver who was:
- Speeding. Speeding is illegal because it reduces a driver’s reaction times and lengthens the stopping distance needed to safely avoid a collision. Traveling at high speeds also makes it harder to keep control of a vehicle and can be the reason a driver veers into another lane. It is worth checking speed cameras or notations in the police report for evidence that the driver was speeding.
- Drunk or impaired. A driver who operates a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not only be liable for civil damages, but he or she can be charged with criminal activity as well. Your attorney can investigate any illegal activity on the part of the driver, including a history of drunk driving or blood alcohol measurements taken at the scene.
- Driving aggressively. If a driver ran you off the road, was honking at you, or was following you too closely before the accident, there is a good chance that other drivers on the scene noticed this behavior. Witness statements can be taken to confirm that an aggressive driver was disregarding traffic laws, while surveillance cameras may have caught the driver’s actions on video.
- Driving while distracted. Drivers may be distracted by cellphones, radios, GPS devices, food and drinks, or just by talking to someone else in the vehicle. Depending on the type of distraction, an attorney can request cellphone records, passenger testimony, and witness accounts of the driver’s actions immediately before the crash.
- Negligent. Many drivers fully admit their mistakes at the scene of the crash, but are suddenly quiet when it comes to paying for the costs of the accident. What the driver said at the scene can be used in your case, such as the driver claiming he “didn’t see you,” “wasn’t paying attention,” or even that it was “not your fault.” What many drivers don’t realize is that a failure to “see” a motorcyclist is not a valid defense in an accident case, since drivers should be on the lookout for all types of vehicles.
Several Parties May Share Fault for a Motorcycle Crash
It is worth noting that it is not just the driver who can be liable for an accident. Your attorney should investigate all possible causes, including the condition of your bike, condition of your safety gear, and even the road you were traveling on to see if any other party made your injuries worse.
For example, if your helmet is cracked and you suffered a significant head injury, you could have a claim against the manufacturer. If your bike was recently repaired, the parts used or the mechanic’s work can be called into question. Finally, the location of the accident should be inspected for any potholes, debris, maintenance problems, missing guardrails, uneven grading, or other features that could have played a part in the crash.
If you were partially to blame for the crash, you can still recover compensation for your injuries. Tennessee’s modified comparative negligence system allows bikers to be up to 50% liable for their own injuries in an accident case, although the damages they receive are reduced by the percentage of fault. Our motorcycle accident attorneys can investigate the details of your accident and get you the maximum compensation you are owed under the law. Fill out our online contact form today to learn more, or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
How is my motorcycle crash claim different from other accident cases?
In Tennessee, the same laws apply to crash cases whether they involve motorcycles or passenger cars. However, there are a great many additional factors that must be considered in cases where a motorcycle rider has been injured, including who may be held liable and how much each party needs to prove to win compensation. If your attorney does not specifically handle motorcycle crash cases, he may overlook the importance of these differences, resulting in less compensation than you deserve.
Why Motorcycle Accidents Differ From Other Injury Cases
Motorcyclists are over ten times more likely to die in road accidents than drivers of motor vehicles. Nearly 100,000 people are injured every year in motorcycle accidents in the United States, many of whom are often under-compensated for their crash costs due to:
- Severity of injuries. The cost of injuries in motorcycle accident cases is often much higher than in accidents involving two vehicles. Without the safety of steel frames, seatbelts, airbags, and other safety features, motorcyclists are much more vulnerable to injury. It is not uncommon for a motorcyclist to suffer broken bones, traumatic head injury, or loss of a limb in a crash where the driver walks away with minor bumps and bruises.
- Road designs and hazards. The design and condition of a road is more important for a biker than it is for a driver. Ice and debris on the road can be perilous for motorcyclists, while blind corners and uneven terrain make the odds of a motorcycle accident much more likely. Many bikers are unaware that road designers and municipalities can be held liable for causing their accidents.
- Stigma against riders. Many people wrongly perceive motorcyclists as risk-takers or unsafe riders. Unfortunately, this may cause a judge or jury to see the biker as playing more of a role in causing the accident than he or she is responsible for, lowering the amount of compensation awarded.
- Fault considerations. Tennessee’s fault system in injury cases is one of modified comparative negligence, meaning a victim can only recover damages if he is 49% or less to blame for the accident. Motorcyclists are often too injured to recover evidence at the scene, record the names of witnesses, or give police statements at the time of the crash, sacrificing vital evidence that can be used to prove their innocence.
- Insurance company tactics. As motorcycle crashes tend to have higher injury costs, insurance companies are more likely to deny and underpay claims made by motorcyclists. In addition, adjusters are well aware of the public’s bias against motorcycle riders, making it easier for them to pressure victims into accepting less than their claims are worth.
- Manufacturing and repair defects. Many motorcycle accidents are a result of a problem with the overall design of the bike or the quality of its components. If the motorcycle was in some way defective, the rider can pursue a case against the person responsible (such as the maker of the bike, distributor of the defective part, or someone who performed inadequate repairs). Unfortunately, many riders repair their motorcycles as quickly as possible after a crash, destroying vital evidence that could be worth thousands in an injury case.
- Permanent effects. Motorcycle accidents will often result in lifelong paralysis or other permanent consequences for the rider. This may make it impossible for him or her to earn a living, while at the same time causing a sharp increase in medical and living expenses. If the accident is fatal, survivors will have to shoulder the burden of funeral expenses, unpaid medical bills, and other end-of-life costs.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, we can help you get proper compensation for your injury costs, loss of income, property damage, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have the attorneys at GriffithLaw explain your rights in your free case evaluation, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.
Before I buy a motorcycle, what should I know about the risks and potential injuries an accident may cause?
Motorcycles can be an exhilarating way to travel, but they also offer far fewer protections than other types of vehicles. However, the more prepared for an accident a motorcycle rider is, the less likely he is to actually experience one, so learning about the biggest perils facing motorcyclists could literally save a life.
Which Injuries Are the Biggest Threat to Motorcycle Riders?
While most bike accidents occur due to the actions of other drivers, the majority of injuries in these crashes happen to the rider. The most common injuries suffered by bikers nationwide include:
- Head injuries. Riding without a helmet is the most common factor in fatal motorcycle accidents. One National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash report found that riders who sustained only head trauma were more likely to be killed than those who suffered an injury to other parts of the body. Under state law, all motorcycle riders and their passengers are required to wear helmets while biking in Tennessee.
- Neck injuries. A strike to the back wheel of a motorcycle is just as likely to cause whiplash as a “rear-end” accident in a car. In addition, bikers who are thrown backward in a crash can strike the back of their skulls, sustaining neck trauma even if they are wearing a regulation helmet. Even if the head is unaffected, a neck injury can cause damage to the spinal cord and result in total or partial paralysis.
- Road rash. When a biker has to swerve to avoid a crash or “lay down” the bike, he or she may suffer “road rash”—scraping one or more parts of the body along the pavement. Even at low speeds, road rash can cause severe abrasions that require skin grafting to prevent infections and nerve damage.
- Foot and leg fractures. The most common non-fatal motorcycle accident injuries involve trauma to the feet or legs of riders. Lower-extremity injuries are more common in motorcycle crashes due to the rider’s exposed legs and the tendency for the bike to fall on top of the biker. Typical injuries include broken leg and foot bones, twisted ankles, and torn knee ligaments. In severe cases, riders may suffer a laceration to the leg that requires amputation to stop the bleeding.
- Arm injuries. Motorcyclists are likely to be launched into the air in a crash, and bikers commonly put their arms in front of them to brace for a fall. The hard landing often causes broken arms, torn rotator cuffs, broken elbows, fractured fingers, and nerve damage along the upper extremities. Permanent nerve damage may occur in the arm as well as the upper body.
- Torso and pelvis trauma. Bikers who roll after striking the road can suffer dislocated hip joints and pelvic fractures, forcing them to undergo long recoveries where they must stay immobile. Fractured ribs can also be painful, and have the added risk of causing organ perforation or internal bleeding.
Is There a Way I Can Prevent These Injuries?
If you are planning to get your first bike, it is vital that you know exactly how to handle the brakes and steering in all kinds of weather—and that you have plenty of “hands-on” experience before you take to the streets. In addition to taking a road skills test for your licensing, it is a good idea to take a riding safety course every few years to brush up on your skills. As well as a helmet, you should wear a strong leather or canvas jacket with elbow padding, eye protection, and long pants. Perhaps the most important thing is to practice safe riding: no drinking, no risky maneuvers, and limited riding after dark.
At the end of the day, you can’t control others’ actions. If you were riding as safely as possible and you were still struck by a driver, our Tennessee injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.
How long does it take to resolve a motorcycle accident case?
The two most often asked questions an injury attorney hears are:
- How much is my claim worth?
- How long will my case take?
These concerns are inevitable when pursuing any kind of damage or personal injury because, as the victim, you want to know if filing a claim is worth your time and aggravation. We understand. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions may not be as straightforward as you would hope.
Personal injury claims are not formulaic. There are no codes or special schedules that can determine how one claim will compare to the next. As a result, there is no set sum, claim value, resolution, or time period that any attorney can guarantee right out of the gate. Therefore, if an attorney responds with anything other than an estimation based on past cases when asked how long it will take to receive your compensation, you need to walk away. Without knowing all the facts of your case, it’s impossible, unethical, and manipulative to suggest a guaranteed timeframe—especially if that frame seems particularly short.
Rather than taking advantage of your desire to resolve your claim quickly, a reliable attorney will take the time to discuss your case in detail to determine potential factors that may prolong your case, cause delays, or affect your claim’s eligibility. These factors include:
- Statute of limitations. A “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a specific time limit on your right to file a lawsuit. These windows vary depending on the type of accident and damages you’ve suffered. In most injury cases, Tennessee allows a victim or his family one year from the accident date to file a claim. If the collision resulted in a death, this period begins on the date of death, rather than the accident date (if different). If you file outside of this window, the court will most likely dismiss your case altogether.
- Liability. Whether it’s an injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, the investigation stage and negotiation period will depend on whether the allegedly-at-fault driver’s negligence was the only cause of the accident. Since Tennessee is a comparative fault state, determining the percentages of liability for each party involved can take time.
- Court orders. Many jurisdictions require accident victims and defendants to participate in mediation and settlement conferences as part of the civil court case process. If the parties involved are unwilling to compromise, retain varied recollections of what happened, or exhibit unruly behavior against one another in court, the judge may order additional conferencing, depositions, or mediation which can drastically prolong a case.
If you have questions or concerns about when you should pursue an injury claim, don’t allow yourself to be bamboozled or sweet-talked by empty promises and manipulations. Contact our motorcycle accident attorneys today and see how we value your time and trust more than your pocketbook. Call us today to schedule your FREE case review and see how we can help you build a strong and viable claim.
GriffithLaw has extensive experience helping motorcycle riders receive compensation for their injuries. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, please call our Franklin law firm today.
Is Motorcycle Lane Splitting Legal in Tennessee?
Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation in Tennessee. In fact, there are more than 160,000 registered motorcycles in the state, with more riders taking to the road every year. In addition to in-state bikes, thousands of out-of-state riders weave down our scenic roadways on their way across the country. Unfortunately, whether local or not, an increase of motorcycles on the road ultimately increases traffic risks.
You don’t have to be an avid rider to know that motorcyclists are at an increased risk of injury over drivers of cars and trucks. In the event of a collision, a motorcyclist is ten times more likely to be severely injured than a motorist. Furthermore, certain maneuvers that motorcyclists employ can increase the risk of a collision, which in turn, increases their own risk of injury. One of these risky maneuvers is known as lane splitting.
What Is Lane Splitting?
This maneuver, also referred to as "lane sharing" or "filtering," occurs when a motorcyclist rides next to traffic, between the designated lanes. Therefore, rather than pulling up behind a car, lane splitting allows bikers to pull over next to the car and use the median between the lanes as their personal motorcycle lane.
When performed intelligently and safely, lane splitting can help decrease traffic congestion and rear-end motorcycle collisions. However, when performed recklessly, this maneuver can cause confusion, road rage, and serious collision risks due to the proximity of the cars to the motorcycle, reduced maneuvering space, and the failure of drivers to expect a motorcyclist next to him.
Although the practice is common in many countries around the world, the United States isn’t as open to the idea of lane sharing.
Lane Splitting Laws in Tennessee
In the U.S., California is the only state that permits lane splitting due to its large motorcycle population and overwhelming traffic back-ups. However, as more bikers take to the streets and traffic congestion increases across the nation, riders from all over the country are urging legislators to remove restrictions on lane splitting.
In 2015, a bill known as Tennessee House Bill 1102, was introduced to the Tennessee House of Representatives. This bill, if passed, would allow motorcyclists to operate between lanes of traffic when needed. The bill laid out reasons why lane splitting would be beneficial to the state’s road system by listing the following advantages, which were gathered by the American Motorcycle Association:
- Increased visibility. Motorists will be better equipped to see motorcyclists. Since the motorcyclists will move between vehicles, drivers will be able to see them more clearly in their side mirrors, than if they were swerving in-and-out of blind spots in the rear.
- Increased focus. Motorcyclists will be more alert. Since lane splitting will decrease a motorcyclist’s shifting and braking during stop-and-go traffic, he’ll be less likely to become fatigued.
- Decreased traffic and traffic-related injuries. Since motorcyclists will no longer be spending wasted time in traffic, backups will decrease and exposure injuries, such as heatstroke and exhaust exposure, will also decrease.
- Decreased rear-end collisions. Since visibility will improve, rear-end collisions that are caused by a failure to recognize a motorcycle’s presence would no longer be an issue.
Unfortunately, before the bill could gain traction, and despite numerous pleas by local motorcyclists, the bill died before it made it to its first reading.
For more information on Tennessee motorcycle laws, safety, and personal injury, feel free to browse our extensive collection of articles and legal resources. To get started, click this link to learn more about Tennessee motorcycle, moped, and scooter laws.
GriffithLaw Protects the Rights of Tennessee Motorcyclists
If you are a motorcyclist who was injured by a careless driver in Tennessee, the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at GriffithLaw are here to help. We stand up for motorcycle riders against unfair insurance adjusters and biased juries by presenting the biker’s side of the story. You can trust us to fully investigate your accident and to protect your rights in a settlement or a jury trial. Call us today for a free review of your case at (615) 807-7900.
When can my child ride on my motorcycle with me?
In Tennessee, riders can begin learning to drive a motorcycle at the age of sixteen. Special permits can be awarded to eager fifteen-year-olds as well. However, there is no age minimum to be a passenger on a licensed rider’s motorcycle.
Motorcycle Passenger Laws
Tennessee law doesn’t mandate a minimum age to be a passenger. In other words, as long as the motorcycle and its riders fulfill the following safety requirements, children can legally ride on a motorcycle as long as they’re not controlling it:
- Seats. When passengers are involved, the motorcycle must have a permanent two-person seat, a permanent additional rear seat, or an attachable sidecar.
- Position. When passengers are present, all seats must be positioned to face forward, and all riders must face forward with one leg on either side of the motorcycle.
- View. Passengers, no matter their age, must not be situated in such a way that distracts the operator or obstructs his view.
- Helmet. Tennessee law requires all riders and passengers to wear helmets, no matter age, experience, or circumstance.
- Height. Though state law doesn’t mandate an age requirement, it does specify a height requirement. A child under the age of sixteen is allowed to ride as a passenger provided his feet can comfortably reach the motorcycle’s footpegs/footrests. The only exception to this rule is when the child is riding in a sidecar, where footrests are not mandated.
Violation of any of these requirements, by operator or passenger, can result in a Class C misdemeanor, and result in fines and potential license suspension.
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How much is my motorcycle case worth?
One of the first questions a lawyer is asked by a motorcycle accident victim is, “How much is my case worth?” This is a legitimate question. After all, no one wants to put the time, effort, and anxiety into pursuing a case when the outcome is going to be less than a week’s wages. However, when you ask a lawyer this question, his answer will ultimately give you insight into whether or not he’s a reliable attorney. In fact, it doesn’t matter how much he may say, if he gives you any monetary value, the thing to do is to walk away.
Why? Because he’s promising you something that he may not be able to deliver.
Factors That Affect a Claim’s Worth
The truth of the matter is, when it comes to personal injury claims, there is no set amount of money that any lawyer can promise. Therefore, when you ask an attorney how much your claim is worth, the only truthful answer he can give is an average of his past cases that may have been similar to yours. However, without knowing all the facts of your case, there’s no way to even speculate how much of a settlement your particular case may be awarded.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be completely left in the dark on whether or not to pursue your claim. Rather than manipulate you by making promises he can’t keep, a reliable attorney will sit you down and discuss the factors of a claim that dictate compensation. These factors include:
- Injury severity. When pursuing an injury claim, the main focus of the claim should be to compensate you for the medical costs associated with your injuries. If your injuries are minor and required little treatment, your settlement will be smaller than if your injuries were severe.
- Liability. Tennessee is a modified-comparative negligence state. Therefore, the percentage of fault is important to determine how much compensation you’re entitled to. Depending on how the judge or jury determines fault, you may be awarded 100% of the designated settlement amount, or you could be found liable for your own injuries and awarded zero percent of the settlement.
- Pain and suffering. In addition to physical injuries, a motorcycle accident claim can also factor in emotional stress and quality of life damages. Although difficult to prove and hard to categorize for monetary value, these damages can range from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars depending on their outcome.
- Recovery expenses. The easiest calculation for part of your settlement deals with your recovery expenses. These expenses include hospital bills, necessary physical therapy expenses, and any long-term care that may be required. Since these expenses have an actual price tag, they can be added up to create a good starting point for determining your case’s overall worth.
- Recovery losses. Recovery losses refer to monetary, emotional, and life-altering damages that resulted as a direct consequence of your injuries. For example, lost wages for not being able to work, or lost relationships due to mood swings brought on by accident-related post-traumatic stress disorder.
We Value Clients Over Promises
If you have questions or concerns about whether you should pursue an injury claim, don’t allow yourself to be taken in by a lie or exaggeration. The last thing you need is to have an attorney promise you something he can’t deliver. Contact our Motorcycle accident lawyers in Franklin to see how we value you more than the prospect of your business. We want to secure the best settlement for your claim, but we won’t manipulate you with ridiculous expectations just to secure a commission. You and your claim are worth more than that. Call us today to schedule your FREE case review and see how we can help you build a strong and viable claim.
What if I was partially at fault for my motorcycle accident?
Your eligibility for motorcycle accident compensation depends on the state you live in. In some states, riders are bound by the system of contributory negligence, and cannot get any recovery for an accident if they were even 1% responsible. Tennessee used to be one of these states, but in 1992 we abandoned contributory negligence in favor of a comparative fault system, which allows riders and drivers to recover damages based on their percentage of blame for the crash.
You Can Still Recover Damages If You Are Partially at Fault for a Tennessee Motorcycle Crash
Tennessee’s modified comparative fault system allows a person to recover damages as long as they are less at fault than the opposing party. As long as you are less than 50% to blame, you may still pursue a case against the other party. The amount of money you are awarded will likely be limited if you are partly to blame, but as motorcycle accidents may have damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, partial compensation can still make a big difference in your recovery.
Proving fault can be difficult in the aftermath of a crash. Many victims are not sure who was more at fault, while others may have made mistakes at the scene that make it seem as if they are to blame. The percentage of blame in all accident cases will be assigned by the jury in the case, and it will all depend on the evidence.
Some of the most important pieces of evidence in a crash case include:
- The police report. Documents from reputable third parties are usually given more weight in court than the opinions of the people involved. The account from the officers, medical responders, and witnesses on the scene can show the jury the aftermath of the crash from law enforcement’s point of view.
- Medical evidence. Reports and medical records show the extent of a victim’s injuries, including the surgeries he or she had to go through and the expected recovery times and losses the victim sustained.
- Expert testimony. Your attorney may request the testimony of medical experts to demonstrate the extent of your physical limitations after the crash and hire crash reconstruction experts to walk the jury through the crash as it happened.
Our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys can help collect and develop the facts of your case, getting you proper compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact our injury law firm today.
What are my options after being injured as a passenger in a motorcycle accident?
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident, you're entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, the first step in your personal injury claim will be determining who is liable for the incident.
Who Is Liable for a Motorcycle Passenger's Injuries?
Determining who is liable for a passenger's injuries depends upon the circumstances of the accident. Possibilities may include:
- Motorcycle operator. If the motorcycle was the only vehicle involved in the accident or the operator was responsible for causing a multi-vehicle accident, your claim will most likely be against the person you were riding with.
- Driver of the other vehicle. If another driver caused the accident, his insurance should pay for your injuries.
- Both the motorcycle operator and the other driver. If both parties are found partially at fault for the accident, it may be possible to file two claims to receive full coverage for your damages.
- Motorcycle manufacturer. If a defect in the motorcycle caused the accident, you can sue the manufacturer for your injuries.
- Motorcycle mechanic. If the motorcycle wasn't repaired correctly and faulty brakes or other mechanical problems contributed to the accident, the mechanic or owner of the repair shop may be responsible for your damages.
- State, county, city, or town. When a motorcycle accident is caused by potholes or other road defects, the agency responsible for maintaining the roads can be held financially liable.
Accident reports, witness testimony, and experts who specialize in accident reconstruction can be used to help determine liability for your injuries.
In most cases, passengers aren't considered at fault for their own injuries. However, if you were riding with an operator you knew was impaired or otherwise unqualified, the insurance company might try to argue that you're partially responsible for your damages. You might also be found partially at fault if you made any sort of sudden movement that jeopardized the operator's ability to safely control the motorcycle. Fortunately, you can still collect compensation for your damages as long as you are found to be less than 50% responsible for the accident.
Protect Your Legal Rights
Griffith Law is committed to helping injured passengers receive compensation for their motorcycle accident injuries. To learn more or schedule a free, no-obligation case review, please call our Franklin law firm at 615-807-7900 .