As mentioned previously, when it comes to motorcycle accidents involving a second motor vehicle, it is quite common that the automobile or truck driver behind the wheel of the other vehicle may actually be the negligent party. This is due to the all-too-common problem of the smaller profile that motorcycles present in traffic. And to make matters worse, a motorcyclist is at least 20 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than an occupant of a passenger car.
While not always a valid excuse, the fact is that when a driver fails to recognize a nearby rider in traffic, the potential resulting accident can turn out to be very serious to the point of being life-threatening. After a bike crash, the needed medical treatment and potential rehab, which may also be required, can add up to extensive hospital bills. A rider who incurs such costs following an accident caused by another negligent driver should consult a qualified personal injury lawyer to better understand his or her options vis-à-vis recouping those medical costs from the responsible party or parties.
As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we have the skills and training to handle motorcycle-related accident cases, which we have already established can often be due to the negligence of another driver in a car- or truck-related accident. Furthermore, it’s a fair assumption that the majority of motorcycle riders are safety conscious despite the negative stereotypes typically portrayed on television and in the movies.
In the final analysis, statistics will show that riders are involved in both minor and serious accidents; some of those crashes are fatal, life-threatening or could eventually result in long-term or permanent paralysis — this last kind of condition being the result of closed-head trauma or possibly spinal cord injury. In any case, riders must always balance their enjoyment of riding a bike ride with the ever-present risks of operating a smaller, faster vehicle in heavy traffic.
If one needs any more of a reminder, studies have shown that more than 150,000 individuals across the country are sent to the hospital every year as a result of motorcycle accidents. Take the average number of fatalities each year — nearly 5,000, based on past years — and consider that motorcyclists are about four times more like to die in a roadway crash than that of automobile drivers and passengers.
Those figures are based on 2004 statistics, which were generally worse than earlier in the ‘90s when nearly five percent of nationwide traffic deaths involved motorcycle riders (2004 saw nearly a doubling of that figure to about nine percent).
One of the more scary things is that Maryland law treats motorcycle accidents differently from car and truck wrecks. This is due to differences in insurance policy coverage between autos and bikes; for example, under Maryland law (Section 19-505(c)(2) of the Maryland Insurance Code) the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage provided to motorists by most insurance companies in cases of a car or truck accident does not apply when a person is injured on a motorcycle.
Ironically, though if one is not covered by PIP under most policies when hurt while riding a bike, if someone causes one’s bike to fall over on them while it is parked (essentially while one is a pedestrian) PIP coverage will usually apply. Oddly, motorcyclists — as consumers — might expect their insurance policies to provide good protection, here in Maryland the law tends to protect the insurance companies from loses due to motorcyclists who are injured when on the road.
Similarly, if a biker is injured by an uninsured driver, the situation is complicated when injuries are concerned. If you take a ride on another person’s bike and get into an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist, the uninsured motorist benefits provided under your own insurance policy may apply. However, if you own a motorcycle and a car on the same policy (or, even on different policies), the policy limit as provided for your bike will apply to that accident even though you may have a higher uninsured benefit on your car or truck.
The lesson, here in Maryland, would be to maintain high coverage limits — including uninsured motorist coverage — on any and all vehicles that you drive. Also, it would be advisable to contact a motorcycle accident attorney following an injury accident. Information is power, and any amount of advice is better in the long run than no advice at all.