If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in North Carolina, you need a personal injury lawyer on your side to get the compensation you need to recover from your damages. Contact DeMayo Law Offices today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case!
Motorcycles offer a sense of freedom on the open road but for what they offer in terms of enjoyment, they lack in safety. Their small size offers very little protection. Motorcycle accidents are deadlier than car accidents. So for a motorcyclist, an accident is more likely to result in catastrophic injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,985 motorcyclists lost their lives in a motorcycle accident in 2019. You might assume this is because all motorcycle drivers are young, reckless men who give little thought to safety, but you’d be wrong.
Figures from the 1970s showed that roughly 80% of those killed in motorcycle accidents were 29 years old or younger. That changed a few years ago. Since 2009, more fatalities occur in motorcycle users over the age of 50 than any other age group. The average age of a motorcycle driver death keeps climbing. In 2008, it was 40, while by 2017, it increased to 42.
There is a correlation between certain age groups and the likelihood of them being involved in a fatal crash, but it’s not the only factor. Helmets are another. In states without helmet laws, officials reported that more than half of the 2017 motorcycle accident casualties were not wearing a helmet at the time of their accident. Meanwhile, in states with mandatory helmet laws, eight percent of motorcyclists involved in crashes died, according to the NHTSA.
North Carolina does require all motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear a helmet, but some new motorcyclists don’t take the responsibility as seriously as they should. In reality, all it takes is a little common sense, caution, and good reasoning skills to avoid the most common kinds of accidents.
That said, you always have to factor in the potential for an accident to come out of nowhere, caused by the negligence of another driver and giving the motorcyclist little to no time to react. The good news is if you or a loved one have suffered an accident, our North Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys are here to help.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Three-fourths of all motorcycle accidents involve a passenger vehicle. In many cases, the accident happens when the driver of the car or truck fails to see the motorcyclist. In other accidents, the driver may see the motorcyclist and fail to yield right-of-way or misinterpret the motorcyclists’ intentions.
When we help the victims of motorcycle accidents, we often see accidents caused by:
- The driver of a passenger vehicle failing to check their blind spots or surroundings. This can happen when they’re changing lanes or pulling into/out of a parking spot.
- Drivers tailgating motorcyclists. A motorcycle is lighter than a car, but they brake at the same rate. Drivers behind motorcyclists must leave the same distance as they would if a car were in front of them.
- Passenger vehicles turning in front of a motorcycle. Again, drivers should not assume that a motorcyclist can stop on a dime.
- Drivers who are distracted by the radio, a cell phone, or other passengers.
Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents
Since motorcycles don’t offer very much protection, severe injuries are more common than you might think. These injuries can cause massive damage. In some cases, they can be life-altering. If you were in a motorcycle accident and sustained any kind of injury, you may be able to recover damages for your time away from work, medical bills, and emotional trauma.
Some of the most common injuries we see from motorcycle accidents are:
- Broken Bones
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Road Rash
- Muscle Tears
- Neck and Back Injuries
- Partial or Complete Paralysis
- Internal Bleeding
- Organ Damage
- Spinal Cord Injuries
After a Motorcycle Accident
The most important thing you can do if you are in a motorcycle accident is to not panic. As adrenaline runs through your body, it can be difficult to determine your level of injury. If you’ve sustained a neck or back injury, you may not realize it and could make it worse by moving around. Give yourself a few moments and assess the damage before you get up.
If you’re able to stand or walk, chances are you will be in shock. In this state, it can be hard to make rational decisions. Below are some tips for what to do and what not to do after a motorcycle accident:
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident:
- Call for help. Call 9-1-1 if you are seriously injured. You should at least call your local non-emergency number to let them know about the accident.
- Find a Safe Place. If you are mobile and your bike can be moved safely, do so. If you are on a highway or interstate, it’s a good idea to get as far away from the flow of traffic as possible.
- Look for Witnesses. You may find someone who saw whole accident or someone who only saw part of it. Either way, witnesses can be critical factors in a court case.
- Take Pictures and Make Notes. Take pictures of every angle of the scene, your bike, your injuries, and any other vehicles involved. Note the time of day, weather conditions, your location, and the events leading up to the accident as you remember them unfolding.
- Get to a Doctor. It’s common for you to sustain injuries without realizing it. It can’t hurt to see a doctor who can look you over.
- Call Your Insurance Company. File a claim so they have a record of the incident. File a claim with the other driver’s insurer as well.
- Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney. Experienced injury attorneys can help take the burden of an accident off your shoulders and help you get life back on track.
What NOT to Do After a Motorcycle Accident:
- Never Leave the Scene. Only do so if you’re being taken away in an ambulance to receive emergency medical treatment.
- Don’t Speak to the Other Driver. You may say something that could compromise your case.
- Keep Away from Insurance Adjusters. They are not out to help you. If they contact you, refer them to your attorney.
- Keep Your Opinions to Yourself. Share them only with your lawyer. Expressing your theories or speculations about who caused the motorcycle accident while still at the scene only has the potential to hurt you more.
- Never Accept Settlements. Talk to your lawyer first. Many insurance companies will offer a low-ball settlement that is far less than what you are entitled to by law.
- Don’t Give a Recorded Statement. Don’t let anyone bully you into giving a recorded statement without the help of your legal counsel.
- Don’t Worry. The motorcycle accident lawyers at DeMayo Law Offices are here to help as best we can.
Frequently Asked Questions About Motorcycle Accidents
At DeMayo Law Offices, L.L.P., we get a lot of questions about motorcycle accidents, especially when bikers or their families are just trying to figure out their next steps. Here are some of the frequently asked questions our motorcycle accident attorneys answer:
What does North Carolina require for a motorcycle to be considered legal?
According to North Carolina state laws, a motorcycle must have the following to be considered legal:
- A horn that can be heard within a 200-foot radius
- A speedometer, exhaust system, and a passenger footrest
- A headlight that is operational at all times and illuminates 200 feet of road
- Brake lights that are easily visible from 100 feet and a rear light visible from 500 feet
- A visible license plate
Requirements are always subject to change, so make you check the state laws regularly.
Can I still recoup damages if I was not wearing a helmet during the crash?
Maybe, but it may be difficult. In North Carolina, we operate under a strict contributory negligence doctrine that will not let you recover damages if you have any liability whatsoever for the accident. As you know, not wearing a helmet is a violation of state laws, which could cause affect your claim. Your motorcycle accident lawyer can advise you on the specifics of your case, so contact an experienced attorney if you have doubts about your case.
What can I do if the other driver was underinsured or uninsured?
When the at-fault driver only carries minimum coverage or is uninsured, we can help you file a personal injury lawsuit to try to get more money. Your attorney will work to prove the other driver’s negligence in court. Their argument will rely on documentation like the police report, your medical bills, photos of the accident scene, and any witness accounts.
How long can I wait to file a personal injury lawsuit after my motorcycle accident?
In North Carolina, there is a three-year statute of limitations on a personal injury suit. We recommend you contact an attorney as soon as possible after the motorcycle crash occurs. A competent lawyer will try to move your claim through the system as quickly as possible so that you maintain all your legal options.
If you’re unable to resolve your claim by negotiating with the insurance company, you may be able to sue for lost wages, potential future earnings, property damage, medical bills, future medical bills, and pain and suffering claims as long as you meet the three-year deadline. It pays to be proactive by contacting a motorcycle accident lawyer so you don’t lose any compensation that you may be owed.
Taking the Next Steps
Some motorcycle accidents cause serious injuries. Many more result in wrongful deaths. If your family member has been killed, you have a right to seek damages on their behalf. Money will never fill the hole caused by a loss of life, but it can help to cover funeral expenses and medical bills. You may also receive compensation for:
- Lost Wages
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Future Medical Expenses
- Loss of Benefits
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental Anguish
- Emotional Trauma
We know this process is stressful, hurtful, and disheartening. We’re here to give a helping hand, lend our compassion, and provide a shoulder to cry on, if need be. Our NC attorneys are experienced in handling motorcycle accident cases that result in injury or wrongful death. Consultations are free and we only accept payment if we win your case. We’ll fight tooth and nail to make that happen. Call us today at 1-(877) 333-1000 to schedule your appointment.
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