Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Riding a motorcycle comes with inherent risks. First and foremost, a motorcycle has no protection for the rider. Motorcycles are smaller than regular vehicles, making it harder for other motorists to see them on the road.
The small size of motorcycles relative to passenger cars and trucks also means that motorcyclists are disproportionately affected by the force of impact in a crash. Hence, motorcycle accidents often lead to severe injuries and, in worst cases, the riders’ death.
Did you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident? In that case, you may be entitled to financial compensation from responsible parties.
Contact the Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyers at Injury Lawyers Team, sponsored by Rosenfeld Law Offices, for a free consultation.
What Makes Motorcycles Dangerous?
Before you buy a motorcycle, you must be aware of the inherent hazards that come with riding, including:
- Less Protection: A motorcyclist has far less protection than a driver or passenger in a car and is more vulnerable to catastrophic injuries in an accident. No airbags, seatbelts, or roofs protect a rider from direct impact with objects or obstacles, increasing the risk of severe injuries and fatal motorcycle accidents.
- Less Stability: Even the smallest obstacles on the road like gravel and leaves can cause a rider to lose balance or skid, increasing the risk of a catastrophic accident. Improper braking, driving with one hand, and speeding can cause a motorcyclist to lose control and crash.
- Less Visibility: It is more challenging for other drivers to see motorcyclists sharing the road, increasing the risk of a motorcycle accident. Many motorcycles are small enough to be virtually invisible in vehicles’ blind spots, and one wrong move can result in a fatal accident.
Prevalence of Motorcycle Accidents
According to the National Safety Council, motorcycle accidents will result in 5,579 deaths and 82,500 injuries in 2020. They also found:
- More than half (61%) of motorcycle accidents occur on urban roads.
- Approximately 52% of accidents involved two vehicles.
- About 58% of motorcycle crash victims wore helmets.
- A large portion (27%) of accidents involved alcohol-impaired drivers.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Negligence is the leading cause of motorcycle accidents in all states. The following are the most common negligence-related causes of motorcycle crashes in Indianapolis:
- Distracted Driving: Driving requires utmost concentration, even more so when riding a motorcycle. Texting, eating, and talking while driving can take away a driver’s attention from the road and prevent them from reacting to dangerous situations in time.
- Drunk Driving: Driving while drunk or high diminishes a driver’s concentration, coordination, and reaction time, increasing the risk of an accident.
- Aggressive Driving: Speeding, swerving, tailgating, and other aggressive driving behaviors can put a driver and everyone else on the road at risk. These actions can lead to a driver losing control of the vehicle, failing to react to a dangerous situation, and triggering road rage in other motorists.
- Drowsy Driving: Driving while tired or sleepy is a leading cause of fatal accidents. A tired driver risks falling asleep at the wheel, colliding with other vehicles, or veering off the road.
- Failure to Obey Traffic Rules: Running red lights, making illegal turns, failing to yield to oncoming traffic, and other traffic violations increase the chances of a motorcycle crash, be it on the part of a car driver or a rider.
Other common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Inclement Weather: Rain, snow, and fog reduce road visibility and make pavements slippery. A car or motorcycle can easily slip on the road and crash into another vehicle without proper caution.
- Poor Road Conditions: Two-wheelers are less stable than four-wheelers, making even the most minor obstacles dangerous. A motorcyclist, especially an inexperienced one, can quickly lose control of their bike if they drive over rough roads, uneven pavement, and potholes.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Poorly maintained cars and motorcycles make roads more dangerous. A car can cause an accident with a malfunctioning taillight, tire blowout, or faulty brakes. Similarly, a motorcycle can cause a crash with an overheated engine, defective tires, bad brakes, and other mechanical issues.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycle riders are more prone to serious injuries in an accident than vehicle occupants. The following are the most common injuries our lawyers see when working with motorcycle accident clients:
- Head and Neck Injuries: Motorcyclists can suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and other forms of head trauma in crashes, even while wearing a helmet. Common head injuries include concussions, contusions, and skull fractures. Fatal accidents involving objects penetrating the skull result in severe brain injuries, which can cause instant death.
- Fractures: A motorcycle accident victim can get thrown off their bike in a crash and land on a hard object, such as a car or the road, often resulting in broken bones.
- Road Rash: Many motorcycle owners often wear thick, full-coverage clothing to avoid abrasions caused by sliding across the pavement in case of an accident. Most motorcycle accidents lead to mild cases of road rash that require little medical attention. However, severe rashes beyond multiple layers of skin usually require surgery and additional care.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Damage to the spinal cord can lead to severe complications, such as chronic pain,, and, in worst cases–permanent paralysis.
- Internal Injuries: Severe blunt trauma to the body can injure internal organs (e.g., spleen, liver, kidneys) and lead to internal bleeding, organ failure, and death.
- Amputation: Severe motorcycle crashes can result in instant limb loss or serious injuries requiring amputation.
- Crushing Injuries: Motorcyclists have virtually no protection between their bodies and other objects in a crash. The pressure can damage muscle tissue, internal organs, and nerves if caught between two hard objects (e.g., a vehicle and a road barrier).
What to Do if You Get into a Motorcycle Accident
No matter how careful you are as a rider, there is no guarantee that other motorists will be as cautious as you. Hence, it pays to know what to do if you ever get into a motorcycle accident:
- Get to a Safe Area: If you are in the middle of the road, try to move yourself and your motorcycle to the sidewalk to avoid further collisions. Stay where you are if traffic is moving too fast for you to cross safely.
- Call the Authorities: Call 911, and be sure to ask for an ambulance if you or another individual needs immediate medical treatment. The police will also arrive at the scene and assist.
- Document the Scene: Try to document the accident scene before leaving if you are able. Take pictures and videos of the location, the vehicles involved, and your injuries. Obtain the details of all drivers involved in the crash and possible witnesses (names, phone numbers, addresses, etc.).
- Go to the Hospital: Regardless of the severity of your injuries, go to a doctor for a proper assessment. Doing so will ensure you have a record of your injuries, even if they manifest in physical signs later.
- Monitor Your Injuries: Keep a record of your motorcycle accident injuries, ongoing emotional trauma, financial losses (medical bills, lost wages, motorcycle repair costs), and other effects you experience following the accident.
- Contact a Lawyer: Call an Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorney to ensure you receive fair compensation for your damages. Avoid sharing the details of your accident with anyone else other than your lawyer, especially insurance companies.
To avoid legal difficulties, do not admit fault or discuss the details of your accident with anyone except your lawyer.
Furthermore, do not sign any documents to the at-fault driver’s insurance company or provide recorded statements. Anything you say can be used against you and prevent you from recovering fair compensation.
Who May Be Held Liable for Your Motorcycle Accident?
Every motorist has a legal duty to prevent injury to others. This obligation includes driving carefully and following traffic laws. Failure to comply with this responsibility can result in a serious motorcycle accident, which could be punishable under personal injury law.
Liable parties in your motorcycle wreck can include:
An automobile driver could be liable if the accident occurs due to negligence. You could sue them for negligent acts, such as:
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive driving
- Intoxicated driving
- Illegal turning
- Failure to yield when required
- Failure to adjust to road conditions
If you were involved in a car accident involving a commercial vehicle, you could file a legal claim against the negligent driver’s employer. Most employers extend their liability insurance to drivers, meaning filing a claim against a business entity’s insurance provider is possible.
Your settlement may be higher if the at-fault driver’s employer also committed negligence that contributed to the accident, such as:
- Negligent hiring practices
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance
- Improper driver training
- Lack of safety equipment
- Improper cargo loading
- Overscheduling, leading to overfatigued drivers
Aside from negligent drivers, pedestrians can also play a role in motorcycle crashes. Pedestrian-related negligence can include:
- Crossing the road while distracted
- Darting out onto the road
- Walking in restricted areas (e.g., medians)
These acts can force a motorcycle to swerve to avoid hitting a pedestrian, possibly leading to a collision with another vehicle or a skidding incident.
Another Motorcycle Rider
Motorcycle riders have the same level of responsibility as car drivers in maintaining the safety of everyone. If a fellow rider acts negligently and causes your accident, you should hold them responsible.
Local Government Entity
Government agencies responsible for maintaining those roads could be liable for victims’ damages if a motorcycle accident occurs due to hazardous road conditions.
Indiana citizens cannot sue the government because of sovereign immunity, which protects government entities from liability in various situations. Unfortunately, these situations include:
- Temporary road or property conditions caused by weather
- Highway or roadway design or maintenance, as long as the road is “reasonably safe”
Nevertheless, you may still be able to seek compensation from the government. For state claims, you must fill out a Notice of Tort Claim for property damage or personal injury with the Attorney General’s office within 270 days. Damages may be capped at $700,000 for each individual and $5 million for all parties involved.
For local or municipal claims, you must submit your Notice of Tort Claim to the government agency being sued within 180 days.
What if You Are Also at Fault For the Accident?
Indiana follows the “modified comparative fault” rule in personal injury cases, also known as the “51% fault” system (Indiana Code Title 34. Civil Law and Procedure § 34-51-2-5). In this legal system, the injured party can file a legal claim against the defendant even if they contributed to the incident. However, the degree of the fault must be less than 51%.
For example, a car driver crashes into a motorcycle after making an illegal turn. However, the motorcyclist was speeding at the time of the accident, which exacerbated the crash. The car driver may share most of the fault, but the motorcyclist could also be partially liable.
If you somehow contributed to the collision, the court may reduce your compensation in proportion to your contribution to negligence. For instance, if the court finds you 10% at fault for the incident, it will reduce your payment by 10%.
Filing a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Most motorcycle accidents happen due to negligence by a car driver, a pedestrian, or another motorcyclist. In any case, you have the legal right to pursue damages against at-fault parties by filing a personal injury claim.
To have a viable case, you must prove:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you (everyone has a duty of care to prevent injury to others within reason)
- The defendant breached this duty of care
- This breach resulted in the accident
- The accident directly led to your injuries and other losses
Your Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorney will start your case by collecting evidence proving the at-fault driver’s liability. Potential forms of evidence include:
- Documentation of the accident scene
- Police reports
- Surveillance and dash cam footage
- Jury verdicts (if the police charge the driver with a criminal traffic violation)
- Witness accounts
In addition, your lawyer will need to prove the extent of your damages. Supporting documents may include:
- Photos of injuries
- Medical records
- Psychological evaluations
- Medical bills
- Motorcycle repair invoices
- Records of missed workdays
- Autopsy reports, in case of wrongful death
An experienced lawyer can help you recover compensation for the following losses:
- Medical Bills: Compensation for treatment costs, including hospitalization, medication, surgery, and anticipated future medical treatment.
- Disability: Compensation for disability-related damages if you become permanently disabled from the accident. These damages may include loss of future earning capacity, mobility aid expenses, and rehabilitation.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and non-physical injuries, including physical pain, emotional distress, mental trauma, etc.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for wages and income lost while recovering from your injuries or caring for an injured loved one.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality of life lost following the accident.
- Property Damage: Compensation for personal property lost or damaged in the accident.
- Wrongful Death: Compensation for death-related damages if your loved one dies in a motorcycle accident, including funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical expenses, and grief.
Settlement values for personal injury claims vary from case to case. During your free case evaluation, your Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer will estimate the potential value of your damages to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
Reaching an Insurance Settlement
The defendant’s insurance company may offer you a settlement after you file a claim. Unfortunately, many insurance adjusters lowball offers to victims to avoid paying more than they have to spend. Some will also use tactics to get you to accept a lowball offer, such as not responding to calls or telling you there is no time to consult a lawyer.
Never accept an offer from an insurance company without consulting a motorcycle accident attorney. Once you accept the payment, you can no longer sue for additional damages.
Have your Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer negotiate with the defendant’s insurance provider. Our attorneys are well-versed in dealing with insurers, having helped thousands of claimants recover just compensation for their injuries.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
Unfortunately, negotiations don’t always work. Your Indianapolis motorcycle accident lawyer could help you file a lawsuit if:
- The defendant refuses to make a fair offer
- The insurance company denied your claim
- The defendant denies responsibility for your accident
- Negotiations with the insurer have stalled
- The extent of your damages exceeds the maximum payable amount of the negligent party’s insurance policy
Once you file a lawsuit, your case will go to civil court. The judge and jury will examine the case’s circumstances, evidence, and witness to determine a verdict.
You can negotiate a settlement until the jury determines the outcome of your case. If the defendant thinks you have a higher chance of winning, they may offer you a fairer settlement.
Our motorcycle accident lawyers can also help you pursue other legal options, such as arbitration or mediation, to avoid the complexities of a lawsuit.
Statute of Limitations
According to Indiana Law, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is two years from the date of the incident (Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4).
How an Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help
Motorcycle accident victims often need the help of experienced lawyers to recover damages from at-fault drivers. Personal injury law can be challenging to navigate, insurance companies often make negotiations complicated, and defendants will likely try to blame victims.
For these reasons, an injured motorcyclist needs an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who will:
- Determine how and why the accident happened
- Establish the liability of at-fault parties
- Gather evidence to support your claim
- File a claim on your behalf
- Negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company
- File a motorcycle accident lawsuit in civil court, if necessary
Talk to an Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
Motorcyclists are more prone to serious injury than drivers in motor vehicles, even when wearing helmets. What’s even more unfortunate is that most motorcycle collisions stem from the negligence of other drivers.
Did you suffer a traumatic injury or lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident? If so, you could be entitled to financial compensation from at-fault parties.
Contact our personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our motorcycle accident lawyers handle all motorcycle accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.
- National Safety Council – Motorbike Accident Injury Statistics
- UC San Diego – Motorbikes Riskier Than Cars