How Are Motorcycle Accidents Different from Car Accidents

Although motorcycle and car accidents are similar in that they can both result in property damage and personal injuries, there can be different issues involved when making personal injury claims due primarily to the differences between the two types of motor vehicles.

Persons on motorcycles are generally considered at higher risk for injuries because motorcycles offer riders no protection in the event of a crash. As a result, a perception exists that people riding motorcycles are engaging in dangerous behavior, and those injured can encounter bias when claiming damages.

Motorcyclists are subject to specific traffic laws intended to try to make motorcycle riding safe and limit accidents. Violations of motorcycle laws can affect a motorcycle accident investigation and may impact the ability to recover compensation.

Difference Between Motorcycle and Car Accident Lawsuits

There are several distinct differences between motorcycle and car accident lawsuits. The inherent risks of riding a motorcycle are often used unfairly against riders. In addition, the legal components of fault and negligence are more challenging in motorcycle accident lawsuits.

Motorcycle Riders Can Face Unfair Blame for Their Injuries

The dangers of motorcycle riding can generate a bias toward riders. Movies and television reinforce how we think of motorcycle riders – in terms of the kind of people they are and how they drive. For drivers of larger vehicles, motorcycles may pose an additional driving risk as they can be hard to see and can move swiftly in traffic due to their small size.

These perceptions create a negative bias toward motorcycle riders that does not exist for the occupants of passenger cars. This bias can make it harder for persons injured in motorcycle accidents to receive the compensation they have a legal right to collect.

Anticipating there may be bias and taking affirmative steps to address the issues early on can help focus attention on the merits of an injury claim and move the process toward an equitable resolution.

Compliance with Motorcycle Laws can Influence the Fault

There is nothing about a motorcycle that protects against injury. States have tried to legislate motorcycle safety and have met with mixed reactions.

In Nevada, the same general rules of the road apply to both cars and motorcycles. However, motorcyclists have a few special requirements when using the state’s roadways.

  • Helmets and eye protection must be worn at all times.
  • Motorcycles may not travel next to or pass another vehicle in the same lane.
  • Motorcycles may not travel between lanes even if traffic is stopped.
  • Lane-splitting is illegal (i.e., the practice of riding between vehicles and lanes of traffic).

Violating a specific motorcycle law will not bar an injured motorcyclist from making a personal injury claim against other at-fault drivers. However, it can affect the amount of compensation that may be recovered.

Suppose a motorcyclist was riding illegally between lanes of traffic and was injured when hit by a car attempting to change lanes. In that case, the motorcyclist may be found at fault for contributing to the accident. The amount of fault attributed to the motorcyclist will proportionately reduce the compensation that can be recovered. If more than 50%, it will bar recovery altogether.

Even if a law violation does not contribute to causing an accident, it can still affect the damages awarded. For example, failing to wear a motorcycle helmet may not cause a motorcycle accident; however, if the claim is for head injuries, not wearing a helmet may limit the available compensation to the extent that wearing a helmet could have minimized or prevented the injuries.

Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits Tend to Have Higher Financial Stakes

Motorcycle riders suffer a disproportionate amount of injuries in a traffic accident, leading to higher claim values. Motorcyclists are exposed to the full force of a collision, often suffering two impact injuries. Bikers sustain injuries with the initial hit by a passenger car or truck. When the motorcycle rider lands on the ground, that is considered the second impact.

Bearing the brunt of a motorcycle accident can lead to catastrophic damage, often requiring the expertise of Reno brain injury lawyers. Catastrophic injuries are characterized as permanent, life-long conditions. For example, many motorcycle accident survivors sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI). A TBI can cause permanent brain damage, limiting cognitive and physical abilities.

Having life-long limitations may require specialized medical care, equipment, and home modifications. Long-term care can be expensive, driving up the true value of a claim. When there are higher financial states, insurance companies are less likely to settle. Instead, they may choose to fight the true worth of an accident claim in court.

How Do Car Accidents Compare to Motorcycle Accidents?

Car accidents occur more frequently than motorcycle accidents, but the losses are typically less severe due to the differences in the size of the vehicles and the occupant protections built into cars.

Motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in fatalities or severe injuries because motorcycles offer no protection to riders when crashes occur. Motorcycle accident investigations will include an inquiry into whether laws specific to motorcycle riders were violated.

Property Damage is More Severe in Motorcycle Accidents

More specifically, the damage to motorcycles is often more severe in motorcycle accidents with cars. Motorcycles are much smaller than cars and weigh significantly less; the average car weighs about 4 times what a motorcycle weighs. The weight difference causes the force from impact to be much more damaging to the smaller vehicle.

Motorcycles are also less stable than cars because they are on two wheels instead of four. When impact with a car occurs, a motorcycle is more likely to get knocked over and sometimes even run over by the larger vehicle, which can cause significant damage to the bike.

Motorcycle Accident Injuries are More Severe

Car accidents occur more frequently than motorcycle accidents because, statistically, there are more cars on the roads than motorcycles. However, the injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents can be much more significant than may occur in a car accident.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that per vehicle mile traveled in 2020, motorcycle riders were 28 times more likely to die in traffic crashes than the occupants of passenger cars. There were 5,579 motorcycle fatalities in 2020 — the highest number recorded in the last 45 years. Motorcycle fatalities represented about 14% of all fatal traffic accidents.

Motorcycle fatalities in Nevada tend to represent a higher percentage of the total traffic fatalities in the state than the national average. Between 2015 and 2019, there were 1,477 fatal traffic crashes in Nevada. Motorcycle accidents accounted for almost 20% of the fatalities.

How a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Can Help You

Nevada is attractive to motorcycle enthusiasts for its wide-open roads and stunningly beautiful vistas. Local events in the state put even more bikes on our roads during certain times of the year. Unfortunately, having more motorcycles on the roads means an increased chance of accidents involving motorcycles.

People injured in motorcycle accidents can have a more difficult time than those injured in car accidents. Not only may their damages be more severe, but they may be under increased scrutiny when it comes to determining fault for the accident.

Getting a motorcycle accident attorney on your side early in the process can help you anticipate insurance company tactics and compel the insurance company to hold up its end of the bargain.

Why Choose Leverty & Associates after a Motorcycle Accident?

After being injured in a motorcycle accident, you may have the right to collect compensation for damages, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to convince an insurance company to pay what you are entitled to. When you are at your most vulnerable, an insurance company can and will use the advantages of size and experience to their benefit.

At Leverty & Associates, we understand insurance practices and we know insurance contracts. If an insurance company is trying to get out of paying a legitimate claim, we will do what it takes to make sure insurance companies are held accountable to their policyholders.

With more than 50 years of combined legal experience, the personal injury and insurance law lawyers at Leverty & Associates continue to serve clients throughout Nevada with confidence and compassion.

Where to Get Help after a Motorcycle Accident in Nevada

Motorcycle accident claims can involve issues that are unique to riding a motorcycle.  Injured motorcycle riders need to be prepared to prove the lawful operation of their bike and adequate preservation of their own safety in order to avoid fault for the accident and to receive compensation for all their damages.

The Reno motorcycle accident lawyer at Leverty & Associates understand the challenges that motorcyclists can face when trying to recover damages after an accident. Our detail-oriented legal team makes insurance companies look at the facts and then pay our clients according to their legal obligation.

For a free consultation with an attorney in our Reno or Las Vegas offices, contact Leverty & Associates today at 775-322-6636 (Reno) or 702-507-0201 (Las Vegas).

Attorney Patrick Leverty

Attorney Patrick LevertyWith his master’s in insurance law, Patrick routinely helps individuals and businesses who are having issues with their insurance company. He also has extensive experience with personal injury actions, complex tort actions, product liability matters, and class actions. Patrick Leverty is rated AV by Martindale Hubbell (the highest rating) and has been granted membership in the Million Dollar Advocate Forum, and Multi-Million Dollar Advocate Forum. Patrick Leverty has been certified as a Personal Injury Specialist by the State Bar of Nevada. [ Attorney Bio ]