Pittsburgh Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Despite safety innovations and campaigns designed to bring the number of road-related fatalities down to zero, the number of motorcycle accidents in Pennsylvania has actually increased over the most recent five-year period. With dozens of motorcyclists being killed in our state on a yearly basis, and dozens more being injured, it serves us well to have a conversation about what’s causing these crashes and who should be held liable when accidents result.
At the offices of Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C., our motorcycle accident lawyers know that in the blink of an eye, an accident can change your entire world. We have successfully represented individuals who have been injured through no fault of their own since 1972. If you’ve been in an accident, you can count on our Pennsylvania injury lawyers to answer your questions honestly, provide you with the advice and counsel you need, and work hard to recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.
How Motorcycle Accidents Occur
One of the most tragic facts about motorcycle accidents is that the majority of the time, these accidents are completely preventable and would not have occurred but for the negligence of one of the parties involved, or the negligence of a third party. Often, motorcycle accidents are caused by the dangerous actions of drivers of standard motor vehicles, including:
- Failing to look before changing lanes;
- Driving aggressively;
- Driving while distracted;
- Driving while impaired or fatigued;
- Failing to yield;
- Making a right- or left-hand turn into a motorcyclist’s path; or
- Otherwise operating a vehicle in a way that is unsafe.
In addition to the actions of a driver, a motorcycle accident may also be a result of adverse weather, poor road conditions, or a motorcycle/motor vehicle defect. If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident and the cause is unclear, you can count on our lawyers to thoroughly investigate the accident and determine negligence and liability.
Motorcycle Accidents and Left-Turning Cars
In today’s world where motorists have more distractions than ever before, motorcyclists are clearly at far greater risk of being involved in an accident. And one of the biggest risks they face is a car that is turning left. These incidents account for approximately 42% of all collisions that involve a motorcycle and another vehicle, and they are one of the major hazards that motorcyclists need to watch out for on the roadways.
There are several different scenarios in which an accident can happen between a motorcyclist and a left-turning car, some of the most common include:
- A vehicle attempts to make a left turn while the motorcycle is crossing straight through the intersection from the opposite direction; the driver might not see the motorcycle, or they might fail to judge the amount of space they have available to make the turn.
- A vehicle attempts to make a left turn while a motorcycle is traveling alongside them on the left side; this normally happens when drivers fail to see a motorcycle entering their blind spot, so they do not know that it is there when they try to make the turn.
- A vehicle attempts to make a left turn while a motorcycle is passing them on the left side – similarly to the last scenario, the driver usually fails to see the motorcycle after it enters their blind spot.
- A vehicle at a four-way stop fails to yield the right-of-way to a motorcycle that is traveling straight from the opposite direction after they both arrived at the stop sign simultaneously.
In short, left turning cars collide with motorcycles when the car doesn’t have enough space to complete the turn and the driver turns anyway. You can then run into the side of the car. And since the car blocks the entire lane and because this happens quickly, it is hard to avoid.
Important Tips for Staying Safe on a Motorcycle
So, can you do anything to stay safe and protect yourself, especially since the actions of other drivers are out of your control? You certainly can. It is important to:
- Become a defensive driver. Watch other cars, anticipate mistakes, and drive in a way that prioritizes safety.
- Wear the right motorcycling gear. This starts with a highly-rated motorcycle helmet, but you also want to consider bright colors and reflective vests to make yourself more visible.
- Understand the traffic laws and follow them to the letter. Do not take risks. Try to limit your own mistakes. You cannot control others, but you do have control over how you drive.
- Make sure that your top goal, as a motorcyclist, is just to stay safe. This mindset can go a long way.
- Check your bike before every ride to make sure that it is in optimal working condition.
- Understand the specific risks you face, such as drivers not seeing you and turning in front of you.
- Don’t ride if you’re not in the perfect mental state to do so. For instance, if you have been drinking or if you are feeling exhausted, stay off of your bike.
Following these basic rules can certainly help you, but you may still get into an accident. Make sure you know what rights you have to financial compensation.
We Know How Serious a Motorcycle Accident Can Be
Our lawyers know that motorcycle accidents can often result in severe and catastrophic injuries. Unlike standard motor vehicles, which are equipped with life-saving protections like airbags and seatbelts (not to mention the fact that a driver or passenger is protected by a steel frame) motorcyclists have few protections. In fact, other than wearing the proper attire and wearing a helmet, a motorcyclist may have nothing to protect them from their body being directly struck by the other vehicle and/or landing hard on the roadway in the event that they are hit and thrown from the bike. They may be pinned between their bike and another object or thrown to the ground – in both cases, the injuries suffered can be severe.
Our lawyers have represented motorcyclists who have suffered tragic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, amputation injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe bone fracture injuries, facial injuries, and more. We have also worked with families who have lost loved ones in fatal motorcycle accidents.
We know that the costs associated with a serious crash can be great. In addition to devastating and debilitating injuries, you may also be faced with high medical bills and costs related to medical treatment and therapy, lost wages, and non-economic harm; such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, and more. Our lawyers will fight for your right to compensation for the full extent of damages you have suffered.
You May Have More Options than You Think
Following a motorcycle crash, many people feel hopeless and anxious about the future, assuming that living with their losses is the only reality ahead for them. While it is certainly true that a crash can lead to large amounts of debt, stress, and other hardships, you may have more options available than you think.
By partnering with our experienced motorcycle accident lawyers, you can learn more about who might be held liable for your accident, what your options are when it comes to filing a claim, how to negotiate your claim, whether or not litigation is an option, and more. If our lawyers can identify a party, such as the other driver involved in your crash, whose negligence caused the accident, we can aid you in bringing forth a claim against this party’s insurer (or bringing a lawsuit directly against that party).
We can even help you if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to fully compensate you. We can also help you pursue damages against your own insurer.
In addition to having years of experience investigating, building, and negotiating claims, we also have extensive trial experience and a successful track record pursuing damages for motorcycle accident victims through litigation.
What safety gear should motorcycle riders wear?
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides information about the state’s motorcycle helmet law and other safety concerns for riders. In Pennsylvania, you must wear a helmet if you are under 21 years old. If you are over 21 years old, you must wear a helmet unless you have at least two years of riding experience. An alternative to meeting the experience requirement is taking a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
According to state law, your helmet must meet certain specifications. You should choose a helmet that meets the United States Department of Transportation requirements, which you may verify by checking for a DOT sticker on the back of the helmet. Additionally, your helmet must have a permanent label describing the brand name, size, model and date of manufacture. Pennsylvania law also requires you to use protective eyewear.
Highway safety experts recommend additional safety gear besides a helmet and eyewear. You may protect yourself from skin abrasion and dehydration by wearing leather or heavy denim gear that covers your arms, legs and torso. Gloves help protect your hands. Wear shoes that cover your ankles. It is also a good idea to choose clothing that is brightly colored or reflective, as this may help make you more visible to other drivers.
Start the Process Today to Protect Your Rights
It can be difficult to think about filing a motorcycle injury claim in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Not only do you surely have other things on your mind, such as recovering from your injuries and figuring out how you’ll maintain a roof over your head without any income as you heal, thinking about the accident can also be painful and traumatizing.
While we realize that it may be very trying to reach out to a lawyer and start the claims process, doing so as soon as possible after your crash is strongly recommended. The longer that you wait to bring forth a claim, the harder it may be to make a strong case against the at-fault party. This is because evidence may be destroyed with time, as well as witnesses’ memories eroded.
Another reason that you should start the process as soon as possible is that the statute of limitations on your right to file a claim is ticking. In Pennsylvania, the statute only provides those who are injured by the negligence of another with two years from the date of the accident to file a civil action for damages. If more than two years pass, you may be barred from recovery.
Call Our Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle crash, don’t wait until it’s too late to take action, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that there is nothing you can do. If someone else was to blame, you deserve to be compensated. We provide free consultations, and we take motor vehicle accident cases on a contingency fee basis – which means no out of pocket risk to you. To schedule a free consultation with our law firm, please contact us at (412) 391-9860, toll-free at (866) 466-5789, send us a message online, or visit our Pittsburgh office in person.