While a motorcycle accident can occur in an instant, the permanent effects of the pain and impact on everyday life leave you struggling to remain employed, pay your bills, and even walk. You may well wonder how you can best recover from your motorcycle crash—physically and financially.
A San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand what you’re facing and how to pursue compensation when someone else caused your motorcycle crash.
What Factors Affect Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycles expose their riders to a higher risk of injuries in many respects, including:
- Less protection. Other vehicles on the road provide a protective steel cage. Motorcycles lack this type of structural support, so they are less crashworthy and leave motorcyclists more vulnerable during an accident.
- Road Stability. Motorcycles balance on fewer wheels. Due to their two-wheel design, motorcycles are less stable than passenger vehicles. Therefore, they are more difficult to control when braking and cornering.
- Visibility. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, and so they are less visible. Accidents often happen because a vehicle driver fails to check their blind spots when turning or changing lanes.
- Road hazards. Bumps or changes in the road surface may cause instability when on a motorcycle. While a car may handle poor weather or road conditions, a slight hazard, such as road debris, can lead to a motorcycle accident.
- Type of motorcycle. Many people consider all motorcycles dangerous. However, some types, such as Supersport motorcycles, have a fatality rate that is approximately four times higher than other motorcycles.
- Driver inexperience. Operating any motor vehicle requires training, experience, and caution. Motorcycles require a different combination of physical and mental skills than those used in driving four-wheel vehicles. They are less stable than passenger vehicles, and slight changes in weight distribution can have disastrous consequences. Some inexperienced riders may engage in risky behaviors, increasing the chance of a crash.
Common Motorcycle Accident Scenarios
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), common motorcycle accident scenarios include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Nearly a third of all fatal bike accidents involve alcohol or drug use.
- Head-on collisions. More than 75 percent of all motorcycle crashes are head-on collisions.
- Left turns. In 42 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents, the other vehicle was turning left while the biker was either passing, overtaking, or going straight.
- Running into objects. About 25 percent of motorcycle fatalities happen when a bike crashes while trying to avoid an object or animal on the road.
- Exceeding the speed limit. Approximately 32 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents involved speeding.
What Injuries Might Result From a Motorcycle Accident?
These motorcycle accidents cause many types of injuries. In general, injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident are much more serious for the biker than for someone in a car. Some injuries that a motorcyclist may sustain could be superficial and may heal quickly. Other injuries may be longer-lasting and might take time and effort to recover from. Some injuries may never heal completely. A catastrophic accident can require around-the-clock care for the rest of the patient’s life.
People injured in a motorcycle accident may suffer:
- Head and traumatic brain injuries. These injuries can be catastrophic. The impact of an accident could eject a biker from the motorcycle, causing them to hit their head on the ground and potentially cause a brain injury. Head injuries are the leading cause of disability or fatality in motorcycle accidents. Some of them are easy to diagnose, but others may fail to show symptoms for days, weeks, or longer following a crash. A brain injury, sometimes called a traumatic brain injury (TBI), occurs when the normal function of the brain is disrupted “by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” This is why helmets are so important.
- Spinal cord injuries, which may result in paralysis.
- Cuts and bruises.
- Eye injuries.
- Abrasions, such as road rash, which is common when a motorcyclist is thrown from their motorcycle onto the pavement.
- Burn injuries.
- Fractured bones. In an accident, riders are often thrown to the ground, resulting in broken legs, feet, hips, arms, or wrists. For motorcyclists, broken legs are the most common bones fractured.
- Abdominal injuries. Get medical attention right away if you become aware of unusual or painful abdominal symptoms, such as pain, bruising, or swelling, after an accident. These may indicate delayed symptoms of internal damage.
- Disfigurement and/or scarring.
- Loss of limb(s).
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psychological harm. When something triggers an emotional or psychological response, emotional injuries might not set in until long after the accident. Personality changes such as anxiety, depression, fear, changes in sleep patterns, or hyper-alertness may indicate psychological harm.
Be Aware of Delayed Injury Symptoms
Following an accident, it is important to be aware of your body. Any symptom could be pointing to a severe medical issue. Delayed onset of an injury means that it does not show signs of damage or symptoms immediately. Sometimes trauma suppresses reactions and pain sensations. Professional medical care and tests may reveal any delayed signs of an injury that is causing hidden damage. Prompt treatment may prevent permanent harm, and help recognize delayed onset.
“Delayed onset” of an injury means that it does not show any symptoms or visible signs of the injury right away. Instead, the damage happens without anyone noticing, at least in the beginning. It is essential to catch and treat hidden injuries. For example, if undiscovered, internal bleeding can lead to organ failure, coma, and in some cases, death.
Do not ignore delayed symptoms such as:
- Neck or shoulder stiffness
- Back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Numbness or tingling
Motorcycle Accident Recovery Time
Being in a motorcycle accident can leave you terrified and disoriented. What about your life after the accident? How do you go about forging a path to healing? Many car accidents result in physical or mental conditions that can take months, if not years, to recover from fully. In some cases, victims of a car accident may never fully recover.
The time after an accident can be hectic. Facilitating doctor’s appointments, adapting to changes in your work and home life, and making time for your own healing can be a struggle for your recovering mind and body. Many victims suffer from anxiety. While it can be beneficial to be watchful, you should not become so stressed and fearful that it harms your health.
The key is to monitor your health and seek medical attention whenever necessary. One way to do this is to keep a log of your symptoms and daily activities. This way, patterns or changes in your condition become more apparent. More importantly, this log can be a useful resource for caregivers, medical care providers, or evaluating a claim for damages with a motorcycle accident attorney.
Tips for Relieving Soreness and Tension After a Motorcycle Accident
Professional medical treatment is, of course, essential to your recovery. However, there are ways you can mitigate minor aches and pains after a crash.
If you have questions or concerns, always consult your doctor.
- Rest. One of the most important aspects of healing, both physically and mentally, is sufficient rest. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be hard to sleep or rest if your pain or other symptoms are bothering you.
- Keep hydrated. Many people struggle to meet their daily recommended water intake. Some motorcyclists were dehydrated even before the accident. Hydration helps keep our bodies functioning properly, but it is equally essential to the healing process. Watch out for symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, dark-colored urine, or dry, flaky skin. Adequate hydration allows your body to repair itself with minimal tightening, cramps, and other physical stress.
- Physical or massage therapy. Your healthcare professional may recommend physical therapy or massage therapy. Massage and physical therapy can reduce your pain and help you regain control over your body. Physical therapy may also help you regain some occupational skills.
Recovering Compensatory Damages After a Motorcycle Crash
Everyone knows that a driver must use due care for their own safety and the safety of others while driving a motor vehicle. The insurance company might offer the least amount possible to settle the case quickly. In many cases, the insurance company’s limits are not enough to cover the bills for the injuries, let alone serve as compensation for losses and future losses.
Motorcyclists (both drivers and passengers) can sue another driver who negligently caused their injuries. In serious injury or death cases, an investigation can help establish the liability of other defendants.
Almost every serious injury or death case involving a motorcycle requires expert testimony. The victim’s attorney may use several types of experts in a motorcycle accident case. These may include medical experts, an accident reconstruction expert, and possibly engineers and physicists who have special knowledge of motorcycles and motorcycle accidents.
The financial burden of recovery from a motorcycle accident can be every bit as onerous as the process of physically recovering from the injuries. Both the financial and physical limitations that result from a severe motorcycle injury can be devastating. In most cases, physical recovery from a motorcycle accident requires medical assistance, and this can be expensive. Some combination of prescription drugs, surgeries, and physical therapy is often required to properly recover from a severe motorcycle injury. Meanwhile, physical disabilities often make it impossible for the patient to work, either temporarily or permanently.
In a motorcycle accident case, the plaintiff could recover for current and future medical expenses, including rehabilitation and adaptive costs. Damages also usually include wages lost as a result of the accident, future predicted lost income, and the possibility that the victim will never resume their normal career again after the accident. The victim may also receive compensation for past and future pain and suffering.
Testimony from physicians or other health care providers can help determine the cost of medical expenses. Injuries may be so severe that even a minor crash results in a hospital stay, surgeries, rehabilitation, and chronic pain. Long-term physical and mental therapy may help victims deal with the pain and suffering from the accident.
Pain and suffering, including emotional distress, may be an important element in calculating damages. Contrary to popular belief, there is no formula for pain and suffering awards, and it varies greatly from case to case depending upon the location of the case, the seriousness of the injury, and how well your motorcycle accident lawyer presents your case. Also, the plaintiff’s spouse may sue and recover damages for loss of consortium.
Under California law, if a plaintiff can prove that the conduct of the wrongdoer was egregious, fraudulent, or malicious, he or she is entitled to recover punitive damages, which punish the wrongdoer.
Safeguarding Your Recovery
Much of the statistics that surround motorcycle accidents concern fatalities. However, the survivors of motorcycle accidents can suffer mental and physical injuries for a very long time after a crash, and would need support during the complex recovery process. It is extremely important to get to the hospital after an accident regardless of whether you feel injured. Taking care of your health after a crash can improve your recovery, as well as your chances of receiving compensation for your injuries.
The laws vary according to the state where the accident took place. Generally, in California, you must bring a motorcycle accident case within two years of the accident. In rare cases, however, that time period extends to two years from the date of the discovery of wrongdoing and/or an injury. In a case against a public entity, the plaintiff must bring the claim within six months of the date of the accident.
Consult your attorney about which time limits may apply in your case.
If you or someone you love was in a motorcycle accident, you should speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer. For more information or a free consultation, call a motorcycle accident attorney today.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
655 West Broadway, Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101