In 2011, more than 4600 motorcycle riders were killed in accidents; a two percent increase from the year before. Of these fatalities, 23% involved only the motorcyclist, not another vehicle. In other words, more than 1000 motorcycle fatalities involved collisions between the rider and a fixed object. Not surprisingly, this number is higher than for other types of vehicles. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to death or serious injury during a crash and are also more likely to a crash in the first place. Many situations that would typically pose little danger to car and truck drivers create a substantial threat to motorcyclists. This can include a wide range of road hazards such as:
- Blind corners
- Improperly marked intersections
- Distracted drivers
- Inclement weather
- Sand, gravel, or dirt on the roadway
- Objects in the road
- Road construction
- Traffic cones
- Tar snakes (roadway crack repairs)
- Oil deposits
Riders at Risk
While many of these can contribute to car accidents as well as motorcycle accidents, the kinds of hazards on this list tend to pose a much more serious risk of injury to motorcycle riders, who do not have the benefit of four stable wheels, seat belts, windshield wipers, a protective enclosure, or airbags. Even experienced riders can suddenly find themselves sliding across the pavement as the result of crossing over an unseen patch of oil in a corner or hitting a traffic cone that was hidden from view behind a larger vehicle. One client of mine lost control of his bike at the limit line of a busy intersection when the front wheel of his bike crossed onto a discarded saw blade that was lying unseen on the road. Because my client was braking for the red light, his wheel locked up on top of the saw blade and, with the blade underneath the wheel effectively eliminating any useful traction, slid suddenly to the side; dropping the bike onto the car next to him. Fortunately, my client was uninjured and was back on his bike before the next green light; however, incidents like this are all too common for riders and sometimes lead to much more serious accidents.
Consider All the Facts
It’s easy to assume that a rider who strikes a fixed object in a crash is at fault for the accident and thus unable to receive any compensation for injuries or damages sustained. This assumption is not correct in many crashes. Frequently, fixed-object motorcycle accidents can be traced back to causes out of the control of the rider. My client’s experience above is a good example, but many other situations frequently arise. Other drivers may suddenly swerve into another lane forcing a rider off the shoulder into loose sand leading to a crash. Alternatively, road construction that creates uneven surfaces might pose too great an obstacle for motorcycle riders, leading to a crash. A trailer may be illegally parked at the side of the road or a utility pole may be placed too close to the traffic lanes, causing an unexpected hazard. Construction companies may leave hazards unmarked and trucks may have improperly secured objects that can fall onto the roadway. Whatever the case, you should not assume that a motorcycle rider is solely at fault simply because another vehicle was not involved.
In many of these types of crashes, a third party may be partially or even completely liable for the resulting injuries and vehicle damage. A full investigation of the facts and circumstances of the crash is critical because it may lead to the discovery of third-party liability for a resulting motorcycle crash.
For More Help…
If you have been involved in a motorcycle collision with a fixed object don’t assume that you’re on your own. Depending on the facts of your crash, an investigation may reveal liability and coverage to help you with your injuries and damages.