Downingtown Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Riding on your motorcycle is a very thrilling and freeing pastime, but it doesn’t come without risk. Many times, motorcyclists encounter irresponsible drivers who either don’t share the road or are inattentive and don’t see them until it’s too late. As a result, motorcyclists in Downingtown are vulnerable to accidents that make them more likely to be the injured party. It’s very common for these individuals to come away from an accident with catastrophic injuries, or even death.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, motorcycle accident fatalities made up 19.3% of all vehicular fatalities on Pennsylvania roads in 2021. The same report showed that there were 3,121 motorcycle accidents with injuries out of the 3,580 total crashes in the year. In 2021, crashes increased by 5.5% from the previous year, and fatal accidents rose by 3.7%.
If you or someone you love sustained injuries or were killed in a motorcycle accident, you need the help of a reputable Downingtown motorcycle accident lawyer. At Wilk Law, our experienced team dedicates itself to protecting our client’s legal rights and fighting for the compensation they deserve.
What Are Some of the Top Causes of Motorcycle Crashes?
As motorcycle accident attorneys in Downingtown, we’ve seen the life-changing injuries you can sustain in these types of accidents. To help mitigate risks, it’s important for motorcyclists to know the leading causes of accidents. Some of the top causes include but are not limited to:
Entering a turn or corner too quickly on a motorcycle can cause you to lose control and get thrown off the bike. These are common accidents when riding in a group — you ride too quickly to try and keep up.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Road conditions can cause catastrophic accidents for motorcyclists while not causing a passenger vehicle any issues. A few of the more dangerous road conditions for motorcyclists include a lack of guardrails, cracks, broken traffic lights, poor lighting, failure to properly cover speed limit signs inside construction zones, and uneven pavement.
Distraction or Inexperience
New motorcyclists who practiced in a parking lot tend to be poorly equipped for the hazards that come with driving on the road. This inexperience makes you more prone to accidents or being in dangerous situations due to being unable to recognize warning signs of an impending crash or inattentive driving. Also, distractions take your attention away from defensive driving, and this increases your chances of being in a collision.
Emotional and Physical Impairment
Being safe while riding your motorcycle requires engagement and focus, so there’s no time to let your mind wander. Motorcyclists can experience distractions, loss of focus, or hazardous attitudes that can contribute to or cause an accident, including riding while angry, drowsy, upset, or deep in thought. A lot of motorcyclists can benefit from going through the IMSAFE checklist from the aviation industry prior to riding, which is:
- I – Illness
- M – Medication
- S – Stress
- A – Alcohol
- F – Fatigue
- E – Emotion
While head-on collisions account for just 4.3% of all vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania, they also make up 11.2% of the fatalities. A head-on collision with a car versus a motorcycle happens when a vehicle leaves its lane and travels into the path of an oncoming vehicle, “head-on”.
Currently, only California allows lane splitting, where a motorcycle is free to ride between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic. It makes it very hard for other motorists to see the motorcyclists, which increases your chances of an accident.
Lane-switching accidents are common because motorists don’t often see motorcyclists. Instead, they glance quickly in their mirrors and start to change lanes, causing them to run right into the motorcycle. Since motorcycles come with a more narrow profile, they’re more prone to being in blind spots and getting hit.
Pennsylvania has the Vehicle Turning Left Statute that states any vehicle that turns left into an alley, intersection, driveway, or private road has to yield to the right-of-way to any vehicle that approaches from the opposite direction. However, failure to yield and not seeing motorcyclists can cause deadly collisions.
A manufacturing or design defect can contribute to or cause your motorcycle accident. When you sustain serious injuries, the damages can be significant. However, cases that involve proving motorcycle defects are very challenging, often requiring an experienced motorcycle accident attorney in Downingtown.
Speeding and alcohol use both fall under the reckless driving category. The liable party for the accident will depend on which party was driving recklessly, but it can be easy for your motorcycle crash attorney to prove negligence if they can prove reckless driving caused the accident.
- Alcohol or Drug Use – In 2020, statistics showed that 8.1% of all motorcycle accidents listed alcohol or drug use as a contributing factor to the crash. This percentage was higher than operators of light trucks, passenger vehicles, and large trucks.
- Speeding – Speed plays a huge role in how severe an accident is. Your speed at the time of the crash will also determine how effective your safety devices are.
It’s common to come up to traffic that suddenly stops, which can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Since motorcycles don’t have seat belts, stopping suddenly can cause the motorcyclist to be thrown off the bike and into traffic or another vehicle.
If a vehicle door opens right in front of you, there’s a good chance you’ll have very little or no time to react to avoid a collision. Under these circumstances, an accident is almost unavoidable. There is a statute in Pennsylvania that states no person shall open the door on their vehicle until it’s safe to do so and opening the door won’t interfere with other traffic’s movement. If they do and it causes an accident, you should enlist the help of a motorcycle lawyer.
It’s always a good idea to check the road conditions before you go out for a ride. Rain, snow, or sleet can make it very difficult to stay safe on a motorcycle on the road, as it increases your chances of sliding off the road or being hit by a car.
I Was In a Motorcycle Accident, What Do I Do?
It can be very overwhelming to know what you should do after you’re involved in a motorcycle crash. The following are important steps you should take immediately after the accident to help ensure you’re safe.
Call the Police
Call 911 immediately and have the dispatcher send emergency medical personnel and officers from the Downingtown police department
to the scene. This will help you get the necessary medical attention as quickly as possible, and the officers will conduct a short investigation. They may talk to you, any witnesses, and the other involved parties before documenting everything in a report. Your motorcycle crash attorney can use this report to get important information about the crash.
Gather Evidence of the Crash Scene
Smartphones make it easy to gather evidence at the accident scene. If you’re able to, document the damage to your bike and the other vehicle. Photograph any damage and the position of the vehicles, and take pictures or video of the weather conditions, road conditions, crash and road debris, and skid marks. If there are witnesses, ask for their contact information and any photo or video evidence they have.
Don’t Admit Fault
Apologizing for the accident, even if you’re not at fault, could make the insurance company put the blame for the accident on you. The police will investigate the crash scene and determine the cause of the accident, and both the insurance company and your motorcycle accident lawyer in Downingtown will have their own investigations to determine who was at fault.
Seek Medical Attention
Seek medical attention immediately after your crash. Some injuries won’t show any symptoms until hours or days later, so it’s possible to think you have no injuries. Neck pain can be a symptom of whiplash, which can cause a loss of range of motion, stiffness, headaches, memory issues, tinnitus, and blurred vision. Neck pain can also indicate a fracture or torn tissues. Abdominal pain can be a sign of internal bleeding or organ damage, which can be life-threatening. Medical shock is also common and can turn into another life-threatening situation if left untreated.
Notify the Insurance Company
Notify your insurer about the motorcycle accident. Many insurance companies have clauses that require you to properly report any accidents. However, you shouldn’t speak to the other motorist’s insurance company, and you want to consult a legal representative if they reach out for a statement.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
Following your accident, you want to consult with an attorney as soon as you can. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations to file a claim for a motorcycle accident is two years from the date of the crash, but you want to retain a Downingtown personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible.
Motorcycle Law Firm Holding Negligent Individuals Accountable
After a motorcycle crash, the victims need to pay for the property damage and their injuries, but who pays up? Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, so each party — no matter who was at fault — can collect compensation for medical bills and lost wages from their insurer. Negligence plays a role in how much you’re entitled to for compensation.
If you’re negligent, you didn’t perform the same level of care as another person would have in the same situation. Traffic laws give drivers a very basic outline of how cautious and reasonable motorists should use their vehicles. Causing an accident by breaking these rules would make whoever broke the rules negligent. There are generally four big elements of negligence, including:
- Legal Duty of Care – As a motorist, you have a duty of care to anyone you share the road with to behave in a cautious manner.
- Breach of Duty of Care – This involves being distracted while you drive or breaking a traffic law. Your attorney has to prove the other party did something to cause the accident and breached their duty of care.
- Injuries – You have to prove you suffered harm to your property or bodily harm in the accident. Your attorney can use medical records and a doctor’s exam to prove your injuries.
- Link Between the Plaintiff’s Injuries and the Defendant’s Duty of Care – The breach has to be the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
What Are the Laws In Pennsylvania for Motorcycles?
Pennsylvania has motorcycle laws in place because motorcycles are one of the only vehicle types where operators and passengers have little to no impact protection in an accident. The following are brief descriptions of these motorcycle-specific laws:
It’s Illegal to Ride Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
The rules for operators of standard vehicles apply to motorcyclists. If the police pull you over while you’re driving under the influence, they’ll arrest, charge, and possibly convict you of a DUI.
Lawsuit Filing for Crashes Caused by At-Fault Drivers
In Pennsylvania, motorcyclists are under full tort, so they are able to recover full tort damages if they’re involved in an accident from the at-fault driver.
Motorcycle License in Pennsylvania
To get your Class M motorcycle license, you have to pass a knowledge test before applying for your Class M learner’s permit. If you have your permit but no other license, you can only legally ride between sunrise and sunset. You’re not allowed to carry passengers unless they’re licensed motorcyclists, and you can only ride under the supervision of someone who has a Class M license.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws
If you are 21 or older, you don’t have to wear a helmet as long as you’ve had a motorcycle license in the state for two years or you’ve completed a motorcycle safety course approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
If you wear a helmet, it has to have a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker. The helmet has to show the month and year it was made, the size, the model designation, and the manufacturer’s name, too.
Permit Restrictions for Minors
For minors who want to get their Class M license, they have to hold the permit for six months and have a minimum of 65 hours of supervised riding before they’re able to take the skills test. Additionally, minors have to take and pass the 15-hour Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program Basic Rider Course.
What Is My Motorcycle Accident Case Worth?
Settlement amounts vary from case to case, as there are several factors that come into play. How much insurance is available will depend on the at-fault driver’s assets. The insurance company typically tries to settle before going to court because the court can award the victim a much higher compensation at trial.
Soft Tissue Injuries – Average Payouts
- Ankle Sprains – $15,000
- Herniated Discs – $100,000 to $350,000
- Shoulder Injuries – $20,000
- Whiplash Injuries – $2,5000 to $10,000
Severe Injuries – Average Payouts
Soft tissue injuries are much more common, but severe injuries like a concussion may entitle you to compensation that ranges from $70,000 to $100,000. Traumatic brain injuries can have compensation ranges that start at $185,000 and go up to one million dollars. Since the settlement will change in value depending on the circumstances, it’s a good idea to consult with a motorcycle crash attorney.
Downingtown, PA, is a smaller borough located in Chester County with a population of 7,898. Roughly 33 miles from Philadelphia, it’s home to a range of historic structures and buildings. You get very scenic roads and trails that are perfect for motorcycling, and a few of the best riding opportunities include:
- Clarion countryside
- Elk Country’s loop (127 miles)
- Groundhog Loop
- Marienville’s fabulous forests
- PA Route 340 through Amish country
- PA Route 6
- Route 44 through Coudersport (Highway to the Stars)
- Route 655’s Big Valley
- U.S. Route 30 from Chambersburg to Breezewood
Pennsylvania Motorcycle Lawyers
Contact the Wilk Law if you sustained injuries in a motorcycle accident and you want an experienced and dedicated team to represent you. We have experienced legal representatives on staff who are ready to evaluate your case and fight for the compensation you deserve.