What Types Of Injuries Do Motorcycle Riders Generally Sustain From Accidents?
Generally, injuries to motorcyclists are very serious as they are usually thrown from the bike; and even with a helmet, can sustain injuries ranging from brain damage to paralysis and death. Without seatbelts and airbags, motorcycle operators are at serious risk of injury when they collide with automobiles or larger vehicles. If a car or truck runs a red signal light or a stop sign and crosses in front of the path of a motorcycle, the resulting impact can be catastrophic. The injuries can include multiple fractures, internal injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and death. Sometimes the negligent actions of a car or truck can force the motorcycle operator to swerve and lose control of the motorcycle, causing serious injury to the motorcycle operator, even though no contact was made between the offending vehicle and the motorcycle. Sometimes the evasive action necessary by the motorcycle operator, in order to avoid a collision, requires him to “lay down” his motorcycle, which can also lead to serious injuries, including skin debridement as a result of skidding along the roadway. Loss of consciousness as a result of being struck or thrown from the motorcycle is very common in these accidents and often the motorcyclist is not conscious during the investigation and therefore his version of the event is not being recorded during the police accident investigation.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Motorcycle Injury Accidents In Louisiana?
Most motorcycle accidents are caused from other vehicles not observing the motorcycle and/or not respecting the motorcycle’s position on the roadway. Motorcycles, much like bicycles, are more difficult for cars, trucks, and 18 wheelers to see. Consequently (and tragically) they are struck by vehicles much larger that are either not paying attention or not respecting the motorcycle’s right to be on the road. When an automobile or truck disregards a yield sign, stop sign, or red signal light, the consequences resulting from a collision with a motorcycle can be catastrophic. For example, following a motorcycle too closely (and being unable to stop) and colliding with the rear of a motorcycle can cause catastrophic injuries to the motorcycle operator. Occupants of cars and trucks have much greater protection because of their seatbelts and airbags (and the mass of their vehicles) than the motorcycle operator who does not have these protections and is often thrown free of his bike. Many motorcycle accidents cause severe injury to the motorcyclist by the negligent acts of other vehicles that do not even collide with the motorcycle. For example, swerving into the lane of a motorcycle can cause the motorcyclist o take immediate action to avoid a collision and lose control of the motorcycle causing serious injury to the motorcyclist. If a car or truck runs a stop sign and the motorcyclist takes evasive action to avoid contact but loses control of his motorcycle, the motorcyclist can be seriously injured. Oftentimes the offending vehicle, having made no contact with the motorcycle, continues along its way, not even knowing that the accident is his or her responsibility; and not even observing the serious injuries to the motorcyclist that just occurred.
What Types Of Damages Can I Hope To Recover In A Motorcycle Wreck Case?
All damages incurred are recoverable including property damage, medical bills, loss of income, disability, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. Louisiana law is designed to require that the at-fault party that causes damage to another be required to fully and totally compensate the victim for all losses. Accordingly, all losses incurred by the victim are properly recoverable in a claim made for damages. These losses can include property damage, medical bills, loss of income from being unable to work, past, present and future mental and physical pain and suffering, scarring, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life ( including inability to enjoy hobbies and recreational activities). In short, all damages incurred as a result of the fault of another party are required to be compensated by the at-fault party.
What If My Motorcycle Accident Involved A Ticket? Do I Still Have A Case?
Yes, recovery depends on the facts of the case. If the cause of the accident is the fault of the car or the truck driver, a ticket is not going to control the outcome of the case. Some tickets are written for violations that have nothing to do with the cause of the accident. For example, the motorcyclist can be fully in the right with respect to the cause of the accident, yet still be given a ticket for expired registration, failure to produce proof of insurance or some other violation that has nothing to do with the cause of the accident. These tickets are irrelevant when it comes to recovery for damages. However, it is not unusual for the motorcycle operator to be wrongfully ticketed for a traffic violation that deals directly with the fault issue. For example, it often happens that a car or truck will disregard a red signal light, cross into the intersection and cause a collision with a motorcycle. The motorcycle rider is thrown from the bike is knocked unconscious and taken by ambulance to the hospital, before police investigators arrive. The negligent and at-fault car or truck operator informs the police that he did nothing wrong, he had the green signal light, and therefore he is free from fault. The investigating officer, having no input from the motorcycle operator will often write the report indicating that the motorcycle operator ran the red signal light and will issue a ticket. While these cases can be very challenging, proper investigation ( locating witnesses, identifying surveillance cameras, and other means of investigation ) can ultimately vindicate the motorcycle operator. In situations where a ticket was issued improperly to the motorcycle operator, it is imperative to fight the ticket, and employ immediate investigation to preserve testimony of crucial witnesses, surveillance videos, skid-mark data and other evidence at the scene that can vindicate the operator of the motorcycle.
What if I Am At Partial Fault For My Motorcycle Wreck That Caused My Injury? Do I Still Have A Case?
Yes, fault is apportioned by the judge or jury and you would be able to recover damages based on the percentage of fault attributable to the other party. In Louisiana, recovery is based on the doctrine of comparative fault. The fault of each driver is evaluated by the judge or the jury and a percentage (totaling 100%) is assigned to each driver. For example, if the motorcyclist is stopped in the roadway due to a red light controlling the intersection and a following vehicle approaches the motorcycle and rear-ends the motorcycle, the rear-ending vehicle would be 100% at fault and would have to pay 100% of all damages incurred by the motorcycle operator. On the other hand, if a motorcyclist was proceeding through an intersection with the green signal light but was doing 45 mph in a 35 mile per hour zone and an automobile ran the red light and collided with the motorcycle, there would have to be a determination of comparative fault. That determination is strictly up to the judge or jury (whichever is the trier of fact). For example, the jury may decide that the motorcycle operator was 10% at fault for speeding; but the automobile operator was 90% at fault for disregarding the red light. Accordingly, the motorcycle operator would be able to collect 90% of all of his damages. For example, if his ambulance bill was $1,000, he would be able to collect $900. If his property damage repair bill was $10,000, he would be able to recover $9,000. If the jury awarded damages for pain and suffering of $100,000, the motorcyclist would be entitled to collect $90,000. Comparative fault is often a very contentious element of claims, can be one of the reasons that it is very difficult to settle with an insurance company and may require a lawsuit to be filed to have the matter resolved by a judge or jury.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim If I Was Injured In A Motorcycle Accident In Louisiana?
One year from the date of the accident. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations requires that in order to preserve a claim for damages, a lawsuit must be filed within one year of the date of the accident. If a claim is not filed in a court of competent jurisdiction, (within one year of the date of the accident), all rights that the claimant may have will be lost. In order to preserve your rights of recovery, a lawsuit must be filed within one year. Insurance companies are aware of this time limitation. Should you continue to negotiate with them beyond the one year, insurance companies will often inform you that they are no longer responsible for payment of the claim because lawsuit was not filed within the prescription deadline. Filing a lawsuit within one-year deadline interrupts prescription and allows the claim to be preserved and negotiations may continue. The case does not necessarily have to go to trial once the lawsuit is filed; but unless the suit is filed, all rights will be lost and there will be no further negotiation. It is not advisable to wait until just before the one-year anniversary of the accident to seek the assistance of an attorney. Under Louisiana law, if the claim you are making is against your own insurance company under the uninsured motorist provisions of the policy (because the responsible party was either uninsured or underinsured) the law allows a two-year prescriptive period within which suit must be filed. It is never a good idea to wait until the last minute to file these suits as the accuracy of the information contained in the lawsuit is important and sometimes the information needed cannot be immediately assembled prior to the prescription deadline. Accordingly, at the first indication that you are not going to be treated fairly by the insurance company, you should contact an attorney. The sooner you contact an attorney after the accident, the easier it is for your rights to be protected.
As A Driver And Passenger, Am I Required To Wear A Helmet And/Or Safety Gear In Louisiana? Will This Affect My Case If Either Of Us Was Not Wearing The Gear If It Is Required?
The law requires that a helmet be worn by both driver and passenger and new laws recently passed will allow the lack of a helmet to be asserted as a defense, but not necessarily a total bar to recovery. Since Louisiana is a comparative fault state, the judge or jury will have to determine fault on behalf of the driver and passenger and any other vehicle operator that was involved in the suit. For example, let’s assume that a motorcycle operator was not wearing a helmet and was injured by a truck driver that ran a stop sign. If the injury to the motorcyclist was a broken leg, the lack of a helmet would appear to be irrelevant. The judge or the jury may find that not wearing a helmet (though a technical violation of the law) was not a cause in fact of his injuries and that the truck driver, who ran the stop sign, is solely (or 100%) at fault. Therefore, all damages sustained by the motorcyclist would be recoverable. On the other hand, if we have the exact same accident and the exact same fact scenario, but the sole injury is a fractured skull, the insurance company for the truck driver would argue that the motorcyclist is primarily at fault and that the injury would not have occurred had he worn his helmet. This would be an issue that would have to be decided by a judge or jury, in terms of comparative fault. For example, the judge or jury could determine at trial that the truck driver was at fault for running the stop sign; but that the motorcyclist was also at fault for not wearing his helmet. If for example, the jury attributes 50% fault to the truck driver and 50% fault to the motorcyclist, the recovery of the motorcyclist would be limited to 50% of his damages. Therefore, if his property damage to his motorcycle was $10,000, he would only be able to recover $5,000. If medical bills were $100,000, he would only be able to collect $50,000. If the jury awarded $1 million for pain, suffering, and disability, he would only be able to collect $500,000. Not wearing a helmet does not prevent recovery; but depending on the facts of the case, comparative fault may apply.
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