Some transportation experts claim that motorcycles can stop faster than cars or trucks. In support of this position, they often cite that motorcycles—at least compared to cars and trucks—are relatively lightweight, allowing them to stop faster. However, that is not always the case. For more information, reach out to a motorcycle accident lawyer.
A vehicle’s ability to stop depends on the friction coefficient—or the amount of static friction between two different surfaces—along with the force of gravity. It has nothing to do with the vehicle’s weight.
When motorcycles cannot stop quickly, a serious accident can occur. The cyclist may not stop their vehicle in time to avoid an oncoming car or truck driver who is distracted, intoxicated, or violating another road rule. At other times, the cyclist may not stop due to a road defect or if a defective motorcycle part, such as a braking component, malfunctions.
If you or someone you care about has suffered injuries in a motorcycle crash, an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can assist. Your lawyer can meet with you to discuss the accident and how it occurred. After investigating the collision circumstances, your lawyer can determine your eligibility for filing a damages claim.
If another driver caused the accident—or if another person or entity was negligent—you might file a claim or lawsuit that seeks monetary compensation. If you are eligible, your lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim and pursue all of the compensation that you deserve.
Motorcycles Cannot Always Stop Quickly
“Stopping distance” refers to the distance a motorcycle must travel before making a complete stop after the operator applies the brakes. Numerous factors can affect a motorcycle’s stopping distance, including the age and size of the motorcycle’s tires. The thicker the tread, the more likely the motorcycle can stop on a wet or slippery road surface.
The quality of the motorcycle’s braking system will also affect its ability to stop quickly. If a motorcycle’s brakes are old and worn out, the motorcycle may take longer to stop completely. The same is true if there are overly-worn motorcycle shocks.
Another factor that impacts a motorcycle’s stopping distance is the operator’s overall experience level. On average, a cyclist’s reaction time is approximately 0.75 seconds. However, if the cyclist is experienced and is familiar with the roadway, they can stop their motorcycle in a much shorter time, potentially avoiding an impact from another vehicle.
Finally, the gravitational force is partially responsible for determining a vehicle’s stopping distance. When a cyclist applies the brakes, most of the motorcycle’s weight will shift to the front tire. Therefore, the front tire has to do most of the work, unlike the four tires on a passenger vehicle. The motorcyclist must exert significantly more practice and effort to obtain the same result that a passenger vehicle driver can achieve by simply pressing their foot on the brake pedal.
In general, motorcycles cannot always stop quicker than cars and trucks, and their comparatively light weight has little—if anything—to do with their stopping distance.
Causes of Motorcycle Crashes
When cyclists cannot stop their vehicles quickly, they sometimes cannot avoid an impact with another vehicle. These crashes usually happen when other vehicle drivers are negligent, such as by engaging in distracted driving or operating their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. At other times, these collisions occur when the motorcycles themselves are defective in some way—or where roadway defects exist.
Road rule violations that lead to motorcycle crashes – Many motorcycle accidents happen when drivers willfully disregard the road rules. Drivers who fail to yield the right-of-way to a cyclist at an intersection—possibly running a stop sign or red light—might broadside the cyclist, resulting in serious injuries. Moreover, drivers of passenger vehicles who speed, fail to use turn signals, and aggressively weave in and out of busy highway traffic might cut off a cyclist and dislodge the cyclist from their bike.
Distracted driving – Distracted driving remains an all-too-common problem that causes motorcycle crashes. A driver is distracted when they fail to pay attention to the road. Instead of watching the road and other vehicles, distracted drivers are often busy programming GPS devices, using cellular phones and tablets, playing loud music, or roughhousing with others in their vehicle. These distractions might cause drivers to turn their heads and miss an approaching motorcyclist, leading to crashes.
Intoxicated driving – Too many drivers get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol is a depressant, and it significantly slows down brain functioning. A drunk or impaired driver might not stop their vehicle in time to avoid striking a motorcycle. An impaired driver may not even see a low-to-the-ground cyclist since alcohol can impair a driver’s vision, depth, distance, and perception in some instances.
Although a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent is the legal cut-off for criminal intoxication, drivers over 0.05 percent can face provincial consequences. A driver with a lower BAC might still experience the negative effects of alcohol impairment and be responsible for drunk driving. When drunk drivers sustain DUI convictions, the criminal court might impose penalties.
Moreover, if the drunk driver caused a motorcycle accident and injuries, the at-fault driver and their insurance company should be responsible for paying the damages. Never expect the criminal case to provide proper compensation for your injuries, as you need to take separate civil action to seek what you deserve.
Defective motorcycle parts – Some motorcycle accidents do not result from any type of driver or cyclist negligence. Instead, they happen because a defectively manufactured motorcycle part malfunctions when the cyclist is out on the road. Motorcycle part manufacturers—including those that manufacture steering mechanisms and brake components—must use reasonable care when designing their products and testing them before the sale. When manufacturers fail to use reasonable care, then the defective product causes an accident, you can hold the manufacturer responsible for the resulting damages.
Defective roadways – Motorcycles are more susceptible to roadway defects than passenger vehicles. This is because motorcycles only have two wheels, and significant roadway bumps, cracks, and potholes can offset the motorcycle’s center of gravity and balance. As a result, the cyclist can fall off their bike and into the road, suffering a serious injury.
Canadian provinces, cities, and other municipalities must use reasonable care when maintaining their roadways. This means that they must ensure the roads are in a reasonably safe condition at all times—and that they promptly and properly repair road defects. When municipalities are aware of roadway defects but fail to make the necessary repairs within a reasonable timeframe, they can be responsible for any resulting motorcycle accidents and injuries.
If you sustained injuries in a motorcycle crash due to someone else’s negligence, your lawyer can help you file a claim or lawsuit to recover the damages that you need.
Injuries From Motorcycle Crashes
Victims of motorcycle crashes may suffer serious and sometimes fatal injuries, especially if they fall off their bikes. Cyclists have very little protection aside from their helmets. Unlike drivers and passengers in cars and trucks, cyclists do not have a thick metal shell surrounding them at the time of impact. Therefore, if an accident occurs, they have direct exposure to their surrounding environment and are highly vulnerable to traumatic injuries.
Some of the most common injuries motorcycle crash victims might sustain include broken bones, soft tissue injuries, traumatic head and brain injuries, internal damage, paralysis, and spinal cord injuries.
If you have suffered any of these injuries in a motorcycle crash, you should go to the emergency room right away so a medical provider can examine you thoroughly. The attending doctor can take the necessary imaging studies, including X-rays and MRIs, to determine if you suffered internal damage.
The doctor can also render emergency medical treatment at the emergency room, such as if you sustained a bone fracture in the crash. You may also need to seek treatment with a specialist or other medical provider after leaving the emergency room.
When you seek post-emergency room medical treatment, you should treat it continuously and avoid large gaps. Therefore, you should attend all of your medical appointments and wait for a medical provider to discharge you before you stop attending. Otherwise, the insurance company handling your claim might believe that you did not take your injuries or medical treatment seriously. They may also question the severity of your claimed injuries.
While you focus your attention on getting better, your lawyer can begin assembling the medical records, lost wage paperwork, and other documents into a settlement demand package to present to the insurance company after you finish your treatment. After submitting the demand package to the insurance company on your behalf, your lawyer can begin negotiating a settlement.
Potential Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Not all motorcycle accidents are the same, and some accident victims suffer more serious injuries than others. Consequently, what one motorcycle accident victim recovers may vary significantly from what another receives. Factors that impact a final damage award include the nature and extent of the cyclist’s injuries and whether or not they are permanent. Another factor is the amount of time the motorcyclist had to miss from work after their accident.
Once you complete the majority of your medical treatment, your lawyer can submit a settlement demand package to the insurance company on your behalf. After reviewing the demand package, the insurance company adjuster handling your claim may make an offer to settle. Since these initial settlement offers are routinely low—and far below the true value of your case—your lawyer will need to negotiate with the adjuster several times to convince them to put more money on the table. If they don’t, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the at-fault individual or entity in your case.
The insurance company may award you damages as part of a settlement or lawsuit. If you had to miss time from work after your accident, you can claim lost earnings. Similarly, if your injuries prevented you from returning to the same job after the accident, and you had to switch to a different job at a lower pay rate, you can bring a claim for the loss of future earning capacity.
In addition to lost wages, you can pursue compensation for your inconvenience, pain and suffering, and mental distress stemming from your injuries. If your quality of life diminished after your motorcycle accident, due to the injuries that you suffered, you can bring a claim for lost quality of life.
Paralysis injuries and other permanent injuries can impact your ability to use a body part. For example, paralysis injuries often limit an accident victim from using their hands, arms, legs, or feet, depending upon whether they suffered a full or partial injury. In those instances, the accident victim can bring a loss of use claim. Finally, some injuries impair family and spousal relationships. Under those circumstances, the accident victim can bring a claim for loss of spousal companionship and family support.
The motorcycle accident lawyer handling your claim will do everything possible to maximize the compensation you recover in your injury case.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
A cyclist who cannot stop their vehicle might become involved in a crash—especially if another driver is negligent under the circumstances. The first step to protecting your rights after a motorcycle accident is to set up a free consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer. Your lawyer can advise whether another party should be liable for your injuries and losses and the steps you need to take to obtain compensation.
A motorcycle accident lawyer in your area can help you file a claim or lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Your lawyer will aggressively advocate for your legal interests during settlement negotiations—and in court if a jury trial in the court system becomes necessary. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.