May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month here in Virginia and across the country, a good time to remind both motorcyclists and other drivers the role we all have in ensuring the safety of motorcycle riders. While most people tend to think as motorcycle accidents only affecting victims and other parties involved, studies show that these crashes can have an impact on many other people, including the families of victims and witnesses to the crash. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently classified motorcycle accidents as a national public health issue.
Motorcycle Crash Impacts
In order to understand that CDC classification of motorcycle accidents being a public health issue, it is helpful to understand some of the national statistics associated with these events:
- The number of motorcycle accident deaths continues to increase each year. During a 15-year period, the numbers grew by more than 80 percent. Motorcycle accident deaths occur almost 30 times more often than car accident deaths. There are more than 90,000 motorcycle accident victims who are injured each year.
- The economic burden placed on society each year because of motorcycle accidents are a staggering $12 billion. These costs show up in lost tax revenue, higher insurance premiums, and taxes. The medical expenses are often covered by public funds, the majority paid through Medicaid.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries
The injuries from motorcycle accidents are often much more severe than other types of crashes. This is because there is nothing between the motorcycle and the vehicle that is slamming into it. Some of the most common injuries suffered by motorcycle accident victims include:
- Brain injury
- Broken jawbone
- Burns or road rash
- Crushed, fractured, or shattered bones of the torso and limbs
- Destruction of teeth
- Fractured facial bones
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Thorax injuries
While some people are under the misconceptions that motorcycle riders are risk-taking daredevils, the truth is that most riders are safety conscious and drive defensively. The majority of motorcycle accidents are caused by other drivers. According to a study funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
- Approximately 65 percent of motorcycle accidents are caused by another vehicle driver violating the motorcyclist’s right of way.
- The number one cause of crashes is the vehicle driver’s failure to see and recognize the motorcycle in a traffic setting.
- The greatest number of crashes occur at intersections where the vehicle driver fails to see the motorcycle in time.
- The most common infractions of other vehicle drivers include running red lights or stop signs and failure to yield before turning.
One of the most critical steps a motorcycle rider can take is to wear a DOT-approved helmet at all times. Helmets have been shown to be significantly effective to protecting riders’ heads in the event of a crash. Helmets reduce the fatality rate by 20 to 40 percent and brain injuries from 40 to 70 percent. Unfortunately, not all states have universal helmet laws. As of this writing, only 19 states have universal helmet laws that require all riders to wear helmets. There are 28 states that require helmets for specific riders, i.e. only passengers have to wear helmets. Three states – Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire – do not have any motorcycle helmet laws in place.
Contact a Skilled Norfolk Injury Attorney Today
Some of the most frequent injuries that clients of a Virginia motorcycle accident attorney suffer include brain injuries, broken bones, paralysis, and spinal trauma. Our accident attorneys understand that the injuries motorcycle accident victims sustain often leave them with permanent disabilities that not only create physical limitations but also result in significant financial losses.
If you or a loved one were injured in a motorcycle accident this year, it is critical not to delay contacting the legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn because Virginia injury laws have strict rules regarding how long you have to file your personal injury claim. If the statute of limitations expires, you will be unable to collect financial damages for any medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, or any other losses you or your family may be entitled to.
Our firm also offers a free motorcycle injury guide which offers information that you may find helpful.