Motorcycle Accident Attorneys in Birmingham, AL
Many of us think there’s no better way to spend time than on a motorcycle in Alabama. The enjoyment and freedom you experience when riding a motorcycle may be second to none, but the risk of motorcycle accidents and serious injury can be severe. Unlike car accidents, even a minor motorcycle accident has the potential to cause catastrophic and even life-threatening injuries.
In 2015, there were more than 1,600 motorcycle crashes in Alabama that resulted in over 1,250 injuries and 74 deaths. Because the rider’s body is exposed to the elements, there is a much greater chance of injury than for a driver or passenger of a motor vehicle. In fact, a motorcyclist is 26 more times likely to die in an accident than are those involved in other vehicles accidents.
If you or someone you love has been injured or you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, the Alabama personal injury attorneys at Burge & Burge, PC, can help you obtain the compensation you need and deserve. Our skilled Alabama motorcycle crash attorneys will hold the negligent parties responsible for your crash as you focus on your recovery.
What Alabama Law Says About Motorcycles
According to Alabama Code Section 32-12-41, all motorcyclists on Alabama’s roads must wear a safety helmet that meets certain specifications. However, the state does not have any laws that require a motorcyclist to use a headlight during the daytime, use turn signals, wear eye protection, or submit to periodic safety inspections. Failure to do any of these things cannot be used to prove fault in a motorcycle accident.
While riders are supposed to wear helmets, even a lack of one is not necessarily grounds to raise the issue of fault in an accident. A defendant may try to say that injuries would not be as serious had a helmet been in use, but a skilled personal injury attorney can argue that the accident would not have taken place at all were it not for the actions of the other driver.
Alabama law does allow two riders to operate their motorcycles side by side, but there are certain other prohibited activities on the roads. Lane splitting, which is riding between rows of stopped or slow-moving traffic, is not allowed. Nor is operating a motorcycle in an emergency lane to avoid traffic.
How Do Motorcycle Accidents Occur?
Roughly three-quarters of all motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. Because motorcycles are smaller than cars, there is an issue of diminished visibility which leads to many accidents because other drivers simply don’t see the motorcyclist. Some of the common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Careless or reckless driving, including driving at unsafe speeds
- Road hazards such as debris, potholes, uneven lanes, and puddles
- Drivers who are distracted or failing to look in their blind spot when turning or changing lanes
How to Avoid Blind Spot Motorcycle Accidents
Drivers have a duty to exercise a high-level of care while operating vehicles. The NHTSA recommends that drivers:
- Check all mirrors, and look over your shoulder before changing lanes or merging with traffic – if you are not 100 percent sure the path is clear, do not change lanes;
- Turn on your blinker to signal your plan to change lanes in advance, providing a motorcyclist in your blind spot with time to move; and
- Drive while sober, well rested, and without distractions – otherwise, you increase your risk of an accident.
Motorcyclist have the same rights as do other drivers on the road, but they need to be extra careful. If an accident occurs, it is likely that the motorcyclist, not the driver of the passenger car, will be significantly injured. Things that you as a motorcyclist can do to reduce your risk of being in a blind spot accident include:
- Don’t ride in drivers’ blind spots! These areas are to the left and right rear of a vehicle – avoid riding in these zones to improve a motorist’s ability to see you;
- Wear brightly colored or fluorescent clothing to help others see you;
- Use your headlights always, even when it’s light outside; and
- If you must pass a vehicle, do so quickly – again, don’t hang out in no zones.
With motorcycle accidents increasing, we must all do our part to help make the roadways safer.
Give Motorcycles Plenty of Space
Motorcyclists have just as much right to the roadways as other motor vehicles. This means, among other things, that motorists should give motorcycles a car length of space when sharing the roads with them. It is very easy to misjudge the speed and distance of a motorcycle, and this can cause rear-end collisions and other types of accidents. So, when in doubt, it is best to err on the side of giving motorcycles extra space.
Proceed through Intersections Carefully
A large percentage of motorcycle accidents happen at intersections. Intersections are danger zones where drivers often fail to notice the presence of a motorcycle. Always be aware of the possibility of a motorcycle when you come up to an intersection and remember that motorcyclists have the same rights of way as other motorists. Be ready to yield the right-of-way to a motorcycle when appropriate.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Damages
A motorcyclist doesn’t have the benefit of several thousand pounds of steel as protection in an accident in the same manner as the driver of a passenger vehicle or truck. Because they are so exposed, riders can suffer some of the most severe and devastating injuries in a crash compared to other accidents. Victims of motorcycle crashes often face soaring medical bills, disability, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Some of the catastrophic injuries that they may incur include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal Injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
Dealing with a Motorcycle Fatality in Alabama
One of the most heartbreaking events imaginable is to lose a loved one in a crash such as a motorcycle accident. The impact of a death on a family member such as a parent, spouse, or even a child will be long-lasting. One of these losses can also bring severe financial consequences to survivors. Not only will your family be responsible for unexpected medical bills for the deceased before they passed away, but also funeral costs, estate issues, lost earning capacity of a primary breadwinner, and significant pain and suffering. If this is your situation, your family may be able to recover damages by filing a wrongful death suit against the parties responsible for the accident.
Who is at Fault in a Motorcycle Accident?
There is a common misconception about motorcycle riders that they are reckless and people who have little regard for the rule of law. Overall, this is far from the truth. Most motorcyclists today are people who enjoy riding on the weekend as recreation. Even those using a motorcycle as a primary means of transportation generally follow the rules of the road and drive defensively due to the known danger of their lack of visibility.
The truth is that many motorcycle riders hold no fault in their accidents, yet suffer significant losses due to the negligent or careless acts of someone else. Because there is an unfair stereotype attached to motorcycles and their riders, you may not get equitable treatment if you’ve been involved in an accident. It’s also important to recognize that insurance company representatives are not on your side and may wish to blame you for the accident so that they can avoid paying for your losses. For these reasons and more, it’s essential that you speak with a qualified accident attorney as soon as possible about your case.
Are Senior Motorcycle Riders at Greater Risk for Injury?
Study Shows Senior Motorcycle Riders at Greater Risk for Injury
The primary reason for the increase in senior motorcyclists is our aging population. Baby Boomers, who have loved riding since they became adults, are now entering retirement. This gives them more free time to enjoy the open roads.
As we get older and our bodies experience more wear and tear, it stands to reason that we would not be as durable as we were during our 20s and 30s. And this is exactly what the study showed. Younger riders, those between the ages of 20 and 39, are involved in far more accidents than those in the senior age group (which is another finding that makes sense). However, motorcycle accidents seem to be much harder on older riders. The study found that:
- Riders age 60 and over are 2.5 times more likely to require emergency room treatment in a motorcycle accident than riders in the youngest age group;
- Middle-aged riders (those between the ages of 40 and 60) are 66% more likely to require emergency room treatment than younger riders;
- Senior riders are three times more likely to require hospitalization than younger riders.
Contact a Birmingham Motorcycle Accident Attorney Now
If you or a loved one are dealing with severe injuries or the loss of life from a motorcycle accident, you shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial and emotional burden of your losses alone. The parties responsible for your accident should be held personally and financially accountable through a personal injury lawsuit.
Your Attorney can Protect your Legal Right to Compensation
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Alabama, you may be facing an uphill battle trying to recover compensation. Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state. This means that if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident that caused their injuries (even 1%), they can be barred from recovering compensation.
Your Attorney can Accurately Value your Claim
If you have never dealt with an accident injury claim in the past, you may not be familiar with the various types of damages that may be available and how much compensation you should ask for. If you work with an experienced attorney, they will have handled numerous cases like yours before, and they will have the in-depth knowledge necessary to thoroughly assess your case, determine the full extent of your injuries, call on the assistance of outside experts when necessary, and aggressively pursue full and fair compensation.
At Burge & Burge, PC, our experienced Alabama motorcycle crash attorneys not only understand the dynamics of these devastating accidents but also know what it takes to aggressively pursue the most full and fair compensation for damages. Our legal team will thoroughly investigate your case, hire the appropriate experts when needed, and do everything possible to protect your recovery rights. We also handle motorcycle accidents in Hoover, and motorcycle accidents in Homewood. Contact our Birmingham office now at 205-251-900 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.