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Special Issues in Buffalo Motorcycle Accidents

by | Mar 25, 2018 | Buffalo, Firm News, Motorcycle Accidents

As the calendar inches closer and closer to spring, more and more motorcycles will dot the roadways in and around Buffalo. Motorcycle-vehicle collisions are all too common in Minnesota, mostly due to a lack of visibility. In fact, according to the landmark Hurt Report, over a third of these incidents are left-turn crashes. The tortfeasor (negligent driver) turns directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.

The actual number of these crashes may be higher. When the Hurt report was published, most people drove small passenger cars and low-profile station wagons. Today, many people drive large SUVs and pickup trucks. These kinds of vehicles restrict driver visibility even further.

Lack of Visibility and Buffalo Motorcycle Accidents

Most experienced bikers know that they should always assume that the other vehicles on the road do not see them. For the most part, that’s very true. To improve their visibility while riding, many riders implement some of these tips:

  • Weave slightly inside your lane,
  • Ride with your headlight on at all times,
  • Alter your muffler to make your bike a little louder,
  • Wear bright reflective helmets, or
  • Honk your horn every six or eight blocks.

These are all very common-sense suggestions. Unfortunately, there is almost no evidence that supports any of them. Furthermore, behaviors like weaving and honking may only antagonize Minnesota drivers who do not particularly like motorcycle riders in the first place. This motorcycle prejudice often comes into play in these cases, as outlined below.

Speed often makes the problem worse. And much like invisibility, motorcycle riders have no control over vehicle speeds in Buffalo. Velocity decreases reaction time. At 30mph, most vehicles travel about six car lengths between the time the driver sees a hazard and safely stops the car. At 60mph, stopping distance triples to eighteen car lengths.

Many people who make left turns against traffic accelerate suddenly to shoot through gaps between cars. So, the tortfeasor is driving at nearly full speed at the moment of impact.

Injuries in Buffalo Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle-vehicle wrecks in Buffalo almost always involve very serious injuries. The fatality rate among motorcycle riders is twenty-six times higher than the fatality rate for vehicle occupants. Unlike vehicle occupants, motorcycle riders have no restraint systems or steel cages to protect them in the event of a car crash. So, they often sustain serious injuries, including:

  • Head Injuries: The force of these collisions almost always throws riders off their bikes. If they land on their heads or necks, serious trauma injuries result. Moreover, the jarring motion by itself is often enough to cause a brain injury. It’s possible to scramble the brain without breaking the skull, just like it’s possible to scramble an egg without breaking the shell.
  • Internal Injuries: That same force causes internal organs to bump and grind together. So, victims lose a lot of blood before first responders arrive. Emergency personnel are usually more concerned with external trauma wounds. So, internal bleeding may continue unchecked for several minutes or hours.
  • Broken Bones: The hard landing often crushes bones as opposed to simply breaking them. Surgeons must use metal pins, plates, or screws to set these bones. After the metal comes out, many victims must endure months of physical therapy to regain lost function.

If the victim/plaintiff sustained a serious injury, compensation in these cases includes money for both monetary damages, such as medical bills, and nonmonetary damages, such as pain and suffering.

Liability Issues

The aforementioned motorcycle prejudice is not as prevalent in a progressive state like Minnesota, but it is still very much alive. Many jurors, especially older jurors, view motorcycle riders as reckless thugs. Therefore, they are more open to some of the defenses that insurance company lawyers often use in these cases.

Often, the tortfeasor makes statements like “I never even saw her” or “He came out of nowhere.” Assertions like this at the accident scene often means the insurance company will run the contributory negligence defense. This doctrine basically shifts blame for the crash onto the victim. For example, the insurance company lawyer may admit that the tortfeasor failed to maintain a proper lookout but argue that the victim’s reckless riding truly caused the crash.

Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. Victims are eligible for a proportional share of damages if the tortfeasor is at least 51 percent responsible for the vehicle collision.

Left-turn collisions often involve the last clear chance defense as well. This legal doctrine excuses liability if the victim had an opportunity to avoid a crash but failed to take advantage of this chance. There are two points to keep in mind. First, evasive maneuvers like sudden lane changes are much more difficult for motorcycle riders than vehicle operators. Second, the victim must have the last clear chance for this defense to apply. That’s not the same thing as the last possible chance.


Motorcycle crash victims are entitled to significant compensation, but a lawyer must fight hard to get the deserved money. For a free consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer in Buffalo, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. An attorney can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.