As the calendar inches toward spring, there will be more motorcycle riders on the road. The number of riders has increased significantly since 2008. The number of motorcycle crashes has increased commensurately, and in many cases, these crashes cause catastrophic injuries.
Consequently, many motorcycle crash victims may work with a Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer and obtain significant compensation. If the victim sustained a serious injury, that compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Minnesota law generally defines a “serious injury” as one that involves more than $4,000 in medical bills.
What Causes Motorcycle Crashes?
Driver inattention causes about a third of the motorcycle crashes in Minnesota. Left turns are a particular hazard. In many cases, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) waits to make a left turn against traffic, shoots through a supposed gap in traffic, and turns directly into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
When these crashes happen, the tortfeasor typically says something like the motorcycle rider “came out of nowhere.” That phrase usually means that the tortfeasor was not maintaining a proper lookout.
Nevertheless, these incidents sometimes give rise to the last clear chance defense, so a Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer should be ready for this legal loophole. If the motorcycle rider had a reasonable chance to avoid a head-on collision, perhaps by changing lanes, the rider is legally responsible for the crash if s/he failed to take advantage of that chance.
This defense is normally inapplicable in motorcycle crash cases. It is almost impossible to maneuver a motorcycle in an emergency. Even experienced riders may lose control, causing a far worse crash.
Alcohol causes almost half of the motorcycle crashes in Wright County. Just one sip of alcohol impairs judgment and slows reflexes, significantly increasing the risk of a crash.
Alcohol-related motorcycle crashes often involve dram shop liability. Under Minnesota law, grocery stores, bars, convenience stores, restaurants, and other commercial alcohol providers may be liable for damages if their impaired patrons negligently injure someone else. Minnesota Statutes section 340A.801 applies if the sale was illegal. Such transactions include:
- After-hours sales, and
- Sales to obviously intoxicated persons.
Third party liability theories like this one are especially important in catastrophic injury situations. Minnesota has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. So, many tortfeasors do not have sufficient coverage to fully compensate the victim/plaintiff. Vicarious liability theories give these individuals an additional source of recovery.
Motorcycle Crash Injuries
Many motorcycle crashes do involve catastrophic injuries. In fact, motorcycle riders are twenty-eight times more likely to die in a crash than vehicle occupants. Some common injuries include:
- Internal Bleeding: Typically, vehicle-on-motorcycle collisions throw the rider off the bike. When that happens, internal organs bump and grind against one another. Since these organs have no protective skin, the bleeding is often intense. Typically, the victim is on the verge of hypovolemic shock and organ shut-down before emergency responders even arrive.
- Head Injuries: Motorcycle helmets prevent some forms of head injuries. But they do not protect against neck injuries. Furthermore, helmets do not prevent motion-related head injuries. Just like a person can scramble an egg just by shaking it, a sudden violent motion can scramble the brain.
- Broken Bones: Even if they are not life-threatening, these injuries are often debilitating. Typically, doctors must use metal pins or screws to set the bone. As a result, the victim must undergo extensive physical therapy to regain lost function.
Injuries like these demand immediate medical attention. But many health insurance companies do not pay for MVC (Motor Vehicle Collision) losses. Fortunately, a Buffalo motorcycle crash attorney can usually arrange for medical care at no upfront cost. Later, an attorney can also negotiate with the provider for a lower fee. As a result, the victim keeps more of the settlement money.
How Buffalo Motorcycle Crash Lawyers Obtain Maximum Compensation
The last clear chance defense may not be effective in most of these cases. However, the insurance company still has some tricks up its sleeve.
Contributory negligence is one of these tricks. This doctrine shifts blame for the crash from the tortfeasor to the victim. For example, the insurance company might admit that the tortfeasor was drunk, but point out that the motorcycle rider was speeding.
Minnesota is a modified comparative fault state with a 51 percent bar. So, even if the victim is 49 percent responsible for the crash, the victim is still entitled to a proportional share of damages.
Comparative fault is often easier to prove in motorcycle crash cases, due to the motorcycle prejudice. This mentality is not as strong as it was, but it is still pervasive. Many Wright County jurors believe that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs.
Understanding the motorcycle prejudice may be the key to overcoming it. In most cases, it is fairly easy to hate a group, such as motorcycle riders, white people, Democrats, or whatever. But it is much harder to hate an individual. So, a Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer might emphasize the victim’s good character, to separate the victim from the prejudice.
Reach Out to Experienced Attorneys
Motorcycle crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo motorcycle crash lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in Wright County and nearby jurisdictions.