Motorcycles offer the rider an unparalleled sense of freedom that cannot be replicated in a typical motor vehicle. The feeling of being on the highways of Missouri or Kansas with little in the way of a nonstop ride, makes any motorcyclist crazy with anticipation. The highways of Missouri and Kansas offer motorcyclists a unique opportunity many do not get to experience throughout the country: traffic-free highways.
Unfortunately, the freedom that comes with driving a motorcycle offers little protection during an accident with a motor vehicle, thereby often leading to extreme injuries. The news is often full of reports of terrible motorcycle accidents and the lingering damaged caused by these accidents, which can quickly become fatal. Motorcyclists have little to protect them from the elements and only a helmet to protect their head from a collision. The rest of their body is unprotected, and therefore when a large semi-trailer comes barreling into an innocent motorcyclist, the results can be catastrophic.
Other drivers often do not seek out motorcyclists when changing lanes or making turns, often resulting in terrible accidents. The failure of other drivers to search for motorcyclists on the road has led to many public awareness campaigns throughout Kansas and Missouri, although unfortunately the number of accidents and resulting fatalities has remained relatively steady over the last ten years. If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to bring a claim for damages.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
The most recent data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) indicates that the overall trend of motorcyclist fatalities is on the slow decline. The number of motorcycle fatalities decreased approximately 2 percent from 2013 and 2014, and decreased 6 percent between 2012 and 2013. However, there were still approximately 4,500 motorcycle fatalities in 2014, indicating an ongoing need to determine a solution to this issue throughout the country.
When Do Motorcycle Accident Injuries and Fatalities Most Often Occur?
The Missouri State Highway Patrol keeps careful records of the total number of accidents which motorists are involved in during any given year within the state of Missouri. The total number of motorcycle accidents in Missouri over a ten-year period reached a peak in 2012, with a total of 2,059 crashes resulting in nearly 2,400 people injured, and nearly 100 fatalities. However, during this same period, the number of fatal crashes was the highest in 2008, with 103 accidents. In 2014, the state of Missouri reported 363,000 licensed motorcycle drivers.
Similar to Missouri, Kansas experienced a marked increase in the number of motorcycle accidents in 2012, with 1,324 total accidents. Out of this number, there were a reported 1,010 injuries, and 46 fatalities. However, over a ten-year period, the highest year in terms of fatalities was in 2006. In 2014, Kansas reported a total of 219,000 registered motorcycle drivers. The trend in Kansas has been on the increase since 2004, indicating a higher number of motorcyclists involved in serious accidents. Whether this is due to a higher number of motorcyclists on the roads, or a general lack of caring by the public in terms of being aware of motorcyclists, it is important to study this number to determine what can be done to reduce the number of tragic motorcycle accidents.
Motorcycle Accident Injuries in Missouri
Motorcyclists understand that receiving injuries is common as a rider of a motorcycle, but this does not mean they expect severe injuries each time they take out their motorcycle. While deaths resulting from car and bus accidents reached an all-time low in 2008, deaths from motorcycle accidents reached an all-time high in 2008, more than doubling over the last decade.
Nonfatal motorcycle accidents have equally catastrophic results, as some of the most common injuries are to the head and neck. Along with the increase in fatal motorcycle accidents, nonfatal motorcycle accidents additionally increased over the last decade. Motorcycle accidents can be caused by a number of reasons, including:
- Distracted drivers
- Motorcycle part deficiencies
- Drunk driving
- Texting or cell phone usage
Many of these can be remedied by drivers who are better aware of their surroundings and take care to avoid motorcyclists. Therefore, these distracted drivers should be held liable for any injuries caused due to their negligence and a dedicated Kansas City motorcycle accident lawyer at Dickerson Oxton, LLC can help ensure that happens.
Missouri and Kansas Motorcycle Laws
Both Missouri and Kansas provide victims of motorcycle accidents with an avenue to claim damages after a motorcycle accident. Both states are comparative negligence states, which means that an accident victim will be able to claim the full amount of damages from the responsible party after an accident. However, this amount will be reduced by the percentage which the victim was found to be at fault. For example, if the accident report indicates that the motorcyclist did not signal a lane change, resulting in an accident, the motorcyclist may not be able to recover the full amount of damages after an accident.
Additionally, Kansas is a modified comparative negligence state. Therefore, if the victim of an accident is found to be greater than 49 percent at fault for the accident or resulting injuries, the victim may be barred from any recovery. However, if the victim is found to be 49 percent at fault, then the defendant will still have to cover 51 percent of the applicable damages, as determined by the court.
It is therefore extremely important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney shortly after a motorcycle accident to ensure you receive the full amount of damages you are entitled to receive after the accident. A personal injury attorney will additionally assist you in determining the full amount of damages you are entitled to receive, which will often include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future earnings
- Pain and suffering
After any tragic motorcycle accident, it is important to take into consideration the impact your injuries will have on your future. Some motorcycle accidents are so traumatic that the victim will be unable to return to work, and therefore consideration must be paid to the amount of wages the victim could have received over the next decades. The ongoing psychological impact of a devastating accident will also affect the future of any motorcyclist involved in a severe accident, and it is important to take this time to take care of yourself and truly recover from the accident.
Motorcycle Safety Precautions
Both states have taken great measures to increase public awareness of motorcyclists on the roads, although accidents continue to occur. Motor vehicle drivers must constantly be on the lookout for motorcyclists on the highways when changing lanes or making abrupt traffic maneuvers. Motorcyclists do not have the ability to be easily visible in all situations, although an astute driver will be able to observe a motorcyclist and make the appropriate adjustments to avoid an accident.
Motorcyclists should also take safety precautions when driving to try to curb the impact an accident may have on their health. Helmets are the number one item which can protect an individual when on a motorcycle and is often the deciding factor between death or a serious injury in a motorcycle accident.
Motorcyclists should also perform double duty when driving to be on the lookout for erratic car and truck drivers. This should not be the case for motorcyclists, but will often help protect them from dangerous and deadly accidents.
What to do after an Accident and Insurance Claims
After any accident, it is important to ensure a police report is filed which details the circumstances of the accident and includes any witness statements. Once a personal injury attorney gets involved in the case, they will be able to make the decision as to whether to contact the witnesses involved in the accident. However, the police report will often trigger insurance companies to contact both parties.
It is important to avoid speaking to an insurance agent if you are considering legal action against the other driver. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and will often attempt to coerce a settlement with the victim, regardless of the extent of the injuries. While an insurance company will give the victim an immediate payout, this monetary sum will not take into consideration future expenses such as lost wages and ongoing medical care. Insurance companies will often only consider ongoing medical care and will make a good-faith attempt to offer a modest pecuniary sum as well. However, a legal claim will often be much larger, and insurance companies know this so will often be ruthless in their attempts to coerce a settlement. Therefore, try to avoid a discussion with an insurance agent until you have spoken with an experienced personal injury attorney. A settlement may impede the ability to bring a claim for damages in the future.
Motorcycle Accident Victims
As a victim of a motorcycle accident, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, both physical and emotional. Since motorcycle injuries are so traumatic, they frequently require prolonged hospital stays and rehabilitative treatment. These costs can be significant and you should not be forced to pay for them if the accident was not your fault. Many victims additionally suffer a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, which can cause them high anxiety or depression about every getting in a motor vehicle again. You should not have to suffer through life alone in this way, and the responsible party must be made to answer for their negligence.
Accidents should not be a punishment to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists should not be forced to answer for the lack of safety which goes hand in hand with motorcycles, but should instead be shown respect on the road through safe driving and should receive compensation for injuries received due to the negligence of other drivers.
Dickerson Oxton | Kansas City Motorcycle Attorneys
The attorneys of Dickerson Oxton, LLC have been representing victims of motorcycle accidents for years and are well versed in Kansas and Missouri personal injury laws. Time often seems to stand still after any devastating accident, although our attorneys will pick up the pieces and fight for your claim while you focus on the most important thing: your recovery. Motorcycle accidents will impact a victim far more than the ordinary motor vehicle accident, and a claim filed by our attorneys will ensure that the court is aware of this distinction. Contact our Kansas City attorneys today for your initial free consultation.