Kentucky Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycles are powerful, usually loud, and provide riders with a unique experience of being open to the outdoors at a very high speed. That very openness also means that there is very little protection for riders when something goes wrong: no strong metal compartment to keep the rider from smashing into objects or slamming to the road surface at high speed. This is exacerbated by the absence of safety devices and restraints common to passenger cars, like airbags and seatbelts.
Sturdy clothing and safety helmets are pretty much all that stand between a motorcycle rider’s body and anything the rider crashes into, and these provide scant protection in accidents involving speeds like 50 or 60 miles an hour. Those forces are doubled if, for example, the motorcycle is traveling 50 miles an hour when a truck also traveling 50 miles per hour crashes into it head on.
Despite the obviously increased danger of severe injury and death when there is an accident, motorcycles remain extremely popular with many people for both transportation and recreation.
Background and Statistics
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data for 2015 shows that, nationally, there were 4,976 motorcyclists killed (an increase over 2014 of 8 percent), and another 88,000 motorcyclists who suffered injuries but survived (a decrease of 3 percent from 2014). On a per-mile-travelled basis, motorcycles were 29 times more likely to be involved in an accident than were passenger car occupants.
In Kentucky in 2015:
- 100,018 motorcycles were registered in Kentucky
- 1,778 motorcycles were involved in collisions
- Motorcycles were far more heavily represented in fatal collisions (7percent of all fatal collisions) than in non-fatal collisions (one percent )
- 1,272 people were injured in motorcycle accidents
- 87 motorcyclists were killed in accidents
- 25 percent of those killed had a blood alcohol level of .01 or higher
- 20 percent had a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher
- 11 percent had a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher
Kentucky Helmet Law
While Kentucky once required that all motorcyclists wear helmets, that law was changed almost 30 years ago to limit the requirement of wearing a helmet to very narrow groups of motorcycle operators:
- Those under 21 years old
- Those holding only a motorcycle instruction permit
- Those who have been fully licensed for less than one year
Disputing Claims that Motorcyclist was at Fault
It is common for the defendant in a motorcycle accident case to blame the motorcyclist’s actions for causing or at least contributing to the accident. Typical claims include that the motorcyclist was:
- Speeding (exceeding a posted speed limit or simply going too fast for the conditions at the time and place of the accident)
- Riding dangerously in some way (weaving in and out, passing in an unsafe manner, etc.)
- Under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
These claims require considerable effort and experience to rebut, and rebuttal is crucial to the motorcyclist’s right to recover damages.
Single Vehicle Accidents
If a motorcycle accident involves another vehicle or several vehicles, there will usually be both multiple witnesses and the kind of wreckage and debris that often makes it possible to recreate the accident in great detail. If no other vehicle is involved, as when the motorcycle goes into a skid, or simply crashes into a fixed object like a guardrail or a building, there may not be any other witnesses, and the crash scene may not establish why the motorcycle accident occurred.
Even though these kinds of accidents are often caused by factors beyond the control of the motorcyclist—from defects in the motorcycle itself, to animals or debris in the roadway that caused the motorcyclist to swerve violently—for many people, including some law enforcement officers, motorcyclists still have a bad image. That makes it easy for the investigating officers to lay responsibility for the accident on the motorcyclist by presuming that the rider was speeding, reckless, inexperienced, or the like. Anyone who might be potentially liable has an obvious interest in hiding behind the report.
For the motorcyclist, these can be difficult cases, but an experienced Kentucky motorcycle accident lawyer can see beyond the conclusions in the police report and examine the tangible evidence to see if the accident report is justified.
Legal Help for the Injured in Kentucky
Serious motorcycle accidents produce some of the most severe injuries imaginable: paralysis, brain damage, disfigurement, amputations, and many other injuries that affect the victim’s remaining life. And, of course, many victims die from their injuries. Recovery from the people responsible for these injuries is crucial for victims and their families.
You need lawyers equal to the task of standing up for you and your rights. At the law firm of Lowder & McGill, PLLC, in we will persistently and aggressively pursue your claim until you receive a fair award, whether that be through a settlement or at the end of a trial. Whether you have been injured or are pursuing a wrongful death claim on behalf of the victim and family, call Lowder & McGill today to speak with an experienced Kentucky motorcycle accident attorney. There is no charge for talking to us, and no fee for handling your case unless you recover. If you are too injured to travel, just let us know and we’ll come to you.