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Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle AccidentsMotorcycle accidents often involve serious personal injuries and can be catastrophic. Motorcyclists are out in the open and the body and head are exposed. Unlike an automobile, a motorcycle does not have a carriage or steel frame to protect the rider from other vehicles and objects. Minor collisions can have more serious consequences for the motorcycle rider. In Delaware, over the past decade, there were 3,728 motorcycle accidents of which 2,491 riders were injured and 172 were killed.

Motorcyclists are at risk to several types of common accidents including

  • Left hand turn accidents – a motorcycle is not as large as a car or automobile and is not as visible. Oncoming traffic may not see an oncoming motorcycle.
  • Head-on collisions – head-on collisions occur where another motorist travels into the oncoming lane and strikes the rider. This is one of the most common type of motorcycle accidents. These accidents often occur at high speeds and increase the chance of serious injury or death.
  • Roadway Defects – motorcyclists are more susceptible to be get in an accident because of uneven pavement, potholes, seams in the pavement, road construction defects, and bridge expansion joints.
  • Rear-end collisions – if the motorcyclist is rear-ended by another automobile, the injuries can be serious. A car or truck is heavier than a motorcycle and cannot stop as quickly.

Motorcycle injuries that could occur due to an accident include

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Concussion
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Road rash
  • Lacerations
  • Leg injuries
  • Broken back/neck
  • Fractured spine/
  • Broken collar bones
When Does a Motorcycle Rider Have a Valid Personal Injury Claim?

The motorcyclist has a claim for damages when the other motorist was negligent and caused injury to the rider. The fact that an accident occurred is not evidence of negligence. A motorist can be negligent by driving unreasonably, breaking traffic laws, or not maintaining a proper lookout for the biker. The negligence of the motorist must have directly caused the accident and injuries to the motorcycle rider. In Delaware, a medical doctor must testify that the accident caused the injuries. There also may be situations where a motorcycle rider can recover against a contractor or government entity for road conditions that are hazardous to the rider.

What if the Motorcycle Rider Was Speeding, Weaving in and Out of Traffic or Lane Splitting[1]?

Any of the above illegal actions could defeat a motorcycle rider’s claim for damages. Delaware is a comparative negligence state. In Delaware, a negligent rider can still recover if the rider is 50% or less at-fault than the defendant. The money award will simply be reduced by the percentage of the rider’s fault or negligence. Be aware, if an injured rider is making dangerous maneuvers that caused the accident, the court could throw that case out on summary judgment[2] before it reaches trial.

Getting Paid on a Motorcycle Claim

In motorcycle accident cases, injuries are often serious and medical treatment costs can be greater than available insurance coverage. This is an ongoing issue. For example, if a rider has $100,000 in outstanding medical bills due to serious injury and the at-fault driver only has the minimum liability coverage of $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident, this creates a problem. The rider will owe more in medical bills than the at-fault driver has in insurance and the rider’s settlement check could go to medical providers.

Here are steps I use in my practice to attack this coverage issue and get the rider the most money available:

  1. File a PIP Application – on your motorcycle policy you will have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover medical bills or lost wages free and clear regardless of fault. PIP coverage is sometimes referred to as “no-fault” coverage in Delaware. If you do not have health insurance, you may want to apply your PIP benefits to cover a portion of your medical bills.[3] Unfortunately, motorcycle insurance is separate coverage from your automobile policy. Many times, clients only have the minimum PIP coverage of $15,000 per person on their motorcycle policy.
  2. Negotiate Liens with Medical Providers – once the case settles any outstanding medical bills are considered liens on your settlement money or award. Again, large medical liens can eat up your award or settlement. Medical liens may be reduced by certain medical providers through negotiation post-settlement. My office will work with medical providers to negotiate or reduce medical liens.
  3. File an uninsured/underinsured claim – once the initial lawsuit is settled against the at-fault driver, a claim can be filed on your motorcycle policy for uninsured/underinsured benefits. This claim asks your insurance company to pay out benefits because the at-fault driver did not have adequate insurance to cover your pain and suffering and/or medical bills.
Motorcycle Helmets What is the Law on Motorcycle Helmets in Delaware?

Delaware law states that riders over the age of 19 do not have to wear helmets but have to carry or possess a helmet on the bike. Helmets are required for all riders up to 19 years of age. Of the 14 motorcyclists killed in Delaware in 2020, 12 were wearing helmets.

If I am in an Accident and Do Not Wear a Helmet While Can That Affect My Claim?

If you are a motorcycle accident victim over 19 years old, failure to wear a helmet cannot be used against you in court. It will not affect your recovery for any brain or head injury. You did not violate the law.

What is the Statute of Limitations on a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

A lawsuit must be filed within two (2) years from the motorcycle accident that caused the injuries. If the case is not settled or a lawsuit filed within the timeframe, the claim will be lost.

I recommend you contact an attorney as soon as possible. It may be important to photograph the bike, investigate the accident scene, interview witnesses, put the at-fault insurance carrier on notice of representation and begin negotiations.

Contact Jason R. Antoine Attorney for a Free Consultation

If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident contact Jason R. Antoine, Motorcycle Accident Attorney at (302) 482-4802. My office offers free consultations on all motorcycle accident cases and does not charge any type of fee unless we recover. We can walk you through the entire process and there is no obligation to sign up.

Jason grew up riding street bikes, dirt bikes and ATV’s. Jason quit riding several years ago when one of his friends, a fellow rider, was involved in a serious head-on collision that almost cost him his life.

[1] Lane splitting is where the motorcycle rider cuts through traffic by riding in between cars on or near the lane lines.

[2] Summary judgment is where the court can dismiss a lawsuit in favor of one of the parties because no issues of material fact exist. In other words, there is no need to have a trial because one side can’t prove their case or win at trial.

[3] Beware that some motorcycle PIP policies may have a deductible or exclude single vehicle motorcycle accidents that do not involve another vehicle and accidents that happen off of a highway. If you elected to exclude such coverages Delaware law requires that these elections must have been made in writing.

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"I was in an auto accident and had soft tissue injuries. I hired Mr. Antoine and he was able to get a settlement from my insurance company that was five times more than what they originally offered me. He is very professional and a great lawyer." Lisa D.