Louisiana Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
There is something incredibly freeing about riding a motorcycle. Unfortunately, the very element that adds to the joy of the open road can be the same element that makes this mode of transportation and adventure so dangerous; the lack of protection. Bikers revel in the fact that they are unencumbered by the confines of a car, but the lack of crumple zones, steel, aluminum, plastic, and airbags means that when a crash occurs, they are vulnerable to severe injuries or even death.
- The average motorcycle weighs 400 pounds. Compare that to the average car which weighs 4,094 pounds. In a collision between the two, the motorcycle will always take the brunt of the damage.
- Many motor vehicle drivers are inconsiderate about sharing the road with others or about obeying Louisiana’s traffic laws when it comes to motorcycles. Other drivers simply do not notice motorcyclists, which adds to the hazards of the road.
- In fact, motorcycles are the most dangerous form of motor vehicle transportation. According to the NHTSA, motorcycle riders are 5 times more likely to be injured than an occupant of a car or truck. They are also 26 times more likely to die in the event of a collision.
- According to data from the DOT and FARS, 5,458 motorcyclists were killed in the United States in 2020. This is an increase of almost 10% over 2019.
Even accidents that may seem minor at the time can have far-reaching effects for a motorcyclist. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident, contact our Louisiana motorcycle accident lawyers.
Louisiana Motorcycle Accident Statistics for 2021:
- The Louisiana statistics are not quite as dire as the national figures. Over the past 5 years in our state, the number of motorcycle fatalities has decreased by 12.8%.
- Out of the 997 vehicle fatalities in Louisiana last year, 80 were motorcycle drivers and 2 were passengers on motorcycles.
- Out of the drivers who lost their lives, 28, (or 34.1% of them) were under the influence of alcohol.
- 82.2% of all of those involved in Louisiana motorcycle crashes last year were wearing helmets.
- 1,146 people were either injured or killed in a total of 1,540 crashes.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Cars Making Left Turns In Front of Motorcycles
According to the NHTSA, 42% of fatal motorcycle crashes involving another vehicle happened because the other vehicle turned left while the motorcycle was traveling straight. This can often happen because the driver making the left turn simply doesn’t see the motorcycle. Another phenomenon occurs when the driver sees the motorcycle but assumes that it is further away than it is (our brains are used to things that are further away seeming smaller). One study on this concludes, “The size-arrival effect potentially can lead drivers to misjudge when a vehicle would arrive at an intersection and is considered a contributing factor in motorcycle accidents.”
Improper Motorcycle Passing
Motorcycles are not allowed to pass other vehicles in the same lane.
Motorcycle Following Too Closely
It is dangerous for any driver to follow too closely, but bikers are particularly vulnerable if they are involved in rear-end collisions.
Driving Motorcycle Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
According to the NHTSA, 10,142 people died as a result of drunk driving in 2019 alone. Out of motorcyclists who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2019, 42% of them were alcohol-impaired. The percentage of motorcyclists with high BAC (blood alcohol content) who died as a result of a multiple-vehicle collision is lower than that, 21%.
Other Driver Fails to Yield Right of Way to Motocycle
In accidents where motorcyclists are struck by other vehicles, ⅔ of the time it is because the other driver neglected to yield the right of way.
Lane Changing Accidents
Often other drivers change lanes without sufficiently checking their blind spots. Motorcycles are smaller than cars, so they are often overlooked, particularly by semi-trucks (already hampered by huge blind spots).
Motorcycle Hitting Potholes and Other Road Hazards
Holes in the road that may be only inconvenient for a car or truck can be catastrophic for motorcycles. Hazardous road conditions are especially likely after flooding or extreme weather, and sometimes they aren’t visible until it is too late.
Dangerous Weather Conditions
Although we don’t have to contend with blizzards in Louisiana, we do have our fair share of fog and rain which can impede visibility and make driving conditions dangerous.
Distracted Motorcycle Driving
This involves any kind of driving when the operator of the vehicle is not 100% focused on the road. The distraction may involve eating, drinking, talking, or using a cell phone to talk or text. In 2019, 3,142 people died as a result of accidents caused by distracted driving.
Aggressive and Reckless Motorcycle Driving
Aggressive driving causes 66% of all traffic fatalities.
Insufficient Motorcycle Skills
Riding a motorcycle is not exactly like riding a car, but many people attempt to take to the road on two wheels when they are not sufficiently skilled. In fact, 30% of the motorcyclists who were involved in fatal crashes in 2019 did not have a valid motorcycle license.
There was some sort of speeding involvement in 33% of all fatal motorcycle crashes in 2019. However, speeding is a problem for all vehicles and can compound any of the other factors in the list above.
Louisiana Helmet and Motorcycle Laws (Simplified)
- Only 18 states (plus Washington DC) have enacted an all-rider motorcycle helmet law; this is a law that requires all riders on a motorcycle, regardless of age or of whether they are the driver or not to wear a helmet. Louisiana is one of those states. Helmets must meet the commissioner’s specifications such as having a lining, padding, visor, and chin strap.
- It is unlawful to manufacture, sell, or distribute any motorcycle helmet that doesn’t meet the commissioner’s specifications.
- The police authorities can waive the helmet requirements for people who are participating in parades.
- It is illegal to manufacture, sell, or distribute motorcycle helmets without liability insurance of at least $100,000 to cover faults in the helmet’s design, materials, or workmanship.
- The penalty for violating any of these provisions is $50.
- Approved eye protection must be worn (untinted).
- No one on a motorcycle may attach himself to another vehicle on a roadway.
- Passengers must be equipped with footrests.
- Handlebars must not be above the operator’s shoulder height.
- Rear-facing child seats are not permitted.
- Nothing may be carried that would obstruct sightlines.
- Motorcycles get their own lane.
- Motorcyclists must not overtake in the same lane that another vehicle is in.
- No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
- Motorcyclists must not ride more than 2 abreast.
- Police officers can disregard these laws in the performance of their official duties.
Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Head Injuries from Motorcycle Accident
Although helmets are effective, saving an average of 1,872 lives per year, they are no match against the impact of other vehicles or the ground. They can lessen the risk of head injuries, but can’t eliminate them entirely. Head injuries are common in motorcycle accidents. Fully 60% of motorcyclist fatalities are the result of head injuries. Possible symptoms of traumatic brain injuries include a severe headache that doesn’t go away, loss of consciousness, confusion, balance issues, or memory problems. Recovery times can range from a few days to several months or even years.
Lower Extremity Injuries
Unless riders are thrown clear (which comes with another set of problems), they are likely to injure their legs, feet, hip, or pelvis as they are crushed or dragged along underneath their bike. In fact, 47% of those cyclists who needed medical care after a crash of this type had injuries to their lower extremities.
Bikers are often thrown from their bikes, causing them to extend an arm to try to brace themselves. This can cause serious arm injuries that can affect nerves and muscles as well as cause fractures.
Internal Injuries from Motorcycle Accident
In any accident where a rider can be either thrown or crushed, the risk of internal injuries is real. Blood vessels can be torn as a result of the blunt trauma experienced in a crash. It is also possible to have bleeding around the lungs or heart. The liver, spleen, and other organs can also be damaged.
Facial Injuries from Motorcycle Accident
Helmets, particularly full-face helmets, are effective in preventing facial injuries but unfortunately cannot work miracles. In serious cases, facial injuries and traumatic brain injuries can go together. According to the NIH, “the highest odds of traumatic brain injury were found in riders with fractures to bones of the upper face.”
Spinal Cord Injuries
These can cause partial or even full paralysis. The medical costs for this type of injury are staggering, averaging over $187,443 in the first year after the accident alone.
Road Rash Motorcycle Injuries
This may sound like an innocent scrape or slight reddening, but in serious accidents, a rider’s skin can be scraped down to the muscle by being dragged across the road surface. Riders can also face an increased risk of serious infections while recovering from this type of injury.
Motorcycle Accident Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Any accident can cause PTSD, (traffic accidents are a leading cause) but motorcycle accidents are particularly frightening because of the complete lack of protection experienced by the rider. Emotional injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are prompted by terrifying events and can result in intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in mood, or changes in physical or emotional reactions.
Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident
- If you can, call 911. Make sure to request both police and EMS.
- Make sure that you are in a safe position where you aren’t in danger of being hit by any other vehicles that may not see you.
- Even if you believe the damage to be minor, do not leave the scene.
- If there were any witnesses, ask for their contact information and request that they stay on the scene until the police arrive.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s), but do not say anything that could be construed as admitting fault. Although you may be very sorry in a general sense that everyone involved is going through such a horrible experience, do not say the word “sorry.”
- If you can, use your phone to take photographs of the scene of the accident. Include injuries and damage to all vehicles involved. Also include tread marks and location markers so that it is obvious where each vehicle ended up after the crash.
- You can also use your phone to take pictures of any contributing factors, such as a sign that was blocked, malfunctioning traffic lights, or a pothole.
- Even if you end up refusing to be transported to the hospital, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. You may have a concussion, whiplash, internal bleeding, or other serious injuries that have been masked by your adrenaline. Always get checked out.
- Call your motorcycle insurance company to report the accident and follow their advice. Do not have extensive contact with the other driver’s insurance carrier. They may try to get you to admit fault or to accept a quick settlement that does not fairly compensate you for your losses.
- Make sure to get a copy of the police report.
- Keep all of your medical receipts and documents.
- It may be useful to write down exactly what happened and to keep a diary of your pain level so that you have details to refer back to if necessary later on.
- Stay away from social media. Anything you post can be twisted and used against you.
- Seek legal advice from our Louisiana motorcycle accident lawyers before you sign any documents, admit fault, or make any recorded statements.
Quick Tips for a Safer Motorcycle Ride
To be honest, not all of the causes of motorcycle accidents can be controlled by you. You have no way of preventing the SUV driver at the next intersection from texting or speeding. Or texting and speeding. You also have no way of stopping an inebriated driver who doesn’t see you.
There are certain things you can do, however, to make yourself safer on the road
- Familiarize yourself with the different types of motorcycles. For example, Supersports (consumer versions of racing bikes) are four times more likely to be involved in accidents than cruisers or standards.
- Make sure that you are licensed and familiar with how to operate a motorcycle before you hit the road.
- Louisiana offers a variety of safety courses, from Basic, Intermediate, to Advanced, to prepare drivers for operating their motorcycles on the road.
- Follow the Louisiana motorcycle laws.
- Obey normal rules of the road and don’t speed.
- Buy an approved helmet, and always wear it.
- Wear protective clothing such as a leather jacket, gloves, long pants, and boots (not so easy to do in the Louisiana humidity, but safety counts). Basically, cover any exposed skin.
- Wear reflective clothing so that other drivers have a better chance of seeing you.
- Leave room between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. You need braking distance.
- Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Be hyper-aware of what other vehicles are doing, especially around intersections.
- Try to keep yourself out of the blind spot of any other vehicle.
- Check your bike before each ride: examine brakes, tire pressure, fluid levels, and indicator lights.
Compensation After Your Motorcycle Accident
Your claim value will depend on accident circumstances and the severity of your injuries. Potential compensation available in a motorcycle accident includes:
- Current medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Future medical treatment
- Future loss of earning capacity
- Property damage
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Permanent disability
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
In Louisiana, motorcycle drivers are required to have liability policies with these minimum coverage amounts:
- $15,000 for death or bodily injury to one person
- $30,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more persons
- $25,000 for damage or destruction of property
It is recommended that drivers augment this minimum coverage with collision coverage and comprehensive coverage.
Louisiana Motorcycle Laws
As you have read in the information above, there are many ways in which another driver could have caused your accident. Motorcycle laws are like motor vehicle laws in Louisiana: we are a “pure comparative fault” state. This means that you can still collect compensation in a lawsuit even if you were partially at fault. The amount you would win in a lawsuit is reduced by the level of fault assigned to you.
Louisiana has a statute of limitations of one year. That means that if you decide to bring a lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident, you have only one year from the day the crash occurred to file. This is why it makes sense to consult a motorcycle accident attorney to represent you as soon as possible.
When you meet with our office, we will explain the entire claims process, including the potential compensation you could recover. The amount of compensation you recover in a Louisiana motorcycle accident is directly linked to your attorney’s skills. If you represent yourself, your settlement value will likely be significantly lower than if you retain an experienced lawyer. Don’t sacrifice a portion of the compensation you are owed; let our skilled legal team help.
When you hire Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC to represent you, we will protect your rights and fight for the maximum compensation possible. We will conduct an independent investigation and gather all evidence. We will make sure all responsible parties are on notice and speak with witnesses.
After we have your medical records and billing, we will verify the extent of your injuries and what your future prognosis is. In serious injury cases, we may need to retain medical experts and vocational experts to explain what your future care needs will be.
Negotiating with insurance companies is one of the most stressful aspects of a claim. We will handle all of these negotiations for you. If discussions break down or there’s an impasse on liability, we will prepare to file a lawsuit on your behalf. If it becomes necessary to take your case to trial, we have the resources and experience. We aren’t afraid to back down from an aggressive court battle.
To learn more about how we can help you after being injured in a motorcycle accident, contact Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC today to schedule an initial consultation.
Call 504-788-2994 or contact us online.