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The most common causes of motorcycle accidents


Motorcycles continue to become more common on our roads, which has led to an increase in motorcycle-related accidents. While there are some things about motorcycles that do make them more dangerous to ride, the most common cause of accidents is other motorists.

That means most accidents could not have been avoided by the motorcyclist. Understanding the common types and causes of motorcycle accidents can help you determine if you can seek compensation for costs incurred due to a motorcycle accident.

Facts About Motorcycle Accidents

A Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) report detailed some of the risks for motorcyclists on the road.

  • Motorcyclists are more likely than motorists to die in an accident — Motorcycle-related fatalities have more than doubled in the last 25 years. They now account for over 14% of all traffic fatalities, though motorcycles only account for about 3% of all vehicles on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that only 20 percent of automobile crashes result in injury or death, while some 80 percent of motorcycle crashes.
  • California has a high motorcycle fatality rate —​ California has nearly 850,000 registered motorcycles, the most in the U.S. This is probably why California has slightly more motorcycle-related traffic deaths than the national average.
  • Safety gear can save lives — Pads and leather can sometimes prevent injury. Helmets should be considered a must (they are mandatory in California). According to the GHSA report, helmets give you a 67 percent chance of avoiding brain injury and a 37 percent chance of surviving a motorcycle accident.
  • Weekend riding is the most dangerous — Weekends are a popular time to ride, which is why about half of all accidents happen on weekends. You are more likely to die in a motorcycle accident after 6 p.m. on a weekend than at any other time.
  • Too many motorcyclists are riding impaired — The sad truth is that in 26 percent of fatal motorcycle incidents, the rider had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that was at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. These riders are endangering themselves and others.
  • Women are more likely to die as passengers — Almost 70 percent of females who died in motorcycle crashes were passengers, while men who died were usually driving. 

Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Other Motorists

Around 75 percent of accidents involving motorcycles were caused by other motorists. Common types include:

  • Left-turn accidents — These occur when a car or truck attempts to turn left and do not notice the motorcycle beside them that is continuing straight. About 4 in 10 car-and-motorcycle accidents are of this type, making them the most common. These are right-of-way violations, which California takes very seriously, but you may need legal representation to get fully compensated for such an incident.
  • Rear-end collision — This is the second most common type of accident, accounting for 25 percent of all car-and-motorcycle collisions. Generally, the motorist does not notice the motorcycle in front of him or misjudges the time it takes to stop his vehicle. Even at slow speeds, this may cause the motorcyclist to be thrown from her bike and possibly into the path of other vehicles.
  • Head-on collisions — These are the most deadly, making up almost 80 percent of motorcycle accident fatalities. These tend to occur when going around blind curves or when one vehicle drifts across the yellow lines and the motorcyclist lack space to avoid them due to other traffic.

Motorcycle Accidents Caused by the Motorcyclist

About 25% of motorcycle accidents are caused by the motorcyclist. The most common causes of such accidents are:

  • Alcohol or Drug Use — Riding while intoxicated is a significant contributor to accidents where the motorcyclist is at fault.
  • Rider Experience — Newer and younger riders may make mistakes while riding that lead to accidents such as riding too fast or faster than they can handle, locking up their front brakes, or not following safety rules. They may also overreact or overcompensate during close calls and collide with an object or another vehicle.
  • Buddy Experience — If you’re riding with an inexperienced rider, he may take risks that endanger you. Or he may do something unsafe such as ride too closely or stop suddenly in front of you.
  • Reckless Riding — Speeding, passing too close to other vehicles, weaving in and out of traffic, entering turns too quickly, or failing to see hazards on the road such as gravel or debris.
  • High-performance / supersport motorcycles — If your bike is built for speed, you are more likely to want to see what it can really do. You are also likely under 30, meaning you have less experience and may be more likely to take risks. Supersport motorcyclists are four times more like to die in a motorcycle accident than riders of other motorcycles.

Motorcycle Accident Compensation & Settlements

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another motorist, that driver’s insurance payout may not be enough to adequately compensate you for the full costs of the accident. We can help you recover financially from a motorcycle accident—often without going to court.

Accident settlements can cover expenses such as:

  • Medical care — Emergency room and hospital fees, doctor fees, dental work, therapy, and related personal medical costs.
  • Follow-up / ongoing care — Rehabilitation, physical therapy, psychotherapy, in-home care, medical or equipment
  • Work Loss — Your injury may cause you to miss work or be unable to return to the same job. We can help cover temporary or permanent disability insurance or even retraining for a new profession.
  • Pain & Suffering — This is, of course, a very broad, indefinable category, but it is true that the emotional pain caused for you or for survivors takes a real toll. No settlement can fix everything, but it may help you feel some sense of justice and closure. These claims can be complicated and difficult to win, so it is important to work closely with us to build a strong case.
  • Wrongful Death — If a loved one was killed in a motorcycle accident, you can claim compensation for expenses such as the funeral, burial, and so on.

Lem Garcia Law focuses on delivering great results as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are often able to resolve cases before filing a lawsuit because insurance carriers respect our reputation for fighting for our clients. If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident and you would like to learn more about fair and just compensation options, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.