Information For Ohio Motorcyclists: Your Risks, Your Rights

When you first started riding, you probably heard friends or family members comment on the injury threat of motorcycles. Maybe they said, "Motorcycles are dangerous!"

Motorcycles themselves aren't dangerous, if the rider is properly trained and respects the strengths and limitations of the machine he or she rides. However, the environment that Ohio bikers ride in certainly is dangerous. Weather, wildlife and poorly maintained roads bring a real risk of injury or death. Of course, the biggest threat motorcyclists face is passenger vehicles, like cars or trucks, also known as "cagers."

A recent study in Florida found that caged motorists are at fault in 60 percent of car-motorcycle collisions. That number is much too high, especially when considering the rising popularity of motorcycles and trikes.

'I Didn't See Him'

The most common type of motorcycle accident is when a car or truck driver doesn't "see" a motorcyclist. A more accurate statement would be, "I didn't look for a motorcycle before turning."

These crashes occur when the caged motorist turns in front of the motorcycle. The accidents usually involve a left turn across the motorcyclist's path, although right-turn crashes are also common. In these crashes, the cager is often cited for "failure to yield" to the motorcycle, which had the right of way.

This type of car-motorcycle collision is often fatal when the bike is traveling at high speeds, such as on a highway, but these crashes routinely occur in any setting - urban, rural or residential.

Single-Motorcycle Crashes

In an earlier era, accidents involving only a motorcycle were the most prevalent form of motorcycle crashes. Improvements in rider safety education and stricter drunk driving laws and enforcement have drastically reduced single-vehicle motorcycle accidents. Today, half of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve a caged motorist.

Some people find it surprising that single-motorcycle crashes aren't always the fault of the biker. Circumstances that may place fault on a third party include:

  • Defective highways: unmarked construction zones, dangerous potholes or other road hazards caused by negligence
  • Motorcycle defects
  • Mechanics' errors
  • Accidents where another driver enters a motorcyclist's lane, causing him or her to crash, then flees the scene
  • Collisions with domesticated animals: dogs, horses or cows

Even in multivehicle motorcycle accidents, caged motorists aren't always involved. Unfortunately, danger can come in the form of a fellow rider.

Group-Riding Accidents

A recent accident in Walnut Hills, Ohio, shows how one motorcyclist's mistake can put fellow bikers' lives in peril. Two motorcycles were traveling east on Martin Luther King Drive when one of the riders lost control of his Hayabusa 1300. He struck the rear tire of a man on a Yamaha then swerved into the westbound lanes and struck a Suzuki GSXR.

The man on the Yamaha suffered life-threatening injuries after ending up underneath a Dodge Avenger. The riders on the Hayabusa and Suzuki were also hospitalized, but doctors expect them to survive and recover.

This Cincinnati area crash is a bit unusual - motorcycles traveling in opposite directions don't usually collide with each other - but it shows how one rider's error can quickly put many bikers in danger. This is the risk with group riding.

There are two basic keys to group riding: leadership and organization. Good leaders will organize the motorcycle pack and ensure that everyone is on the same page. They will keep an extra eye on novice motorcyclists within the group.

When done properly, group riding increases both the enjoyment and safety of motorcyclists. Effective group riding makes motorcycles more visible to passenger vehicle motorists, decreasing the threat of the biggest danger Ohio bikers face: the dreaded failure to "see" a motorcyclist accident.

Healing Takes Time, Money

An accident may leave a motorcyclist in a poor situation, physically and financially. Injuries may render the victim unable to work, or worse, may necessitate a prolonged hospitalization. It may take weeks, months or years to recover - if ever - and the victim needs to be compensated for medical bills, lost wages and other areas of life impacted by the crash. Because insurance policies have limitations and companies aim to minimize claims payouts, a personal injury lawsuit is often necessary to recover sufficient money damages.

When a fatal motorcycle crash leaves a family hurting, a wrongful death claim can provide compensation for the profound loss. Ohio wrongful death suits allow certain family members to collect compensation on behalf of the deceased. Ohio statutes provide that the spouse and children recover this money; if the victim was unmarried with no children, then his or her parents and siblings are next in order. If none of those scenarios apply, then more distant relatives may be entitled to collect damages. An Ohio wrongful death lawyer can assess your specific situation.

If a motorcycle crash has seriously harmed you or a family member, it's wise to speak with an experienced Ohio motor vehicle accident attorney. Don't delay; Ohio has strict time limits for bringing injury or death claims.

About Rittgers & Rittgers

Rittgers & Rittgers is a successful personal injury law firm in southern Ohio. We provide case evaluations for motorcycle accident victims and their families. Contact us for your consultation.