An estimated 4,957 motorcyclists were killed in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This figure has risen since 1994, when there were 2,320 motorcycle fatalities. That fatalities would increase is not altogether unsurprising, as the number of registered motorcycles in the country increased from 3.8 million in 1997 to 7.1 million in 2007, and the number of new motorcycles sold increased from just 260,000 in 1997 to 885,000 in 2007, according the U.S. Department of Transportation.
There is generally no such thing as a minor motorcycle accident, given how exposed and vulnerable to injury motorcyclists can be. In addition to death, there are innumerable other life-altering injuries that can occur in a motorcycle accident, including brain damage, concussions, broken bones, soft tissue damage, paralysis, and facial disfigurement.
There have of course been incredible advances over the years in safety technologies for motorcyclists, including the materials used in protective equipment (helmets, jackets, pants, gloves, boots, etc.) and safety equipment on the bicycle itself (such as airbags and crash bars). But serious injuries can still result, particularly when a motorcyclist comes into contact with another vehicle. As long as all vehicle drivers are mindful of others with whom they are sharing the road, accidents should be prevented. But all too often, cars and other vehicles on the road are not paying attention when a motorcycle is nearby, and fail to recognize that even a minor accident for the motorcyclist can be very serious. Not paying attention and not recognizing the heightened risks can cause a vehicle to cut off a motorcyclist, swerve into them, get too close to the motorcyclist, and a host of other actions that can seriously injure the motorcyclist.
Helmet laws have received a lot of attention, and one of the first questions asked in any motorcycle accident was whether a helmet was worn. Perhaps a more important question is whether a helmet was required. It is important to remember that not all states have the same helmet laws for motorcyclists. According to the CDC, the following states require helmets for all riders: Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. The following states have helmet laws for riders 20 years old and younger: Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhodes Island, South Carolina, and Texas. The following state has helmet laws for riders 18 years old and younger: Delaware. The following states have helmet laws for riders 17 years old and younger: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Finally, the following states have no helmet laws: Illinois, Iowa, New Hampshire.
According to the CDC, motorcycle accidents injure young and old, men and women. In 2010, more than half the persons injured in motorcycle accidents were people 40 or over, and while only 10% of riders injured in 2010 were female, 89% of passengers in motorcycle accident were female.
If you or a loved one has been injured in connection with a motorcycle, the lawyers at Morrow & Sheppard can help. Please call us or click here for a free, confidential consultation.
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