Motorcycles can be a great way to travel, but the risks of injury and death are also much higher than with larger vehicles. According to national statistics, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to experience a deadly accident than drivers of cars, accounting for approximately 13% of all roadway fatalities. Passengers on a motorcycle are 5.5 times more likely to die than passengers in a car or truck. The leading cause of death is head injury, and riders are 40% more likely to die if they are not wearing a helmet.
A couple of motorcycle crashes in Indiana over the past month highlight these grim statistics. A few weeks ago, a Plymouth, Indiana, woman died after a motorcycle crash on northbound Interstate 65, near Crown Point. The 55-year old woman was a passenger while her husband drove the motorcycle. As her husband was changing lanes, the motorcycle struck an area of road that was uneven because of recent repaving, and lost control of the motorcycle. The motorcycle flipped over and both husband and wife flew over the barrier cables, into the median. The wife died at the scene, while the husband was airlifted to a hospital in Crown Point and later to a hospital in Oak Law, Illinois with severe injuries. Authorities claimed that signs were in place notifying drivers of the roadway conditions. There is no word as to whether the husband failed to see the signs, or drove in a manner that was reckless or unreasonable.
Recently, another motorcycle passenger died after a collision with a pickup truck. The 27-year old woman was riding with her boyfriend southbound on State Road 135, with the boyfriend allegedly passing other vehicles in a no-passing zone. At a hill crest, they encountered the pickup truck, which was northbound. The boyfriend swerved to avoid hitting the truck, losing control of the motorcycle in the northbound lane. The pickup truck likewise tried to avoid the motorcycle, but wound up hitting the woman before hitting a nearby tree. Neither the woman nor her boyfriend were wearing motorcycle helmets, and the woman died at the scene. Her boyfriend was taken to a hospital for toxicology screening, while the truck driver was taken to a local hospital for neck and back pain.
Any accident should be carefully investigated to determine who is at fault — whether the motorcycle driver, the car or truck driver, or a third source, such as a state construction unit. As with car and truck drivers, motorcycle drivers have a duty of care to other drivers and passengers to act reasonably under the circumstances. Someone injured by a motorcycle driver could argue that it was due to his or her unreasonable behavior. Yet the amount that person could collect in a lawsuit depends upon how at fault the injured party was for the accident. Indiana has a system of "modified comparative negligence," where the injured party can collect as long as he or she is 50% or less at fault. So if a car driver were injured in a collision with a motorcycle, he or she could not collect if 51% at fault. If you are ever in an accident, involving a motorcycle or otherwise, contact an experienced Indiana car accident attorney to find out more.
Miller & Falkner is a plaintiffs law firm serving residents of Kentucky and Indiana. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the firm provides representation in the areas of personal injury and employment law. Contact us today for a free consultation.