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Arizona Motorcycle Accident Guide

motorcycle accident guide

Riding a motorcycle through the picture-perfect landscapes of Arizona can be a relaxing and beautiful way to spend the day.

Until it’s not.

Being in a motorcycle accident can not only cause property damage, many times totaling the bike but also lead to fatalities.

Motorcycle riding fatalities are 28 times more likely to occur when compared with other vehicles. Motorcycle fatalities make up 14% of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Arizona is no exception.

The reason for the large numbers of fatalities, as well as the large number of people who are injured every year while riding a motorcycle, is the bike itself. A motorcycle doesn’t offer the structural protection that a car does. There are also visibility issues — it can be difficult for other vehicles to see bikes.

All of these factors can contribute to serious motorcycle accidents. If you have been in a collision, our motorcycle accident attorneys offer a motorcycle accident guide to help you through the process. 

Understanding the Danger: Analyzing Statistics

Every year, there are approximately 2,590 motorcycle accidents in Arizona. Of these, about 160 are fatal, and 383 involve only property damage. The majority of motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another moving vehicle.

Maricopa County sees the highest accident rates, with Pima following. Approximately 29% of all motorcycle accidents occur when the bike is making a left turn, with rear-end collisions coming in second.

It’s important to understand why motorcycle accidents occur. Insurance companies and drivers often blame motorcycle riders for the accidents they’re involved in, but the reality is that most motorcycle accidents don’t involve improper actions from the rider.

On average, 47% of these accidents occur through no fault of the motorcycle rider, with 11% of motorcycle accidents involving a speeding bike.

Some common reasons motorcycle accidents occur in Arizona include:

  • Poor road conditions
  • Windblast from larger vehicles
  • Being struck by flying objects
  • Mechanical failures
  • Being hit by a merging vehicle
  • Being hit by a vehicle following too closely
  • Being hit by a vehicle’s mirror

Poor road conditions can be a serious issue for motorcycles, even more so than for cars. Pavement defects, unlit roads and intersections, poorly marked curves and mergings, and even low-hanging branches and vegetation can pose a danger to a motorcycle and cause the rider to lose control of the bike.

T-bone collisions occur often when motorcyclists want to make a left turn. Many times, drivers of other vehicles fail to see motorcycles, leading to collisions.

Some actions that don’t pose a significant danger to other vehicles can be concerns for motorcycle drivers. When a driver opens a car door without checking for a motorcycle, the door can strike the rider or cause the bike to tip.

Sudden stops are also a concern, along with lane changing when a bike may not be visible to other cars.

The bottom line is that a motorcyclist is much more exposed than a driver of any other motorized vehicle on the road, so the chances of being in an accident and suffering an injury are much higher.

When the Bike Is at Fault

Of course, there are instances when the motorcycle rider is the one who causes the accident.

Distracted driving is on the rise throughout the United States, and motorcycle drivers are not excluded from this. Distracted driving refers to driving while doing anything else, including checking your phone, texting, or even speaking on the phone without using a hands-free mode.

Taking your eyes off the road — even for a moment — can lead to devastating consequences.

Another common way a motorcyclist may cause an accident is by driving under the influence. The legal limit for blood alcohol concentration level in Arizona, as in the rest of the country, is 0.08%, but having just one drink is enough to make you a danger on a bike.

When you drink, your coordination decreases, and your reflexes slow. This makes you less attentive and less likely to notice changes quickly enough to avoid a collision. Each year, about 125 motorcycle accidents involve a rider who is under the influence of alcohol.

Fatigued bike riders can also pose a danger to themselves and others on the road. Being sleepy makes you less able to react as necessary to the changes on the road.

Motorcycle riders can also cause accidents by speeding. It’s important to know that you could be speeding even if you’re adhering to the posted speed limit. If the road conditions make driving at that speed too dangerous, the police can still charge you with speeding.

Lane splitting is another problem. Lane splitting involves motorcycles driving between lanes of traffic when traffic stalls. In Arizona, as in most states, this is illegal. You shouldn’t confuse this with lane filtering, which is allowed in Arizona.

Lane filtering allows bikes to move around vehicles that are stopped in streets where the maximum limits are 45 mph. The bike can’t exceed 15 mph while lane filtering.

When the Motorcyclist Is Partially at Fault

Not every motorcycle accident is clear-cut. In some cases, both the motorcyclist and other drivers are at fault, so what happens then?

Arizona follows a pure comparative fault law, which means that even if you were partially at fault, you can still file a claim and get compensation.

Say you were riding your motorcycle at night. Your headlight wasn’t working properly, and a car hit you as you made a left turn. The driver of the car could be found 70% at fault for the accident, but you could be found 30% at fault because your light wasn’t working. What does this mean in terms of compensation?

If you are awarded $10,000, you would only receive $7,000 because your 30% of fault would be discounted.

Knowing Your Rights: Filing a Claim After a Motorcycle Accident

Many times, people don’t bother to file claims after a motorcycle accident because they don’t know what they could be entitled to. A personal injury lawyer can help you get compensation for a few different types of damages.

Property Damage

If the accident resulted in damage to your motorcycle or other personal property, you could get compensation for repair bills or even replacements. In instances when the bike is totaled, your insurer may not want to pay you for repairs but will instead give you the price of the bike before the accident.

This may not be enough to replace the bike, however, which is why having a lawyer helping you makes a difference.

Medical Expenses

It’s common for motorcycle accidents to result in injuries to the rider. The severity of the injuries could end up sending you to the hospital and could even mean having surgery. If that’s the case, you don’t want to have to pay for all of these expenses out-of-pocket.

When you file a claim, you have the chance of getting compensation that covers those hospital bills. Compensation doesn’t have to stop there, either, if you’ve been injured.

The costs of medications or medical devices, as well as ongoing therapy or treatments, can all be covered. If you’ve suffered a significant injury, you may also be able to get coverage for any adjustments you have to make to your home, like adding ramps.

Medical expenses could also cover future expenses. If you have an injury that will require ongoing care, you can get compensation to cover these costs.

Lost Wages

Being in a motorcycle accident that results in injuries or property damage can mean missing work. If you’re getting treatment at the hospital or if you have to undergo physical therapy sessions, you won’t be able to get the wages that you would otherwise have made. This applies even if you can take vacation days.

Claiming lost wages allows you to get compensated for that missing revenue. In cases when the injury was severe enough to impact your employment, you could also claim those damages.

Say you were a construction worker and now can no longer do that job. Claiming loss of future earnings could get you compensation for the years of wages you won’t receive.

Pain and Suffering

Most people assume that pain and suffering fall into medical expenses, but that’s not the case. This is considered non-economic damage, meaning it’s not easy to put a price on it because you don’t have bills that you can show as evidence.

Suffering injuries can leave you with physical pain as well as mental suffering, all of which can take a significant toll on your life. Physical pain could include everything from chronic back issues to paralysis.

It’s not uncommon for people who have been in serious accidents to develop PTSD and struggle to ride a motorcycle or even drive a car. You have the right to get compensation for this pain and suffering.

Calculating pain and suffering damages is complex. Lawyers and insurers rely on two main methods.

The per diem method assigns a monetary value to every day from when the accident occurs to when you achieve maximum recovery. This doesn’t mean that you fully recover. It just means that a medical professional assumes you’ve reached the maximum level of recovery you’re capable of.

The multiplier method takes the total number of economic damages you’re claiming and multiplies it by a number. The severity of the injuries you’ve sustained will determine this number. For example, if you suffered a broken bone, your multiplier will be lower than if you sustained a traumatic brain injury or a spinal fracture.

Loss of Consortium

If a loved one was in an accident that resulted in their death or severe impairment, you can also claim loss of consortium. This means that the accident robbed you of the affection, support, and companionship that the person offered.

Punitive Damages

In cases when there was severe negligence, Arizona can also offer punitive damages. These damages have the purpose of punishing the defendant for the outrageous conduct that led to the accident.

Why You Need a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Helping You

Even if you think your case is simple, you never want to file a claim on your own. Insurance companies may seem like they’re there to help you, but the opposite is true. They will do all they can to keep from paying you what you’re entitled to.

That’s why having a motorcycle accident lawyer by your side can help. These personal injury lawyers know how to negotiate with insurance companies, and they won’t be bullied by the tactics that insurers may throw at them.

Because lawyers know the ins and outs of the law, they can also help you get the maximum compensation possible in your case. If they think you’re not getting a fair deal, they won’t hesitate to take the case to court. Many times, that threat can be enough to get insurance companies to play ball.

Motorcycle accident lawyers know how to get the necessary evidence to help prove your claim. They know expert witnesses, too, who can help with accident reconstruction and more. Because personal injury lawyers only get paid if you do, you also don’t have to worry about fees.

Gerber Injury Law: Relying on Experienced Lawyers

Being in a motorcycle accident can leave you with physical and emotional scars that affect your daily life. It’s possible, however, to get compensation for that pain and suffering.

At Gerber Injury Law, we have more than 20 years of experience offering help to those who have suffered injuries and property damage because of someone else’s negligence. We are here to offer the guidance you need as you navigate a personal injury claim.

When you turn to us, you’ll be able to get a fair assessment of your case at no cost, and because we work on a contingency-fee basis, you don’t have to stress about paying additional bills while dealing with injuries and more.

It’s crucial that you act fast after a motorcycle accident. Reach out to Gerber Injury Law to speak with experienced personal injury lawyers.