Handling a motorcycle case is more challenging than handling a typical car accident case. This is because juries typically believe negative stereotypes about motorcyclists. Insurance companies discriminate against motorcyclists when valuing cases as well. These stereotypes make disputes about fault and settlement value more difficult for attorneys representing motorcycle drivers, making experienced legal advice all the more important in winning fair compensation.
Contrary to these stereotypes, most of the motorcyclists we represent are safe and conscientious drivers. The majority of riders are concerned about their safety. They wear helmets and protective vests, have usually taken one or more safety courses, and their motor vehicle records are cleaner than the average driver. In fact, many serious motorcycle accidents are caused by inattentive drivers who do not see motorcycles coming. The most common example of this is when a car or truck makes a left-hand turn without noticing the motorcycle in the opposite lane, resulting in a head on collision.
At our law firm, Miller & Zois, LLC, we have handled a significant number of serious motorcycle accident injury and wrongful death cases. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. For a free consultation of your motorcycle accident claim, contact our Maryland motorcycle accident lawyers at (800) 553-8082 or go online.
Below we discuss motorcycle accidents, the value of these accident cases, and how insurance affects motorcyclists. If you are interested in a specific topic, follow the links below.
There are approximately 1,800 motorcycle accidents every year in Maryland. These accidents result in injuries and deaths. For example, in 2017, Maryland reported 76 motorcycle deaths. Additionally, severe injuries are ten times more likely with motorcycle crashes than with car crashes. Motorcyclists, therefore, pay more for their injuries than drivers of other vehicles. The average total cost of a motorcyclist’s injuries is $211,000, compared to about $17,000 for all other vehicles.
“Severe injuries are ten times more likely in motorcycle crashes than in car crashes.”
A significant amount of fatal accidents for motorcyclists are single-vehicle crashes. These accidents are often attributed to a lack of training, speeding, and driving while under the influence. Helmet use also contributes to fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 749 lives could have been saved in 2017 had riders worn helmets. Maryland law stipulates that motorcycle riders must wear helmets that meet MVA standards and visors if their bike does not have a windshield.
The negligence of other drivers on the road is another significant contributing factor to motorcycle fatalities. Approximately 40% of fatal motorcycle crashes occur when another vehicle turns left in front of an unsuspecting motorcyclist.
Left-turn accidents frequently result in serious injury and death for riders of motorcycles. 40% of fatal motorcycle accidents involve a left-turning vehicle. One common scenario is when a driver turns left off a two-way road without noticing an oncoming bike, causing the bike to collide with the side of their vehicle. This may also occur when drivers blow through stop signs or yellow lights.
“Around 40% of accidents involving motorcycles are caused by an inattentive left-turning vehicle.”
Failure to yield is another common cause of motorcycle accidents that involve other vehicles, and many left-turn accidents involve failure to yield. A car may, for example, make a right turn onto a roadway and fail to notice a motorcycle already traveling in the lane they are entering. These kinds of accidents happen because drivers are not paying careful attention to the road and fail to notice motorcycles, which are smaller and harder to see. In other words, these crashes are the result of negligence. In left-turn and failure to yield cases, it is usually relatively simple to determine who was at fault for the accident and to prove that the at-fault driver was not paying attention to what they were doing.
With every accident case, it is imperative to establish who was at fault for the accident. This is especially important in Maryland because our state has a contributory negligence doctrine that means victims cannot be compensated by the court if they are found to be even 1% responsible for the accident. Fault is especially difficult in motorcycle personal injury claims because, given the small size of the vehicles and the stereotype about reckless motorcycle drivers, juries are not likely to favor riders. This makes what motorcycle accident lawyers do all the more important. Determining who is legally responsible for a traffic accident usually involves visiting the crash’s location, analyzing the location on Google Earth, and getting witness statements to corroborate a plaintiff’s testimony.
Additionally, motorcyclists are not treated fairly by insurance companies. There is a key insurance difference for motorcycle riders and attorneys in Maryland regarding Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP is additional insurance coverage on your policy that pays for your medical bills or lost wages if you are injured in a crash. The policy is usually between $2,500 and $10,000 and covers you even if the accident was your fault. Insurance companies are required to offer PIP to the drivers of most other vehicles however, they are permitted to withhold PIP coverage from motorcyclists based on Maryland Insurance Code § 19-505.
Another distinction has to do with uninsured motorist claims. If you are driving someone else’s motorcycle and get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, uninsured motorist benefits are typically available for you under your own insurance policy. However, if you own both a motorcycle and a car, the policy limit for your motorcycle is applied even if you have higher uninsured benefits on another vehicle.
An important question that accident victims want to know is what they can expect the value of their case to be. If another’s negligence caused you or a loved one to suffer serious or fatal injuries, you have the legal right to compensation.
Without first looking at the facts of your case, we cannot tell you how high of a settlement or verdict you might receive. A case’s value is determined by factors such as medical costs, financial losses, and non-economic damages like the victim’s pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life.
“The median motorcycle verdict is $70,000.”
However, according to a study by Jury Verdict Research, the average motorcycle accident verdict nationally is approximately $560,000. The median verdict award is just over $70,000. The average is so much higher because it is driven up by a smaller number of high-value cases that involve very serious injuries or death.
Beyond this data, there are two ways to estimate the value of your case. First, you can look at sample verdicts and settlements for specific injuries. View accident injuries here, from herniated discs to broken legs. Secondly, you can look at sample verdicts and settlements in other motorcycle accident cases. These are provided below.
Below are sample verdicts and settlements that have been won by motorcycle crash victims. While these cases serve as examples of how these cases are valued, remember that every case is unique and that yours may be worth more or less depending on the circumstances.
- December 2019, Georgia: $75,000 Verdict A motorcyclist is rear-ended, causing him to fly off of his bike and suffer unspecified personal injuries. The defendant driver admits liability but disputes that she was the proximate cause. She also disputes the damages that the plaintiff claimed. Despite the defense’s arguments, a jury decides with the plaintiff and awards him $75,000 in damages.
- November 2019, Oklahoma: $63,600 Verdict A woman turns right onto a road and moves into the far-left lane in front of a motorcyclist. He swerves and crashes his bike, resulting in personal injuries and property damage. He claims that the at-fault driver was negligent, failing to yield the right of way and driving with disregard for others. The defense argued that he was partially at fault for the accident. A jury awards the plaintiff $70,600, but also finds that he was 10% negligent for the accident, so the court reduces the damages to $63,600.
- October 2019, Maryland: $2,460,000 Verdict A truck driver makes a left turn into a parking lot, causing an oncoming motorcyclist to collide with the side of the truck. The motorcyclist fractures his right leg in numerous places, resulting in a permanent loss of feeling in his right foot. The truck driver flees the scene of the accident after saying he had “legal issues,” and the company that owned the truck claims that the driver had stolen their truck. The jury finds that the driver was in fact the company’s employee and awards the plaintiff nearly 2.5 million dollars in pain & suffering and past lost wages damages.
- February 2019, Maryland: $80,000 Verdict The defendant makes a U-turn and strikes the plaintiff, who is riding a motorcycle. According to the plaintiff, the driver entered the motorcyclist’s lane of travel, was traveling too fast, was not keeping a proper lookout, and ignored traffic signals. A jury finds with the plaintiff and awards $80,000 for damages.
- October 2018, Maryland: $36,200 Verdict A young driver with a learner’s permit collides with a motorcyclist when making a left-hand turn in Baltimore. He suffers injuries to his back, neck, and limbs. The plaintiff’s lawsuit against the driver alleges that he failed to keep a proper lookout or yield the right of way. Additionally, the plaintiff alleges negligent entrustment against the vehicle’s owner, since the driver only had a learner’s permit. The defendants admit liability, and the case proceeds to trial over damages. A jury awards $8,400 in medical expenses and $27,800 in lost earnings.
- October 2018, New York: $2,500,000 Settlement A 35-year-old motorcyclist is forced to ditch his motorcycle and crash due to a left-turning vehicle. His injuries are fatal, and his widow files a wrongful death lawsuit to recover economic losses, loss of consortium, and loss of parental guidance for their children. The two parties negotiate a $2.5 million settlement prior to trial.
The Baltimore motorcycle accident attorneys at Miller & Zois will fight to get you fair financial compensation. We understand the importance of getting the facts right. The odds are stacked against bikers in these cases, but our experience levels the playing field. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motorcycle accident, call our motorcycle accident attorneys at (800) 553-8082 or click here to contact us online.More information
- Motorcycle wrongful death cases
- Helmet laws
- Left-turn accidents
- Failure to yield accidents
- Sample motorcycle accident demand letter
- Sample motion before trial to keep out evidence about the type of bike motorcyclist was riding
- Sample depositions