Driving a motorcycle can be a thrilling experience, however driving a motorcycle can be very dangerous. Riders and their passengers are at particular risk of being hit by other motorists because their vehicles are smaller and harder to see, in addition because they are exposed on all sides when a motorcycle is in an accident they are more likely to sustain severe injuries or even lose their lives.
Recently, on a driver was charged with manslaughter after an accident involving a motorcycle. According to witnesses at the scene, this accident occurred because the driver of the car involved crossed the center line and collided with the motorcycle. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. On March 7th, the Shawnee News-Star reported that a Shawnee woman was killed and another man from Meeker was seriously injured when their motorcycle left the roadway and rolled onto its side.
What Causes Motorcycle Accidents in Shawnee, Oklahoma?
The Hurt Report is a motorcycle safety study that was conducted in the United States and was published in 1981. The Hurt report received its name from the primary author Professor Harry Hurt and details some of the most common reasons for motorcycle accidents in the United States. While this report is over three decades old at this point its findings have been supported today by more modern studies conducted by the United States Department of Transportation. This report made fifty findings for events that lead to motorcycle accidents. The top ten are as follows:
- Throughout the accident and exposure data, there are special observations which relate to accident and injury causation and characteristics of the motorcycle accidents studied. These findings are summarized as follows:
- Approximately three-fourths of these motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most usually a passenger automobile.
- Approximately one-fourth of these motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment.
- Vehicle failure accounted for less than 3% of these motorcycle accidents, and most of those were single vehicle accidents where control was lost due to a puncture flat.
- In the single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slide-out and fall due to over braking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.
- Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of the accidents; animal involvement was 1% of the accidents.
- In the multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.
- The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in a collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.
- Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause.
- The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.
As noted above, there are forty other paragraph findings of why accidents happen around the country. According to the United States Department of Transportation. In 2013, there were 4,668 motorcyclists killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes which represented a decrease of 6 percent from the 4,986 motorcyclists killed in 2012. Sadly, in 2013 motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities. Data shows that in 2013, the most harmful event for motorcyclists and for 2,448 people representing 51 percent of the 4,774 motorcycles that were involved in fatal crashes was a collision with another motor vehicle.
Proving Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident
Whenever you are driving on the road you have a duty to other drivers and to your own passengers to be reasonably careful. This does not always mean that legally you have to take extraordinary precautions such as installing state of the art equipment, but it does mean that you have to pay attention to the road and to avoid things that may cause you to be in an accident such as drinking and driving. Most people who wish to file a personal injury claim for property or personal injury do so under a negligence theory. Negligence cases all share the same elements no matter where you are in the country, however, each state has imposed its own specific negligence laws, which will be explained later. In any negligence case for an injured person to prove that another driver was negligent they must show the following elements:
- Duty – In motorcycle accident cases, the law requires drivers to be careful when they encounter anyone they meet on the road, this is often referred to the duty of reasonable care. Additionally, states can impose other duties on drivers when they are on the road, such as a prohibition on using a cell phone.
- Breach – anytime motorcyclists or other driver does not conform to this duty of reasonable care they can be said to be in breach. In the above example, if a driver decides to use their cell phone even though there may be a statute against using your cell phone, then they can be said to be in breach or that they are violating their duty of care.
- Causation – causation can be broken down into two distinct elements: proximate cause and actual cause. In simple terms, an injured person needs to prove that the defendant’s conduct caused plaintiff’s injuries . You must also show that the defendant’s conduct caused your injuries.
- Damages – damages often manifest themselves in the form of economic injuries such as hospital bills, medical bills, and missed time from work. In order for a party to receive damages they need to prove that the plaintiff suffered losses and/or was injured. Car accident and motorcycle victims are entitled to compensation for all injuries, lost wages or earning capacity, pain and suffering, and property damage that they sustained. In addition, they are also entitled to certain non-economic damages. However, any person who has been injured must show evidence of his or her injuries and other monetary losses to be compensated. If you are the plaintiff, it’s important to keep complete and detailed records of all injuries, medical expenses, and property damage.
As noted above, each state has their own individual negligence statutes. Oklahoma is no different. Oklahoma follows something known as the modified comparative negligence rule, which can be found at Oklahoma Code Tit. 23 §13-14. Under the language of this statute:
Contributory negligence cannot be greater than the negligence of defendants. Damages reduced in proportion to such person’s contributory negligence.
This is the most common approach to recovery. In a modified comparative negligence jurisdiction, a plaintiff will not recover if he or she is found to be either equally responsible or more responsible for the resulting injury. In other words, in order to recover damages, the plaintiff must not be more than 50% at fault for the resulting injury. This is important for anyone who is considering whether or not to file a claim to consider. The jury will come together and make the final determination of how negligent each party was, and while many people believe that when they are involved in an accident that it is always the other person’s fault, they are often surprised when the jury returns a finding that they too were at least somewhat negligent.
Act Quickly and Seek Legal Help From an Experienced Oklahoma Car Accident Attorney
The attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook will fight hard in pursuit of the greatest compensation possible for you and your loved ones. To start exploring your legal options in a free and completely private legal consultation, call our law offices right away at (405) 698-3040.