Motorcycle accidents, like other types of vehicular accident, can have many different causes. In fact, a motorcycle accident may have multiple causes, such as poor roadway traction paired with a speeding motorist. If you are a motorcyclist or if you are close with somebody who frequently rides a motorcycle, take the time to learn about the various issues that can cause motorcycle accidents. Talk to your loved one about these causes to help him or her take steps to avoid them, whenever possible.

If you are a motorist, you have a responsibility to motorcyclists to share the road. Please drive cautiously, look out for motorcycles, avoid following them too closely and never cut in front of a motorcycle. Remember, motorcycles can stop much more quicker than a passenger vehicle, so NEVER tailgate a motorcycle. If you witness bad driving habits by friends or family members, remind them of their responsibility to safely share the road.

As a motorcyclist, you are much more exposed than motorists are. Protect yourself from being injured in an accident by wearing a helmet and other safety gear, like long pants, long sleeves, and boots that cover your feet and ankles while riding. Although these cannot prevent an accident, they can have a significant impact on the severity of the injuries you sustain if you are involved in one. Wearing the proper gear and knowing the causes of motorcycle accidents can protect you from injury and even save your life. Sadly, even if a motorcyclist takes all the proper precautions, a negligent driver can still cause serious injuries or even death.

Wet and Icy Roadways

Any time it rains, water can accumulate on the roadway, making it more difficult for your motorcycle’s tires to effectively grip the asphalt. This is especially true during the first few minutes of a rainstorm, when the oils in the roadway are pushed to the surface, making it especially slippery.

In the winter, water can turn to ice, creating a slick, dangerous roadway for motorcyclists and motorists alike. When the roadway is wet, icy, or covered in snow, motorcyclists must adjust their riding style in order to reduce their chances of being injured in accidents. Wet and icy roadways can be more dangerous for motorcycles than for other vehicle types because a motorcycle balances on only two wheels, rather than four, giving them a different center of gravity and greater sensitivity to hazards in the roadway like potholes and puddles.

For motorists, be aware that weather conditions and poor roads may pose more of a danger to motorcyclists than a passenger vehicle. Give motorcycles extra following distance in hazardous conditions and avoid making unsafe maneuvers around them.

Poor Visibility

Motorcyclists are also more likely than motorists to be involved in collisions caused by poor visibility. It can be difficult for a motorist to gauge a motorcycle’s position, especially at night and when weather events like fog and rain reduce visibility. To reduce your chance of being involved in an accident due to low visibility, make your motorcycle as visible as possible with lights and reflectors. Wear white, reflective or light-colored clothing while riding at night to make yourself more visible and consider adding reflective tape to your helmet and jacket. Just remember, you can take every precaution possible, but a distracted driver may ignore the warnings or still fail to see you.

If you are motorist, it is your responsibility to watch out for motorcycles. Since the vehicles are smaller, they are more difficult to see, but “I didn’t see them” is NOT a valid excuse for causing a wreck. Remember that it also may be more difficult for you to gauge the speed of an oncoming motorcycle, as opposed to a passenger vehicle. Error on the side of caution and whenever possible, allow a motorcyclist to pass rather than cross paths. It may add a second or two to your commute, but you may just avoid a serious accident.

Driver Negligence

When a driver acts in a negligent manner, whether he or she is driving a car, a motorcycle, a truck, a van, or another type of vehicle, his or her negligence can cause an accident. A few examples of driver negligence include:

  • Drunk driving;
  • Text messaging or talking on the phone while driving;
  • Speeding;
  • Disregarding posted traffic signs, such as signs to yield or stop; and
  • Driving in an aggressive manner.

When a motorcycle accident occurs because of a driver’s negligence, that driver may be liable for the victim’s damages. South Carolina is a “fault” state for vehicle accident claims, which means that when an individual is injured because of another driver’s negligence, he or she may seek compensation from the negligent driver’s insurance provider through a personal injury claim, rather than going through his or her own insurance provider.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting

When a motorcyclist rides between lanes of traffic, rather than as part of a line of vehicles, he or she has an increased risk of being involved in an accident. Why? Because when a motorcyclist rides on the lines in the road, he or she is often dangerously close to other types of vehicles and cannot easily turn away from an approaching or swerving vehicle. When a motorcycle is in this position, it can be very difficult for motorists to know which lane the motorcyclist plans to enter, pushing them away from the line and closer to other vehicles with which they can collide.

Motorcyclists who ride between lanes, rather than in one, may be found negligent and thus liable for any damages that result from their accidents.

Work With an Experienced South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you are injured in an accident while riding your motorcycle, consider working closely with an experienced personal injury lawyer to seek monetary compensation for your damages. Beyond identifying the cause of your accident, your lawyer can help you build a claim that demonstrates how another party’s negligence caused or contributed to your accident, causing you to suffer an injury and saddle you with high expenses.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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