Baltimore, MD – An 18 year veteran of the Maryland Transportation Authority was placed in critical condition on December 22 after his motorcycle was struck by a van. Officer Robert Krauss was escorting a funeral procession at the time of the accident.Facts about Motorcycle Safety
In 2004, U.S. fatalities in motorcycle accidents rose above 4000 for the first time since 1987, according to an annual report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 70,000 motorcycle accident injuries were reported in 2004, also a record annual high.
A common measurement used to calculate the rate of injuries and fatalities on U.S. roads is the number of incidents per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Fatal motorcycle accidents rose from 25.06 deaths per 100 million VMT in 1992 to 34.28 deaths per in 2002, a climb of more than 36 per cent in a ten year period. By contrast, fatal accidents involving cars and light trucks per 100 million VMT declined by 14 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, during that same ten year period. Per vehicle mile, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to be in fatal traffic accidents than occupants of passenger vehicles.
Motorcycle helmet laws are not enforced in all 50 states. Four states – Colorado, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire – are helmet free states. 26 states exempt riders over a certain age (either 18 or 21) from wearing helmets. The 20 remaining states (including Virginia and Maryland) and the District of Columbia enforce full helmet laws for all motorcyclists.Lewis & Tompkins – Lawyers Helping those Injured in Motorcycle Accidents
As traffic congestion only gets worse, and as gas prices flirt with inflationary levels, motorcycles are fast becoming a more practical, economical and environment-friendly way to get around, especially in urban areas like the DC Metro region. Since 1992, nationwide registration of motorcycles has risen by 26 per cent. Today, a record 5,000,000 motorcycles are registered in the U.S., testament to the growing popularity of motorcycle use.
But as is often the case, state and federal laws have been slow to catch up with the growing need to protect the rights of motorcyclists on the road, especially those who have been injured or killed by the negligence of other drivers. Many laws still imply that motorcyclists ride at their own peril. These laws make it easier for insurance companies to deny compensation and care to injured motorcyclists, compensation that drivers of cars, SUVs and other vehicles can readily receive through the legal system.
One well publicized example of a legal statute that discriminates against injured motorcyclists involves the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The HIPAA statute, which has become central in determining the compensation that self-insured employers pay to injured workers, exempts many employers from liability when their employees are injured specifically while riding motorcycles. An effort to overturn this interpretation of HIPAA was attempted in 2001, and failed.
Insurance companies support and encourage such gaps in legal protections for motorcyclists, and through lobbying and other political and legislative efforts, they are succeeding in keeping costs down for motorcycle injury death claims. Because motorcycle accidents can often involve the most gruesome injuries, including dismemberment, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries, insurance companies can save themselves millions of dollars in healthcare, lost wages and other financial costs for each motorcycle injury case they successfully deny or reduce.Insisting on Compensation for Injured Motorcyclists
Through growing efforts to increase motorcycle awareness, state and federal governments are starting to recognize the toll careless driving takes on innocent and law abiding motorcyclists. But no amount of public awareness will make motorcycle accidents involving serious injury or death go away completely.
When the driver of a car or truck causes serious injury to a motorcyclist, then that driver’s insurance company should pay for the driver’s negligence. When road construction doesn’t properly mark or prepare unsafe portions of the road for motorcyclists, and injury or death results, the parties responsible and those that insure them should pay. When a motorcycle is manufactured with defects that lead to injury or death for its riders, the manufacturer should pay for the damage done.
If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you’ll need attorneys who can successfully make that case for you. We can begin today with a review of your case. If your insurance company has wrongfully denied your claim, we’ll make a forceful appeal to the company in question. Failing that, we’ll fight for your case before an arbitrator or a civil law jury, and work relentlessly to ensure that you and your family have the care you’ll need to move past your injury.
For assistance with your motorcycle injury or fatality claim, contact the Law Offices of Lewis & Tompkins today.