Motorists have a duty under Rhode Island law to exercise care and caution when they drive. Drivers also need to realize that they share the roadway with other types of vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles as well as pedestrians. Rhode Island motorcycle accidents in particular occur largely because of motorists’ negligence or carelessness. When a passenger vehicle collides with a motorcycle, often we see that it is the motorcyclist who ends up suffering catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Our experienced Rhode Island motorcycle accident lawyers regularly represent the interests of motorcyclists who have been injured in an accident and are struggling with medical expenses and other financial burdens. Having represented injured motorcycle accident victims and families that have lost loved ones in Rhode Island motorcycle accidents, we know about the common mistakes motorists make around motorcyclists that often lead to tragic collisions. Understanding how these situations arise may help us all prevent these avoidable accidents.
Common Mistakes Motorists Make
Here are some of the most common, every day, avoidable mistakes motorists make around motorcycles:
Unsafe left turns: These can be one of the deadliest mistakes motorists can make. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), left-turn crashes account for more than 40% of all crashes between motorcycles and other vehicles. It commonly occurs when motorists fail to see oncoming motorcyclists or miscalculate their speed before making a left turn.
Often, these types of mistakes result in a head-on collision or side-impact collision, which could prove catastrophic or fatal for the motorcyclist. We will typically see that motorcyclists are thrown off their vehicles and onto the pavement suffering significant injuries that could leave them permanently disabled. Head injuries are also extremely common in these types of accidents.
Changing lanes: When motorists change lanes, they may look out for other passenger vehicles or larger vehicles. Oftentimes, drivers fail to consciously look out for motorcycles that may be on the other lane. This can lead to motorists making a lane change in front of the motorcyclist who may not have sufficient time to change course or move to another lane. This could also result in devastating injuries for motorcyclists.
Excessive speed: When motorists travel at a high rate of speed or at speeds that are unsafe for traffic, roadway or weather conditions, they may put others on the roadway at risk. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable because they may get rear-ended by a motorist who can’t stop the vehicle in time because he or she was going too fast.
Following too closely: Motorists would be well advised to give motorcyclists sufficient room. Following a motorcycle too closely can be a serious mistake. When motorists are distracted or traveling too fast for the conditions, there is a risk of rear-ending the motorcyclist. Once again, rear-end crashes often prove catastrophic or fatal for motorcyclists who get thrown off the motorcycle and suffer grave injuries.
There’s also another reason why following a motorcyclist closely could increase the risk of a rear-end collision. Motorcyclists often choose not to apply their brakes when they slow down, mostly for safety reasons. Instead, motorcyclists will let up on the throttle or downshift if they need to slow down quickly. If the driver is not following at a safe distance or not paying attention, he or she could be surprised when the motorcyclist slows down because the motorcycle’s brake lights may not illuminate.
Injuries and Compensation
While these may seem like simple mistakes, their consequences could be deadly. Motorcyclists who are victims of such mistakes end up suffering injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, multiple broken bones, internal organ damage and road rash. Victims often have to take an extended amount of time from work because of lengthy hospitalization, rehabilitation, etc.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by a negligent motorist, you may be able to seek compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress. If you have lost a loved one in a Rhode Island motorcycle accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation as well.
After a motorcycle accident, there are a number of important steps victims might want to take in order to protect their rights. Make sure you file a police report and obtain a copy for your records. Be sure to get prompt medical attention, treatment and care for your injuries and follow through on your doctor’s treatment recommendations. It is also crucial that you contact an experienced Rhode Island motorcycle lawyer who can help protect your rights and help you receive maximum compensation for your losses. Call us at 800-992-6878, or fill out an online contact form for a free (no obligation) case evaluation.