For 30 years, the team of personal injury attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis has been representing significantly injured motorcycle riders in Bethlehem and throughout the entire Lehigh Valley. We can help answer the questions you have. Our Firm is equipped to walk step-by-step with you through your claim and, if the insurance company is giving you a hard time, your Bethlehem motorcycle accident attorney is prepared to deal with them too. All of the personal injury lawyers at Drake, Hileman & Davis have taken cases to jury verdicts and won. There are so many unanswered questions. Maybe you don’t even know what questions to ask. What do you do? Neither you nor your spouse can work. How will you pay the bills? You have kids that are off from school for the summer. What happens to them? What happens when school starts up again? How long will your recovery be? How long will you be out of work? Who will pay for all the medical bills? Why didn’t that driver see us? Again, there are so many questions you will have. Let us help give you some answers.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Bethlehem
While many people (including insurance adjusters) assume that most motorcycle riders are responsible for their own injuries, this simply isn’t true. In most cases, riders’ injuries are the result of car, truck, and SUV drivers’ negligence behind the wheel. This includes common forms of negligence such as:
Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of motorway accidents. When drivers are looking at their phones or in-car screens, they are far more likely to overlook motorcycles in their vicinity. Talking to passengers, rubbernecking, eating and drinking, singing, smoking, and other distractions are common causes of motorcycle accidents as well. Most of the time defendants say “I just didn’t see them.”
Drivers who are drunk or high are dangerous to themselves and others. Unfortunately, in many cases, motorcycle riders are helpless to protect themselves from the unpredictable driving behaviors of impaired drivers. Even when impaired drivers get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), injured riders still have to cope with the injuries they sustained. Hiring a Bethlehem motorcycle accident attorney will help you assert all the legal rights you have.
Failing to Check Blind Spots
While motorcycles may be more difficult to spot on the road, this is not an excuse for drivers to cause accidents. Drivers must always check their blind spots before turning, merging or changing lanes, and they must recognize the possibility that a motorcycle could be approaching. When drivers turn in front of motorcycle riders or merge into riders’ lanes, the consequences can be catastrophic for the riders. When an accident like this occurs, the motorcycle rider usually has no way to avoid the collision.
Running Red Lights and Stop Signs
Motorcycle accidents also frequently occur as a result of drivers running red lights and stop signs. This includes turning right without stopping and turning left after a yellow light has turned to red. In many cases, drivers simply continue through intersections at speed assuming that others will stay out of their way. But, in many cases, this simply isn’t possible for riders who have already begun entering or approaching the intersection with the right of way. As we all know, stopping a motorcycle is far different than stopping a car.
Aggressive and Reckless Driving
Speeding on the highway, tailgating motorcycle riders, and other aggressive and reckless driving behaviors are also common causes of motorcycle accidents in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, while these are common driving behaviors, they are also extremely dangerous, and many drivers put themselves in positions in which they are unable to avoid causing serious collisions.
Carelessness Behind the Wheel
Along with aggressive and reckless driving behaviors, carelessness behind the wheel is a common factor in motorcycle accidents as well. Whether drivers drift out of their lanes, turn without looking or fail to follow the basic rules of the road, they can – and should – be held liable when their careless mistakes leave motorcycle riders suffering from serious injuries.
Along with driver negligence, product defects are to blame for many motorcycle riders’ injuries as well. For example, in many cases, injured riders will have claims for just compensation against product manufacturers, dealerships, and retailers based on:
- Motorcycle Defects – Brake defects, tire defects, engine and transmission defects, and other issues with a motorcycle’s mechanical or electrical systems can all cause riders to lose control unexpectedly.
- Aftermarket Defects – Many motorcycle riders install aftermarket parts on their bikes. If these parts are defective, they can lead to sudden and unexpected loss of control as well.
- Vehicle Defects – If a driver loses control and hits a motorcycle because his or her vehicle is defective, the motorcycle rider can pursue a claim against the vehicle’s manufacturer.
- Safety Equipment Defects – If you suffered serious injuries despite wearing appropriate motorcycle safety gear, you could have a liability claim against your safety gear’s manufacturer. This includes faulty helmets.
Understanding Your Rights After a Motorcycle Accident
As a motorcycle accident victim in Bethlehem, you have clear legal rights. Understanding these rights, and knowing how to assert them effectively, will be critical for making sure you receive the full financial compensation you deserve. Know this:
- You have the right to hire an attorney. When you get injured in a crash, you can hire a Bethlehem motorcycle accident attorney to represent you. This includes hiring an attorney to deal with the insurance companies on your behalf and take your case to court if necessary. At Drake, Hileman & Davis, you don’t pay us a fee unless we get a recovery for you.
- You have the right to collect the evidence you need to prove your case. When you hire an attorney, your attorney can conduct an on-scene investigation to gather key evidence of liability. Your attorney can use the litigation process to collect phone records, employment records and other necessary forms of evidence as well.
- You have the right to choose your medical provider. As a motorcycle accident victim, you can – and should – choose your own medical provider. Go to a doctor you trust; or, if necessary, seek a referral to a qualified specialist.
- You have the right to be treated fairly by the insurance companies. Pennsylvania law requires the insurance companies to handle all motorcycle accident claims in good faith. Unfortunately, the insurance companies don’t always follow the law. The lawyers at Drake, Hileman & Davis have been dealing with insurance companies for decades, and know the common tricks that these companies implement.
- You have the right to say “No.” If you are not satisfied with what the insurance companies offer to settle your claim, you have the right to say “No.” Under no circumstance should you feel compelled to settle for less than you deserve.
Our Bethlehem Motorcycle Accident Attorney Outlines the Dangers of Lane Splitting
According to section 3523 of the Pennsylvania Code, motorcyclists are allowed to share their lane, but that right is quite limited. More specifically, motorcyclists may not share the lane with any vehicle except for another motorcycle. Two motorcycles may ride side-by-side with one another in the same lane — nut no more than two. Further, a motorcycle may not overtake and pass another vehicle in the same lane. The motorcyclist must first shift lanes, even when attempting to overtake and pass another motorcycle.
Lane Splitting is Not Lane Sharing
It’s important to note that lane sharing is not the same as lane splitting. Where lane sharing involves a motorcyclist riding side-by-side within the same lane, lane splitting involves a motorcyclist operating in the space between two lanes. Pennsylvania law prohibits lane splitting.
Liability Issues Related to Lane Sharing
Lane sharing liability may seem obvious when an applicable law is broken, but it is worth noting that the defendant may attempt to avoid liability by arguing that their negligent violation of the law did not actually “cause” your injuries. If the circumstances show that the accident would have occurred regardless of the defendant’s misconduct, then they might be able to avoid liability. You need to hire attorneys like us who have the experience in dealing with this type of nonsensical argument.
It should also be noted that you can impose liability on a defendant even when they have abided by lane sharing laws. For example, as we discussed above, Pennsylvania law allows for two motorcycles to ride side-by-side in the same lane. All operators must be cognizant of their surroundings and whether such behavior is safe given the circumstances. If weather, traffic, roadway, or other conditions have made it unsafe to operate two motorcycles side-by-side, then doing so can also constitute negligence, and may give you a cause of action against the other negligent motorcycle rider.
Understanding the Consequences of Partial Fault in a Motorcycle Accident Case
Let’s assume you were partially at fault in your motorcycle accident. Maybe you were exceeding the speed limit, or perhaps you were lane splitting illegally. If this is the case, how does this impact your legal rights? Let’s walk through that: In Pennsylvania, the answer depends on your percentage of fault. As long as you were less than 50% at fault, or less, in your motorcycle accident, you can recover at least partial compensation for your accident-related losses. But, if you were more than 50 percent at fault, then Pennsylvania law bars you from recovering any financial compensation. Given the importance of this issue, if you think you may have been partially at fault in your motorcycle accident (or if the insurance company is already accusing you of causing your own injuries), you should discuss your situation with a Bethlehem motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Give us a call here at Drake, Hileman & Davis right away form a free consultation.
Contact Our Law Firm Today for Quick Legal Answers
If you have questions that need answers right away, we are available 24 hours per day. Just call us at 610-433-3910, and ask to speak with a top Bethlehem motorcycle accident attorney. After the initial call, we can meet at any one of our office locations. If it is easier for you, we are also happy to meet you at your home. We are ready to help you.