As exhilarating as riding a motorcycle can be, there is no denying that doing so can be dangerous. No matter how responsible of a rider you are, there are many other elements on the road that you do not have control over. These elements can have to do with the condition of the road, the weather, or the actions of other drivers and riders around you. Every operator and passenger of a motorized vehicle is at the peril of other drivers and riders on highways and roads in Arkansas, but motorcyclists are more vulnerable than occupants of passenger vehicles due to how unprotected they are in a collision.
According to the 2016 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 5,286 motorcyclists were killed in crashes during that year – a five percent increase from 2015. Of those fatalities, 27 percent were riding without a valid motorcycle license, 37 percent were driving under the influence of alcohol, and 35 percent were not wearing helmets. Based on these findings, motorcycle accidents are 29 times more likely to occur than accidents between two or more passenger vehicles.
Motorcycle accidents often result in tragedy. While permanent disabilities and deaths cannot be reversed, holding the negligent party responsible for their actions with a Little Rock motorcycle accident lawyer can offer a sense of peace to victims and loved ones. In the event you are the victim of a motorcycle crash, it’s imperative to understand your legal rights so you can ease your financial burdens and focus on recovery.
What Are the Motorcycle Laws in Arkansas?
If you’ve sustained injuries from a serious motorcycle accident, it can help to familiarize yourself with the state’s laws concerning motorcycles and their riders. Here’s a brief summary of Little Rock and Arkansas’ laws which may affect your case:
- A Class M license is required to legally operate a motorcycle on public roadways.
- A person has to be at least 16 years of age to obtain a Class M license.
- A Class MD license, which offers restricted privileges, can be obtained to operate a motorcycle between 14 and 16 years old.
- Everyone under the age of 21 is required to wear a helmet. Motorcyclists over 21 have the option to choose whether or not they wear a helmet.
- All motorcyclists must wear eye protection.
- Passengers cannot be under the age of eight.
- Daytime headlights are required.
- Legal blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are the same for motorcycles as they are for cars. Any motorist operating a vehicle with a BAC above 0.08 percent is considered driving under the influence.
For more information on the motorcycle laws in Arkansas and the best rider practices, review the Motorcycle Endorsement Study Guide which is published by the Arkansas State Police.
What Are Some of the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
Motorcycles, because they only have two wheels and are smaller than most other vehicles on the road, are often less stable and less visible than other cars. Motorcycle accidents are often deadlier than car crashes because the riders don’t have the same protection offered inside an enclosed vehicle.
One way to lower the amount of accidents that occur is to look at the causes for most collisions. Below are some of the most common reasons motorcycle accidents happen in our state and nationwide:
- Blind Spots. Just like any vehicle, motorcycles have blind spots. It’s particularly important to understand how these blind spots function when making turns, changing lanes, passing, slowing down, and stopping. Other vehicles, like cars and trucks, should always be on the lookout for motorcycles in their blind spots, as well.
- Distracted Driving. As one of the leading causes of all motor vehicle accidents, distracted driving undoubtedly contributes to motorcycle crashes. Taking your hands or eyes away from the vehicle or road can lead to collisions or loss of vehicular control.
- Lack of Awareness. A lack of awareness can contribute to any type of accident, and equally applies to both motorcyclists and motorists. Motorcyclists may be unaware of how dangerous riding a motorcycle can be and may not take the proper precautions. Car and truck drivers may be unaware of how to drive safely around motorcycles.
- Speeding. Excessive speeding increases the chances of a collision, as well as the severity of injuries sustained in the event of an accident.
- Tailgating. Some drivers underestimate the amount of room they need in front of them to come to a complete stop. If a car tailgates a motorcycle and hits them from behind, the rider may lose control of their bike and get seriously injured.
The Dangers of Burn Injuries
Motorcyclists don’t have the luxury of a car’s body to absorb the impact after the crash. This usually means that the rider will let go of their bike. If the crash happens with enough force, they can be ejected from the bike at high speeds. When there’s friction between the rider’s skin and the ground, the person can get burn injuries, also known as road rash. Road rash is one of the most common motorcycle accident injuries.
Road rash can range from mild to severe. Sometimes, road rash doesn’t require medical professionals. This is when only the first layer of skin is affected. A first-degree burn can be red, painful, and itchy, but it will heal on its own.
The burns get more serious as the degree increases. A second-degree injury reaches under the first layer of skin. It will require medical attention. The burn site may blister and be red and painful. The deeper the injury, the longer it will take to heal. Although, scarring can be avoided if this burn heals within two weeks of the injury.
At the third-degree, the skin is burned through and reaches tissue underneath. This injury needs medical attention and could possibly require skin grafts. It may not be as painful as second-degree burns because the nerves can be destroyed.
The most serious level of burn is fourth-degree, when the burn reaches the muscles and tendons, and even the bones. Skin grafts will not work, and the person will need specialized care. They may not regain use or feeling in the burn area.
Another item doctors may be concerned about is road debris like dirt or gravel getting into the wound and causing an infection. If you’ve been injured in a wreck it’s vital that you get a medical evaluation, so you can start treatment for injuries as soon as possible. You’ll also have physical evidence of your injuries, which can help your case later if you decide it’s necessary to contact a personal injury lawyer and file a lawsuit against a negligent individual or party.
Ways to Avoid Burns
While there isn’t always a way to stop crashes, you can take measures to protect yourself as much as possible if one should happen. These measures could mean the difference between a minor road rash burn and one that’s significantly more severe:
- Helmet. While those above 21 can opt to not wear a helmet, this is one of the most important pieces of protective gear you can wear. The helmet will absorb shock and reduce the amount of damage done to your head. If there’s friction against the pavement, the helmet will be scraped instead of your skin.
- Long-Sleeved, Protective Clothing. Wearing thick, long-sleeved shirts, jackets, and pants will add another protective layer between you and the ground. While it may not be able to stop injuries like broken bones, it may reduce the chances for road rash or lacerations.
- Riding Gloves. It’s common when people fall to try and brace themselves with their hands. If you’re in an accident and you try to catch yourself with exposed hands, you could severely damage them. Riding gloves may help reduce the amount of damage from the pavement or gravel.
What Are the Steps to Take After a Motorcycle Accident?
In the event of a motorcycle accident, it’s important to follow the proper procedures for the sake of yourself and anyone else involved:
- Stay at the scene of the accident. To comply with the law, you must stay at the scene of the accident.
- Seek medical attention. You may be in shock immediately following the accident; however, if you’re able to, call 911 as soon as possible. Even if your injuries seem minor, motorcycle accidents can have serious effects on the body. It’s important to been seen by a healthcare professional so your injuries can be evaluated. If you decide to hire an attorney, the doctor’s notes will also be necessary to show how much compensation you may be entitled to.
- Swap contact information with the applicable parties. If you’re able to at the scene of the accident, it’s important to get contact information from the other driver. You’ll want to get their name and address, insurance information, and vehicle description. Avoid talking about how or why the accident happened.
- Take pictures and notes of the accident. Try to take as many pictures as possible at the scene of the wreck. Document the damage to both vehicles, as well as the conditions of the weather and road. Write down as much as you can remember, as you’ll need to report this information to the police and your insurance company.
- File a police report. If the motorcycle accident results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000, you’ll need to file a Motor Vehicle Accident Report. You have 30 days to do this after the date of the accident.
- File an accident claim with your insurance company. Once you’re able, you’ll need to report the accident to your insurance company. The sooner you do this, the faster you’ll be able to negotiate a fair settlement.
- Seek legal guidance. In the event your motorcycle accident claim isn’t proceeding as you’d expect it to or in the case of a settlement offer that seems unfairly low to the injuries you’ve sustained, seeking legal guidance is a good idea. A Little Rock motorcycle accident attorney will be able to negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and represent you in court if need be.
How Can McMath Woods P.A. Help You?
All too often, motorcyclists get stereotyped as dangerous or reckless. This bias may also affect those who are reviewing your claim during the aftermath of a collision. If you’re in a situation where you’re being faced with bias when attempting to recover compensation for your motorcycle wreck injuries, you should consider contacting an Arkansas motorcycle accident lawyer at soon as possible. An experienced lawyer will be able to ensure that the facts about the case are understood by all parties and that no information is left out.
Receiving compensation for your injuries and property damage after a motorcycle accident can make the recovery process easier. With the proper legal team backing you, you’re more likely to receive full and fair compensation.
The motorcycle accident lawyers at McMath Woods P.A. have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you assess your claim and determine what you’re owed. Contact our legal representatives today for a free evaluation of your case.