ClickCease How Are Motorcycle Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

How Are Motorcycle Accidents Different from Car Accidents?

Motorcycle Accidents vs. Car Accidents — What's the Difference?

When we compare motorcycle accidents to other motor vehicle collisions such as car accidents, they are categorized differently. This is due to several factors including the risks involved with driving a motorcycle, the causes of motorcycle accidents, the severity of the injuries sustained, and liability complications.

In the unfortunate event of a motorcycle accident, determining liability, or who is legally responsible, hinges on establishing negligence. This process involves piecing together evidence from the scene, statements from parties involved, and a thorough understanding of traffic laws.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle accident, talk to the motorcycle accident lawyers at  Regan Zambri Long is here to guide you.

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What Is the Most Common Type of Collision Between Cars and Motorcycles?

When a motorcyclist gets on the bike, the biker must be aware of the inherent risk they are taking by driving a two-wheeled vehicle. Motorcycles do not have airbags, seatbelts, or any structure that can enclose and protect the rider. The lack of protection can turn a minor accident into a catastrophic accident.

The biggest cause of motorcycle accidents is low visibility. A 3,000-pound sedan is easy to spot on the road, but a 500-pound motorcycle is more difficult. Low visibility to drivers increases the chances of the motorcyclist getting into an accident with a car. Besides visibility, the most common causes of motorcycle accidents are:

  • Left-hand turns: According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 42% of all fatal motorcycle crashes happen when a driver is making a left-hand turn.
  • Lane splitting: Lane splitting is a term for when motorcyclists weave in between the lanes when traffic is moving slowly. Lane splitting can cause side-wipe accidents, rear-end collisions, and even head-on collisions.
  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving kills motorists of all kinds – both car and motorcycle alike. If a passenger vehicle driver is distracted, they may not see a motorcyclist and hit them.

Other causes of motorcycle accidents include:

  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Road rage
  • Drowsy driving

Motorcycle Accidents vs Car, Who Is at Fault?

When a motorcycle accident occurs, figuring out who’s legally responsible for the damages – liability – boils down to one fundamental question: who was negligent? To answer this, a thorough investigation gathers evidence from the scene, listens to everyone involved, and applies traffic laws like a strict set of rules. If someone breaks a rule, like speeding or driving under the influence, it raises a red flag for potential negligence. But simply breaking a rule isn’t enough. The investigation must also prove that this rule-breaking directly caused the accident and, in turn, led to the motorcyclist’s injuries or damages. It’s a step-by-step process connecting the dots between the rule, the violation, and the harm. And if the driver and the motorcyclist were somehow negligent, state laws will determine how much responsibility each party shares, affecting who pays for what.

The investigation begins at the accident scene, piecing together a timeline of events through physical evidence and eyewitness accounts. Any violation of established traffic laws, such as speeding, distracted driving, or driving under the influence, automatically raises a red flag for potential negligence. Remember, drivers owe a duty to themselves and others to operate their vehicles safely and lawfully. Violating these rules constitutes a “breach of duty.”

However, establishing negligence requires more than just a rule violation. Your motorcycle attorney will need to prove causation. Did the breach of duty directly cause the accident? And, in turn, did the accident result in injury or damage for the motorcyclist?

Let’s illustrate this with an example. Take a car driver speeding uncontrollably and colliding with a motorcyclist diligently following traffic laws. The car driver’s breach of duty by exceeding the speed limit directly caused the accident, making them liable for the motorcyclist’s injuries and damages. They failed their duty to drive safely and caused foreseeable harm.

However, things get murkier when both parties contribute to the accident. If the motorcyclist were also speeding, their negligence would come into play. In such cases, the specific state’s comparative negligence laws will determine how much compensation, if any, the motorcyclist is entitled to. The court will assign percentages of fault based on each party’s contribution to the accident, impacting the ultimate liability and compensation outcome.

Determining who is legally responsible involves careful legal analysis when a motorcycle accident occurs. This analysis examines the facts of the case, identifies any violations of traffic laws or safety standards, and assesses whether these violations directly caused the accident and the resulting injuries. Suppose the evidence shows that one party failed to fulfill their legal obligation to operate their vehicle safely and caused the accident through their actions or omissions. In that case, they may be found negligent and liable for the resulting damages. This process ensures that those injured due to another’s negligence receive appropriate compensation.

Motorcycle Accidents vs. Car Accidents: What Drivers Need to Know

While there are similarities between motorcycle accidents and car accidents, there are numerous factors that complicate these forms of motor vehicle collisions.

Below, learn more about the differences between motorcycle accidents and car accidents.

Size of the Vehicle

According to PowerSports Guide, the average motorcycle size is:

  • Length: 75-100 inches
  • Width: 25-40 inches
  • Height: 40-60 inches

This compares to the average car which is 14.7 feet long, with the potential of cars and trucks to range from 10 to18 feet long.

When traveling at high speeds, the size of the motorcycle versus the car, in addition to the lack of metal barriers around the motorcycle, leaves the motorcycle rider more susceptible to injury and death in a collision.

Further, studies have found that the size of the motorcycle engine leaves motorcyclists more likely to suffer moderate to fatal injuries. One study concluded that motorcycle engines of less than 250 cubic centimeters increased the risk of an injury crash by at least 50%.

Safety Features of the Vehicle

The United States requires that motor vehicles have certain safety features to protect drivers and their passengers. These include:

  • Front Airbags
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Seat Belts
  • LATCH Child Safety Seat System

In more modern vehicles, there are safety features that while not required under any law or regulation, have just become industry standards in safety. These include things such as:

  • Anti Lock braking systems
  • Traction control
  • Tire pressure monitors
  • Accident avoidance systems

However, these are not features that are in motorcycles. Motorcycles lack seatbelts and airbags, and they only have two wheels, making them more difficult to control, and more likely to have difficulties with traction on certain roadways, especially in hazardous weather conditions.

In addition, when looking at motorcycles’ physical ability to avoid accidents, motorcycle riders often exhibit greater collision avoidance problems as the reaction to the accident or potential accident is to over brake and skid the rear wheel. This can minimize the ability to countersteer and swerve, resulting in injury or accident.

Visibility to Other Drivers

When you consider the size of motorcycles compared to other standard motor vehicles, it’s not surprising that drivers may find it difficult to see motorcycles on the roadways.

It is estimated that in half of all multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles, the view of the motorcycle is limited by glare or is obstructed by other vehicles. Some studies suggest that motorcyclists wearing brighter colors in the daytime, having brighter lights on the bike at night, and reflective clothing could help with these dangers.

How Do the Severity of Injuries Following a Collision Compare to Car Accidents and Motorcycle Accidents?

It is important to note that the main distinction of injuries between car accidents and motorcycle accidents is not in the type of injuries sustained, but rather the severity and likelihood of fatality.

In a study by, it was estimated that motorcycle accidents were more likely to end in injury to the driver. This includes 98% of multiple vehicle accidents and 96% of single-vehicle accidents resulting in some form of injury to the motorcycle rider and 45% of those accidents ended in a more serious injury for the motorcyclist.

When involved in an accident with a car, a motorcyclist is also more likely to suffer one of the following injuries:

  • Whiplash
  • Bruises and lacerations
  • Broken ribs
  • Broken or amputated limbs
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Facial disfigurement
  • Death

Of those injuries, those most likely to turn fatal were those that occurred to the head or chest.

Why Are Motorcycle Accidents More Complex Compared to Car Accidents?

Unfortunately for motorcycle riders, when an accident occurs, the other parties involved are going to be looking to shift blame by any means possible. This may include saying the motorcycle rider was driving recklessly, speeding, or even being aggressive between lanes. However, that often isn’t the case.

Common features of roadways like debris, oil spills, potholes, etc. make it more difficult to operate a motorcycle. And very rarely is weather or alcohol to blame for these collisions–though it does happen.

Unfortunately, these biases against motorcycle riders can make it difficult for them to seek compensation when they are injured in a collision.

Other reasons motorcycle riders face more adversity following an accident include:

  • Biases against motorcyclists on the roadways
  • Lack of motorcycle riding understanding
  • The severity of injuries leaves motorcyclists in a difficult position to represent themselves

While these factors do make motorcycle accidents more complex compared to car accidents, a motorcycle accident attorney can help injured riders through the process.

Why Injured Motorcycle Riders Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Sal Zambri Accident LawyerIt is estimated that 80% of motorcycle accidents end in fatality. While some may end in minor to severe injuries, these collisions still likely result in the motorcycle rider needing extensive medical treatment and physical therapy. Unfortunately, this also means the person will likely be out of work for some time, or unable to return at all.

These accidents can result in hardship for the entire family. And when they occur, finding an advocate who understands the differences between car accidents and motorcycle accidents can be the difference between moving forward or being stuck in a lifetime cycle of hardship.

A motorcycle accident attorney can help.

At Regan Zambri Long, our DC motorcycle accident attorneys can help you and your family through the legal process of filing a motorcycle accident claim. We work hard to:

  • Determine the cause of the accident
  • Determine fault
  • Gather evidence or recreate the accident with specialists
  • Calculate the total value of your claim by reviewing medical bills, prolonged treatment needs, and lost wages
  • Negotiate with the insurance companies
  • Represent you in court

Not all personal injury lawyers are prepared to handle the intricacies of motorcycle accidents. But we are.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident Involving a Car? Call Regan Zambri Long.

If you or a loved one were injured or if you have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, you must seek legal representation from a Washington, DC motorcycle accident attorney. No two personal injury lawyers are the same, but at Regan Zambri Long, we have a long proven track record of helping motorcyclists in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.

We will review the circumstances of your case, determine who is at fault for the collision and be responsible to provide compensation for your injuries, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and even funeral costs.

For a no-obligation, free consultation, contact the motorcycle accident attorneys at Regan Zambri Long PLLC at (202) 960-4596 or discuss the details of your case by using our online contact form.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Have you or your loved one sustained injuries in Washington DC, Maryland or Virginia? Regan Zambri Long PLLC has the best lawyers in the country to analyze your case and answer the questions you may have.

Call 202-960-4596

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