Articles Posted in Motorcycle accident

Todays local news bring the tragic story of a young Coventry couple killed in a motorcycle accident following collision with another vehicle.  While details are still scant at this moment, it is a bitter reminder of how dangerous riding bicycles and motorcycles can be.  The warm weather has brought out cyclists of every kind and the accidents the come with them.  Already this year, I have seen many new cases come into my office including a motorcyclist who shattered his knee when forced to drop to the ground when cut off by a vehicle turning left.

Drivers must be aware that this weather brings out thousands of bicyclists and motorcycle riders.  They are not able to maneuver or stop in the same way in which a car can.  More importantly, minor contact with little physical damage can cause serious personal injury to the operator.  Bikers can be thrown from a bike causing head injuries, broken bones, road rash and other serious injuries.

Motorcyclists are by nature defensive drivers because they simply need to be, as drivers of motor vehicles sharing the road, we need to be defensive as well.

The warm weather is (hopefully) upon us soon and that means that motorcycle riders will be breaking out their bikes for the season. Signs on highways across Massachusetts and Rhode Islands are warning us to “share the road” and “watch for motorcycles.” It is important for vehicle operators and bike riders alike to share the responsibility of safety. Drivers are not accustomed to looking for motorcycles which because of their small size can often sneak into blind spots and go unseen on the open road.


Motorcycle accidents are obviously very serious. A motorcycle rider is completely unprotected and can suffer devastating injuries when struck by a motor vehicle. Severe injuries from motorcycle accidents include head injuries, fractures, internal injuries, scarring, and even death. Similar to other personal injury claims, a motorcycle accident victim is entitled to: past and future medical expenses (including surgery if necessary); past and future lost wages or loss of earning capacity; and, pain and suffering.

My office has a great deal of experience with motorcycle accidents and understands the complexity of such claims. I understand that serious accidents and injuries require an aggressive attorney to devote time and attention to the case to ensure that you obtain every penny to which you are entitled.

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I had a new client come in yesterday morning who was severely injured in a motorcycle accident. He very rarely rode the motorcycle and did not maintain insurance on the bike or have a current registration. He was concerned that because his bike was unregistered and uninsured that he would be found at fault for the accident.

I thought that this is a question or concern that other people might have and decided to write this post. The short answer is that the insurance and registration status of a vehicle has nothing to do with a liability determination. Liability is a complex determination made by asking whose negligence ultimately caused this accident. In other words, which driver failed to act with due care and caused the accident. This determination does not consider the insurance or registration of a vehicle or motorcycle.

My client was 100% not at fault for this accident. That said, I certainly do not recommend operating a car or motorcycle without proper insurance and registration. For one, you will be subject to fines from the police. Even though you are not at fault for the accident, it is against the law to operate an uninsured and unregistered vehicle, and you will have to pay the consequences.

Also, if my client maintained an adequate insurance policy he might have had underinsured motorist available to him. Underinsured motorist is much like uninsured motorist. In the case of underinsured motorist, if the at fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate for the serious injury, you can then turn to your own insurance policy to cover the gap. That is why it is imperative not to cut corners with your insurance policy because you never know when you will need it.

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It seems the most obvious and important question and one that I am asked in every personal injury case, namely, how much is my personal injury claim worth? Regardless if resulting from an auto accident, motorcycle accident, slip and fall, or medical malpractice, all clients are curious what their case is worth.

The only easy answer to that question is to say: Your case is worth the amount a jury of your peers says that it is worth. Unfortunately, juries are wildly unpredictable and can return with a shockingly high award or an embarrassingly low judgment. Furthermore, waiting for a jury verdict requires several years of waiting and a long and expensive litigation process.

That said, experienced personal injury attorneys such as myself, consider a number of variables in determining a fair settlement value of your case. Attorneys and insurance companies consider recent jury verdicts in the State, recent settlements in the State, along with other variables to determine a fair value for the injury suffered. Therefore, attorneys and insurance adjusters will assign a value to the neck or back injury, fractured arm, or concussion. For instance, if a jury recently awarded $160,000 to a man who broke his leg in a truck accident, this may be a starting point for negotiations if you suffer a similar broken leg in an auto accident.

What are the other variables to consider? Among other things:

  • the strength of the liability case
  • cost of litigation
  • amount available through insurance
  • nature and severity of the injury

Of course, you are also entitled to lost wages and medical bills, future medical bills and permanent disability, if applicable.

If the injury you sustained is soft tissue in nature (neck and back pain) then your settlement will depend largely on the length and severity of your disability and whether there is diagnostic evidence (i.e. an MRI report showing injury) to help substantiate the claim. An experienced personal injury attorney, will know how to negotiate with an insurance company to obtain the highest value possible.

This should be understood as a shorthand version of how the value of your personal injury claim is determined. There are literally hundreds of variables that have to be considered and only a skilled and experienced attorney can use all of these variables to obtain the highest amount possible in settlement. Furthermore, the negotiating skills of an attorney are important as well as the attorney’s reputation for success.

The next time you ask your attorney: What is my case worth? do not be surprised if he or she is afraid to answer. It is because each personal injury case is so unique that it is hard to determine, especially early in the case, how much the injury is worth.

As a former insurance adjuster I have settled hundreds of personal injury cases of all levels of severity. I understand the full value of your case and how an insurance company will try to poke holes in your case to lower the final value. As a personal injury attorney, I have succeeded in obtaining excellent settlements for my clients often exceeding the amount they were hoping to receive.

Therefore, part of the answer to the question: How much is my case worth? depends on whether you hire the right attorney.

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I’m gonna take everyone back to my first day at Boston College Law School and torts class because it is important to understand how a determination of fault will affect your ability to collect damages following an accident. These rules of comparative liability are most commonly used in auto accident cases but may also apply to slip and fall, construction accidents, motorcycle accidents, etc. Interestingly, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have very different laws in this regard.

This article is not concerned with rear-end accidents because in rear-end accidents the person in the back is 100% at fault with very few exceptions. This article is concerned with auto accidents at intersections, or in which one party is turning in front of the other. In these cases, one person might be the majority at fault but not 100% at fault for the accident.

For instance, Driver “A” is turning left out of a parking lot and does not see Driver “B” coming from the left. Driver “B” is speeding and strikes Driver “A” very hard. Driver “A” is the majority at fault because he was turning left and failed to yield the right of way to Driver “B”. Driver “B”, however, was speeding and caused a potentially minor accident to become a major accident.

In this above scenario (assuming you followed me) the insurance company, or jury, might find Driver “A” 80% at fault (for failing to yield the right of way) and Driver “B” 20% at fault for speeding. This is where comparative liability laws become important.

In Rhode Island, Driver “A”, even though majority at fault, would still be able to collect 20% from Driver “B” for damages. This includes property damage to his vehicle and damages for personal injury. If the injury sustained is very serious, or fatal, 20% may still be a lot of money to help the injured person get back on their feet.

In Massachusetts, which adheres to a modified comparative negligence system, Driver “A” would not be able to collect anything. This is because, in Massachusetts, a driver who is majority at fault can not collect ANY damages. In Massachusetts, a driver must be 50% or less at fault in order to recover any damages.

It is also worth noting that these laws do not apply to passengers. Because passengers are not behind the wheel and do not contribute to accidents, they are not punished by the fact that “their driver” was at fault for the accident. Passengers can collect all of their damages from either at-fault driver.

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The Boston Globe had this interesting article discussing not only the growing number of older bike riders, but the fact that these motorcycle riders sustain more frequent and severe injuries than younger riders.

The mean age of motorcycle ownership has risen in the past decade from 33.1 in 1998 to 40.2 in recent years. Whether 40 is the new 20 or baby-boomers are reconnecting with their youth, the fact is that bike riders are older in age. The study highlighted in the Globe article, indicates that riders over 40 years old sustain more serious injuries, have longer hospital stays, and increased risk of dying from motorcycle accidents than riders under 40 years of age.

Some of the troubling findings include:

  • rib fractures are twice as common for riders over 40
  • 32% of bike riders over 40 required stays in the intensive care unit compared to 27% of riders under 40
  • Riders over 40 were more likely to suffer from pneumonia, infections, or blood clots
  • Older riders are twice as likely to die from less serious injuries

Citing the State Department of Health, the Globe report also shows that in Massachusetts, the rate of motorcycle related deaths and injuries among 55 to 64 year olds increased by 400%.

As the body ages it is less able to deal with trauma and this is the reason cited for these startling statistics. For instance, older riders have thinning bones and less resilient tissue. Older riders are more likely to have pre-existing complications such as diabetes and heart problems.

Finally, the study reported that helmet use is only around 73% for both the under and over 40 age groups. This is far too low for any age rider because wearing a helmet is the single easiest thing one can do to prevent serious injury.

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In recent years, Geico Insurance has become one of the leading insurer’s throughout the Country, including a strong foothold in Rhode Island. Their popularity has skyrocketed thanks to effective ad campaigns featuring the lovable English accented gecko and the highly civilized cavemen. Unfortunately, Geico is anything but lovable, friendly, or civilized when it comes to settling personal injury claims.

Geico Insurance has taken, a la Allstate, to making insultingly low offers without justification. Regardless of the injury sustained or the amount of damage to an automobile, Geico responds with a very low offer. I have often asked the adjuster how they arrive at such a low amount, only to hear that a computer gave them their negotiation range.

So why am I telling this to Rhode Island and Massachusetts accident victims? It is important to understand that if you are injured in an auto accident that was not your fault and the other driver is insured with Geico, you may need to file a lawsuit in order to receive fair compensation. For this reason, it is all the more important that you hire the right attorney when involved in an auto accident with a Geico insured driver.

Be sure that you speak with your attorney to discuss what amount you are looking for in settlement. If that amount is unobtainable in settlement be sure that your attorney is prepared to go to trial, if necessary. Geico Insurance is counting on the fact that most auto accident victims are unwilling to wait for a fair settlement and that most attorneys are unwilling to file suit following a car accident, motorcycle accident, or ATV accident (Geico insures all three). Therefore, most of their unreasonable offers are accepted. My office now has the majority of it’s Geico cases headed to litigation.

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We are a few short weeks from motorcycle season in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and it is impossible to avoid discussing the dangers of motorcycle riding. Motorcycle accidents are on the rise and because bikers are unprotected, the injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident are often incredibly serious. Motorcycle accidents can result in traumatic brain injuries, scarring, fractures, other permanent disabilities, and even death.

Motorcyclists are universally considered the highest risk motoring group accounting for 14% of all fatal traffic accidents. The Department of Transportation reported 96,000 injuries and over 5,000 crash deaths involving motorcycles. Of these reported injuries and deaths, the highest percentage occurred in head on collisions between motorcyles and vehicles.

Because of the severity of motorcycle accidents, it is imperative that you hire an attorney to represent your case. For one, liability determinations are often more complicated when a motorcycle is involved. An experienced motorcycle lawyer knows how to gather the necessary evidence and present it to the insurance company to prove liability against the other driver. Second, an experienced motorcycle attorney is necessary to help negotiate a fair settlement for your serious and potentially permanent injuries. The more serious the injury, the more difficult it often becomes to reach a fair settlement with the insurance company. You need an attorney who understands the full value of your case and is willing to go all the way to trial if necessary to obtain all of the money that you deserve.

While motorcycle accidents may be inevitable, it is imperative that riders do everything they can do to prevent serious injury. Wear helmets, obey the rules of the road, and keep an eye out for drivers. Motorcycle riders have to drive defensively because drivers of automobiles are not accustomed to keeping an eye out for motorcycle riders.

If and when an accident occurs, it is imperative that you not delay in contacting an experienced motorcycle lawyer.

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Deciding which attorney or law firm will represent you for your personal injuries sustained in an auto, truck, or motorcycle accident is a huge decision. You should conduct research (the internet has made this incredibly easy) and even talk to a few attorneys before deciding who is best to handle your case. Regardless of which attorney or law firm you decide to hire for your personal injury, it is in your best interest to hire someone to represent you.

Years ago, before law school, I worked as an injury adjuster for a national insurance company. I can say with experience that insurance companies do not want you to hire an attorney because they know the settlement for a car or truck accident without an attorney will be much lower than if you hire an attorney. That is not to say that ALL insurance companies are evil corporations looking to rob and ignore injury victims (but I do believe that may be the mission statement for at least a few insurance companies!)

There is a series of television commercials in this state for a well-known law firm (I refrain from stating their name since their advertising budget is high enough and they do not need my help) which depicts an adjuster trying to coerce an unrepresented car accident victim into singing a release only to find out that they are represented by _______ law firm. Cut to the adjuster choking on some form of food.

While these commercial spots clearly take artistic license, it is true that insurance companies would prefer that you not hire an attorney for your car or truck accident. That is because insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they do this best by withholding money from injured victims. But if you really want the insurance company and adjuster to choke on their sandwich, you need to hire the right attorney.

Attorneys across the country attend seminars and buy books regarding the inner workings of insurance companies and how they evaluate auto or truck accident cases. I, on the other hand, was on the other side and know exactly what an insurance company will do to try an find flaws in your case and how they will ultimately evaluate your injury. This knowledge is essential to helping you obtain the best possible settlement for your car or truck accident injury.

A few things to consider and take away from this post:

  • It is in your best interest to hire an attorney to represent you for injuries sutained in a car or truck accident
  • insurance companies know who the best attorneys are, so it is imperative that you perform some research and hire an attorney with a great reputation
  • if your injury is a minor one that required only minimal or no treatment, you might be able to work directly with the insurance company

Once you have chosen to hire an attorney for your car or truck accidednt, I have written an additional post which should help you understand the settlement process.

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Sunday, a Westerly man was killed while riding his motorcyle marking the 14th fatality this year in Rhode Island involving motorcycles.  I do not know the details of Sunday’s accident, but it is clear that 14 fatalities in this small State is far too many. 

Unfortunately, around 3,000 cyclists are killed each year across the country.  Both drivers of cars and motorcyclists need to help bring down this staggering number.  Drivers of cars are unaccustomed to looking for motorcycles or bicyclists.  Often while looking for other vehicles to avoid, a driver’s eye can miss a motorcyle or bike.   Unfortunately, a relatively minor car accident can result in a fatal motorcycle accident. 

I am an avid bicyclist myself and know the unique hazards that motorcycle and bicycle riders face.  It is always on us to drive defensively when the rest of the world is innattentive.  If you have been injured while riding a motorcycle, it is important to call an attorney who understands this difference and has experience representing bikers.