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Arizona offers some stunning scenery for motorcycle enthusiasts to take in within easy riding distance of Gilbert. When you ride your motorcycle in and around Gilbert, you can enjoy the state’s famous red rocks, canyons, forests, and mountains. Motorcycles are also popular among Arizona residents because of their affordability and significantly lower fuel costs. While riding on motorcycles offers numerous benefits, it also carries significant risks of being seriously injured or killed if an accident occurs. In 2020, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that motorcycle riders were 28 times likelier to be killed in accidents per vehicle mile traveled (VMT) than people in other types of vehicles.

Motorcyclists have a heightened risk of injury and death in accidents because of their relative lack of protection from the forces of a collision as compared to people occupying cars. Unlike motor vehicle occupants, motorcycle riders do not have a steel cab enclosing them that can absorb some of the violent forces involved in a collision and instead absorb them with their bodies.

When someone else is responsible for a motorcycle accident, the injured rider or passenger has a right to pursue compensation by filing a negligence claim against the at-fault party. A Gilbert motorcycle accident lawyer at Lamber Goodnow might help accident victims and the families of people who are killed in motorcycle collisions recover far more compensation than they might recover on their own. Our attorneys are highly skilled, experienced litigators and knowledgeable about motorcycles both as attorneys and as riders themselves.

Why It’s Important to Hire a Lawyer Who Understands Motorcycles

In addition to hiring a Gilbert motorcycle accident attorney who has experience with handling motorcycle accident claims, it is also a good idea to make sure the lawyer you choose also understands motorcycles. An attorney who is also a motorcycle rider will have more insight into the specific risks riders face when they are sharing the roads with other riders, which can help them with investigating your case and building a stronger claim for you.

Several attorneys at Lamber Goodnow are avid motorcycle riders who have an in-depth understanding of bikes, the causes of motorcycle wrecks, and what can happen to the riders during and after collisions. Our attorneys know the devastation riders and their families can go through after a catastrophic motorcycle accident. The attorneys at Lamber Goodnow and our co-counsel law firms dedicate themselves to motorcycle accident victims to help them recover full compensation for their losses.

When a negligent motorist causes a serious motorcycle injury or fatality accident, we believe they should be held accountable. Our attorneys fight to obtain justice on behalf of our clients in Gilbert, throughout Maricopa County and the entire state, and across the Southwest. Call us today to learn about your claim and the potentially available legal remedies.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics

TheNHTSA reports that 5,579 motorcycle riders were killed in 2020, which was an increase of 11% over the number of motorcyclists killed in 2019. This was a fatality rate of 31.64 motorcycle riders killed per 1 million VMT. In addition, 82,500 U.S. motorcycle riders were injured for a rate of 468 per 1 million VMT. most of the fatal accidents happened in urban rather than rural areas at 61.6%.

Data from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) tells a similar story about the dangers of motorcycle accidents. In 2020, 2,373 motorcycle wrecks happened in Arizona, resulting in 163 deaths and 1,855 injuries. Out of all of the motorcycle accidents that occurred, only 15% were property-damage-only collisions. By contrast, out of the 129,744 car accidents that happened in Arizona in 2020, 70% did not result in injuries and only caused property damage.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Gilbert

In 1981, a landmark study was completed about the causes of motorcycle accident collisions. The study was commissioned by the NHTSA and was called the Hurt Report after its primary author. The researchers examined data from 4,500 motorcycle crashes in Los Angeles and found that the motorists were at fault in two-thirds of the accidents and caused them when they violated the right of way of the riders.

Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents identified in the study and others include the following:

  • Motorist failing to see a motorcycle
  • Drunk or drugged driving by either the motorcycle rider or motorist
  • Speeding
  • Motorist violating the motorcycle rider’s right-of-way
  • Running stoplights or stop signs
  • Vehicles turning left in front of oncoming motorcycle riders
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • People opening doors in the paths of oncoming motorcycles when parked along the sides of streets
  • Aggressive driving
  • Failing to check for motorcycles when changing lanes

While some people assume that motorcyclists are risk-takers and are often at fault for their accidents, research has shown otherwise. In the majority of cases, the motorists are at-fault for causing motorcycle wrecks. Part of the problem is that motorists sometimes fail to identify motorcycles because of their smaller sizes, which can cause them to move into the paths of motorcyclists and cause accidents.

Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

Motorcycle accidents often result in serious injuries or deaths. Some of the most common types of injuries that occur in motorcycle wrecks include the following:

  • Head and face injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Road rash
  • Crush injuries
  • Thoracic injuries
  • Fractured legs and ankles
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Rib and arm fractures
  • Skull fractures
  • Amputations
  • Avulsions
  • Burns
  • Severe lacerations
  • Organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Death

In many motorcycle wrecks, people who survive but are injured suffer multiple injuries and might be permanently disabled or disfigured.

Damages in Motorcycle Accidents

The compensation available in motorcycle accidents depends on multiple factors, including whether the fault was shared, the available insurance coverage, the severity of the injuries, the at-fault party’s conduct, and others. Since the available compensation is case-specific, there isn’t a single value that can be quoted for a claim. Instead, determining the types of damages and their value in a motorcycle accident claim requires careful analysis.

Compensatory damages are compensation amounts that might be awarded to a motorcycle accident victim for various types of losses they have suffered, including both their pecuniary losses and their more intangible non-economic losses. Some of the common types of damages that might be available in a motorcycle accident case include the following:

  • Past medical expenses
  • Future expected medical expenses
  • Past and future rehabilitation costs
  • Past and future physical therapy costs
  • Cost of prosthetic devices
  • Past wage losses
  • Loss of the ability to earn an income in the future
  • Property losses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Emotional trauma
  • Disfigurement/scarring
  • Others

In a wrongful death claim, some of the types of compensatory damages might include the following:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Cost of the medical care provided to the victim before they died
  • Loss of the financial and household contributions the deceased victim would have made to the family if they had survived
  • Grief
  • Loss of consortium and/or guidance
  • Lost rights to an inheritance

In rare situations, punitive damages might also be recoverable. Punitive damages might be awarded when a defendant’s actions were reckless, wanton, or willful. They are awarded to victims and paid on top of any compensatory damages to punish the defendant and deter them from behaving similarly in the future. However, they are not available in every case. Your Gilbert motorcycle accident lawyer at Lamber Goodnow can help you understand whether punitive damages might be available in your case and the types of damages you might anticipate recovering.

Understanding Insurance in Motorcycle Accident Cases

In Arizona, accident victims file claims with the insurance company of the parties who caused their accidents under the state’s fault-based system. This can be a problem when the at-fault driver is uninsured or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the victim’s losses. In ARS 28-4009, Arizona mandates that all motorists have the following minimum liability insurance coverage:

  • $25,000 bodily injury for one victim
  • $50,000 bodily injury per accident for two or more victims
  • $15,000 property damage

Despite this law, many motorists drive while uninsured. When a motorcycle accident is severe and results in serious injuries, a motorist with the state-required minimum liability coverage might not have sufficient insurance to pay for all of the victim’s losses.

To protect against these problems, the state enacted a law that requires auto insurers to offer a type of insurance called uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when they sell insurance policies to people under ARS 20-259.01. This is an optional type of coverage, but it is wise for you to purchase it if you don’t have it already. In a motorcycle accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you can file a claim against your UM/UIM coverage. Your insurance company will then pay for your damages up to your policy limits if the driver was uninsured or the difference between what the at-fault driver’s insurance pays and your policy limits.

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FAQs: Gilbert Motorcycle Accidents

The motorcycle accident lawyers in Gilbert at Lamber Goodnow are often asked questions by victims of motorcycle collisions. We have provided answers to a few of the most common questions we receive to help you understand your potential case.

Q: Is There a Deadline for Filing a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

A: Arizona has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims found at ARS 12-542. Under this law, the general statute of limitations for all personal injury accidents is two years from the date of the accident. This law also includes a statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. If your loved one was killed in a motorcycle wreck, you have a deadline for filing a wrongful death claim of two years following the death of your loved one. It’s important to note that the wrongful death statute of limitations doesn’t start to run until the date of death instead of the date of the accident.

However, some situations can change these limitation periods. For example, if your motorcycle accident was caused by a government employee while they were driving for their job, the statute of limitations is only six months from the date of your accident under ARS 12-821.01.

The best thing to do is to talk to a lawyer at Lamber Goodnow as soon as you can after your motorcycle collision. We can help you understand the applicable statute of limitations and ensure that you file your case on time. When you hire a lawyer early, your attorney can also gather the evidence before it can be lost and handle all of the communications with the insurance company for you.

Q: Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim for a Fatal Motorcycle Accident?

A: Arizona limits the parties who are entitled to file wrongful death claims under ARS 12-612 as follows:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Legal guardian
  • Estate administrator/executor

People with these relationships with the victim are the only parties entitled to file wrongful death claims. If none of the family members listed above survive the victim, the administrator or executor of the victim’s estate can file a claim. In that situation, any money recovered will be paid to the estate and distributed to the victim’s heirs or will beneficiaries.

Q: If I Wasn’t Wearing a Helmet, Will That Hurt My Claim?

A: Under ARS 28-964, all riders younger than age 18 are required to wear motorcycle helmets, but adults are not required to do so. However, wearing a motorcycle helmet is always a good idea because doing so greatly reduces your risk of suffering serious head injuries or death.

If you weren’t wearing a helmet in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, it won’t prevent you from recovering compensation. However, if you suffered a head or traumatic brain injury, the insurance company will likely argue that your injuries wouldn’t be as severe if you had worn a helmet to try to reduce the value of your claim.

Q: What if I Was Also at Fault?

A: Arizona follows a legal principle of pure comparative fault under ARS 12-2505. Under this law, being partially at fault won’t prevent you from recovering damages for your losses even if you were 99% at fault. However, any money awarded to you will be reduced by your percentage of negligence. For example, if a jury finds that you were 10% at fault, your damages award will be reduced by 10%.

While it’s possible to file a lawsuit even when you were primarily at fault, it would likely not be economically feasible because of the costs involved. An attorney can review your case and make a fault determination so that you understand whether it makes financial sense for you to pursue a lawsuit.

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