Motorcycles have a fatality rate that's 26 times higher per mile than passenger vehicles. That's according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which also reminds us that wearing a motorcycle helmet can decrease your risk of dying in a crash by 37%.
Motorcycle safety is a serious concern in Massachusetts, as the statistics show.
Riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than being in a car because a car's steel frame is designed to protect drivers and passengers in a crash. When a motorcyclist is in a crash, they are usually thrown from the bike, which commonly results in more serious injury.
There are 3 major differences that make motorcyclists more vulnerable in an accident:
Why is alcohol such a major factor in motorcycle injuries?
It takes more skill and coordination to operate a motorcycle than a car. Although operating any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, anything that impairs a motorcyclist's ability to maneuver the bike will significantly increase the risk of injury or death.
All motorcycle riders in Massachusetts are required by law to wear a DOT-approved helmet. This law also applies to any passenger or rider in a sidecar. The operator must also wear eye protection like goggles or a protective face shield unless the motorcycle has a windscreen or windshield.
There are penalties for failure to wear protective equipment. If you're riding a motorcycle without the required personal protective equipment, you can be fined $35 for a first offense with an insurance surcharge that can last 6 or 7 years. You can be fined $75 to $100 for a second offense, along with additional insurance surcharges.
To drive a motorcycle in Massachusetts, you must have a motorcycle license or an endorsement on your driver's license. You may only operate your motorcycle outside of Massachusetts if you're permitted to do so under the laws of that state.
You don't need a motorcycle license to register a motorcycle, but you need it to drive the motorcycle.
To obtain a Massachusetts Class M motorcycle license, you must be at least 16 ½ years old and possess a learner's permit. You may apply for the learner's permit at age 16. You also must have passed the Class D knowledge test and Class M exam. A motorcyclist who is under 18 years old is classified as a junior operator.
If a motorcyclist is less than 18 years old, they must meet these requirements in order to get a Class M motorcycle license:
The basic rider course is about 15 hours with 5 hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of hands-on motorcycle instruction.
If a motorcyclist is over age 18, they must meet these requirements:
The motorcycle's handlebars must not be higher than the operator's shoulders when the operator is properly seated. The bike also must have proper lights, brakes, rearview mirrors, fenders, mufflers, and a secure seat.
Massachusetts also requires that a motorcycle may not exceed 82 decibels of sound when traveling 45 miles per hour or below. If traveling above that speed, it must not exceed 86 decibels.
Lane splitting is the practice of riding a motorcycle in between lanes of traffic. It is permitted in some states under certain conditions, but it is illegal in Massachusetts.
Some people are under the impression that motorcyclists tend to be more reckless than the average car driver, or that they speed or take risky chances. Sometimes that's true, but often it isn't. A motorcyclist just wants to arrive safely at their destination, just like any other driver. But just like car accidents happen, so do crashes that involve motorcyclists.
If you're a motorcyclist involved in a wreck, here's what to do:
While some motorcyclists are risky drivers, most simply enjoy the experience of riding. They follow the rules of the road, drive at reasonable speeds, and avoid drinking and driving.
But there can be a stigma that motorcyclists face in an accident — from other drivers, bystander witnesses, police officers, insurance adjusters, and even from judges and juries.
This can affect a motorcyclist in a lawsuit because of the potential for negative outcomes. Because of biases and stereotypes against motorcyclists, they're more likely to be presumed liable for an accident, receive lowball settlement offers, or even get reduced damage awards in a jury trial.
If you're in a motorcycle or car accident, you turn first to your own insurance to recover damages. You can file a claim on your insurance policy for medical expenses, property damage, and other fees and costs.
You may file a personal injury lawsuit for a Massachusetts vehicle accident only if:
Then, does it matter who's at fault for a vehicle accident in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts follows a modified comparative negligence standard of law. If you have to file a lawsuit for any personal injury in Massachusetts, you can recover for your injuries only if you're less than 51% at fault. If your allocation of fault is 51% or higher, then you can't recover any damages.
If you're 50% or less at fault, the amount of your damages would be reduced by your percentage of fault.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you can recover damages that include:
A motorcycle accident could lead to complicated legal cases because of the severity of injuries in a motorcycle crash, bias issues, and liability questions. If you've been in an accident, consider contacting a Massachusetts motorcycle accident lawyer to receive the financial compensation you need and deserve.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more