Motorcycle accidents are one of the most devastating crashes on the road. Unlike other motor vehicle drivers, when collisions involve motorcyclists, they are not surrounded by steel frames or protected by a car’s safety features. Consequently, these motorcycle crashes can lead to horrific injuries and even death. As a result, no matter how much experience you may have riding your motorcycle, you still need to consider wearing a helmet and other protective safety gear. Taking this step could constitute the difference between life and death.
Motorcycle Accident and Safety Gear Statistics
Individuals who ride motorcycles know how exhilarating and exciting the experience is, but it is also important to remember that motorcycling is statistically dangerous. Unfortunately, the latest studies indicate that motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely than passengers of other motor vehicles to die in a crash. That is why it is crucial to understand that staying safe on a motorcycle takes more than just coordination and balance.
It also takes good judgment, following proper safety protocols, and understanding essential motorcycle and safety gear statistics.
- In 2018, motorcycle crashes killed 4,985 motorcyclists.
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in a crash than a driver or passenger in another type of motor vehicle.
- Based on the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine research, the most significant cause of death in a motorcycle accident is a head injury.
- Studies show that helmets are effective at reducing the risk of a head injury by 69 percent, and at preventing death by almost 37 percent.
- Motorcyclists who wear a helmet are less likely to require hospitalization, intensive care, and rehabilitation services following an accident.
Sadly, despite these staggering statistics, research indicates that only 71 percent of motorcyclists wore a DOT-compliant helmet in 2018, and only 40 percent of motorcyclists involved in an accident wore a helmet.
Frequent Motorcycle Injuries
Motorcyclists have a much greater chance of suffering a severe injury than other motor vehicle drivers. The fact that these riders are exposed to the elements without any protection can make even seemingly minor accidents result in devastating consequences.
Even though motorcycle injuries can range in severity, some of the most common types of injuries include:
- Head and brain injuries. When motorcyclists are involved in collisions, their heads often come into contact with the road or pavement. Consequently, concussions, lacerations, and traumatic brain injuries can result. These traumatic brain injuries often occur when the head suffers a jolt, suffers a violent blow, or an object penetrates the brain tissue. These injuries can often have lasting consequences that prevent the individual from doing everyday functions, including walking and talking. That is why it is so crucial for a motorcyclist to wear a helmet. Studies continue to show that hamlet use reduces motorcyclists’ risk of suffering severe brain injuries during collisions, as helmets will absorb most of the impact energy.
- Road rash. Road rash is a type of skin abrasion or friction burn that results when your skin scrapes something rough, such as pavement or road. When a motorcyclist is involved in a crash, his or her skin often rubs against hard surfaces, which may remove the outer layer of skin and expose the wound to debris, dirt, and even metal. As a result, these injuries can often lead to infections, disability, and scarring. Road rash injuries commonly affect a motorcyclist’s palms, legs, face, thighs, and shoulders.
- Spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries result from damage to any part of the spinal cord or the nerves at the end of the spinal canal. Unfortunately, this injury often causes permanent changes in a body’s sensations, functions, and strength. Spinal cord injuries are one of the most severe injuries possible in a motorcycle crash. When motorcyclists are involved in collisions, many times, their heads strike the pavement. Not only can this result in a traumatic brain injury, but it may also cause harm to the motorcyclist’s spinal cord. Victims of this type of crash may end up with permanent or temporary paralysis, which results in high long-term costs and additional care expenses. Despite claims that helmets do not protect the spinal cord during a crash, research has found that helmet use does lower the likelihood of cervical spine injuries, particularly breaks of the cervical vertebrae.
- Broken ribs. When motorcyclists suffer a direct blow to their chests in a motorcycle crash, broken ribs often result. What makes rib fractures so dangerous is that when they occur, they can end up penetrating an individual’s internal organs and result in serious injuries to the lungs, kidneys, liver, spleen, and aorta. Other complications that can result from a fractured rib include infections and pneumonia.
- Leg injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, lower-extremity injuries are more frequent in motorcycle crashes than in any other part of the body. Motorcyclist’s legs are often the first body part that comes into contact with the road during an accident. This results in a significant chance of the tibia and the fibula breaking during a collision. Additionally, these riders can also suffer ligament damage based on how their legs bend in the accident. Even though motorcycle accidents commonly result in leg injuries, with bone fractures the most frequent type of injury, head, abdominal, and chest injuries occur as well and are usually severe.
Practical Steps You Should Take Following an Orlando Motorcycle Accident
After a motorcycle accident, many riders find themselves in an altered emotional state, trying to make sense of what happened.
However, your actions following a motorcycle accident are critical not only for your safety and health, but also for protecting your legal rights.
- Call the police: Immediately following an accident, you need to call 911. These police officers can quickly get to the scene, verify that everyone is safe, and start investigating the accident. You will need this police accident report if you decide to file a claim, as the report may provide you with substantial and relevant evidence.
- Get medical help: Even if you believe your injuries were minor, get checked out by a medical professional following an accident. Your doctor can verify that you do not have any hidden injuries, like head or brain damage, as well as document all of your injuries in the medical report. This report will be extremely advantageous if the defendant or the insurance company tries to claim that your injuries result from a superseding event rather than the motorcycle accident.
- Gather evidence: If it is safe, try to collect as much evidence as you can. Take pictures or videos of the area, your motorcycle, vehicles involved in the crash, skid marks on the road, your visible injuries, traffic signs near the accident scene, weather conditions, and any other relevant evidence that can help show what happened during the accident.
- Get driver information: Take down the names, contact numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information of everyone involved in the accident.
- Witness contact information: If any witnesses saw what happened, get their names and contact information. Their statements or photographs of the accident may help your claim when you are trying to prove liability.
- Avoid making statements: Do not admit fault or apologize for the accident to anyone following an accident. Why? Because insurance companies may use this information against you. If your agent wants to go over the motorcycle damage or your injuries, it is best to let them know that your attorney will handle all future communications. This will prevent you from saying anything that may end up hurting your claim and reducing your ultimate compensation amount.
- Call an experienced motorcycle accident attorney: Contacting an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as quickly as possible will get you the legal help you need to fight for compensation. Your lawyer will promptly get to work investigating the accident, filing critical motions, and gathering relevant evidence to prove your claims.
Negligence and Motorcycle Accidents
Negligence is often the most common basis of liability in motorcycle crashes. Generally, you must establish negligence first to hold another person responsible for your injuries. These negligence claims often require you to demonstrate the following: (1) duty, (2) breach, (3) causation, and (4) damages.
Specifically, negligence exists when:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.
- The defendant breached this duty.
- The defendant’s breach caused the accident that led to your injuries.
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the accident.
In terms of a motorcycle accident, a motorist has a duty to drive safely. A driver breaches this duty when he or she speeds, swerves between lanes, fails to obey traffic lights or signals, or drives while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As a result of this breach, a motorcyclist who suffers injuries can pursue compensation for his or her damages from the at-fault party.
Your attorney can help you understand each of these elements and what type of evidence he or she needs to gather to prove negligence.
What Evidence Is Needed to Prove Liability and Damages in an Orlando Motorcycle Accident?
To ensure that you can receive maximum compensation for the harm and injuries you endured, your lawyer needs to provide a strong case to support your claim.
This requires detailed and relevant evidence, including:
- Eyewitness testimony and statements
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Photographs or videos of the accident scene, damage, and injuries
- Surveillance video, if available, of the accident
- Expert testimony and accident reconstruction
Additionally, to recover your economic costs, you will need to show evidence of:
- Medical bills and expenses, including hospital bills
- Bills from rehabilitation centers
- Bills from health care providers and specialists
- Documents showing how much work you’ve missed
- Expert testimony about your potential future earnings
To ensure that you recover most of this critical evidence, you should promptly contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. He or she can begin conducting an investigation as soon as possible and start gathering this vital information to help build your case.
Questions and Answers About Motorcycle Helmets
Motorcycle helmets generally keep motorcyclists safe, but which helmet they choose will have a big impact on whether it helps prevent injuries. Motorcycle helmets have come a long way in terms of their designs, safety measures, and materials, but it is still crucial to find a helmet that meets specific safety regulations and that will keep a rider safe during a serious collision.
To make this process less daunting and to help you figure out what motorcycle helmet is right for you, we have prepared the following frequently asked questions regarding the best motorcycle crash helmet.
1. Does Orlando require motorcycle helmet use?
In Florida, if you are over the age of 21 and covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries resulting from a crash, you are not required to wear a helmet. However, younger individuals are still mandated to wear a motorcycle helmet when riding, regardless of their insurance coverage.
2. Will wearing any type of helmet keep me safe?
Wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of suffering a severe brain injury during a collision. However, it’s not just about wearing any helmet; it’s about wearing the right helmet. It is essential to understand that all helmets are not created equal, especially if you are a motorcyclist. The right helmet not only fits your head and keeps it protected, but also meets the mandatory safety standards set by the government. Even though novelty motorcycle helmets may look like a great option, they are not the right choice to keep you safe.
3. What are novelty helmets, and why are they unsafe?
A novelty helmet is a helmet manufactured without meeting the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) safety regulations. In contrast, a DOT-compliant helmet meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. A novelty motorcycle helmet uses thin padding and is often lightweight. As a result, it does not protect a motorcyclist’s head or brain during a crash.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a motorcyclist who wears a novelty helmet during a head impact accident has a 100 percent probability of receiving a brain injury. Studies have also found that a rider using a novelty helmet is twice as likely to die in a crash than a motorcyclist wearing a certified helmet.
4. Who sets the safety standards for motorcycle helmets in Orlando?
Three major organizations set the standards for motorcycle helmet safety: (1) the Department of Transportation, (2) the Snell Foundation, and (3) the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).
- Department of Transportation: The DOT allows manufacturers to test their own helmets. Once the manufacturer passes these self-tests, it can put a DOT sticker of certification on its helmets. However, the NHTSA will randomly select some of these helmets to test on its own. If the motorcycle helmet is not compliant, then the NHTSA will penalize the manufacturer.
- Economic Commission for Europe: For a manufacturer’s helmet to meet the ECE’s safety standards, the manufacturer must submit samples of its helmet to the government labs for testing. Once testing is complete, the ECE will issue different codes that show which type of helmet was approved.
- Snell Foundation: Governments do not require a Snell Foundation certification; however, helmet manufacturers that submit their helmet samples to the Snell Foundation receive a certificate if their helmets pass the rigorous testing. Even though the foundation’s testing is voluntary, the ratings are an accepted standard worldwide for helmet safety in racing. These standards are updated every five years with new findings, technology, and research.
5. What is the Snell Foundation?
The Snell Foundation is a private, non-profit organization created in 1957 to promote helmet safety through research, education, and testing. With its findings and new standards, the Snell Foundation hopes to make helmets safer. The Snell Foundation not only tests helmets sent to it by manufacturers, but it also works with different manufacturers to help them provide safe helmets to consumers. Helmets that are certified by the Snell Foundation carry a certification label on the inside.
6. What safety standard tests are required for a safety certification?
Motorcycle manufacturers have to submit their helmets through numerous tests to meet the minimal standard safety requirements.
These safety requirements include the following:
- Impact: This measures how a helmet protects a rider’s head against crashes that involve larger objects.
- Positional stability: This standard measures whether a helmet stays in place during critical times.
- Retention system strength: This tests whether a helmet’s chin strap keeps the helmet in place on impact.
- The extent of the protection: This measures a helmet’s ability to protect all areas of a rider’s head.
The DOT regulations are the least stringent compared to the other organizations. The Snell Foundation sets the strictest rules and measures.
7. What else should I consider when choosing a motorcycle helmet in Orlando?
Meeting safety requirements is extremely important when picking a motorcycle helmet, but you should consider other elements as well, including:
- The chin strap: A helmet can only do its job correctly if it is properly strapped on. When looking at a motorcycle helmet, you want to make sure you can fasten the chin strap so that the helmet does not move around your head. You also need to make sure that the chin strap fits snug around your ear and under your chin. To test the strap, you should look at your chest and see if the helmet moves upward and also verify that only two fingers fit between the strap and your head.
- The fit: Even if you purchase a certified helmet, it is not safe if it does not fit well. You want your helmet to wear low on your forehead, slightly above your eyebrows. There should be no gaps at the front, side, back, or top of the head, and the fit should not be painfully tight. In addition, if you try to rotate the helmet, your cheeks should move with it.
- The size: Your helmet must fit around your head comfortably, even if you have to use additional pads. If the helmet slips or moves with any rotation, it is not a good size. Additionally, the helmet should easily adjust to fit correctly, and it should not take a lot of adjustments.
When trying out helmets, make sure you wear a helmet for a few minutes to ensure that the fit and size work. Wearing the correct type of motorcycle helmet may prove the difference between life and death. However, you also do not want the helmet to result in a miserable ride due to its uncomfortable fit.
8. Does the style of motorcycle helmet matter?
Motorcycle helmets come in various styles, with each feature usually corresponding to the different types of bikes, types of riding, and even specific safety features. The three main motorcycle helmet designs include half-coverage (the helmet covers the upper half of your head), open-face, and full-face helmets.
When looking purely at safety, the full-face helmet is the best choice. This type of helmet will provide you with the most coverage, surrounding your whole head and your neck. Not only does this type of style protect you from debris, bugs, and weather hitting your face, but it also provides a chin bar, unlike the other designs. This chin bar is extremely important, as some studies have indicated that the chin experiences 50 percent of the severe impacts during a crash.
9. Should I replace my motorcycle helmet?
Many people are often surprised to learn that even if they are not involved in a crash, they still need to replace their motorcycle helmets regularly. In fact, according to the Snell Foundation and helmet manufacturers, riders should replace their helmets every five years. Even if you were never involved in a collision, your helmet experiences wear and tear over the years. If you are involved in an accident with your helmet, you should replace it right away.
Helmets need replacement every five years because of the effects on the helmet from regular use. Helmet degradation, caused by typical wear and tear, bodily fluids, cosmetics, and hair oils, can affect the liner materials and hurt the overall helmet performance. So even if there are no visible signs of any damage to your helmet, you should replace it regularly to ensure your safety.
10. Does a helmet result in hearing issues while driving in Orlando?
No. In truth, wearing a helmet may reduce the impact of the engine’s sound, helping you hear the surrounding noises more clearly. This, in turn, may end up enhancing the riding experience and help keep you safe. Studies have even confirmed this data by indicating that wearing a helmet does not restrict the motorcyclist’s ability to hear critical sounds, like another vehicle’s horn, while riding a motorcycle.
11. Should I wear other types of safety equipment and clothing while riding a motorcycle in Orlando?
Helmets remain the top safety equipment that all motorcyclists need to consider.
However, other types of clothing and gear that individuals should consider wearing each time they ride include:
- Eye gear and protection: If your helmet does not include a full face shield, consider wearing eye goggles or glasses that can help protect your eyes from dangerous elements (dirt, weather, rocks).
- Jacket: Make sure you have a heavy and durable coat—specifically, one made out of material that can stand up to abrasions resulting from an accident.
- Thicker pants: Kevlar, leather, and synthetic pant material designed for motorcycle riding are best to protect you in a motorcycle crash.
- Boots: The boots should cover your ankles. They should also have non-skid soles, footpegs, and low heels. These types of boots will protect you from debris flying off the road and from burns resulting from the motorcycle pipes.
- Gloves: Riding gloves should be thicker, protecting your hands and wrists from the cold, bugs, and flying debris or rocks.
12. How will an Orlando motorcycle accident attorney help me after a motorcycle accident?
Motorcycle crashes are catastrophic accidents. These collisions not only destroy lives, but the chaos that ensues following an accident can make even the strongest of individuals feel defeated, as well.
A good motorcycle accident lawyer will understand that you are likely dealing with a lot, including debilitating pain, skyrocketing medical expenses, and immense stress because the insurance companies are beating down your door looking for ways to deny your claim.
However, you do not have to go through this ordeal alone.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you pursue compensation by:
- Investigating: Once retained, your attorneys can get to work investigating the scene of the crash, gathering relevant evidence, and determining what happened and who was at fault.
- Filing motions: Your motorcycle accident lawyer can take care of all the critical paperwork, motions, and legal documents for you. This will ensure that all of your documents are appropriately filed within the statute of limitations.
- Negotiating: Your motorcycle accident lawyer should know that dealing with defense attorneys and insurance companies is stressful. That is why they can take over all communications for you, ensuring that your case is treated with the fairness and respect you want while you focus on your recovery.
- Heading to trial, if need be: If your motorcycle accident lawyer can’t reach an agreement with the at-fault party and his or her insurance company, he or she should prepare to take your case to trial. During this process, your motorcycle accident lawyer will inform and prepare you every step of the way.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, do not wait any longer. Contact a motorcycle accident lawyer to discuss the details of your accident, the severity of your injuries, and who all was involved. Your motorcycle accident lawyer will determine whether you can file a claim and how much compensation you should seek. He or she will handle the complex details of your legal claim so that you can focus all of your energy on your physical and emotional recovery.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814