As an experienced motorcycle rider, you know how much money it costs to buy and maintain a bike in safe working condition. Perhaps you spent months or more saving up for your first or newest motorcycle. You might have also budgeted for the costs of purchasing the gear you need, such as a helmet and riding clothes, too.
However, one thing you may not consider when you invest your hard-earned dollars in a motorcycle is how much a motorcycle accident might cost you. Few people spend their time thinking about the costs of a crash that hasn’t happened yet.
After a motorcycle crash that injures you or a loved one, however, those costs you never considered suddenly become a reality. You realize in short order that motorcycle accidents cost a lot of money and that factors you might never have considered can significantly influence the financial impact you suffer.
Read on for more information about the actual costs of a motorcycle crash.
The Costs of Fatal and Non-Fatal Accidents
With so many factors involved in motorcycle crashes, placing a precise dollar amount on the crash’s cost is difficult. The biggest factor in determining the cost is the severity of the injuries suffered by the rider.
Generally, the highest economic cost of a motorcycle crash is the expense of medical treatment. The more severe the injury, the more treatment is usually required. Additionally, more severe injuries are more likely to lead to health complications and permanent disability, which come with high long-term costs.
According to Government Accountability Office data, the average emergency and ICU treatment costs of a motorcycle rider’s fatal injuries
were around $1.2 million.
A non-fatal motorcycle crash costs between $2,500 to $1.4 million. However, this cost is often higher if the rider suffers a severe yet non-fatal brain injury. In the years since, the cost of motorcycle crashes has only risen.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycles make up only three percent of all the vehicles registered in the United States. Still, the fatality rate for motorcyclists was 5.5 times the fatality rate for occupants of passenger cars. The injury rate for motorcyclists was 1.2 times the injury rate for occupants of passenger cars. Motorcyclists further accounted for 13 percent of total traffic fatalities, 14 percent of all occupant fatalities, and 4 percent of all occupants injured.
The GAO further found that motorcycle crashes’ total direct measurable costs were approximately $16 billion. Society bears about three-quarters of the measurable costs of all motor vehicle crashes.
The average cost for a fatal motorcycle crash was $1.2 million, while the cost for injuries can range from $2,500 to millions of dollars.
Determining annual costs to repair motorcycles damaged in crashes is harder.
In most cases, the decision to repair, replace, or reimburse a motorcycle involved in an accident is usually not up to the owner. It will instead be a decision of the insurance carrier.
This means an insurer gets to decide whether or not it is economically practical to repair a motorcycle and whether it makes more sense to reimburse you the fair market value of your motorcycle. Motorcyclists often feel they do not receive proper compensation for these losses.
When an insurance company determines that it will cost more to repair a motorcycle than the actual cash value, an insurer may reimburse you for your damaged motorcycle. While the insurance company is essentially buying the motorcycle from you, the only option you have to keep your motorcycle will be to get a salvage title and pay them the salvage value of the motorcycle.
Several insurance companies automatically total motorcycles when appraised damages equal 80 percent of a motorcycle’s actual cash value. Once repairs begin, other hidden damages can arise that may push the repair costs higher than the actual cash value.
Helmet Use: A Major Factor in Determining the Cost of a Crash
The requirement that motorcyclists wear helmets varies from state to state. In Florida, for example, riders under the age of 21 must wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet every time they ride. However, those 21 and over are exempt from the helmet requirement if they can prove a medical insurance policy of at least $10,000.
Florida once had a universal mandatory helmet law, which the legislature repealed in 2000. In the three years before the law’s repeal, an average of 160 motorcycle deaths occurred in the state each year. In 2001 the first year after repealing the universal helmet law in favor of a law that only requires helmets for riders and passengers under 21, the number of motorcycle crash deaths skyrocketed to 246. A few years later, the number of motorcyclist fatalities reached an all-time high of 550. Nearly 600 motorcyclist fatalities take place e[very year in the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these statistics about helmet use:
- Helmets reduce the risk of dying in a motorcycle crash by 37 percent and the risk of suffering a head injury by 69 percent.
- Helmet use saves early 2,000 lives in the U.S. each year.
- If all states had universal helmet laws, it might save more than 800 additional lives.
- The number of lives saved can lessen the economic burden of motorcycle crashes on society by more than $1 billion annually.
According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a state that requires all riders to wear helmets, regardless of age, can gain hundreds of millions in economic benefits, not to mention the invaluable savings in reducing human suffering.
The Cost of Traumatic Brain Injuries
One of the most severe consequences of riding a motorcycle without a helmet is the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury. The brain is one of the body’s most important organs because it controls all of its voluntary and involuntary functions. The ability to walk, communicate, recall events, or even breathe or control one’s body temperature depends on various parts of the brain, known as lobes, that provide messages to those specific functions.
Unfortunately, despite its importance to the body, the brain has only a limited ability to heal itself. This means that brain damage will likely result in a permanent loss or impairment of functioning.
Brain injuries are not cheap. They require significant, costly medical and therapeutic interventions that may last for years. A brain injury can also keep the injured victim out of work or limit the victim’s ability to work in a well-paid career. The impairment of a brain injury victim’s employment prospects can strain the injured person’s family and personal relationships.
Because of the high likelihood of permanent disabilities arising from a traumatic brain injury, every part of the injured person’s life often requires accommodations to assist the person in work, school, the home, and even society.
Much of America’s homeless population has suffered traumatic brain injuries. Some of these injuries have undoubtedly occurred after the onset of homelessness and might result from the often harsh and violent conditions of homelessness. However, injury, stress, and expenses cause homelessness for many others.
Overall, a TBI is life-altering, and the costs can be challenging to imagine. You need help from a motorcycle accident lawyer who appreciates the dramatic and complex nature of brain injuries to help you.
The Cost to Society
Federal agencies consider economic and comprehensive costs when considering the cost of motorcycle crashes to society. Economic costs refer to tangible monetary losses experienced by tax-funded agencies and services spent on the crash rather than other uses.
Some examples of the economic and societal costs of the crash include:
- The cost of first responders, law enforcement, and emergency services.
- The cost of increased insurance premiums to offset insurance payouts to accident victims.
- Lost productivity as a result of traffic congestion created by accidents.
- The cost of providing medical treatment to uninsured or underinsured riders.
- The costs associated with motorcycle accident cases, including court and administration fees.
- The cost of providing federal disability benefits to individuals who become disabled due to motorcycle crashes.
Total societal costs include the loss of quality of life for accident victims, such as deprivation of an individual’s entire life span. They also include the loss to society of the productivity that the injured individual might have exhibited in their career if they had not suffered a life-altering injury. Also, consider the physical and emotional pain and suffering that the individual will endure, perhaps even decades past the point of injury.
How to Recover What Your Motorcycle Crash Cost You?
Most motorcyclists lack a standard form of financial protection against the costs of a crash that drivers of cars and trucks enjoy. Auto insurance policies routinely include personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which covers a vehicle’s driver and passengers against personal injuries they suffer in a crash, regardless of fault. Motorcycle rider insurance policies rarely include PIP coverage, so injured motorcyclists must find other payment sources for their crash-related costs.
If you suffer injuries in a motorcycle crash, you may sue an individual, company, or another party whose dangerous decisions or actions caused your injuries.
To establish liability in a motorcycle crash lawsuit, your lawyer must prove:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care not to engage in actions or make decisions that cause an unreasonable risk of harming you. Other motorists owe motorcyclists the obligation to operate their vehicles safely and follow traffic laws.
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care by engaging in unreasonably dangerous actions or making decisions that put you in harm’s way. These decisions or actions can include risky driving behaviors such as speeding, failure to yield, alcohol impairment, or any other type of behavior that is not safe or legal.
- The breach in the duty of care resulted in the accident and your injuries.
The law generally permits motorcycle crash victims to claim both economic and non-economic damages associated with the injuries they sustained in the crash. Damages refers to a payment made as compensation for the victim’s harm.
Economic damages consist of the direct financial costs you incurred as a result of your injury, such as:
- Medical expenses, including the cost of treatment received at the scene or in the emergency department, transport to the hospital by ambulance or air, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, surgical and physician services, prescription medication, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- Assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetic limbs, and home modifications to accommodate the injury.
- Lost income if your injury prevents you from working or requires you to miss work to attend injury-related medical appointments.
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury results in a permanent disability that renders you unable to return to work or prevents you from having the same earning capacity as you did before the accident.
- The cost of repairing or replacing property damaged in the accident, such as your motorcycle, helmet, and other gear.
Non-economic damages refer to a payment made for the impact on your quality of life due to the injury.
Commonly claimed quality-of-life impacts in motorcycle accident cases include:
- Physical pain and suffering resulting directly from your injuries and those associated with the treatment of your injuries.
- Emotional distress.
- Permanent disability.
- Loss of the enjoyment of life if your injuries prevent you from participating in activities or events that you previously enjoyed.
- Loss of consortium, which is damage claimed on behalf of the injured person’s spouse for loss of physical intimacy or companionship that is common after an individual incurs a severe injury.
You need to be aware as a motorcycle accident victim that an insurance company may try to quickly resolve your claim by contacting you personally soon after your crash. Be aware that an insurer will likely employ many tricks designed to limit the amount it will have to pay you.
The first thing an insurance company will try to do is offer you a lump-sum settlement to resolve your case, and you need to be very careful in deciding to accept such an offer. Even though doing so allows you to recover financial compensation without paying an attorney, you can also risk closing the case without any ability to recover additional damages if you learn later that you need more money. Always let an experienced attorney handle all conversations with insurers because they will know how to negotiate a full and fair settlement.
Furthermore, many insurance companies will argue that motorcyclists were somehow at fault for causing their crashes. Adjusters will ask leading questions to get you to admit to any fault, which allows them to reduce your claim. Never make any substantive statements about the accident to insurers without an attorney.
Also, decline to provide any recorded statements or sign any paperwork until you can first have a lawyer present with you when you do so. People who voluntarily do these things frequently make damaging and unknowing admissions that harm their injury claims. Signing paperwork you do not fully understand can mean signing away important rights.
How an Experienced Motorcycle Crash Lawyer Can Help?
Motorcycle accidents are complex matters that often result in severe injuries for the rider.
Unfortunately, the complex process of recovering damages for the injuries you received in your motorcycle crash can require two things:
- Knowledge of your long-term prognosis
- Experience with the rigorous demands of litigation and negotiations with the at-fault party’s defense lawyer and insurance provider.
An experienced motorcycle accident attorney also works hard to push back on the pervasive belief that motorcycle riders deserve to suffer injuries because riding a motorcycle is “dangerous.” This mistaken belief, held by many in the general public, can affect an accident victim’s ability to recover all the damages available. Trust an experienced motorcycle crash attorney to ensure it does not hurt your case.
The top reasons to hire a motorcycle accident attorney begin with the lawyer’s ability to conduct a thorough independent investigation into your crash. By doing this, the attorney can collect all necessary evidence in your case so they can prove that another driver caused your accident.
Many motorcycle accidents can also involve possible product liability issues when some part of a motorcycle fails. It can be difficult for the average person to collect these types of damages on their own. A lawyer will know how to hold a part manufacturer accountable for faulty motorcycle parts that caused crashes.
The attorney can then total all the applicable damages in your case and estimate how much you deserve, so you will know that they are fighting for a fair amount that covers all your losses in the crash case. Many of these cases will conclude with settlements. A lawyer can negotiate the best possible settlement to your case that will provide far more to you than whatever initial settlement offer an insurer may extend immediately following your crash.
To learn more about your legal right to recover the costs inflicted by a motorcycle crash that left you or a loved one injured, contact an experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyer today.