What Is a Major Cause of Death in Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcycles are popular vehicles in California and throughout the US, but it’s vital for everyone who operates or rides as a passenger on a motorcycle to understand and acknowledge the very real dangers of motorcycling. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the chances of dying in a motorcycle accident are about 30 times higher than the chances of dying in a passenger vehicle accident. There are many reasons for this, and all riders and their passengers should know the most common causes of fatal motorcycle crashes.

According to available accident data from the NHTSA and other sources, some of the most common causes of fatal motorcycle accidents in California include:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. DUI is illegal in the United States but continues to be a leading cause of all manner of vehicle accidents. When DUI causes a motorcycle accident, the chance of fatality is much higher than in most other types of vehicle crashes.
  • Distracted driving. Drivers who fail to pay attention to the road put all other drivers around them at significant risk. Distracted driving is especially dangerous to motorcyclists riding vehicles that are smaller and harder to notice than larger passenger vehicles.
  • Aggressive driving. Weaving around slower-moving traffic, sudden lane changes without signaling, and other aggressive maneuvers are incredibly dangerous, especially to nearby motorcyclists.
  • Speeding. Driving too fast makes it difficult to make split-second adjustments to account for changing traffic patterns. Accidents that occur at high speeds are most likely to cause catastrophic or even fatal injuries to motorcyclists.
  • Poor visibility. Motorcycles are smaller than most other vehicles and harder to see, so poor visibility is especially dangerous to riders and their passengers.

These are just a few examples of the scenarios most likely to lead to fatal motorcycle accidents. It is crucial for all motorcycle riders and their passengers to understand these hazards and do their best to avoid dangerous actions on the road. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to anticipate other drivers’ actions.

What Is the Main Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?

The primary cause of death in motorcycle accidents is negligence, a general term that applies to a person’s failure to act with reasonable care. A few examples of negligence that can cause a fatal motorcycle accident include:

  • Failing to engage turn signals when required. Turn signals are vital components of a vehicle that allow the driver to let others nearby when they intend to turn or change lanes.
  • Failure to pay attention to the road or engaging in a distracting action instead of watching the road.
  • Failure to abide by posted speed limits and traffic signals. Speeding is dangerous for any driver, but this practice is especially hazardous for motorcyclists.
  • Failing to maintain one’s vehicle. Some fatal motorcycle accidents happen because other drivers’ vehicles experience mechanical failures on the road.
  • Failure to drive safely through aggressive driving, speeding, or committing some other moving violation.

In the legal world, negligence describes a party’s failure to act with reasonable care in a given situation. When a fatal motorcycle accident occurs due to another driver’s negligence, the victim’s family can pursue a wrongful death claim against the negligent driver to secure compensation for their economic and non-economic losses.

How Likely Are You to Die in a Motorcycle Accident?

Unfortunately, it is an undeniable fact that your risk of death is much higher in a motorcycle accident than in a passenger vehicle accident. The NHTSA reports that the risk of dying on a motorcycle is roughly 30 times higher than the risk of dying in a passenger vehicle. Additionally, about 13 passenger vehicles out of every 100,000 experience fatal accidents compared to about 72 out of every 100,000 motorcycles. While these statistics should not necessarily deter anyone from enjoying their motorcycles, all motorcycle owners and their passengers must understand the clear risks of riding on these vehicles.

What Is the Most Common Motorcycle Injury?

A motorcycle accident, even one that occurs at moderate speed, can easily cause a host of severe injuries. The most common motorcycle accident injuries include head and neck injuries. Even when riders wear appropriately fitted helmets, there is a significant risk of traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures, and spinal cord damage in the neck. It’s also likely for motorcyclists to sustain soft tissue injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments throughout the body.

It’s vital to understand how severe some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries can be:

  • A traumatic brain injury can potentially cause long-term or permanent damage. Some traumatic brain injuries are relatively mild, such as concussions. However, the human brain is incredibly complex, and no two people will experience the same type of traumatic brain injury the same way. Many motorcycle accident victims who sustain traumatic brain injuries develop permanent disabilities.
  • Spinal cord injuries are some of the most severe injuries a person can experience. When these injuries occur close to the base of the skull, the effects are more widespread throughout the body. The spinal cord transmits neurological signals between the brain and the rest of the body. When the spinal cord is damaged or severed, those messages cannot travel to the parts of the body below the injury site. A spinal injury in the neck can potentially result in complete paralysis, permanent loss of motor functions in different parts of the body, and loss of sensation.
  • Skull fractures are traumatic head injuries that result in physical damage to the bone plates of the skull. A skull fracture can quickly cause severe bleeding and can easily be fatal if the victim does not receive immediate medical treatment.

Head and neck injuries are some of the most severe injuries a motorcycle accident victim can sustain. These accidents can also cause many other injuries, including severe bone fractures, internal organ injuries, friction burns, lacerations, and crushing injuries.

What Percentage of Motorcycle Accidents Occur in Injury or Death?

Motorcycle accidents are far more hazardous than car accidents in virtually every way. For example, only about 20% of car accidents result in serious injuries or deaths. By comparison, roughly 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in severe injury or death. This is a staggering difference that all motorcycle riders must acknowledge.

In the event you sustain a severe injury in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another party, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against the driver responsible for your accident. If a loved one dies in a fatal motorcycle accident, you and your family may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim instead. Wrongful death claims are quite similar to personal injury claims in many ways. When a loved one dies due to another party’s negligence, your wrongful death suit filed on their behalf functionally replaces the personal injury claim your loved one could have filed had they survived the incident.

Wrongful death claims are more complex than personal injury claims and can involve substantial damages. If you have recently lost a loved one in a fatal motorcycle crash, contact our firm. A Palm Desert motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine your options for legal recourse and potentially help you hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence. If you are ready to discuss your legal options with a skilled and reliable Palm Desert motorcycle accident lawyer, contact the Law Offices of Susan Handel today and schedule a case review with our team.