When people hop on motorcycles and hit the open road, the idea that they might be involved in a fatal accident is probably the furthest thing from their minds. Unfortunately, statistics from national safety agencies show that deadly motorcycle accidents happen every day in the United States.
According to a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 5,000 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2015, which represents an 8.3 percent increase in motorcycle crash-related fatalities, compared to the previous year. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute (III) suggests that motorcyclists account for a whopping 14 percent of all traffic fatalities.
After a fatal motorcycle accident, it's almost always the families of the riders who are left trying to pick up the pieces, their entire lives changed the instant they received that devastating phone call or knock on the door.
Often, in the wake of a wrongful death, a family's grief is compounded by concerns about making ends meet without the income their lost loved one would have provided.
Thankfully, the families of motorcyclists who lost their lives in accidents caused by another motorist's negligence have legal recourse. Depending on the circumstances of the accident and death, families may be eligible for damages that could potentially ease the financial burden created by their loved one's untimely passing.
If someone you love was killed in a motorcycle accident and you're considering taking legal action, here's what you need to know.
What Makes Motorcycle Accidents So Deadly?
Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are nearly 30 times more likely to die in accidents than passenger vehicle occupants. Additionally, the difference between the fatality rate per vehicle for motorcyclists and the occupants of passenger vehicles is staggering: motorcyclists have a fatality rate per vehicle six times higher than other motorists.
The most obvious reason for these fatalities is that motorcycles lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. Motorcycles are also less stable than passenger vehicles, more difficult for other motorists to see, and particularly vulnerable when traveling on poorly-maintained roads.
Common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Driver error
- Motorcyclist error
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving
- Drunk or drugged driving
Motorcycle Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Potential Damages
In many ways, a wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a standard motorcycle accident personal injury case. However, in a wrongful death case, it's up to the family of the deceased to pursue compensation and justice on his or her behalf.
A wrongful death lawsuit isn't intended to replace a lost loved one or make the family feel “okay” about the loss. Instead, these lawsuits aim to compensate family members for financial and emotional losses incurred as a result of their loved one's death. Damages sought in motorcycle accident wrongful death cases can include compensation for:
- Medical expenses for care provided before death
- Motorcycle repair or replacement costs
- The decedent's pain and suffering
- Funeral fees
- Burial and cemetery (or cremation) expenses
- Past and future lost earnings
- The family's mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of household or family services
- Loss of companionship, guidance and solace
- Loss of consortium (for spouses or partners)
- Loss of economic support
- Diminished inheritance
It's important to note that not everyone who was emotionally close to the decedent is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The law restricts that ability to spouses, domestic or life partners, children (biological or adopted), parents (if the decedent was an unmarried child), siblings, grandparents, and others who depended on the decedent financially.
Are You Considering a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The importance of having experienced legal representation when pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit after a motorcycle accident cannot be overstated. Sadly, some law enforcement officers, insurance adjusters, judges, and jury members have biases against motorcyclists that could affect the outcome of your wrongful death case. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney with experience handling motorcycle accident wrongful death cases can help banish false, preconceived notions to ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation review of your wrongful death case.